22 British MPs Call on the Government to Impose Visa Sanctions on Magnitsky Murderers

February 11, 2011

22 MPs representing a wide spectrum of political parties including Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats, SDLP and Democratic Unionist Party, called on the British government to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on the Russian officials who killed Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year old anti-corruption lawyer who represented a British investment firm.

The motion was introduced by Chris Bryant MP, a Shadow Justice Minister and former Minister for Europe. The motion was also signed by Rt Hon Malcolm Rifkind MP, former Foreign Secretary under Prime Minister John Major, and current Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Denis MacShane MP, Former Minister for Europe under Prime Minister Tony Blair and Nicholas Soames MP, former Minister for Defence under Prime Minister John Major


British lawmakers condemned the wide-spread corruption that lead to the torture and death of a Sergei Magnitsky. Mr Magnitsky was arrested and imprisoned by senior Russian police officials, who he exposed a month before to his arrest, with the embezzlement of US$230 million of state taxes.

The Sergei Magnitsky visa sanctions EDM (No 1183) reads:

This House commemorates the life of Sergei Magnitsky, an anti-corruption lawyer arrested and tortured to death in Russian custody on 16 November 2009, while defending a British organisation investing in Russia; condemns the fact that no investigation into his torture in custody or into police corruption has been opened in Russia despite appeals from leading human rights and anti-corruption organisations and foreign governments;… and calls on the Government to exclude from the UK and freeze assets of those Russian officials involved in Sergei Magnitsky’s arrest, torture and death and the US$230 million corruption he uncovered.”

The strong support in the House of Commons for the Magnitsky visa sanctions comes just days ahead of an official visit to the UK of Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Lavrov. This visit comes at a time of a marked deterioration in Russian-British relations following the expulsion from Russia of Luke Harding, a Guardian newspaper journalist who had received wide recognition for exposing corruption in the Russian government.

The Sergei Magnitsky visa sanctions EDM underlines the impunity of torturers in Russia and said:

“this House… notes that a year since his death in custody not a single Russian official has been charged or tried despite the well-documented record of abuse, but that Russian policemen involved have been promoted and honoured; further notes that the European Parliament, the US Congress and Canadian parliaments have all discussed legislation imposing visa and economic sanctions on the involved Russian officials.”

William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital, the firm that Magnitsky represented in Russia, said:

“The latest motion in the Parliament is a signal that UK won’t be a blind witness to those who calmly commit horrific crimes and live in impunity in their own country. It is truly against our national interest to allow torturers and murderers to visit our country and spend their blood money here.”.

Last week, Chris Bryant MP prepared an extensive 1,000-page dossier with evidence of the involvement and collusion of 60 Russian officials in the arrest, torture and death in police custody of Sergei Magnitsky and will submit it to the UK Home Secretary Theresa May. He called on Theresa May to ban entry into the UK for those 60 Russian officials. Mr Bryant MP also called on the British government, to formally proscribe these Russian officials as “economic terrorists” under the Terrorism Act for their role in harming British economic interests.



The US Helsinki Commission (US OSCE Commission) issued in April of last year, a list of 60 Russian officials detailing their role in the unlawful arrest, torture and death of 37-year old Sergei Magnitsky and the theft of US$230 million of public funds he uncovered. The list triggered a worldwide campaign for justice around the world. The US Congress and Canadian Parliament put forward legislation banning entry and freezing assets of Russian officials responsible for corruption uncovered by Mr Magnitsky and his persecution in custody.

On 16 December 2010, the European Parliament adopted, with an overwhelming majority, a resolution calling upon the EU to consider an “entry ban for Russian officials involved in Magnitsky’s case” and encouraging cooperation of EU law enforcement agencies “in freezing bank accounts and other assets of these Russian officials in all EU Member States”.

Despite ample evidence of abuse, the Russian government has refused to admit to the crimes of torture committed by its officials and claimed that Magnitsky died of “natural causes”. Furthermore, Russian police officers directly involved in Magnitsky’s arrest and torture in custody were promoted and given top state honours on the one-year anniversary of his death last November.

In response to the on-going impunity of Magnitsky’s torturers in Russia, Russian human rights activists have called upon the EU and US governments to take steps to create legal consequences for Russian officials in Magnitsky’s case on their territories. Last month, three UN Special Rapporteurs – on Extrajudicial Killings, Against Torture, and for the Independence of Lawyers and Judges – formally raised Magnitsky’s case with the Russian Federation. The investigation by the UN Rapporteurs is currently ongoing.

For further information please contact:

Hermitage Capital

+44 207 440 1777



Link to the UK House of Commons Early Day Motion on Sergei Magnitsky: http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=42195&SESSION=905

List of UK MPs who signed Sergei Magnitsky EDM in the House of Commons:

Conservative Party MPs :

1. Bottomley, Peter

2. Dorries, Nadine

3. Halfon, Robert

4. Rifkind, Malcolm

5. Soames, Nicholas

Democratic Unionist Party MP:

6. Shannon, Jim

Labour Party MPs:

7. Bryant, Chris (Primary Sponsor)

8. Campbell, Ronnie

9. Caton, Martin

10. Clark, Katy

11. Corbyn, Jeremy

12. Flynn, Paul

13. Glindon, Mary

14. Hopkins, Kelvin

15. MacShane, Denis

16. McDonnell, John

17. Sheridan, Jim

18. Singh, Marsha

19. Smith, Nick

Liberal Democrats MPs:

20. Brake, Tom

21. Pugh, John

Social Democratic and Labour Party MP:

22. Durkan, Mark


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