Following the announcement that a Moscow Court posthumously convicted Sergei Magnitsky yesterday, Lantos Foundation President Katrina Lantos Swett issued the following statement:
“The absurd posthumous conviction of Sergei Magnitsky by a thoroughly corrupt Russian judicial system represents a new low in the annals of Putin’s misrule of Russia. Sergei Magnitsky is hailed around the world as a brave and idealistic lawyer who exposed massive tax fraud on the part of corrupt Russian officials. He paid for this disclosure with his life and the pathetic attempt by these guilty officials to implicate Magnitsky in their crimes would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic. Thankfully, Sergei Magnitsky’s former client Bill Browder, who was also falsely convicted in absentia, remains free and has dedicated himself to exposing the crimes of Putin and his henchmen. History will not be kind to Putin and his corrupt cronies who have tried to besmirch the name of a fallen hero. The good news is they have already failed and Sergei Magnitsky’s proud legacy of integrity and idealism will continue to shine brighter with each passing year.”
The Lantos Foundation applauds the passage today in the US Senate of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. The bill imposes a variety of sanctions on those who are known to have participated in the detention, abuse and death of Sergei Magnitsky– a brave young lawyer who risked his life to expose widespread corruption and abuse by Russian officials. Individuals implicated in these crimes against Sergei Magnitsky would be denied visas and are subject to having their assets in the United States frozen. This vital legislation sends the clear message to tyrants and torturers around the world that America is determined to stand up for human rights and the rule of law. President of the Lantos Foundation Katrina Lantos Swett commented; “We urge President Obama to sign this important legislation and we hope it will become a template for similar sanctions to be imposed on gross violators of human rights globally.”
CONCORD, NH – The Lantos Foundation hails the passage of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. We have long advocated for this legislation and are extremely pleased that the United States Congress has sent a clear signal to Russia at a time when Putin’s government is rapidly retreating from democracy and respect for the rule of law. Passage of this important legislation sends a critical message; the government of the United States is watching, and there will be consequences for the kind of criminality uncovered in the Magintsky murder. Human rights and democracy activists across Russia are looking to the United States for moral support and leadership as they fight for a democratic future for their country. Today’s passage of the Magnitsky Act is a step in the right direction.
Calls on Obama to Back Stronger Sanctions
CONCORD - The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice today commended the US Government for its decision to bar dozens of Russian officials from the United States for their involvement in the imprisonment and death of the young Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who was involved in uncovering a massive case of official corruption and tax fraud. At the same time, the Lantos Foundation insisted the State Department’s recent action must not be a substitute for more comprehensive and robust sanctions addressing this and other widespread human rights abuses in Russia.
Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation, said “We welcome the decision by the Obama Administration to deny visas to Russian officials implicated in the intentional death of Sergei Magnitsky while he was in detention on false charges. However, our support for the Administration’s action is predicated on the assumption that this will be merely a “first step” in promoting a more robust human rights policy with regard to Russia."
Mr. Magnitsky, a young lawyer who exposed a case of massive tax fraud and corruption involving Russian officials, was subsequently arrested by the officials he had exposed and ultimately died while in custody. The Lantos Foundation supports the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act which goes farther than the recent State Department action in not only denying visas to Russian officials involved in the Magnitsky’s death, but also freezes their assets. The act would extend these sanctions to officials implicated in other human rights abuses involving the deaths of human rights activists and journalists.
In her recent testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Dr. Lantos Swett said “We must get away from the notion that we can delink Russia’s actions on human rights and justice from all of our other interests. When we delink those values that we hold to be profound, we begin to go off track.”
“The tragic deaths of Sergei Magnitsky and others as well as the ongoing political and legal persecution of Russia’s most prominent political prisoner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, provide ample and disturbing evidence of the corruption and legal nihilism that characterize Russia today. It is time for the United States to speak and act with clarity and conviction in insisting on accountability for those who engage in or condone these abuses,” Lantos Swett concluded.