Magnitsky’s Mother Goes to the Russian Supreme Court to Overturn the Second Posthumous Case Against Her Murdered Son

November 21, 2014

Sergei Magnitsky’s mother has filed a complaint with the judicial collegium of the Supreme Court of Russia in relation to the second posthumous proceeding organized against her son by the Russian Interior Ministry.

Under this second posthumous case, Sergei Magnitsky has been named after his death as a “co-conspirator” in the $230 million tax refund fraud that he had in fact uncovered and exposed.

…Investigator Urzhumtsev in violation of the principle of presumption of innocence, in violation of the constitutional right for defence, in the absence of a court order, in the absence of preliminary investigation, had stated in his decree [from December 2010] that Sergei Magnitsky who died a year before [in November 2009] in Matrosskaya Tishina detention center, committed a serious crime… the theft of 5.4 billion rubles [$230 million]…The conclusion itself must be qualified as slander in relation to knowingly innocent person,” says the complaint.

 He [Investigator Urzhumtsev] knew very well, that Magnitsky not only was not complicit in the theft of 5.4 billion rubles, but that Magnitsky was the first person who had uncovered the crime committed against the three companies of his client, and who had exposed the criminal activity of perhaps one of the largest criminal groups which specializes in unlawful tax refunds,” says the complaint.

Interior Ministry Investigator Oleg Urzhumtsev was included on both the investigative team on the case against Sergei Magnitsky under which Magnitsky was arrested and ill-treated in custody; and on the case to investigate the $230 million theft that Magnitsky had uncovered. The second investigation led by Investigator Urzhumtsev finished by exonerating all Russian Interior Ministry and tax officials from liability for the $230 million theft, and naming Sergei Magnitsky as co-conspirator posthumously and in secret from his relatives. Urzhumtsev also was responsible for assigning the blame for the crime to a “jobless” person named Vyacheslav Khlebnikov in a fast-track proceeding which ended with a lenient sentence of five years for the $230 million theft. As part of that proceeding conducted after Magnitsky’s death, Khlebnikov gave a false testimony against Magnitsky from detention.

As member of the investigative group [on the case Sergei Magnitsky was detained], Urzhumtsev knew that Magnitsky was arrested soon after his testimony implicating officials in the theft of 5.4 billion rubles, and that some of those officials were included on the same investigative team,-  points out the complaint. – Magnitsky stated that his criminal prosecution was a measure of repression aimed to punish him for the assistance he provided to his client during the identification of circumstances of the theft of his client’s companies – Rilend, Makhaon, and Parfenion.”

The complaint says that Investigator Urzhumtsev has concealed the real perpetrators by blaming the $230 million theft on Sergei Magnitsky, and two other deceased individuals (Mr Gasanov and Mr Korobeinikov), neither of whom were alive and could be questioned at the time of the investigation.

“The evidence in the case file objectively demonstrates that Investigator Urzhumtsev acted in the interests of persons who perpetrated the theft of 5.4 billion rubles [$230 million], and who using his own terminology, “found” two deceased individuals in order to put on them the liability for the theft of budget funds, and in order to provide the service of concealment for the real perpetrators of the crime,” says the complaint.

It was since uncovered that Mr Gasanov died on 1 October 2007, two months before the $230 million was committed. Mr Korobeinikov died in September 2008, “falling of a balcony” of a building under construction, according to the Russian investigation.

Ms Magnitskaya asks the Russian Supreme Court to examine the lawfulness of investigator Urzhumtsev’s actions and annul previous decisions by lower-level Russian courts who rejected her complaints.

The court must check the lawfulness and the justification for the Investigator’s decree… The previous rejection violates the constitutional principle of the presumption of innocence because deceased Magnitsky was named by Investigator Urzhumtsev as a co-conspirator in a crime,” says the complaint.

The court had an opportunity to check the arguments using the criminal case files, and by inviting investigator Urzhumtsev to give testimony, but it failed to do so…As a result, the conclusion of the court [of lower instance] is not supported by the factual circumstances, which is … the ground to cancel the court decision,” says the complaint in conclusion.

Previous complaints from Ms Magnitskaya addressed to lower instance courts have been rejected by Moscow district judge Tatiana Neverova, and Moscow city court judges Andrei Titov and Lyubov Ishmuratova.

In the United States, 26 Russian officials and private individuals involved in Sergei Magnitsky’s detention and ill-treatment in custody and in the criminal conspiracy Magnitsy had uncovered have been sanctioned under the US Magnitsky Act. The list includes several colleagues of Investigator Urzhumtsev on the Russian Interior Ministry’s investigative team in the Magnitsky case.

Sergei Magnitsky’s Mother Slams the Russian Authorities Refusal to Investigate the Murder of Her Son on the 5th Anniversary of His Death

November 19, 2014

Sergei Magnitsky’s mother has spoken of the suffering she has been subjected to in her calls to seek justice for her murdered son in Russia.

In an extensive interview to the Open Russia website, Natalia Magnitskaya spoke of her grief of the way that Russian officials have dealt with her complaints.

All our applications and complaints to all government bodies are being rejected. I can’t read these rejections any more. It is clear that they are simply mocking us. For example, they sent us materials to read, but the copies are so poor it was impossible to read them. My lawyer filed complaint to the higher-level body, but his complaint was rejected. They said essentially that all is ok, there is no need for you to read them.”

Natalia Magnitskaya also depicted her anguish at the lies officially issued by the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office, which justified the posthumous trial of her son by claiming that the family had asked for it:

Recently, one of the documents from the General Prosecutor’s Office said that they had initiated the case against Magnitsky on the request from his mother. But we had stated in writing on so many occasions that we do not want the posthumous prosecution. Howcouldthisbe?”

Natalia Magnitskaya described the struggle to seek justice for her son in Russia as “facing a wall,” but said she continues to challenge the rejections nevertheless and seek justice and is not prepared to give up:

“So far everything has been without effect. In spite of this we try to challenge everything, but it gives you the feeling that you are facing a wall…But we should not stop…It is impossible to give in.”

In another report on the Open Russia website in memory of Sergei Magnitsky, Russian journalist and human rights activist Zoya Svetova recalled how she and other members of the Moscow Public Oversight Commission investigated the circumstances of his murder in detention.

We wrote report and sent it on 31 December 2009 to the President of Russia, the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of Justice. In our report, we wrote that we do not trust the testimony of detention officials and are convinced that the right to life of Magnitsky was violated. In other words, the lawyer was murdered.” 

Also on the Open Russia website, Russian playwright Elena Gremina, author of the play, “One Hour Eighteen Minutes,” which depicts the last hours of Sergei Magnitsky’s life, spoke of how working with the Magnitsky story changed her and those who worked on the play with her:

“It was decided, as usually happens with new ideas, to gather documents and materials about Sergei Magnitsky to see if his story had potential for a play. I did not know then that the gathering of materials for this prospective play would change us, would introduce us to new ideas and new people, that it would change a lot in me.”

Materials to Commemorate the 5th Anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s Killing in Custody can be found on Open Russia website.

Russia is Preparing for a Showdown at Interpol to Seek the Arrest of William Browder – CEO of Hermitage Capital & Leader of Magnitsky Justice Campaign for the 3rd time

November 17, 2014

As the world marks the fifth anniversary of the murder in Russian police custody of Hermitage Capital’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian government is pushing Interpol to arrest William Browder, CEO of Hermitage and leader of the Magnitsky Justice campaign.

The decision on Mr Browder will be a test case for the new leadership at Interpol.  Mr Jürgen Stock from the German Federal Criminal Police was elected on 7 November 2014 as Interpol’s new General Secretary, replacing US representative Ron Noble (, and former Croatian judge Nina Vajić was appointed as chair to Interpol’s Commission for Control of Files in September 2014, replacing former Irish Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes (

Interpol’s Commission for Control of Files will be deciding on the Russian government’s third Red Notice application for Browder at the meeting on November 20th – 21st 2014 at the Interpol headquarters in Lyon. The Interpol Commission rejected Russia’s previous two applications for Browder as “predominantly political” and contrary to Interpol’s Constitution.

Russia has clearly disregarded Interpol’s two previous decisions on Mr Browder’s case as political, and continues to press Interpol on the basis of a barbaric posthumous trial and documents prepared by Russian officials in the Magnitsky case who have been sanctioned in the West,” said a Hermitage Capital representative.

The Browder-led Magnitsky justice campaign has been credited with successfully imposing US visa and financial sanctions on Russian Interior Ministry officials and judges responsible for Sergei Magnitsky’s arrest, ill-treatment and death in custody.

Now Russia is pressing Interpol to arrest Mr Browder on the basis of the Russian case organized by those same sanctioned Russian Interior Ministry officials and judges. The case has been ongoing for many years, and has been highlighted by the Council of Europe as emblematic of politically motivated abuses of the justice system in Russia.

Russia’s third request to Interpol for Browder’s arrest is based on that same case, which culminated last year in Russia with the convictions of Sergei Magnitsky posthumously and Mr Browder in absentia as “co-conspirators” in the first-ever posthumous trial in Russian history.  It is only the second posthumous trial in European history, since the 897 Cadaver Synod when Pope Formosus’ remains were dug out of the ground to face charges after a verdict by Pope Stephen VI that the deceased had been unworthy of the pontificate.

Today’s equivalent of Pope Stephen VI is Russian judge Igor Alisov. He presided over the posthumous trial of Sergei Magnitsky and in absentia trial against Browder in July 2013, and one month later he was promoted by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.  In May 2014, Judge Alisov was placed on the Magnitsky sanctions list by the US Government.

Judge Elena Stashina is another Russian judge involved in the posthumous/in absentia proceedings against Magnitsky and Browder. Under the same case, she signed the arrest warrant for Mr Browder and earlier for Mr Magnitsky. Serving as the Tverskoi district judge in Moscow when Sergei Magnitsky was alive, she rejected his complaints about cruel treatment and violations of his rights, and extended his detention without trial just four days before he was killed.

Judge Stashina has also been sanctioned by the US Government under the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012.”

This week it will be up to Interpol’s Commission, led by Ms Vajic with four specialists from Canada, France, Turkey, and Mauritius, to decide whether to uphold Interpol’s two previous rejections of the Russian request, or to approve the request, using the posthumous trial as the basis for that change in position.  The latest Russian request forms part of the Russian state’s political attack against Mr Browder, which has been ongoing for several years.

Statement by Bill Browder on 5th Anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s Killing in Russia

November 16, 2014

Dear Friends and supporters,

 Today marks the 5th anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s killing in Russian police custody.

Sergei was my lawyer who was murdered because he exposed one of the largest government corruption schemes in Russian history. After he testified against the police officers involved, he was arrested by the same officers and was then systematically tortured for 358 days. On November 16, 2009 he went into critical condition and instead of being treated, he was put in an isolation cell and beaten by eight riot guards with rubber batons until he was dead at the age of 37.

When I learned of Sergei’s death, it was the worst news I had ever received in my life. It was like a knife going into my heart and I made a vow to myself, his family and his memory that I would get justice for him. For five years, I have tried to get that justice, but the Russian government has used every tool at their disposal to thwart me. They claimed Sergei was never tortured and he died of natural causes. They claimed that he never uncovered or exposed a crime, but was the one guilty of one. And most shockingly, they exonerated every single Russian state employee involved in spite of a mountain of documentary evidence to the contrary.

 It became clear to me that there was no possibility of justice inside of Russia so I sought justice outside of Russia and have advocated for sanctions against the people who killed Sergei in many countries in the West. Three years after Sergei’s death, the US government signed the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act imposing visa sanctions and asset freezes on those involved in Sergei’s death as well as other human rights violations. Similar sanctions are being considered by governments in Europe as well.

 Putin and his government have become infuriated at the global reaction to Sergei’s case and have lashed out in all sorts of ways. Shortly after the Magnitsky Act was passed, Putin banned US adoptions of disabled Russian children. In 2013, more than three years after Sergei died, they put him on trial in the first ever posthumous trial in the history of Russia. They also put me on trial in absentia as his co-defendant and sentenced me to nine years.

 When I first started this campaign, many people thought that what happened to Sergei was some kind of anomaly. They said “this is a sad story, but probably a one-off”, but as time has gone by, more and more cases like this have surfaced and it’s becoming obvious to everyone that Russia is a criminal state taking innocent people hostage and doing horrific things to them. The most recent actions in Ukraine make it clear to even the most ardent Russian apologists that Russia is engaging in all sorts of atrocities and brazenly covering them up.

What happened to Sergei is now a global symbol of everything that is wrong with Russia, from the actual crime of what they did to Sergei to the high level cover-up to the threats against me and others seeking justice. Despite the many horrific threats and all the misinformation Russia is spewing out in this case, I won’t back down in my call for justice for Sergei Magnitsky and neither will those close to him.  We will not stop until the people who tortured and killed Sergei are properly brought to justice.

Thank you for your continued support on this important mission.

Two Minute Tribute Song on YouTube to Mark 5th Anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s Murder in Russian Police Custody

November 16, 2014

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We Remember You


To commemorate the fifth anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s death in Russian police custody, please join us by watching a short song on YouTube devoted to Sergei’s life and his sacrifice (LINK to Song).

Sergei Magnitsky was a 37-year old Russian anti-corruption lawyer who uncovered a $230 million fraud perpetrated by Russian government officials and organised criminals. After he implicated Russian police officers in the crime, he was arrested by the very same officers, tortured and brutally killed at Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center in Moscow on 16 November 2009.

The Magnitsky music video goes on to show poignant images of Russians protesting against the impunity in the Magnitsky case carrying posters: “Fighting Corruption Can Kill”; “Putin is not Russia”, “Our Freedom Can’t Be Taken Away”, “I Will Fight for My Rights.”

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Russian Civil Rights Activists in Magnitsky Protests in Moscow


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The Magnitsky music video also presents images of a young Sergei Magnitsky, and of his resting place at a Moscow cemetery.

The video concludes with a photo of Sergei on holiday with his friends and the by-line: “Russian hero.”

While the killing of Sergei Magnitsky has ignited worldwide condemnation and lead to numerous political and legal calls for justice around the globe, five years on there has still been no justice for Sergei Magnitsky in Russia. Instead, he himself was posthumously prosecuted in the first posthumous trial in the history of Russia, with the judge presiding at the trial immediately promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian authorities also last year closed the investigation into his death finding “no sign of crime,” and refused all applications from Sergei Magnitsky’s mother to reopen the investigation into the evidence of his torture and murder.

On Friday, the US State Department released a statement on the eve of the fifth anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s death which says:

“Despite widely-publicized, credible evidence of criminal conduct resulting in Magnitskiy’s death, Russian authorities have failed to bring to justice those responsible. We remain concerned about impunity for this crime and the atmosphere of intimidation for those who work to uncover corruption or human rights abuses in the Russian Federation. On the fifth anniversary of Magnitskiy’s death, we continue to call for full accountability for those responsible for his unjust imprisonment and wrongful death and we will continue to fully support the efforts of those in Russia who seek to bring these individuals to justice, including through implementation of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012.” (

Sergei Magnitsky’s case and the impunity of the Russian officials involved have become a symbol of the corruption and failing justice system in Russia, and of the abuse of the rights of its citizens who challenge the authorities.

The Sergei Magnitsky tribute song was written by a songwriter Samuel Smith, and recorded as a result of a request made on, a crowd-sourcing platform for human rights activists around the world. The video directed by Alexandra Ageeva has been created by Russian civic rights activists, including Pussy Riot, who conducted a series of one-person protest actions around Moscow this summer.

Tribute to Sergei Magnitsky five years after his death by Russian civil society activists

Tweet and pass along (LINK to Song)

Softly spoken, words bleed the truth
And help discover the broken and confused
The fight for justice and the path of one man
Bring new beginnings and take down corrupt plans

You can’t pass away from the people who know
Your words lead the way for the world to go

You didn’t lose your life in vain
Everyone on Earth will remember the name
Everyone on Earth will remember the name

Jailed for the words that he spoke
His name lives on
In the name of the music and the folks
Who fail to forget that rulers need
To show respect to the people they lead

You can’t pass away from the people who know
Your words lead the way for the world to go

You didn’t lose your life in vain –
Everyone on Earth will remember the name
Everyone on Earth will remember the name

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