Moscow Slams European Parliament’s Magnitsky Vote

The European Parliament’s recommendation to impose travel restrictions on Russian officials is an attempt to influence Russia’s justice system, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

The European Parliament recommended on Tuesday that the Council of the European Union impose sanctions against Russian officials involved in the incarceration of Moscow lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in pre-trial detention in 2009.

“We regard such actions as yet another attempt to politicize the issue and put pressure on Russia’s justice system,” the ministry’s press service said in a statement.

The ministry described the recommendation as a “quite shallow and politically motivated document.”

“We call on the European parliament to pay due attention to human rights issues in the EU members, including, for example, blatant violations of Russian-language minority rights in the Baltic states and the glorification of Nazi collaborators in those countries, instead of interfering into domestic affairs of other states.”

The 37-year-old Magnitsky, an auditor working for Hermitage Capital, a UK-based fund with major investments in Russia, was arrested on tax evasion charges in November 2008, just days after accusing police investigators and tax officials of involvement in a $230-million tax refund fraud. He died after almost a year in the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center in Moscow.

A probe into his death revealed that the lawyer, who was suffering from untreated pancreatitis and a heart condition, did not receive proper medical treatment. Rights activists pointed to multiple violations of the lawyer’s rights during his arrest and detention, including signs that he was beaten by prison guards hours before his death.

In the United States, the Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act with amendments seeks to impose visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials allegedly involved in the torture and death of the Russian anti-corruption lawyer, as well as in other gross human rights abuses in Russia.

The U.S. State Department imposed visa bans in July 2011 on several dozen Russian officials in connection to the Magnitsky case. In response, Russia has imposed travel bans on several U.S. officials.


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