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20.09.2011

Call for US blacklist of Russian officials involved in Khodorkovsky prosecution

   

US Senators Harry Reid and John Kerry have led a collation of Human Rights activists in an open letter highlighting Rule of Law in Russia. The letter states:

"Sergei Magnitsky fell victim to inhuman Russian justice. No small number of our citizens are illegally deprived of liberty in consequence of the defects of this system. Impunity for those who fabricated the charges against Magnitsky and caused him to die, gives free rein to other officials, who enrich themselves with the property of others or pursue the political opponents of the authorities. The felonious enforcement cliques seize the property of their victims who resist these takeovers, pursue them and deprive them of their liberty for many long years. And in detention they can be subjected to abuse and even torture.

"The most famous victims of such takeovers are the owner of the YUKOS company Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the manager of this company Platon Lebedev. Amnesty International has recognized bother of them as prisoners of conscience. The result of their arrest and the takeover of the company became expansion of the gigantic economic empire owned by persons from Prime Minister V. Putin’s inner circle.Opposition politicians, human rights advocates and civic activists have become victims of persecutions and unlawful arrests under made-up pretexts. Such persecutions will not cease as long as those who are responsible for the death of Magnitsky, for the imprisonment of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, and the crackdown on Russian civil society remain unpunished.

"Bill S. 1039 prescribes sanctions not only with respect to the Magnitsky case, but applies to the entire range of human rights abuses, among others, in Russia as well. Accordingly, officials responsible for the politically motivated persecution of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Platon Lebedev and the other victims of the persecution of the YUKOS company as well as those who impede the exercise of fundamental democratic liberties, ones such as freedom of assembly, freedom to create parties, freedom of elections etc. ought to be included in this list. This is a list that is much longer that that list of roughly 60 individuals sent by Senator Cardin to the US State Department in 2010. Such a list must from now on be supplemented with new names".

The letter in full

Dear Messrs. Senators

This letter is an expression of support for S. 1039, the "Sergei Magnitsky Rule
of Law Accountability Act of 2011", currently pending before the Senate
Committee on Foreign Relations.

This bill prescribes sanctions in the form of denial of visas to the US and
freezing of bank accounts in the USA for persons - including officials of the
Russian Federation - who have engaged in human rights violations, ones such
as abuses of power whether for personal or political motives or for covering up
abuses by colleagues.

Egregious abuses of human rights are, unfortunately, common in today’s
Russia. Sergei Magnitsky, the namesake of the bill, was deprived of his
liberty without cause and in violation of basic principles of justice. Russian
authorities were responsible for his perishing while in custody. Magnitsky
ended up in jail because, executing his official duties, he discovered theft from
the Russian budget of a large sum of money, committed by a group of senior
Russian officials. Russian authorities continue to evade bringing the officials
guilty of Magnitsky’s death to justice.

For us it is very important that US legislators take steps to bring the persons
who are violating the law and abusing power in Russia to justice. We believe
human rights should not be sidelined for perceived political interests.

Human rights should not be sidelined for the sake of political interests,
whatever they may be.

Sergei Magnitsky fell victim to inhuman Russian justice. No small number of
our citizens are illegally deprived of liberty in consequence of the defects of
this system. Impunity for those who fabricated the charges against Magnitsky
and caused him to die, gives free rein to other officials, who enrich themselves
with the property of others or pursue the political opponents of the authorities.
The felonious enforcement cliques seize the property of their victims who resist
these takeovers, pursue them and deprive them of their liberty for many long
years. And in detention they can be subjected to abuse and even torture.

The most famous victims of such takeovers are the owner of the YUKOS
company Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the manager of this company Platon
Lebedev. Amnesty International has recognized bother of them as prisoners of
conscience. The result of their arrest and the takeover of the company became
expansion of the gigantic economic empire owned by persons from Prime
Minister V. Putin’s inner circle.

Opposition politicians, human rights advocates and civic activists have become
victims of persecutions and unlawful arrests under made-up pretexts. Such
persecutions will not cease as long as those who are responsible for the death of
Magnitsky, for the imprisonment of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, and the
crackdown on Russian civil society remain unpunished.

Bill S. 1039 prescribes sanctions not only with respect to the Magnitsky case,
but applies to the entire range of human rights abuses, among others, in Russia
as well. Accordingly, officials responsible for the politically motivated
persecution of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Platon Lebedev and the other victims
of the persecution of the YUKOS company as well as those who impede the
exercise of fundamental democratic liberties, ones such as freedom of assembly,
freedom to create parties, freedom of elections etc. ought to be included in this
list. This is a list that is much longer that that list of roughly 60 individuals
sent by Senator Cardin to the US State Department in 2010. Such a list must
from now on be supplemented with new names.

The threat of sanctions against the perpetrators of the Magnitsky tragedy struck
a raw nerve with the Russian officials responsible for this tragedy. The
consistent implementation of international pressure on the corruptioneers in the
leadership circles of Russia will be a significant support for our civil society and
for those honest people within the Russian power structures who are trying to
renew and reform government institutions.

We call upon you, Honorable Senators, to support S. 1039, the "Sergei
Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2011." We hope that it will be
considered without delay and favorably in the Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations and then by the full Senate.

Respectfully,

Ludmilla Alexeeva, chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group

Lev Ponomarev, head of the All-Russia Movement For Human Rights

Nina Katerli, writer, member of the Russian PEN-CENTRE, member of the
Public Expert Board of the All-Russia Movement For Human Rights

Lidiya Grafova, journalist

Liya Akhedzhakova, people’s artist of the RF

Natalia Fateyeva, people’s artist of the RF

Boris Vishnevsky, observer for Novaya gazeta

Konstantin Azadovskii, literary historian, Chairman of the executive committee
of the Saint Petersburg PEN-club

Eldar Ryazanov, film director, scriptwriter, poet

Alexey Devotchenko, Russian theater and movie actor, honoured artist of
Russia.

Boris Nemtsov, politician

Mark Urnov, Russian political scientist, scientific head of the Applied Political
Science Departmetn of the Higher School of Economics State University.

Victor Shenderovich, Soviet and Russian satirist, TV and radio host, liberal
publicist, human rights advocate

Vladimir Ryzhkov, opposition politician

Rafail Ganelin, historian, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of
Sciences.

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