Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Repost: Tattered Remnant #39:
The Tyrants' Bane: Sergey Magnitsky (1972-2009)

The Tyrants' Bane: Sergey Magnitsky (1972-2009)

This is a repost from January 2011. I'm posting this again just to prove the point that evil cops aren't an American monopoly.

I don't have time at this point to do this entry justice, so I'm going to give the Wikipedia version.


Sergei Leonidovich Magnitsky (8 April 1972 – 16 November 2009) was a Russian attorney whose death in police custody generated international media attention and launched an investigation into allegations of abuse. Magnitsky, who had alleged wide-scale tax fraud sanctioned by officials before being himself arrested, died days before the one year limit that he could be held without trial would expire.

Magnitsky was an attorney representing American Investment advisory firm Hermitage Capital Management on charges of tax evasion and tax fraud. Over the years of its operation, Hermitage had supplied information to press on a number of occasions related to corporate and governmental misconduct before in 2005 alleging corruption within Gazprom. Company co-founder Bill Browder was soon expelled from Russia as a national threat, though Browder himself has indicated that he represented only a threat "to corrupt politicians and bureaucrats", believing that the ouster was conducted to leave his company open for exploitation.

Illness and deathMagnitsky — who had testified that police, members of the judiciary, tax officials, bankers and the Russian mafia had been involved in a $230m (£140m) tax fraud against the Russian treasury — was arrested and imprisoned in November 2008 after being accused of colluding with Hermitage. Held for 11 months without trial, he developed gall stones, Pancreatitis and calculous cholecystitis, for which he was given inadequate medical treatment during his incarceration. Surgery was ordered in June, but never performed; detention center chief Ivan P. Prokopenko later indicated that he "...did not consider Magnitsky sick...Prisoners often try to pass themselves off as sick, in order to get better conditions."

On November 16th, eight days before he would have had to have been released if he were not brought to trial, Magnitsky died for reasons attributed first by prison officials as a "rupture to the abdominal membrane" and later to heart attack. It later emerged that Magnitsky had complained of worsening stomach pain for five days prior to his death and that by the 15th was vomiting every three hours, with a visibly swollen stomach. On the day of his death, the prison physician, believing he had a chronic disease, sent him by ambulance to a medical unit equipped to help him, but the surgeon there — who described Magnitsky as "agitated, trying to hide behind a bag and saying people were trying to kill him" — prescribed only a painkiller, leaving him for psychiatric evaluation. He was found dead in his cell a little over two hours later.

According to Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Magnitsky's death "caused public outrage and sparked discussion of the need to improve prison healthcare and to reduce the number of inmates awaiting trial in detention prisons."

An independent investigatory body, the Moscow Public Oversight Commission, indicated in December 2009 that "psychological and physical pressure was exerted upon" Magnitsky. One of the Commissioners said that while she had first believed his death was due to medical negligence, she had developed "the frightening feeling that it was not negligence but that it was, to some extent, as terrible as it is to say, a premeditated murder."

An official investigation was ordered in November 2009 by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Russian authorities had not concluded their own investigation as of December 2009, but 20 senior prison officials had already been fired as a result of the case. In December 2009, in two separate decrees, Medvedev fired deputy head of the Federal Penitentiary Service Alexander Piskunov and signed a law forbidding the jailing of individuals who are suspected of tax crimes. Magnitsky's death is also believed to be linked to the firing of Major-General Anatoli Mikhalkin, formerly the head of the Moscow division of the tax crimes department of the Interior Ministry. Mikhalkin was among those accused by Magnitsky of taking part in fraud.

Wikinews has related news: Russian police to 'check' officer allegedly involved in large theft and murder

Opalesque.TV released a video on February 8, 2010, in which Hermitage Capital Management founder Bill Browder revealed details of Sergey Magnitzky's ordeal during his eleven months in detention, while the Russian Untouchables group prepared a film Russian Untouchables. Episode 1: Artem Kuznetsov about his prosecutors On 25 June 2010 radio-station Echo of Moscow announced that Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs Department for Own Security started investigations against Lieutenant Colonel Artyom Kuznetsov, who has been accused of improper imprizonment of Magnitsky. The investigation was in response to appeal by the Hermitage Capital Management and United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Increasing international tensionIn late 2010, international attention to the matter intensified, with the European Parliament calling for 60 officials believed to be connected to Magnitsky's death to be banned from entering the European Union and the Parliament of Canada resolving to deny visas to and freeze the Canadian assets of allegedly involved officials. The EU Parliament has also urged members to freeze assets of officials, while similar measures are under consideration in the United States. The Russian Foreign Ministry described the Canadian resolution as "an attempt to pressure the investigators and interfere in the internal affairs of another state", while in a November statement the head of the lower house's international committee Konstantin Kosachyov criticized the European Parliament's conclusions, indicating that sanctions violated the "presumption of innocence" principle and should wait the resolution of the Russian court. Bloomberg reported in December that, according to an Interfax story, "identical measures" will be taken by Russia if a European Union ban is effected.

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