Tuesday

26th Mar 2019

EU parliament breaks own ban on Russian officials

  • Karpov and Pavlov, in April at the EU parliament in Brussels, told Russian TV crews that the deceased lawyer Magnitski was a criminal (Photo: EUobserver)

The European Parliament (EP) has said that Russian officials whom it accused of involvement in the killing of an anti-corruption activist, can take part in press conferences in its buildings.

“As long as these officials obtain entry visas [into the EU], it is difficult for parliament to ban their access to its premises, unless they would pose a danger or risk of disturbances”, Marjory van den Broeke, a parliament spokeswoman, told EUobserver on Thursday (9 June).

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The parliament, in a resolution in 2014, named 32 Russians as being involved in a plot to embezzle $230 million from Russian tax authorities and to kill Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who exposed them.

The resolution urged EU states to deny them visas, but it was non-binding and fell on deaf ears.

Two of them, Pavel Karpov and Andrei Pavlov, in April attended a press conference in the EU parliament in Brussels at which they accused the deceased activist of being a criminal.

Some MEPs said the incident harmed the parliament’s image.

A group of senior MEPs, in a letter to EU diplomats, renewed their call for EU states to blacklist the officials.

One of the MEPs, Guy Verhofstadt, the head of the liberal Alde group in the EU parliament, also urged parliament authorities to deny them entry badges in future.

He told fellow group chiefs, according to an EP source, that the Karpov-Pavlov press conference showed the EP’s “internal dysfunctionality”. But the EP president, Martin Schulz, did not promise to block future visits.

Bill Browder, a British businessman who was Magnitsky’s employer, has waged a seven-year battle for the EU and US to blacklist the Russian officials. The US did it in 2012, but the EU did not follow suit.

Reacting to the EP decision on free access to the officials, he told EUobserver on Thursday: “That's a surprising decision by the administration of the EU parliament.”

“The people on the Magnitsky list have been found by the EU parliament to be involved in a criminal group that tortured and murdered Sergei Magnitsky or the cover up of that crime. How could they not be dangerous?," he said.

Petras Austervicius, a Lithuanian liberal MEP, said the "EP made a big mistake". He called the EP decision "a shameful example of political short-sightedness".

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