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19th Nov 2018

Investigation

European rights body to debate Magnitsky report

  • Paris skyline: Russian MPs have pledged to water down the resolution (Photo: Moyan Brenn)

The Council of Europe, the Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, will on Wednesday (4 September) in Paris debate a damning resolution on the Magnitsky affair, with Russian delegates pledging to attack the text.

The resolution, drafted by Swiss centre-left MP Andrea Gross in June, accuses Russian authorities of orchestrating the death in pre-trial detention, of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian auditor, who exposed a mafia-related scam to embezzle the Russian taxman.

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"There is no doubt that some of the causes of Mr Magnitsky's death were created deliberately, by identifiable persons," his report says.

It calls for the council's 47 member states to impose "intelligent sanctions" on Russian officials implicated in his death.

It also urges Moscow to help Europol and financial sleuths from six EU states to investigate the money laundering trail linked to the scam.

Russian MPs on the legal affairs and human rights committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have indicated they will try to water down the text before it is officially adopted, however.

Alexei Pushkov, an MP from Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party told the Russian parliament, the Duma, on 25 June: "We will try to influence its content. The first page of the resolution announces Magnitsky as a fighter against corruption which he never was."

He added that the cause of Magnitsky's death "has not been determined."

A second United Russia Russian MP in the council, Alexander Sidyakin, in June also told Russian media that Gross' report is "biased."

He compared Magnitsky's to the late Serbian dictator, Slobodan Milosevic, who died in a cell in the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague in 2006.

"To examine the death of the particular person in detention … is a banal topic. Milosevic also died in detention, because help was not provided to him," he told Gazeta.ru.

EUobserver investigative reports

"The Magnitsky Affair" is the latest in a series of EUobserver investigative reports. It looks at what the EU is really willing to do to confront Russian human rights abuses on its doorstep.

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