British Parliament Votes Unanimously in Favor of Magnitsky Sanctions

March 8, 2012

Yes­ter­day, a motion was unan­i­mously passed in the British House of Com­mons call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to impose visa sanc­tions and asset freezes on the Russ­ian offi­cials who falsely arrested, tor­tured and killed Sergei Mag­nit­sky and then cov­ered up the crime.

Forty British MPs from all major polit­i­cal par­ties voted unan­i­mously in favor of the motion enti­tled “Human Rights Abuses and the Death of Sergei Magnitsky”.

“The UK Par­lia­ment has spo­ken over­whelm­ingly in sol­i­dar­ity with Sergei Mag­nit­sky and the other brave voices fight­ing for the rule of law and reform in Rus­sia. The gov­ern­ment should now heed its will and come for­ward with a bill to impose tar­geted sanc­tions on those respon­si­ble for tor­ture, assas­si­na­tion and other crimes against those strug­gling to pro­mote or defend the most basic free­doms we enjoy here,” said Dominic Raab, MP, who intro­duced the motion.

Alis­tair Burt, For­eign Office Min­is­ter, respond­ing on behalf of the gov­ern­ment, said the gov­ern­ment did not oppose the motion. Min­is­ter Burt said that the British gov­ern­ment is deter­mined to secure jus­tice in this case. He stressed that the UK gov­ern­ment has con­sis­tently raised the Mag­nit­sky case with the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment at the high­est lev­els, includ­ing with Pres­i­dent Medvedev and For­eign Min­is­ter Lavrov, and finds it “deeply trou­bling” that no one has been held liable for his death.

Min­is­ter Burt went on to say:

“The death of Sergei Mag­nit­sky serves as a stark reminder of the human rights sit­u­a­tion in Rus­sia, and ques­tions about the rule of law there.”

Sir Mal­colm Rifkind, MP, for­mer British For­eign Sec­re­tary, said of the Par­lia­men­tary vote:

“I am delighted that the House of Com­mons has unan­i­mously expressed its will that the UK should join other gov­ern­ment around the world in refus­ing visas and travel rights into the UK for those respon­si­ble for the per­se­cu­tion and death of Sergei Magnitsky.”

Dominic Raab, MP, called on the gov­ern­ment to present the imple­men­ta­tion plan before the Queen’s speech sched­uled for May 9.

The motion calls upon the British gov­ern­ment to intro­duce leg­isla­tive pro­pos­als sanc­tion­ing four cat­e­gories of offi­cials who:

(a) were involved in the deten­tion, phys­i­cal abuse or death of Sergei Mag­nit­sky;
(b) par­tic­i­pated in efforts to con­ceal the legal lia­bil­ity for the deten­tion, abuse or death of Sergei Mag­nit­sky;
© com­mit­ted the frauds dis­cov­ered by Sergei Mag­nit­sky; or
(d) are respon­si­ble for extra­ju­di­cial killings, tor­ture or other gross vio­la­tions of human rights com­mit­ted in Rus­sia or any other coun­try against any indi­vid­ual seek­ing to obtain, exer­cise, defend or pro­mote basic and inter­na­tion­ally recog­nised human rights, includ­ing those set out in the Inter­na­tional Covenant on Civil and Polit­i­cal Rights 1966.”

The debate went ahead in spite of a let­ter of protest from Russ­ian Ambas­sador Alexan­der Yakovenko sent to Speaker of the House of Com­mons, John Bercow, attempt­ing to stop the debate.

Comments

One Response to “British Parliament Votes Unanimously in Favor of Magnitsky Sanctions”

  1. Daniel Ross on April 7th, 2012 16:12

    Sir, Madam

    Rela­tions between the United States, the United King­dom and the Euro­pean Union on one side, and the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion on the other have recently taken a turn for the worse. In par­tic­u­lar, cer­tain West­ern states are con­sid­er­ing enact­ing into law a pro­ce­dure whereby cer­tain Russ­ian cit­i­zens, offi­cers work­ing for such state insti­tu­tions as the Fed­eral Secu­rity Bureau, Inte­rior Min­istry, Office of the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral, and Judi­ciary, will be pun­ish­able for their alleged involve­ment in cor­rupt schemes which result in death or vio­lence. The “Mag­nit­sky Act”, now being debated in the US Con­gress is such exam­ple. The United States would, due to the Mag­nit­sky Act, have a legal frame­work for pun­ish­ing indi­vid­u­als allegedly involved in cor­rup­tion and state spon­sored vio­lence in Rus­sia. Such mea­sures would take the form of travel bans and asset freezes of such indi­vid­u­als. Although any ini­tia­tives which have as aim the reduc­tion of state spon­sored vio­lence and cor­rup­tion should be wel­comed, it is worth inves­ti­gat­ing the details behind the deci­sion by such West­ern gov­ern­ments to pur­sue such acts of law as the Mag­nit­sky Act. In par­tic­u­lar, was their deci­sion to pur­sue such a law based on reli­able evi­dence? What if the offi­cers on the now famous “Mag­nit­sky List” were not guilty of any mis­con­duct at all? What if they were merely doing their duty, bring­ing to jus­tice peo­ple accused of mas­sive tax crime of the order of mil­lions of US dol­lars. And if not guilty (which could be deter­mined for exam­ple in an inter­na­tional trial), is not the effect of pass­ing such an act, which dam­ages all the par­ties involved, their gov­ern­ments and their peo­ples, also the direct result of the peo­ple respon­si­ble for propos­ing such a law in the first place? Is it really in the West’s inter­est to pur­sue such a pol­icy with Rus­sia with­out metic­u­lously and inde­pen­dently exam­in­ing all the case evi­dence, not just that pro­vided by William Brow­der and his asso­ciates. The stakes are high. The West needs Rus­sia “on board” and fully inte­grated into the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity at a very cru­cial time in world his­tory. A loom­ing con­fronta­tion with Iran is just one such exam­ple of how much the West depends on Rus­sia for their the own secu­rity. In short, can the West really afford itself the lux­ury of uni­lat­er­ally attack­ing Rus­sia with­out look­ing in depth into the whole sor­did, com­pli­cated and deeply con­tro­ver­sial “Mag­nit­sky Case”?

    I call on the gov­ern­ments of the United States and mem­bers of the Euro­pean Union to exam­ine all evi­dence con­nected to the case. On the one side, the evi­dence pre­sented by Brow­der has been widely pub­li­cized. I pro­pose that there has been a lack of will to con­sider the evi­dence put for­ward by the Russ­ian State, in par­tic­u­lar, the evi­dence which incrim­i­nates William Brow­der (CEO Her­mitage Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment), Ivan Cherkasov — (direc­tor of “Cameo Ltd” , a mem­ber of the Her­mitage Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment Fund) and Sergei Mag­nit­sky (tax advi­sor at Fire­stone Dun­can Law Firm). With­out look­ing objec­tively at both sides of the case, surely any uni­lat­eral action taken against the Russ­ian State will lead to a weak­en­ing of the rela­tion­ship between the West and Rus­sia with unfore­see­able consequences.

    The evi­dence

    i) Evi­dence that Mag­nit­sky was arrested for a tax crime com­mit­ted in 1999, crim­i­nal case num­ber 153123. He was arrested due to his involve­ment in an alleged tax crime, and specif­i­cally because i) he could put pres­sure on the wit­nesses of the case (invalids from the Kalmykian Repub­lic), as he did in the past, ii) was a flight risk, (Ivan Cherkasov and Edward Khairedi­nov, oth­ers impli­cated in the case had already left Rus­sia). It was deter­mined that if Mag­nit­sky had been allowed to leave Rus­sia, the case would become much more com­pli­cated to solve. This is given by the Russ­ian State as the real rea­son for his arrest, accord­ing to arti­cles 91,92 of the crim­i­nal code. The widely held view in the West is that he was arrested because he him­self tes­ti­fied against Inte­rior Min­istry Offi­cials Lt Col Artem Kuznetsov and Lt Col Pavel Kar­pov.
    ii) Magnitsky’s tes­ti­mony. Firstly, this doc­u­ment reveals that he did not tes­tify against any spe­cific offi­cers of the Russ­ian State. This con­trasts with the view held by the West­ern media, that the rea­son behind his arrest was moti­vated out of revenge, an attempt to “muz­zle” Mag­nit­sky so that he would not pur­sue his inves­ti­ga­tions. Sec­ondly, he tes­ti­fied that the com­pany seals con­fis­cated by the Inte­rior Min­istry offi­cials in their raid of 4th June 2007 had been copied. He tes­ti­fied that the copies of the com­pany seals were kept in the offices of his com­pany, Fire­stone Dun­can, and they were used to give Power of Attor­ney to Khairadi­nov to rep­re­sent Cameo Ltd.
    iii) Evi­dence that the com­pany seals used in the trans­fer of own­er­ship of the com­pa­nies Par­fe­nion Ltd, Makhaon Ltd and Rilend Ltd were the copies of the seals, and not the orig­i­nals con­fis­cated by the Inte­rior Min­istry offi­cers in their raid of the Her­mitage offices on June 4th 2007. (The trans­fer of own­er­ship of these three com­pa­nies to a fourth com­pany under the con­trol of a cer­tain Vic­tor Marklelov, Plu­ton Ltd, was a cen­tral part of a scheme to steal 230 mil­lion US dol­lars from the Russ­ian State)
    iv) Tes­ti­mony of Vic­tor Markelov. Markelov in his tes­ti­mony of 16 July 2008 states that some­time in the sum­mer of 2007, an old friend had intro­duced him to a cer­tain Oktay Hasanov. Hasanov, he states, invited him to take con­trol (through Markelov’s com­pany, Plu­ton Ltd) of the three for­mer Her­mitage com­pa­nies, namely Rilend Ltd, Makhaon Ltd and Par­fe­nion Ltd. He also states that Hasanov knew a cer­tain Edward Khairet­di­nov who had given him the Power of Attor­ney (using the copies of the com­pany seals located in the offices of Fire­stone Dun­can) over the allegedly stolen com­pa­nies. Fur­ther­more he tes­ti­fies that in Hasanov’s pres­ence he heard Hasanov talk­ing to Khairet­di­nov in a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion and that Khairet­di­nov had to fly to the UK to meet with the pre­vi­ous com­pany own­ers before being able to make cer­tain deci­sions con­cern­ing the chang­ing of the own­er­ship of the com­pa­nies. Such tes­ti­mony alleges a link between Vic­tor Markelov, Hasanov and Khairet­di­nov, a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the Her­mitage Com­pany “Cameo”.
    Look­ing behind the evi­dence, a num­ber of pos­si­ble con­clu­sions can be made. If the seals used to trans­fer the own­er­ship of the three com­pa­nies were indeed those held at the offices of Fire­stone Dun­can, and not those con­fis­cated by the Inte­rior Min­istry on their raid of 4th June 2007, then the whole case against the Inte­rior Ministry’s involve­ment in the fraud breaks down.
    If the West is really inter­ested in improv­ing rela­tions with the Russ­ian State, then it is their inter­ests to inves­ti­gate inde­pen­dently all evi­dence of the “Mag­nit­sky Case”, for exam­ple in The Inter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice. With­out such a pro­gres­sion, the Mag­nit­sky Case will con­tinue sim­mer­ing, poi­son­ing rela­tions between the West and Rus­sia for years to come.
    All evi­dence men­tioned in this arti­cle is acces­si­ble freely on the inter­net. I would be happy to com­mu­ni­cate my sources to any inter­ested party.

    Yours faithfully,

    Daniel Ross, Moscow +79166747619

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