EU legislators press Ashton over Magnitsky affair

By Andrei Skvarsky.

One of the European Parliament’s political groups has pressed the European Commission to go ahead with sanctions against alleged Russian persecutors and killers of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky that the EU legislature recommended in October and December.

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In an address to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) asked whether she shared “the conviction of the need to establish a common EU list of officials responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky and for the subsequent judicial cover-up, to impose and implement an EU-wide visa ban on these officials and to freeze any financial assets they or their immediate family may hold inside the European Union”.

The ALDE also attacked “the continuing posthumous prosecution of Sergei Magnitsky”, which is “a further violation of international and Russian law and clearly indicates the malfunctioning of the Russian criminal justice system and the systemic failure of the Russian state to protect its citizens”.

Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer, was arrested on a tax evasion charge soon after accusing senior Russian officials of stealing $230m from the Russian state.

A gravely sick man, he died in a Moscow remand prison in November 2009 after being denied essential medical assistance. Hermitage, which is a British investment fund, and human rights activists claim that prison guards beat him with batons shortly before his death.

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