23rd Oct 2016


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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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

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.

Women shake Poland's pillars of power

Polish women are marching again this Sunday and Monday. They could succeed where the opposition, the European Commission and other protests failed, and redraw Poland's political map.

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity