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.

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.

European Parliamentarians Challenge EU’s New Foreign Policy Chief on Russia and Demand EU to Implement Magnitsky Sanctions in Europe

November 12, 2014

Euro­pean Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans Chal­lenge EU’s New For­eign Pol­icy Chief on Rus­sia and Demand EU to Imple­ment Mag­nit­sky Sanc­tions in Europe

12 Novem­ber 2014 – Over twenty deputies in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment have writ­ten to Fed­er­ica Mogherini, EU’s new for­eign pol­icy chief, ask­ing her to imple­ment the Euro­pean Parliament’s rec­om­men­da­tion to sanc­tion 32 per­sons involved in the arrest, tor­ture and mur­der of whistle-blowing Russ­ian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

We are writ­ing to you in rela­tion to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment Rec­om­men­da­tion to the Coun­cil of 2 April 2014 on estab­lish­ing com­mon visa restric­tions for Russ­ian offi­cials involved in the Sergei Mag­nit­sky case. …As the new head of the Euro­pean Exter­nal Action Ser­vice, what near­est actions do you plan to under­take to fol­low through on this rec­om­men­da­tion?” — said Euro­pean Par­lia­ment deputies in their let­ter to Ms Mogherini — “We ask you now in your new posi­tion to answer these ques­tions so the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment can then take a view of what to do next to make sure there is no fur­ther impunity in the Mag­nit­sky case.”

Since Sergei Magnitsky’s mur­der in Russ­ian police deten­tion five years ago, the only sig­nif­i­cant actions taken in Rus­sia have been the posthu­mous trial of Sergei Mag­nit­sky him­self and the clo­sure of the inves­ti­ga­tion into his death, which found “no signs of crime,” and absolved all offi­cials from respon­si­bil­ity. The inves­ti­ga­tion was closed fol­low­ing Pres­i­dent Putin’s pub­lic inter­ven­tion at a Decem­ber 2012 press con­fer­ence, where he claimed that Mag­nit­sky was not tor­tured, but “died from a heart attack.”

Sergei Magnitsky’s case and the impunity of the Russ­ian offi­cials involved have become a sym­bol of the endemic cor­rup­tion and fail­ing jus­tice sys­tem in Rus­sia, and high­lighted the abuse that Russ­ian cit­i­zens face when they chal­lenge the author­i­ties. The case lead to a dra­matic move­ment in Russ­ian civil soci­ety, call­ing on the West to cre­ate con­se­quences for those involved and specif­i­cally to impose sanc­tions in the form of visa bans and freezes on assets in West­ern banks.

In response to the Russ­ian impunity, on 2 April 2014 the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment adopted a res­o­lu­tion with­out any objec­tions requir­ing the Euro­pean Exter­nal Action Ser­vice, EU’s for­eign affairs body, to pro­pose the sanc­tions to the EU Coun­cil of Ministers.

Since the res­o­lu­tion was passed, no action was taken by Baroness Cather­ine Ash­ton, the pre­vi­ous head of the EU’s Exter­nal Action Service.

In addi­tion to the Euro­pean Parliament’s actions in the Mag­nit­sky case, the U.S. passed the “Sergei Mag­nit­sky Rule of Law Account­abil­ity Act” in Decem­ber 2012, impos­ing sanc­tions on the com­plicit Russ­ian offi­cials. Addi­tion­ally, the Par­lia­men­tary Assem­bly of the OSCE and the Par­lia­men­tary Assem­bly of the Coun­cil of Europe (PACE), inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions com­pris­ing up to 57 coun­tries, passed res­o­lu­tions urg­ing their mem­bers and their national par­lia­ments to adopt a course sim­i­lar to the US by imple­ment­ing Mag­nit­sky sanctions.

Sergei Mag­nit­sky was a 37-year old lawyer and out­side coun­sel for the Her­mitage Fund, who was tor­tured to death in Russ­ian Inte­rior Min­istry cus­tody after he tes­ti­fied about the involve­ment of Inte­rior Min­istry offi­cials in the theft of his client’s com­pa­nies and the $230 mil­lion theft. The Russ­ian offi­cials respon­si­ble for his arrest, tor­ture and killing were absolved from any respon­si­bil­ity, pro­moted and dec­o­rated with state honours.

For more infor­ma­tion, please contact:

Mag­nit­sky Jus­tice Cam­paign
+44 2074401777
info@lawandorderinrussia.org
lawandorderinrussia.org

Pussy Riot to Lead Tribute to Sergei Magnitsky at the British Parliament on the Fifth Anniversary of His Murder in Russian Police Custody

November 12, 2014

Pussy Riot to Lead Trib­ute to Sergei Mag­nit­sky at the British Par­lia­ment on the Fifth Anniver­sary of His Mur­der in Russ­ian Police Custody

11 Novem­ber 2014 – This month marks the fifth anniver­sary of the killing in Russ­ian police cus­tody of 37-year old anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Mag­nit­sky, who exposed a $230 mil­lion fraud per­pe­trated by Russ­ian gov­ern­ment offi­cials and organ­ised criminals.

While his death ignited world­wide con­dem­na­tion and lead to numer­ous polit­i­cal and legal calls for jus­tice around the globe, five years on there is still no jus­tice in Rus­sia for Sergei Magnitsky.

To mark the mem­ory of Sergei Mag­nit­sky and the fight against cor­rup­tion which he gave his life for, politi­cians, artists, jour­nal­ists and cam­paign­ers will gather in Lon­don on Tues­day 18 Novem­ber 2014 to par­tic­i­pate in a major panel by Henry Jack­son Soci­ety to be held at the British parliament.

The ses­sion chaired by Chris Bryant, MP, is enti­tled ‘Prospects for Rus­sia after Putin: Five Years from the Death of Sergei Magnitsky.’

Among the pan­elists are mem­bers of the Russ­ian punk protest group Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokon­nikova and Maria Alekhina, who were pre­vi­ously jailed in Rus­sia for stag­ing an anti-Putin protest in a Moscow church. Also par­tic­i­pat­ing will be Hon Irwin Cotler MP, for­mer Gen­eral Pros­e­cu­tor of Canada, who rep­re­sented pris­on­ers of con­science Nathan Sha­ran­sky and Nel­son Man­dela; for­mer Russ­ian Prime Min­is­ter Mikhail Kasyanov; envi­ron­men­tal activist and oppo­si­tion leader Evge­nia Chirikova; and Franco-Russo jour­nal­ist Elena Servet­taz, author of the book, “Why Europe Needs a Mag­nit­sky Law”.

This event will com­mem­o­rate Sergei Magnitsky’s legacy by bring­ing together some of the top human rights cam­paign­ers to dis­cuss Rus­sia after Putin, and if there is a chance for the kind of Rus­sia that Sergei Mag­nit­sky believed in,” said a Mag­nit­sky Jus­tice Cam­paign representative.

Sergei Mag­nit­sky was a 37-year old lawyer and out­side coun­sel for the Her­mitage Fund, who was tor­tured to death in Russ­ian Inte­rior Min­istry cus­tody after he tes­ti­fied about the involve­ment of Inte­rior Min­istry offi­cials in the theft of his client’s com­pa­nies and the $230 mil­lion theft. The Russ­ian offi­cials respon­si­ble for his arrest, tor­ture and killing were absolved from any respon­si­bil­ity, pro­moted and dec­o­rated with state honours.

For more infor­ma­tion, please contact:

Mag­nit­sky Jus­tice Cam­paign
+44 2074401777
info@lawandorderinrussia.org
lawandorderinrussia.org

To reg­is­ter your atten­dance at the Mag­nit­sky event, please go to Henry Jack­son Soci­ety website:

http://henryjacksonsociety.org/2014/11/18/prospects-for-russia-after-putin-five-years-from-the-death-of-sergei-magnitsky/

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