Interior and Justice Ministers Meet with Officials in Magnitsky List

June 5, 2013
Heads of Interior and Justice Ministries meet with those who ended up in the “Magnitsky List”/Photo by

[Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev and Justice Minister Aleksandr Konovalov met on April 27 with their employees who have been included in the so-called Magnitsky List. The list includes 18 judges and representatives of law-enforcement and other government agencies whom American authorities believe are complicit in the death in pre-trial detention at Matrosskaya Tishina Prison of Sergei Magnitsky. This report records the reactions of some of the individuals named on the list.—Ed.]

Not a single one of the police officers invited to the meeting with Vladimir Kolokoltsev looked upset. Accusations from a foreign government, much less unconfirmed ones, are not a reason for distress, they explained. Even so, the heads of the Interior Ministry considered it necessary to address each one of them with words of support. Inclusion in the Magnitsky List has not impacted at all on their lives or their careers.

“No matter how many of these acts will be passed by the rulers of other governments, no matter what kind of decisions they make under those acts, this does not at all affect citizens of the Russian Federation if these citizens are law-abiding, and if these citizens of the Russian Federation, whether in uniform or out of uniform, have not committed any crimes,” said Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

In publishing the list of those supposedly responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, the American Administration essentially has taken upon itself the right to determine who is guilty without court or investigation and mete out punishment. True, the ban on entry in the USA will hardly bother those who did not plan to make such a trip.

Question from a journalist: “How will this affect your life?”

“This will not affect my life at all. Moreover, I can say that I don’t even have a foreign passport and have never been abroad even once. Therefore I consider the ‘Magnitsky List’ to be a profanity,” said Natalya Vinogradova, Deputy Minister of the Investigative Committee Department of the Interior Ministry from 2009-2012.

Another person in this list, investigator Oleg Silchenko, expressed himself even more definitively. The Magnitsky List violates all conceivable legal principles and the main one is the presumption of innocence.

“This is a reprisal of sorts on the part of William Felix Browder, who is accused in a criminal case, regarding officials who have a direct relationship to the exposure of his criminal activity on the territory of the Russian Federation,” Silchenko said.

The fact that it was William Browder who was the chief lobbyist for passing the Magnitsky List leaves no doubts. Browder is head of the Hermitage Capital Fund – Sergei Magnitsky worked for him as an auditor – and is accused in Russia of tax evasion and manipulation of shares. The damage is no less than three billion rubles. Most of the people in the list investigating this case are police officials.

But there are others—for example, the head of the pre-trial detention centers in the capital. Furthermore, America does not pay attention to the fact that the death of Magnitsky in a pre-trial isolation cell was investigated and a number of those found guilty were punished.

Aleksandr Konovalov, Russian Justice Minister, said:

“Your ending up in this list of sanctions which has been published by a foreign government is, for us and for you, a legally irrelevant fact. There are no complaints against you today about your work, you are doing a job that is big, complicated, and hard, and I repeat once again that you should fulfill your job with the necessary effect, with strict compliance with the law of Russia and agency instructions.”

The judicial community also supports its colleagues who have wound up on this list. The decisions of four capital judges whose names are mentioned in the document were reviewed at a council of judges of the city of Moscow. The conclusion was that all decisions taken in the Magnitsky case were justified.

Galina Agafonova, Deputy Chair of the Moscow City Court, said:

“We have subjected to sharp criticism this so-called Magnitsky List, but we have grounds for this, we have judicial decrees that have entered into lawful effect and we know the circumstances of the case. I don’t know how experts from the US could make such conclusions that judicial decrees that have taken place are supposedly unlawful.”

Question from a journalist: “That is, they have not seen this case?”

Galina Agafonova: “They have absolutely not seen it, of course they have not seen it. And how could they? The case is in court.”

Galina Agafonova is certain that American experts could figure out the circumstances of the case if they wished, but they are obviously pursuing other goals – to create additional noise around the case. That means that the story of the passage of the Magnitsky List has a political, not a legal, agenda.

The President also spoke of this recently on “Direct Line,” noting that in the US, the Magnitsky Law only took the place of another anti-Russian act, the Jackson-Vanik Amendment passed back in the days of the USSR, which restricted trade between America and the Soviet Union, and then Russia:

“Now what threshold have we come to? Russia began to be accepted into the World Trade Organization, not without the help of the very United States, for which we are grateful to the Obama Administration. We began to be accepted. But the trick was that if they kept the Jackson-Vanik Amendment n their law, then when Russia entered the WTO, they would begin to suffer losses of an economic nature. They were forced to repeal it – but there was a good reason to do it, to forget everything that had happened during the Cold War, and move forward. But no! They had to definitely drag in another one, anti-Russian in this case, the ‘Magnitsky Act.’ No one has investigated what happened there. Why was this done? Just in order to puff up their gills: we are the toughest here. Why? This, this is such imperial, imperial behavior in the foreign policy arena. Who likes this? We warned them that we will respond.”

Thus, Russia had no other option than to pass a retaliatory list of 18 persons who are banned from entry into our country. It is the so-called Guantanamo List – people who have taken part in the torture of prisoners in that prison and who have violated Russians’ rights. The response is symmetrical and leaves hope that America will acquire common sense. The lists should not have to be filled with new names.