Ten years ago in a Moscow jail died of Sergei Magnitsky, accusing interior Ministry officers of corruption in Russia. His death gave impetus to the spiral of sanctions so far. The basic facts in the material DW.
For the West the name of the Russian citizen Sergei Magnitsky is on a par with the names Anna Politkovskaya and Boris Nemtsov, to his death were known critics of the Kremlin. But the Moscow auditor was not a member of the opposition and notoriety came to him after his death in prison ten years ago – November 16, 2009.
Abroad, his case has become a bright symbol of corruption and lawlessness in modern Russia. Magnitsky’s death gave impetus to the spiral of sanctions, which still continues, not only against the citizens of the Russian Federation.
Who was Magnitsky, and why he died
Sergei Magnitsky was born in 1972 in Odessa and worked as an auditor in Moscow. One of his clients was a company Hermitage Capital Management American businessman with a British passport William Browder, who since the late 1990s, was considered one of the largest foreign investors in Russia, investing the money in “Gazprom”.
According to media reports, at some point, Browder fell into disfavor of the authorities, he was denied entry to Russia. He wrote a book about it, which calls itself “the main enemy of the Putin state.” In 2007, the Russian firm of Browder was raided. Soon after the searches Magnitsky, according to his own testimony, opened the corruption scheme of embezzlement of budget funds by tax refunds for a total amount of 5.4 billion rubles, which then ended up in the pockets of tax officials and the interior Ministry. As it turned out, the funds could be laundered through Scandinavian banks in the Baltic States and used to purchase real estate in Europe and the United States.
In 2008, Magnitsky himself was arrested on suspicion of tax evasion, spent almost a year in custody, which has undermined health and died at the age of 37 years. The authorities called cause of death heart failure, but relatives of the lawyer had doubts. The European court of human rights (ECHR) in August 2019 ruled that Magnitsky did not receive sufficient medical care in prison, but the circumstances of his death were not sufficiently investigated. His widow and mother was awarded monetary compensation.
Who is in the Magnitsky list in the United States
After the death of Magnitsky U.S. democratic Senator Benjamin Cardin has initiated the introduction of personal sanctions against those involved in the death of a lawyer in Russia. At the end of 2012, the Magnitsky act was passed by Congress and signed by then-US President Barack Obama. Little known fact: this law was part of the act for the abolition of the amendment of Jackson-Vanik against Russia and Moldova, and the amendment imposed trade restrictions in response to human rights violations. The Magnitsky act included a ban on issuing visas and freezing of Bank accounts. The list of those who were under the law, at first consisted of little-known names of members of the Russian judiciary, which, according to US agencies, were involved in the persecution of Magnitsky.
In 2016, the Magnitsky act was replaced by the new, global action. It is called the Global Magnitsky Act. The new law allows U.S. authorities to take action against individuals worldwide responsible for human rights violations. On this basis, imposed sanctions against the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, or of Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of former Uzbek ruler. Among recent defendants in the Magnitsky list in the United States of persons suspected of involvement in the murder of a Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Russia’s reaction: the sentences Browder and a ban on the adoption
After investigation of circumstances of death Magnitsky in Russia has come to the conclusion that she was a natural, and the case was closed. Magnitsky himself was in 2013 in the Russian Federation posthumously found guilty of tax evasion. On the same charge was twice sentenced in absentia to many years of imprisonment and Browder. Russia has several times exhibited the warrant for his arrest through Interpol, but to no avail. Financier arrested in 2018, in Spain, but was released.
The original Magnitsky act, Russia responded by adopting in December 2012 the document provides for a ban on entry to Russia for US citizens, including human rights violations and actions against Russians abroad. The corresponding list is Ministry of foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. The outcry and criticism led to the part of the law, which bans US citizens from adopting Russian orphans. After disintegration of the USSR this practice was very common, thousands of Russian children have found new parents in America. In the Russian media law informally called “law of Dima Yakovlev” is a Russian boy who died in the US from what his adoptive father left him in the heat in the car.
In some countries, the law Magnitsky
Outside of the U.S. the Magnitsky case was very much involved in the Council of Europe. In a special report in 2013 called for the imposition of sanctions that were later made by some European countries. After the United States has its own laws Magnitsky took Canada, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In the UK, the Magnitsky amendment to the law on combating money-laundering is expected to enter into force after the country’s withdrawal from the European Union, which after several transfers is expected in 2020.
In Germany some parties and some politicians have also advocated the adoption of the Magnitsky act, among them Norbert röttgen (Norbert R?ttgen), member of the ruling conservative party CDU and head of the Bundestag Committee on foreign Affairs.
Shortly before the tenth anniversary of the death of Magnitsky in the European Parliament there is a new initiative for the adoption of the law at the EU level. It is assumed that the law should provide for a ban on entry and freezing accounts, and – similar to the USA – not limited to Russia, and to have a global effect.