5

Soviet-style law returns to Russia

Magnitsky died in prison, after being held without charge


 

For years, Russia has been a dangerous place for journalists and human rights activists who probe the murky relationship between government, police, and organized crime. Now, it is becoming increasingly treacherous for businessmen and their associates who do the same.

Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer working for William Browder, CEO of the London-based investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, died last month in Moscow’s Butryka prison, where he had been held for a year without charge. Magnitsky had helped Hermitage reveal an alleged $230-million tax fraud that implicated Russian police and government officials. Other lawyers hired by Hermitage to investigate the case have also been arrested and severely beaten. Several have fled the country.

Magnitsky, a father of two children, officially died of heart failure. His colleagues say he was kept in a tiny, filthy cell and denied medical treatment in an effort to force him to “confess” to the tax fraud he had uncovered. Russian authorities refused to allow an independent autopsy, but last month announced an investigation into the circumstances of his death. Browder doubts it will accomplish anything.

“Sergei went into prison at the age of 36 as a healthy young man. To the extent that there are issues they want to cover up, we’ll never know what really happened,” he said in an interview with Maclean’s. “The law enforcement organs of Russia have now become infiltrated by organized crime figures. Many who have the power to arrest people in Russia use those powers for economic gain. As a result, you have this situation where the richest oligarchs in Russia now are the ones who can arrest people. There are good, honest government officials and honest ministers, but even if they’re honest, they’re afraid of being arrested themselves. You essentially have the state being occupied in important positions by criminals who can ruin the lives of anyone who stands in their way.”


 
Filed under:

Soviet-style law returns to Russia

  1. Soviet style? Try Canadian style. Over 50% of inmates currently incarcerated in Canada haven't been convicted of a crime. That's the highest rate in the world, higher than any dictatorship you can name. It's no exaggeration to say that in Canada you go serve a sentence first, then you get your trial. Canadian citizens frequently spend *years* in jail prior to receiving a "fair" hearing and often are found not guilty, and they have no way of seeking compensation for this grave injustice.

    You read the papers Petrou, you know all of what I just said. You just choose to ignore it and live in a fantasy world where Canada is a Just Society. You don't care about social justice in the slightest; if you did, you'd be shamed as I and many other Canadians are by our legal system which is among the absolute worst in the entire world and you'd use your soapbox to speak out against this ghastly injustice.

    • Russia does not possess a civil society, Canada does. Russia is corrupt to the core, Canada not so much. Comparing the two countries is ludicrous.

    • "…our legal system which is among the absolute worst in the entire world."

      What happen buddy? The government won't let you renew your drivers license because of too many 407 infractions? The heavy hand of divorce court make you into a pauper?

      If only Canada could have a legal system like they have in Mexico, Pakistan, or China, bereft of corruption, scheming pick-pocket policemen, and incompetent judiciaries!

      OHHHHH… the "ghastly injustice of it all"

  2. Soviet style law never left they just gave it a facelift called Putinization. How the western media could be so naiive is beyond me. Medvedev and Putin both long for the days they can emulate A. Lukashenko of Belarus.

  3. Oh, I know! Let's send Stephen Harper over there too. If doing business with China in the face of their criminal justice system is OK surely doing business with Russian oligarch's is also OK.

Sign in to comment.