21st Mar 2018

European MPs call for international enquiry into Magnitsky affair

Sixty nine MPs from across Europe have called for an international enquiry into the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

The deputies - who hail mostly from EU countries, but also Croatia, Iceland, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland - signed the motion at the human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe (CoE), in Strasbourg on Wednesday (25 April).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Putin's Russia: 1,010 people died in pre-trial detention between 2009 and 2011 (Photo:

If the council's steering group at its meeting on Friday gives the green light, the motion will trigger an in-depth investigation on the model of previous enquiries into CIA renditions, organ smuggling in Kosovo and death squads in Belarus.

"The competent authorities have ... failed to properly investigate and prosecute those responsible for Mr Magnitsky's death," the motion says.

"For the sake of its own credibility and that of the Russian Federation, the [CoE] should now engage in co-operation with Russia, through the preparation of a dedicated report, in order to fully elucidate this landmark case."

The man behind the initiative, Dutch centre-right MP Pieter Omtzigt, said the level of political support for his proposal "suggests the truly emblematic nature of the Magnitsky case."

His words echo EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who said in a letter to outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on 18 April that the Magnitsky affair "has come to symbolise the state of the rule of law and judiciary in the Russian Federation."

Sergei Magnitsky was a 37-year-old father-of-two who was allegedly tortured and beaten to death in a Russian jail in 2009 after exposing a high-level tax-embezzlement gang in the interior ministry.

The EU has in the past said it might follow the US by imposing a travel ban or asset freeze on a list of 60-or-so suspects, but only after Russia completes its internal investigation. The outcome of the Russian probe - which excludes 59 of them to focus on potential negligence by a prison doctor - was on Tuesday postponed for the 12th time since it began.

Magnitsky's family and former employers expect Russian CoE envoys to try to quash the motion at Friday's meeting.


Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea

Together with many other partners, including the United States, Canada and Norway, the European Union has implemented a policy of non-recognition and sanctions regimes, targeting people and entities that have promoted Russia's illegal annexation.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders expected to approve Brexit future talks guidelines
  2. Tusk: EU must 'continue to engage' with US on trade
  3. European elections set for 23-26 May 2019
  4. EU tries to find common candidate for top UN food job
  5. Facebook post triggers Norway no-confidence vote
  6. Merkel: 'no reason' to sanction Schroeder for Russia support
  7. MEPs and Council strike deal on posted workers' rights
  8. EU parliament to investigate Facebook data 'breach'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverHiring - Sales Associate With 2+ Years Experience - Apply Now!
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?