Sergei Magnitsky: Russia can’t sweep his death under the carpet

The Guardian

Well, it’s official. Russia’s investigative committee has gone ahead and announced that the investigation into the death in prison of Sergei Magnitsky has been closed. Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.

Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer and father of two who died in November 2009 while being held in pre-trial detention. Before he went to jail, he had just happened to accuse some very powerful people of some very serious tax fraud. Having worked for the global investment advisory firm Hermitage Capital Management at the time of his imprisonment, he was now accused of the very same fraud he had apparently uncovered.

His death became an international scandal and led to the introduction of the Magnitsky Act in the US, which banned people implicated in his death from obtaining US visas, among other restrictions. Russia retaliated with the introduction of the Dima Yakovlev law, named after a Russian orphan who had died while in the care of his adoptive parents in the States. The law banned all adoptions of Russian orphans by Americans.

According to the investigative committee’s official findings, Magnitsky died because he was a very sick man: he was not tortured or treated differently, he was just in poor health. Whether Magnitsky received adequate medical treatment in detention is not mentioned. Both Magnitsky’s family and the human rights activists that have been involved in bringing this case to wider media attention have alleged that Magnitsky did not receive treatment because he wouldn’t testify against his employers.

The horrific treatment of people in pre-trial detention in Russia is really not that uncommon. Just last week there were reports of a young woman with disabilities who was literally rotting in pre-trial detention due to an illness, with virtually no recourse for help. Admitting that what happened to Magnitsky was wrong means admitting that something is seriously wrong with the entire prison system.

The political aspect of the Magnitsky case cannot be overlooked: the passage of the Magnitsky Act means that any investigator who claims that Magnitsky was tortured to death by being deprived of medical treatment risks being accused of siding with the Americans – and no Russian officials would be happy about that. I also understand that the US, with the highest official incarceration rate in the world, has no business telling other countries to clean up their act.

Yet, as the popular Russian saying goes, “you chop at the forest, and it’s the splinters that will fly” – it’s always the least powerful people that are thrown under the bus: people like Magnitsky. Not only is there apparently no one to blame for his death, but having died, he is also being posthumously put on trial for fraud. It’s unprecedented and embarrassing.

Some observers, such as the centrist Eugene Ivanov, have argued that Bill Browder – Magnitsky’s former boss and his co-defendant – has something to answer for. (Browder, who is being tried in absentia, described the charges as absurd.) But even they admit that the case does not make Russia look good.

The saga isn’t over. Like ripples on the water, the consequences of what happened to Magnitsky will continue to spread ever outward. It’s a frightening, cruel spectacle, but even from the sidelines, it is apparent that it cannot happen any other way. Just like in V for Vendetta – “We are all part of it, and all trapped by it.” buy over the counter medicines unshaven girl https://zp-pdl.com/online-payday-loans-cash-advances.php www.zp-pdl.com unshaven girls

займ или кредит credit-n.ru онлайн займы на банковскую карту
займы быстро на карту онлайн credit-n.ru взять кредит на киви кошелёк
онлайн кредит на карту круглосуточно credit-n.ru займы которые дают абсолютно всем на карту круглосуточно
онлайн кредит на карту круглосуточно credit-n.ru займы которые дают абсолютно всем на карту круглосуточно

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Buzz
  • LinkedIn
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • FriendFeed
  • NewsVine
  • Digg

Place your comment

Please fill your data and comment below.

Your comment