Council of Europe’s Committee Will Debate How to Punish Sergei Magnitsky’s Killers

September 2, 2013

This Wednesday, 4 September 2013, between 9 am and 1 pm, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), will consider a draft resolution entitled “Refusing Impunity for the Killers of Sergei Magnitsky” (

Since the report’s publication earlier in June, Russian officials have been struggling to find ways of diluting the conclusions of the report.
Russia is one of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. The draft resolution and the report on the impunity of Russian officials in the Magnitsky case have been prepared by Swiss MP, Rapporteur Andreas Gross under his Council of Europe mandate from November 2012 to carry out an independent review of Magnitsky’s death in Russian custody.

On 25 June 2013, Mr Gross presented his findings to the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee of the Council of Europe. Even before the report was released, the Russian delegation expressed its dissatisfaction and pledged to “influence” the content of the report before the 4 September 2013 vote.
Alexei Pushkov, MP from the Pro-Putin United Russia and head of the Russian delegation to the Council of Europe, (, said prior to the 25 June 2013 meeting on the draft Magnitsky resolution:
“We will try to influence its content. The first page of the resolution announces Magnitsky as a fighter with corruption which he never was, because he was a finansist, specialist in creating schemes to avoid taxes” (

Pushkov also said that the draft report presented to the Council of Europe’s Committee by Mr Gross “repeated the political imprints which have been accepted by the Western approach to the ‘Magnitsky case.”

Pushkov denied that Magnitsky died from beating, saying: “I repeat. This has not been determined.”

After these remarks were made, Mr Magnitsky’s mother publicly confronted Mr Pushkov with a statement that she and other relatives were eyewitnesses to the injuries her son had suffered before his death.

“The statements you have made have offended the feelings of Sergei Magnitsky’s relatives, who had the misfortune to witness first hand the injuries on his body pointing towards a violent death,” said Mrs Magnitskaya in a letter addressed to Mr Pushkov.
Mr Magnitsky’s mother demanded a public apology from Mr Pushkov over his remarks: “You have made statements over a long period of time about a deceased person, which are impermissible both from the point of view of the morality and law. In spite of this, you have never asked for the clarification of the position from the family of Sergei Magnitsky,” said Mrs Magnitskaya.

Natalia Magnitskaya’s letter was published by Novaya Gazeta ( No response from Mr Pushkov was forthcoming so far.

Another Russian delegate to the Council of Europe, Alexander Sidyakin ( said the report by Rapporteur Gross was “not accounting for the position of the official structures of Russia” and implied that the death of Mr Magnitsky was similar to the death of the former Serbian President Mr Milošević.

“Our objection is that the report is biased. We proposed to them [PACE Committee] to examine the death of the particular person in detention, but this is a banal topic. Milošević also died in detention, because help was not provided to him,” said Mr Sidyakin in comments published by on 26 June 2013 (

Notably, when Andreas Gross MP was first appointed as Rapporteur on the Magntisky case, the Russian officials welcomed his candidacy. According to comments made in November 2012 by the Russian delegate to the Council of Europe, Leonid Slutsky MP (, “Gross was one of the co-rapporteurs on the monitoring file on the Russian Federation and had shown himself as a constructive partner” and his appointment would help avoid an “openly biased approach” (

The motion “Refusing Impunity for the Killers of Sergei Magnitsky” calling for an independent review of the Magnitsky case by the Council of Europe was tasked to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights in October 2012 following a recommendation of the Council of Europe’s Bureau. At the meeting on 12 November 2012, the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee designated Mr Gross to prepare a report on the Magnitsky case.

The draft resolution before the Committee’s vote on 4 September 2013 prepared by Rapporteur Gross on the impunity of officials in the Magnitsky case calls for the Council of Europe member states to hold to account all those who share responsibility in Mr Magnitsky’s death, ensure that his posthumous prosecution and the persecution of other lawyers who represented Hermitage in Russia is ended, and urges Russian authorities to cooperate with criminal investigations launched by European countries into the $230 million funds stolen by the group of Russian officials and criminals exposed by Sergei Magnitsky.

The draft resolution summarises the details of the corrupt criminal conspiracy exposed by Mr Magnitsky (see, for instance, Mr Magnitsky’s testimonies from 5 June 2008 and 7 October 2008 given before his arrest, his testimonies from detention from 14 October 2009 and 12 November 2009 at In spite of the evidence, the Russian authorities attempt to argue that Mr Magnitsky did not discover their corruption, and instead posthumously blamed Mr Magnitsky himself for the $230 million theft he had exposed.

The draft resolution before the Council of Europe’s Committee describes Mr Magnitsky’s beating before his death (see the prison records evidencing the use of hand-cuffs and rubber batons, the signs of violence on Magnitsky’s body discovered at the funeral, the act of death referring to his suspected head injury, and the findings by the Russian President’s Human Rights Council in:
Even the official Russian medical experts referred to rubber batons as a likely cause of injuries on Magnitsky’s body, yet the official position of the Russian government remains that of denial that beatings took place. In March 2013, the Russian Investigative Committee formally closed the investigation into the death of Sergei Magnitsky finding that “no event of crime” had occurred. In April 2013, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that the Kremlin had “no reason to doubt the competency of those who conducted the investigation” ( Mr Peskov insisted that the Magnitsky case must not be discussed outside of Russia, calling such discussions “impermissible” (

The official agenda of the 4 September 2013 meeting of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights which will take place in Paris, France, includes the consideration of the draft report on the impunity in the Magnitsky case, the addendum and the draft resolution (

Draft resolution and report “Refusing Impunity for the Killers of Sergei Magnitsky”:


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