LIVE UPDATES: The US State Department has published five additional names to the Magnitsky List of Russian officials responsible for the death of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky or other serious human rights violations.
Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.
The previous issue is here.
–The Non-Hybrid War
–Kashin Explains His âLetter to Leadersâ on âFontanka Officeâ
–TV Rain Interviews Volunteer Fighter Back from Donbass
–âI Was on Active Dutyâ: Interview with Captured GRU Officer Aleksandrov
– Alberto R. Gonzalez, former Attorney General
– Douglas J. Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
– John Rizzo, former Acting General Counsel for the CIA
– Jay Scott Bybee, former Assistant Attorney General
– William James Hanes II, former General Counsel for the Department of Defense
Two other cases of alleged US human rights violations were cited by the Foreign Minister — “the tragic situations of K.V. Yaroshenko and R.V. Seleznyov” who were jailed and were claimed to be denied medical care.
As the Christian Science Monitor reported, Seleznyov is a hacker arrested for credit card theft, and the son of a famous father who is a member of the Russian parliament; Yaroshenko was convicted in Manhattan Federal Court and sentenced to 20 years for importing $100 million of cocaine. Seleznyov’s father, Vladimir, claims his son was nabbed to trade him for fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden, but the problem with that theory is that Seleznyov was arrested before Snowden went public with his own hacking.
The Foreign Ministry finished by citing American police abuses motivated by racism; the abusive penitentiary system; and the “legalization” of medieval torture methods. Russia’s own numerous cases of police torture — never prosecuted — and its extra-judicial execution of hundreds of suspected Islamists every year was forgotten.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
But not surprisingly, the IC has passed the buck to the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Translation: Everything is very simple: my inquiry on Chaika will be checked by Chaika himself. The results of the check, I sense, will be sensational.
The IC also said it found nothing questionable.
Despite Kadyrov’s increasingly provocative behavior — yesterday he posted a video clip on Instagram showing two opposition figures through a sniper’s scope — the Kremlin has continued to back him.
“As for the activity of the head of the Chechen Republic, it does not provoke any questions in the administration of the president.”
“Ramzan is hated by many people for different things. But the peak of his unpleasantness has passed and there is no threat. And he is demonstrating that to everyone.”
Kadyrov reacted predictably on Instagram last night, saying:
“No sooner did I say a few words about the chained dogs of the USA than they removed my post from Instagram. There it is, the much-praised freedom of speech, American-style! You can write anything, but don’t touch the dogs of America, of the State Department and Congress. You know perfectly well what I’m talking about.
Today, Kadyrov has only doubled down, posting a photo of himself reviewing his troops in desert camouflage and commenting again on the opposition:
I’ve always spoken directly and said only what I thought. I thought the opposition are people who are the same kind of patriots of their country who have some support among a certain part of the citizens and try to get across their vision of how to resolve the problems of state. When I look at 15-20 people without a Motherland and a flag who call themselves by the serious word “opposition,” along with contempt, other issues arise. Despite the incessant barking of the “Kasyanovs” and his little friends, scared to death by my video in Instagram (which was immediately removed), and also those who sympathize with them, I still want to understand a simple truth: who are they?!
Can you consider opposition people who unconscionably and openly help those who try to force our country into a blockade by sanctions and provocation, as the fascists did with Leningrad at one time?! To exhaust us and then dictate to us their political will!? Can you consider opposition those who embrace the Nazis in Kiev, supporting the bloodshed in the Donbass?! Or let’s say those who, emphasizing their hatred of all the peoples of Russia, swear to return our Crimea after they come to power!? Or those who, the other day, called my people “the most difficult” and insist on the “secession of Chechnya!?
Can you consider full-fledged citizens of our Fatherland, enjoying its goods and protection, those who approve of the publication of lists of our pilots fighting in Syria!? The list of such crimes aimed at the rapid collapse and enslavement of Russia could be continued for a long time. So who are they, these pathetic beggars, standing with outstretched hand at the embassies of the USA and its allies? Is that really the opposition? For such an opposition, we have prevailed over international terrorists, losing thousands of faithful comrades!?
What should we consider those who fall into hysterics over a short video!? Could a real opposition be so cowardly!? I am certain it could not. And those about whom I speak with revulsion are for me personally, traitors and betrayers of Russia and its People. And another thing. If these cardboard “heroes” are so terribly afraid of my laughing at them, then the road to the courthouses is open to them. I am a law-abiding citizen, responsible for my every work and remain with my firm opinion. I’ve said everything.
Sergei Mitrokhin, former leader of the opposition party Yabloko and now chair of its Moscow branch sent an appeal to Putin and the heads of the FSB and Prosecutor General to open up a criminal case against Kadyrov on grounds of calls to extremist activity and organizing an extremist organization. By the latter, he apparently means the troops within Chechnya that are called “Kadyrov’s personal army” although nominally they belong to the Chechen branch of the Interior Ministry.
Another short-term factor that could be driving Kadyrov’s behavior is the upcoming year anniversary of the assassination of Boris Nemtsov on February 27. The Investigative Committee has said they have “solved” the case and are expecting to transfer the case to a military court. Since the chief defendant, Zaur Dadayev, was in the Chechen Interior Ministry’s Sever Battalion and was praised by Kadyrov as a “patriot,” his sentencing will further call into question Kadyrov’s judgement.
A spotlight will also be shed on two figures, Ruslan Geremeyev, head of Sever and a relative of Kadyrov’s and Ruslan Mukhatdinov, his driver, said to organize the murder. Both have fled Russia. The opposition believes the masterminds of the murder have not yet been found and have already indicated they believe the trail leads to Kadyrov himself.
Yesterday, February 1, based on a Bloomberg report in the morning, we reported that the State Department had delayed the publication of an additional five names to the Magnitsky List of officials responsible for the death of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky and other severe human rights violations.
Yesterday afternoon, the US Treasury Department published the five names:
ANICHIN, Aleksey Vasilyevich (a.k.a. ANICHIN, Alexei Vasilievich); DOB 01 Dec 1949; POB Sevastopol, Ukraine (individual) [MAGNIT].
ANTONOV, Yevgeni Yuvenalievich; DOB 1955; nationality Russia (individual) [MAGNIT].
KIBIS, Boris Borisovich; DOB 20 Nov 1977; nationality Russia (individual) [MAGNIT].
LAPSHOV, Pavel Vladimirovich; DOB 07 Jul 1976; nationality Russia (individual) [MAGNIT].
URZHUMTSEV, Oleg Vyacheslavovich; DOB 22 Oct 1968; citizen Russia (individual) [MAGNIT].
Four of the officials were involved in the death in prison of Magnitsky. Boris Kibis, Interior Ministry investigator, was included for his role in the preposterous trial of Magnitsky posthumously. Oleg Urzhumtsev, previously included in the EU’s Magnitsky Sanctions List, was also involved in the posthumous trial.
A State Department official told Reuters that Anichin was head of the Interior Ministry’s Investigative Committee, and authorized the criminal case under which Magnitsky was arrested; he has been defiant about inclusion in the sanctions’ list.
Lapshov was head of the Russian Interior Ministry’s investigative department of organized criminal activity and responsible for Magnitsky’s case.
Yevgeni Antonov ran a prison in Chechnya notorious for its abuses, the State Department said.
Reuters further reported:
Monday’s addition to the list raises the number of people sanctioned under the 2012 law to 39, State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.
Though few if any assets have been frozen as a result of the designations, the actions “show the operational level of Russian officials that they can and will be held personally accountable for just following orders,” the State Department official said.
As a result of inclusion in the list, in addition to the assets freeze, the five are also banned from obtaining a US visa.
The addition of the names was welcomed by Hermitage Capital Management CEO William Browder who has campaigned extensively for his colleague Magnitsky, but it was tempered by the extent of many others involved: