// Press Releases (in English)
Interpol Definitively Rejects Russia’s Request to Issue an International Arrest Warrant for Bill Browder
January 26, 2015
Interpol Definitively Rejects Russia’s Request to Issue an International Arrest Warrant for Bill Browder
26 January 2015 — Interpol, the international police organization, has definitively rejected Russia’s attempt to add Bill Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, to its Red Notice international arrest warrant system. This is Russia’s third unsuccessful attempt to issue an Interpol Red Notice for Browder. A Red Notice would have meant that Browder would be arrested at any international border and potentially extradited back to Russia. Over the last eight weeks, Interpol’s Commission for the Control of Files has reviewed Russia’s application and concluded that the Russian warrant was illegitimate because it was “predominantly political.”
This attempt by the Russian government follows a long series of acts of retaliation against Browder for his role in the successful passage of the US Magnitsky Act, which imposes visa sanctions and asset freezes on Russian officials who killed Sergei Magnitsky, were involved in the $230 million theft he had uncovered, or perpetrated other human rights abuses.
Previously, Interpol refused two similar requests from Russia for Browder. In the summer of 2014, Interpol said Russia’s requests to arrest Browder were invalid because they violated Interpol’s Constitution which prohibits the organization to be used for political persecution.
Instead of complying with the previous two Interpol’s rulings, the Russian authorities began an intensive high-level lobbying campaign to influence Interpol to reverse their decision. In January 2014, the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office dispatched officials to Lyon, France, where Interpol is headquartered, who persuaded Interpol to re-open the Browder case. To help convince Interpol, Russian President Putin invited General Secretary of Interpol Ron Noble to his private residence near Moscow at the end of October 2014. Russian authorities also lobbied Interpol member states to elect their representative to Interpol’s governing body, the Executive Committee.
To make their latest application to Interpol for Browder, the Russian authorities used the posthumous trial against Browder’s murdered Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. This trial was condemned around the world as a gross abuse of justice.
“This latest episode with Interpol is an important example of how Putin applies Russia’s sovereign power to abuse its membership in international organizations. While the Interpol decision was the correct and right one, there are many other victims of the Russian regime in less high-profile cases who are being unjustly arrested in foreign countries as they flee political persecution in Russia. It’s time that Russia’s failing judicial system is taken into account by international organizations for their constant abuse for political or corrupt motives,” said Bill Browder.
Next week, on February 3rd 2015, Bill Browder will be responding with his own “Red Notice” on Putin’s Russia.
Browder’s book entitled, “Red Notice: A true story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice” (UK edition: “Red Notice, How I Became Putin’s Number One Enemy”) will be launched in the US and in the UK. Browder’s “Red Notice” will show that Putin is more akin to a crime boss than a legitimate world leader.
To learn more visit the Red Notice book website: http://billbrowder.com
For more information, please contact:
Magnitsky Justice Campaign
Russian Investigative Committee Refuses Application from Magnitsky’s Mother to Bring to Account Those Responsible for Use of Rubber Batons on her Son in Detention
January 16, 2015
The Russian Investigative Committee has refused the application from Sergei Magnitsky’s mother to bring to account those responsible for the use of rubber batons on her son before his death in detention.
Mr Veseliev, Deputy head of section of the Main Investigative Department of the Russian Investigative Committee, stated in refusing the application that the decision to terminate the investigation was based on “the collection of gathered evidence” and “was checked by the head of the investigative body and prosecutor, no grounds to change the decision were found.” The decree does not provide any concrete ground in relation to the decision not to investigate the use of rubber batons.
The application from Magnitsky’s mother stated that the use of rubber batons was confirmed by the post-mortem medical examination, yet the investigation closed the criminal case into Magnitsky’s death without bringing to account those responsible. Her application said:
“I request to conduct a full probe by investigative means into the use of special means – metallic handcuffs and rubber batons — on 16 November 2009 at the time when he [Magnitsky] was delivered in grave condition to Matrosskaya Tishina detention center for the purpose of providing him with emergency medical care.”
Sergei Magnitsky died on 16 November 2009. Despite the conclusions from four independent expert examinations that he was tortured in detention, the Russian Investigative Committee has refused to investigate.
Russian InvestigatoroftheInvestigativeCommitteeAndreiStrizhov, who closed the Magnitsky death case investigation,andDeputyGeneralProsecutorofRussiaVictorGrin, the overseeingprosecutor, were bothsanctionedby the US Government attheendofDecember 2014 fortheirrolein concealing the legal liability of persons responsible for Magnitsky’s ill-treatment and death, in accordance with the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012
US Sanctions Four New Russian Officials on Magnitsky List Including Russian Deputy General Prosecutor Victor Grin
December 30, 2014
Today the US Government released four new names of Russian government officials added to the U.S. Magnitsky sanctions list, including Russia’s Deputy General Prosecutor Victor Grin.
Mr Grin is the highest-ranking member of the Putin regime to be sanctioned to date under the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act.
“Victor Grin is surely the most odious character of all Russian officials involved in the Magnitsky case, and it is crucial that he is being publicly sanctioned,” said a Magnitsky Justice Сampaign representative.
The announcement came shortly after the second of anniversary of the passage of the Magnitsky Act and following the fifth anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s murder in Russian police custody.
Two of the four sanctioned Russian officials played a specific role in the Magnitsky case, and the other two are officials with responsibility in the Chechnya region.
The most high profile new addition to the sanctions list is Victor Grin, Russia’s Deputy General Prosecutor, who was responsible for the cover-up of the torture and killing of Sergei Magnitsky in police custody, the cover-up of the theft of $230 million from the state that Magnitsky had exposed. He was also responsible for the posthumous prosecution of Sergei Magnitsky three years after his death.
Major Andrei Strizhov, an investigator of the Russian Investigative Committee, was also added to the Magnitsky list. Last year, Strizhov was responsible for closing the investigation into Sergei Magnitsky’s death with a finding of “no signs of a crime.” This finding came in spite of two independent reports from Russia and two from abroad that found that Magnitsky was subjected to torture, beaten with rubber batons and other abuses.
The U.S. Magnitsky sanctions list now contains 34 names, including 28 who played a role in the Magnitsky case.
“It is important we don’t forget that the Magnitsky family has submitted evidence of more than 280 individuals who should be subjected to sanctions under the Magnitsky Act. There is a lot more work to be done for the US Government to fulfill its obligations under the Magnitsky Act,” said a Magnitsky Justice Сampaign representative.
The publication of the list has coincided with the publication of the annual report by the U.S. State Department on the implementation of the Magnitsky law, in which the State Department has explained the criteria involved:
“The criteria include persons involved in the criminal conspiracy uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died of medical neglect on November 16, 2009, after a year in pre-trial detention in a Moscow prison, after he uncovered a large tax fraud scheme perpetrated by Russian officials.”
The Magnitsky Law was passed in December 2012. The first Magnitsky sanctions list was published by the U.S. Government in April 2013. The additions of names to the Magnitsky Sanctions List generally happens in conjunction with the publication of the U.S. State Department report on the implementation of the Magnitsky Law or in reaction to a “congressional trigger” in which chairman and ranking members of certain congressional committees can request for names to be added to the list.
Background Information on Deputy General Prosecutor Victor Grin:
Victor Grin serves as Russia’s Deputy General Prosecutor. He oversaw a probe into the complaint filed by the Hermitage Fund’s lawyers reporting abuse of office by Russian Interior Ministry officials three weeks before the $230 million was stolen which led to Magnitsky’s death. In spite of receiving the report, Grin failed to conduct any investigation and three weeks later, a group of Russian officials and criminals stole $230 million from the Russian treasury.
On 10 April 2009, Grin signed an indictment, which exonerated all Russian Interior Ministry and tax officials that Sergei Magnitsky had exposed in the $230 million theft.
On 6 November 2009, ten days before Sergei Magnitsky’s death in custody, prosecutor Grin was assigned to oversee the probe into the complaint about Magnitsky’s ill-treatment and denial of medical care in custody filed by Magnitsky’s colleague Jamison Firestone. Grin failed to conduct any such probe, and ten days later Sergei Magnitsky was murdered in custody.
After Sergei Magnitsky’s death, Grin was put in charge of supervising the investigation into Sergei Magnitsky’s death. In this capacity, he issued a report finding no violations in the actions of Russian Interior Ministry officials who arrested and prosecuted Magnitsky, which was used to justify the closure of the death case investigation.
Two and half years after Magnitsky’s death, in retaliation to calls from the Magnitsky’s family for justice, Grin personally initiated two posthumous cases against Sergei Magnitsky in Russia, including one which ended with the first-ever posthumous trial in Russian history last July, and another one which is still ongoing.
For further materials on Russian Deputy General Prosecutor Victor Grin go to “Russian Untouchables. Justice for Sergei Magnitsky” website and visit page “Magnitsky Case Cover up Revealed in Persons and Documents”.
Background Information on Investigator Andrei Strizhov:
The second Russian official added to the Magnitsky Sanctions List today is Major Andrei Strizhov. Strizhov is an investigator working in Russian Investigative Committee who was responsible for closing the investigation into Magnitsky’s death. In his report, he found “no crime.” He also has refused requests from the Magnitsky family to allow them to conduct independent medical examination of Magnitsky’s tissue archive or for their lawyer to question FSB and Interior Ministry officials responsible for his detention.
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 a 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 a 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.