EDITORIAL: More Blood on Vladimir Putin’s Hands!

EDITORIAL

More Blood on Vladimir Putin’s Hands!

The river of opposition blood continues to flow freely in the Russia ruled over by proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin.  On Wednesday, Sergei Magnitsky perished in the Kremlin’s neo-Soviet gulag and the day before Ivan Khutorskoy was shot down on the Moscow streets outside the prison where Magnitsky breathed his last.

MagnitskyThe 37-year-old Magnitsky (pictured, left) had been jailed a year ago on tax fraud charges relating to his involvement with William Browder’s Hermitage Capital firm, who he represented as an attorney. When he refused to provide incriminating testimony against Browder, who’s apparently the new Mikhail Khodorkovsky but fortunate enough to have fled the country, Magnitsky was slowly tortured to death by being denied medical treatment and basic sanitary conditions.

Khotorskoy (pictured below, right) was an ardent campaigner against the rise of the Russian neo-Nazi movement, which of course is closely tied to the Kremlin’s own personality cult, and a close ally of murdered attorney Stanislav Markelov.

KhutorskoyIt’s yet another new low for the Kremlin.  Even as it attempted to open a foreign investment forum in Chicago designed to induce foreigners to trust the Russian marketplace, the lawyer for one of Russia’s biggest foreign investors perishes in custody on obviously bogus, politically-motivated charges and all the major American newspapers were picking up the story.  It’s incompetence on a truly  neo-Soviet scale, combined with morality that makes it clear the USSR never really disappeared.

The murders that began as soon as Vladimir Putin entered the Kremlin halls, starting with Galina Starovoitova, continue apace.  And why shouldn’t they?  U.S. President Barack Obama says and does nothing about them, and the Kremlin not only silences critics with each killing but terrorizies others into silence as well.  Ultimately, however, this tactic did not work for the USSR and it will not work for Russia either.  But the cowardly silence of the Western governments means that there will be much suffering before the crumbling edifice that is neo-Soviet Russia collapses just like its predecessor.

* * *

The following is a press release from Hermitage Capital:

Last night Sergey Magnitskiy, a 37-year old legal adviser and father of two, died in Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center in Moscow.

Since 2007, Sergey Magnitskiy was defending the Hermitage Fund and HSBC against serious frauds perpetrated with the involvement of Russian officials. Sergey Magnitskiy gave formal testimonies naming officers of the Interior Ministry and their role in the seizure of Hermitage Fund/HSBC companies. Shortly after his testimony, on 24 November 2008, Sergey Magnitskiy was arrested by the team of the same Interior Ministry officers named in his testimony.

Sergey Magnitskiy was refused bail and kept in detention for a year without trial. Yesterday, Sergey’s lawyers came to see him at a planned investigative procedure at Butyrka detention center and were denied access to him. The lawyers were told Sergey could not leave his cell because of his state of health. Investigators Oleinik and Silchenko refused to show a medical report about Sergey’s health to his lawyers, stating it was an “internal matter”.

Sergey’s mother was the first to find out about the death of her son this morning. She came to Butyrka detention center to give him some personal items and was told that her son had been transferred to a different detention facility, the Matrosskaya Tishina center, the previous day. When she then went to Matrosskaya Tishina, she was told that her son was dead.

Sergey’s lawyers were told that Sergey Magnitskiy died of a rupture to the abdominal membrane around 9:00 pm on 16 November 2009 and that his body was transferred to the 11th Morgue in Moscow.

Sergey Magnitskiy was kept in pre-trial detention for a year and denied by Investigator Silchenko the ability to see his mother and his wife and speak to his children for the entire time of his detention. He was transferred between four detention centers and his detention conditions progressively deteriorated. Numerous complaints by Sergey Magnitskiy and his lawyers about the physical and psychological pressure exerted on him, the legal breaches during the pre-trial investigation, the obstruction to his defence and the inhuman and degrading conditions in detention, were left unaddressed.

Additionally, Sergey Magnitskiy wrote a 40-page complaint to General Prosecutor Chaika describing a serious medical condition which developed in detention, the on-going and regular denial of medical treatment which resulted in a serious worsening of his health, and pleaded for access to medical attention. There was no response to his complaint.

“I would like to express my shock and sadness at the passing of Sergey Magnitskiy. Sergey was a brilliant and honourable lawyer known by all whom met him as a diligent professional and a committed family man. I know I speak for all the staff of Hermitage Capital when I say that both Sergey and his family are in our hearts at this time. He and the ideals he stood for will not be forgotten,” said CEO of Hermitage Capital William Browder.

Lawyers will conduct an independent investigation into his death.

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15 responses to “EDITORIAL: More Blood on Vladimir Putin’s Hands!

  1. LaRussophobe, you are so correct on the suffering of people in Neo Soviet Russia. Worst is, that Moscali are willing to spread their predatory system to neighbors whom would be the likeliest to save them.

    Best example was when, Ukraine voted by more than 90% to dump the Soviet Union RaSSiya. Even though mostly brainwashed (Sovietized) they knew it was time to go. Russians in Ukraine opted out, by the majority as well, because they felt safer without big brother Moscow. Putin continually threatens neighboring countries that are inclined to be friendly otherwise. Some never learn. Must be a herd or hoard mentality.

  2. I just do not get it how Western companies continue dealing with criminal mob in the Kremlin??!! Where is their conscience? Rasha is a country of barbarians.

    • Old advice, which is always true — follow the money. Unless the political situation deteriorates and erodes profits so that it would not make it worthwhile for them to continue, those companies will continue doing business. They do that in case of many repressive regimes, and this one is no different.

  3. Lawyer’s Death Puts Spotlight On Kremlin’s Battle With Investment Fund

    November 18, 2009
    By Irina Lagunina, Brian Whitmore
    A Russian lawyer representing the embattled Hermitage Capital investment fund has died in a Moscow prison after complaining for weeks that he was denied adequate medical treatment.

    Russian officials say Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year-old attorney with the Moscow-based law firm Firestone Duncan, died of toxic shock and heart failure on November 17 after spending nearly a year in jail awaiting trial on tax fraud charges.

    Magnitsky had steadfastly denied the charges against him. His colleagues say police and prosecutors had been pressuring him to provide false testimony against Hermitage Capital and its founder William Browder.

    Magnitsky’s colleagues say denial of medical treatment was part of that pressure.

    “He died of a very treatable condition that required a very simple operation and medicine that the police simply refused to give him because he wasn’t cooperating with them in doing what they wanted him to do. It’s really that simple,” Jamison Firestone, managing partner of Firestone Duncan tells RFE/RL’s Russian Service.

    Magnitsky’s death is the latest development in a longstanding battle between the Kremlin and Hermitage Capital, once the largest private investment fund in Russia. Supporters of Hermitage say the ongoing saga illustrates a complex nexus linking business, law-enforcement, and organized crime in Russia — and the dangers involved in challenging these vested interests.

    “They are the new mafia. They are feared. They are criminals in uniform,” Firestone said of Russia’s law-enforcement bodies.

    “I am not saying that there are no honest police officers. But the norm is that most people serving in law-enforcement are dishonest and most people working as prosecuting judges are dishonest. And we are losing the country to these people.”

    Cops, Crimes, And Taxes

    Hermitage Capital was once among the most prominent investors in Russia and Browder, its CEO and co-founder, was a strong booster of Vladimir Putin, whom he hailed as a reformer.

    As its prestige grew, Hermitage became known for acquiring large stakes in major Russian companies such as Gazprom and Surgutneftegaz, and then pushing them to be more transparent. In 2005, Browder — a United States citizen whose grandfather, Earl Browder, led the American Communist Party from 1934-5 — was barred from entering Russia on unspecified national security grounds.

    That’s when Browder began a campaign to warn foreign investors away from Russia.

    In June 2007, police raided Hermitage’s offices and seized the company’s founding documents as well as the stamps and seals used to identify officials company papers. Hermitage retained Firestone Duncan to represent it and Magnitsky was assigned the case.

    The investment fund claims Magnitsky uncovered how Hermitage’s seized documents were used by organized crime groups — with help from the Interior Ministry, tax officials, and the justice system — as part of a scheme to take over three companies in the fund’s portfolio. Hermitage says that once under new management the companies then received $230 million from the Russian treasury by filing for — and quickly receiving — fraudulent tax refunds.

    Magnitsky testified in June and October 2008 against two police officers who conducted the June 2007 raid of Hermitage, including Lieutenant Colonel Artyom Kuznetsov, who led it.

    In November 2008, months after he testified the last time, Magnitsky was arrested and charged with orchestrating a scheme to assist Browder evade more than 100 million rubles ($3.25 million) in taxes in 2002 — with Kuznetsov acting as a key investigator in the case.

    “He uncovered a major crime that the Moscow Interior Ministry had executed. Sergei had testified against a number of police officers,” Browder told RFE/RL’s Russian Service in an interview in October.

    “In Russia it is a big crime to point out the crimes of police officers. So these very same police officers who he implicated in the crime went and arrested him.”

    Medical Requests Ignored

    Magnitsky was diagnosed with pancreatic problems in August of this year, after months in prison.

    Irina Dudukina, a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry, told “The Moscow Times” that Magnitsky’s death on November 17 “was a complete surprise,” adding that “he didn’t complain about his health to the judge or to the investigator.”

    But Magnitsky’s lawyer, Dmitry Kharitonov, said he was shaking and visibly ill last week at his most recent court appearance.

    In September, Magnitsky wrote separate appeals to Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika and to officials at the Butyrka prison, where he was incarcerated, describing his harrowing detention conditions and pleading for medical attention.

    “My medical appointments and examinations are not carried out. Repeated requests to be allowed to see a doctor have been essentially ignored,” Magnitsky said in a handwritten note to prison officials, made available to RFE/RL’s Russian Service.

    He added that he was “not given any medical recommendations regarding this illness and there was no effort to provide me with the necessary diet.”

    According to media reports, Kharitonov said he went to visit Magnitsky at Butyrskaya on November 17 but was told he was moved to Matrosskaya Tishina prison, which has better medical facilities. He died at approximately 9:00 pm Moscow time on the same day.

    A Country He Believed In

    In recent years, Russian attorneys — particularly those that represent the Kremlin’s foes — have come under increasing pressure.

    In July 2007, prominent defense attorney Boris Kuznetsov fled the country after Russian prosecutors accused him of divulging state secrets. Kuznetsov had been defending a politician against embezzlement charges which were based on illegal wiretaps. When Kuznetsov brought the wiretaps to light, he was charged.

    At the time, Moskalenko was in Strasbourg, France, where she represented clients before the European Court of Human Rights.

    And in January of this year, human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov — who had represented terrorism suspects, muckraking journalists, and Chechen civilians who accused the Russian military of abuse — was gunned down in broad daylight in downtown Moscow.

    Six other lawyers connected to the Hermitage case have either fled the country or went into hiding. Firestone tells RFE/RL’s Russian Service that prior to his arrest last year, he recommended that Magnitsky do the same — but he refused.

    “He said I’d been watching too many movies and that this wasn’t the 1940s,” Firestone said.

    “Russia is a country that he really believed in. He believed in Russian law and in not living in fear of criminals. So he did the right thing. He wasn’t stupid. He realized there was risk. But he still believed that there was enough law in Russia that this couldn’t happen to him.”

    http://www.rferl.org/content/Lawyers_Death_Puts_Spotlight_On_Kremlins_Battle_With_Investment_Fund/1881777.html

  4. The variables between democracy and a republic are few but quite distinct. A democratic republic is quite literally an oxymoron.

    A republic designates representation of a populace without the temptation of dictation by emotion.

    …or rule of law.

    A democracy designates representation of a populace with the temptation of dictation by emotion.

    …or mob rule.

    Subtle differences but very distinct.

  5. Democracy brings out the worst among us.

    Tell me I’m wrong.

  6. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL had a better headline than LR:

    Murder by Natural Causes

    With Sergei Magnitsky’s slow assassination, Moscow consummates the marriage of brutality and revisionism in Russia..

    This week Vladimir Putin’s regime proved an even colder and darker place than what a Russian winter alone can offer.

    Ethicists may debate when not preventing a death becomes murder. But one doesn’t need a Ph.D. to conclude that the death of Sergei Magnitsky was just that—a state sanctioned murder. Don’t expect Moscow to recognize it as such: It doesn’t have to. Unlike the execution-style killings of human-rights campaigners Natalya Estemirova and Stanislav Markelov and journalists Anna Politkovskaya and Anastasia Baburova, or the polonium poisoning of defector Alexander Litvinenko, Magnitsky’s demise can, with technical honesty, be attributed to “natural causes”: toxic shock, heart failure, or rupture to his abdominal membrane, depending on which Russian official you ask. All as natural as the will to power.

    The 37-year old Russian lawyer and father of two died in a detention center in Moscow on Monday, having been incarcerated for nearly a year, no trial in sight, on trumped-up tax evasion charges. His real crime was to claim widespread corruption by Russian Interior Ministry officials while defending Hermitage Capital Management against frauds. Late in 2008, Magnitsky gave formal testimony naming Interior Ministry officers involved in Hermitage’s case. Shortly after, he was arrested by a team of the same officers named in his testimony, according to Hermitage. Over the last year, Magnitsky’s detention conditions worsened the longer he refused to fabricate a story against Hermitage.

    In other words, Magnitsky died fighting for the rule of law in a country that has no national memory of what that concept means.

    Hermitage chief William Browder describes his late attorney as “a healthy 37-year-old professional” when he entered the jail. But being completely cut off from his family, and the physical pressures he endured while in custody, proved too much. Magnitsky made numerous official complaints of his treatment, including a 40-page report to the general prosecutor describing squalid conditions, treatment bordering on torture, and the onset of gallbladder stones, pancreatitis, and a severe digestive ailment.

    “Prior to confinement, I didn’t have these illnesses or at least there were no symptoms,” he writes in the report, detailing how repeated requests for treatment were ignored.

    When Magnitsky’s lawyers came to see him at the Butyrskaya prison on Monday, they were told he couldn’t leave his cell due to the state of his health. And yet Interior Ministry spokeswoman Irina Dudukina said there was no record of health problems in Magnitsky’s file.

    The slow-motion assassination of the young lawyer marks a new low in Russia. The families of Estemirova, Politkovskaya, Markelov, Baburova, and Litvinenko at least get no argument that their loved ones were murdered, even if the official “investigations” into those crimes will likely prove useless.

    An official investigation is planned into Magnitsky’s death, but here we suspect the proceedings will prove worse than ineffectual—expect the conclusion in this case that malice played no part in his demise.

    With this new milestone, Moscow consummates the marriage of brutality and revisionism. Contemporary Russia is almost comically weak when viewed from the West, which once feared Moscow would destroy the world. But that doesn’t mitigate the merger of Stalinism with Putinism, nor the tragedy that means for the Russian people.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704204304574543422988504600.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

  7. Russia has the worst human rights record in Europe. These are the cases currently lodged with the European courts of human rights

    Germany population 83 million, 2500 cases, 2.6 % of the cases before the court
    France population 60 million, 2400 cases, 2.5 % of cases the before the court

    Total population together 143 million

    Russia population 143 million 27,250 cases, 28% of the cases before the court.

    I think this speaks for itself.

  8. I think that Arseny Roginsky will be the next person on putun’s “hit list”.

    PARIS (AP) — A leader of one of Russia’s most prominent human rights groups says the Kremlin’s failure to recognize Soviet-era acts of aggression is leading to “historical wars” against its neighbors.

    Arseny Roginsky says opposing views of Soviet-era history have created conflicts with Poland, Ukraine, Georgia and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, among others.

    Roginsky said in Paris Nov. 19 that Russia must recognize its occupation of some of its neighbors and open up its historical archives. He said Russia’s neighbors must also accept responsibility for some of their actions that have led to friction with their larger neighbor.

    Roginsky is a historian and founder of Memorial, which seeks to document political repression in the Soviet Union.

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/russia/detail/53205/

  9. Being a political assassin is a good career move in Russia; just ask Mr Lugovoy he goes to London poisons a dissident with polonium 210. And gets rewarded with a seat in the Duma, plus immunity from prosecution thrown in to sweeten the pot. Now that’s entrepreneurism “Russian style”.

  10. Man dies in Russia police beating as scandals grow

    Russian police officer beat a man to death in St Petersburg, Interfax news agency reported on Thursday, the second such killing to be reported this week and the latest in a series of scandals involving the force.

    The victim was hospitalised two weeks ago after the attack, but died of his injuries including a blunt abdominal trauma, Interfax reported, quoting an unnamed source in the city’s law enforcement agencies.

    Russia’s police and entire legal system has come under scrutiny amid growing evidence of malpractice and corruption.

    On Tuesday, three drunken Moscow police officers were detained after they beat an immigrant to death.

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/russia/detail/53626/

  11. Magnitsky’s lawyers said he died last week after being denied medical assistance for pancreatitis while in pretrial detention at Moscow’s Buturskaya jail.

    A deputy head of the Federal Penitentiary Service said there had been “visible violations on our part” at Buturskaya, according to the ITAR-Tass and RIA-Novosti news agencies

    “We are not going to minimize our guilt in any way — it is definitely there,” Alexander Smirnov was quoted as saying.

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/russia/detail/53634/

  12. The Ukrainian Embassy in Russia said that the death of a Ukrainian national on the Russian-Ukrainian border by Russian border guards may increase tensions.

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/nation/detail/53643/

  13. And, in other news, Sun rises in East.

  14. Whenever I start to think that the Bill of Rights is outdated, I look at Russian tyranny; and thank my parents, my family and my god for protecting me from those children in adult clothing.

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