Sunday

20th Aug 2017

Magnitsky relatives: Russian diplomat lied to EU parliament

The mother and widow of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian anti-corruption activist who died in prison, have accused a Russian diplomat of lying about him to the European Parliament.

The women - Natalia Magnitskaya and Natalia Zharikova - spoke out in a letter on 25 February to the parliament's subcommittee on human rights.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

  • Hollande (r) in Moscow on Thursday: 'We have not come here to judge' (Photo: elysee.fr)

They said Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian foreign ministry's special envoy on human rights, misled MEPs at a hearing in Brussels on 20 February when he told them Magnitsky's relatives want him to be tried posthumously in order to clear his name.

According to a transcript of the hearing, Dolgov said: "The court cannot close the case unless the relatives, or people who represent the interests of the deceased, make it clear that they are not against the closing of the case. The relatives of Mr Magnitsky made it absolutely clear that they are against closing the case without his acquittal."

Russian authorities accused Magnitsky, an accountant, of fraud after he exposed a scam by tax officials to embezzle hundreds of millions of euros from the Russian treasury.

He died in pre-trial detention in 2009.

But prosecutors are now re-opening the fraud case in what his family see as a smear campaign and a form of intimidation to keep them quiet.

"[Dolgov's] statements are hard to characterise other than [as] a lie and hypocrisy," Magnitskaya and Zharikova wrote.

"We suddenly learned from the media that a criminal case was resumed posthumously … The initiative to resume the criminal case belongs to deputy general prosecutor Victor Grin, though he is not a 'close relative'," they noted.

"Our position about the unlawfulness of this proceeding has been stated in over 25 formal complaints," they added.

Dolgov is not the first Russian diplomat to claim the dead man's family want him to be tried.

Russia's EU ambassador, Vladimir Chizhov, in an interview with EUobserver on 28 June last year, also said: "If the immediate relatives of the deceased declare officially that they want the case closed, then it is closed. None of Magnitsky's relatives have said a word about that."

The Magnitsky affair has become a cause celebre in EU-Russia and US-Russia relations.

For their part, 10 French MPs and senators, including senior figures from President Francois Hollande's Socialist Party, in a letter on Thursday (28 February) urged him to raise the issue on his visit to Moscow.

They compared Magnitsky's prison diaries - which detail the abuses that led to his death - to the writings of Soviet-era dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

They said the posthumous trial is a form of "repression" and a "sinister comedy … which must be stopped." They added: "This affair, both tragic and touching, stands as a symbol of human rights violations in Russia."

Hollande did not refer to Magnitsky in public remarks in Moscow on Thursday, however.

He told a press conference with Russian leader Vladimir Putin: "We have not come here to judge, but to observe and to seek progress [on human rights]."

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides