Tuesday

22nd Oct 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 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. Brexit is waste of time and energy, says Juncker
  2. Abortion and same-sex marriage become legal in Northern Ireland
  3. Germany wants internationally controlled zone in Syria
  4. EU parliament refuses to debate Catalonia
  5. Four businessmen charged in Slovak journalist murder
  6. Erdogan accuses EU of 'standing by terrorists' in Syria
  7. Migrants riot in Maltese camp
  8. Spanish PM refuses dialogue with Catalonia president

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. MPs vote on Johnson's latest push for Brexit deal
  2. Macron breaks Balkans promise in quest for EU dominance
  3. Snap elections in North Macedonia after EU rejection
  4. UK opposition MPs attack new Brexit deal
  5. Deep divisions on display over post-Brexit EU budget
  6. Juncker: 'Historic mistake' against Balkan EU hopefuls
  7. EU leaders spent just 12 minutes on climate
  8. Crunch Brexit vote in UK This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us