Russia: The Logic Of Putting A Corpse On Trial

Sky News

In a case compared to the show trials of the Stalin era, lawyer Sergei Magnitsky is being tried, despite dying in November 2009.

The posthumous prosecution of Sergei Magnitsky must make sense to someone senior here – the will of the Russian courts tends not to stray far from that of those in power.

The official narrative is that Mr Magnitsky was being investigated for tax fraud at the time of his death, death is not a bar to prosecution in Russia, and in the interests of justice the case should continue.

To the rest of the world it looks like they are putting a corpse on trial.

This case perhaps perfectly illustrates the apparent disconnect in thinking between those inside the Kremlin and the international community.

To understand the logic on the Russian side, you need to understand the background.

Mr Magnitsky was a Moscow lawyer hired to work on the account of British-based investment fund Hermitage Capital.

In 2008 he believed he had uncovered a massive tax fraud, organised by senior police and tax officials, targeting Hermitage and the Russian state.

It was as much an alleged crime against the Russian taxpayer as it was against his company.

But instead of being commended, he was locked up, held for almost a year in increasingly squalid conditions, and denied medical treatment.

He was found dead on his 358th day in custody, having repeatedly refused to withdraw his allegations.

Mr Magnitsky was not a human rights activist, he was not a campaigner, he was a lawyer – and so he documented, in detailed, dispassionate notes, what was happening to him, and his rapidly deteriorating health.

He had faith that justice would eventually be done.

No-one in Russia has been convicted over his death, but his former colleagues have compiled a dossier of evidence against those they believe were responsible.

Late last year the US passed a law banning all those suspected of involvement with his death (and others suspected of serious human rights abuses) from travelling to, or holding assets in the States, and his supporters are campaigning for a similar law in the EU.

Russia’s elite hates this. First, they see it as meddling in their domestic affairs and being preached at, second, they don’t want any other countries following America’s lead and imposing similar sanctions.

The Duma retaliated in December with a ban on American citizens adopting Russian children, named after a young Russian boy who died whilst in the care of his American adoptive parents.

The message is not subtle – that America is capable of human rights abuses too – and every case of suspected child abuse or neglect in the US is currently getting primetime billing on state-controlled nightly TV news here.

The conviction of Sergei Magnitsky (and let’s face it, no-one expects an acquittal) is the next ‘logical’ step – it enables them to say, look, he is not a human rights hero – he is a convicted fraudster.

And to get there they need to prosecute him, even if they have to do it posthumously.

There is provision under Russian law to continue a case after death, but only at the request of the relatives – if they choose to try to clear the defendant’s name.

That is categorically not the case here – Mr Magnitsky’s widow and mother have repeatedly written to the court stating their opposition to this trial and pleading with them to stop it, but the court has simply assigned a defence team to represent Mr Magnitsky and the case is going ahead.

Critics of this trial have pointed out that even at the height of Stalin’s show trials, at least the defendants were alive.

Amnesty has condemned the case as a sinister new chapter in Russia’s record on human rights, and a complete denial of, not least, Mr Magnitsky’s fundamental right to defend himself in person.

But then Western liberals and human rights groups aren’t the target audience here – they don’t vote in elections or march in the streets.

Few people in Russia have heard much about Sergei Magnitsky – there won’t be extensive coverage here of his posthumous trial – and his story, if and when they hear it, will be that he was a criminal who died from a health condition, who has since been convicted of fraud. займ на карту займ на карту срочно без отказа https://zp-pdl.com/fast-and-easy-payday-loans-online.php https://zp-pdl.com/apply-for-payday-loan-online.php онлайн займы

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One Response to “Russia: The Logic Of Putting A Corpse On Trial”

  1. Dawn says:

    Speaking from firsthand experience…Russia’s export of “illegals”are every bit as narcissistic. Edward Lucas says in his book Deception that they behave ordinary. That is shortlived with them on their best behavior when an environment is new to them! Within 1-2 years of living in the environment they revert to their true narcissist ways. They come to stick out like total loons in western society the same as Putin now does.

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