Thursday

1st Dec 2022

Russia: EU action on Magnitsky would 'poison' relations

Russia's EU ambassador has said ties would suffer if member states follow the US in putting sanctions on suspected Russian killers and fraudsters.

"It would poison relations, definitely," Vladimir Chizhov told EUobserver in an interview.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Chizhov (r): 'I have more confidence in the EU than I have in the US Congress' (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

He added: "Well, I am sure that reason will prevail in the European Union. I have more confidence in the EU than I have in the US Congress."

The Congress' international committee in June approved the so-called Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act.

If it becomes law, the US will impose visa bans and asset freezes on 60-or-so Russian officials suspected of conspiracy to murder Sergei Magnitsky - an auditor who exposed tax fraud in the Kremlin and who was found beaten to death in prison in 2009.

Chizhov said that he is "not threatening anybody."

But he noted that Russia might impose counter-sanctions on US officials if the Magnitsky bill gets through.

"The Russian Duma could launch a piece of legislation called the Guantanamo act or the Abu Ghraib act," he said, referring to US human rights violations in Cuba and Iraq.

EU foreign ministries do not want to confront Moscow for the sake of Magnitsky. But the case is attracting ever more political attention.

German Green MPs last week joined MEPs and MPs from Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the UK in calling for sanctions.

EU Council head Herman Van Rompuy and foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton in April also urged Russia to hold a credible investigation.

Russia in the next few weeks is to say if a prison doctor is guilty of mis-diagnosing Magnitsky's medical condition.

But for Bill Browder, a British venture capitalist who employed Magnitsky at the time of his death, the doctor is being scapegoated to get senior people off the hook.

Browder has published evidence showing that one Kremlin tax chief, Olga Stepanova - among others - funnelled millions of euros of stolen money through accounts in Cyprus and Switzerland.

"Chizhov is a very articulate lobbyist for the rights of 60 Russian torturers and murders to travel and spend their ill-gotten gains in Europe. It is remarkable that he shows no concern for the nearly $800 million that was stolen from the Russian government," he said.

Chizhov told EUobserver that a second probe, by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, is looking at potential Kremlin tax fraud.

When asked when it will submit its findings, he said it is too "complicated" to call.

When asked if Stepanova is under any kind of investigation, he said he would disclose the names of the officials being questioned.

His office later told EUobserver this will be "impossible," however.

Opinion

The Russia-EU-US drama

As Russia’s growth model is shifting, the EU and the US seek to reset bilateral relations, writes Dan Steinbock.

EU to Russia: Free Pussy Riot

The EU has called for Russia to reverse the jailing of three young women over their "punk prayer" against Putin and the Russian church.

Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Terezija Gras from Croatia, Dutchman Hans Leijtens, and Frontex's current interim executive director Aija Kalnaja, are all competing for a job left vacant by the resignation of Fabrice Leggeri.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  2. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  3. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs
  4. Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?
  5. Why the EU asbestos directive revision ... needs revising
  6. Nato renews membership vow to Ukraine
  7. Catalan spyware victims demand justice
  8. Is the overwhelming critique of Qatar hypocritical?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us