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Bridget Johnson


July 11, 2013 - 5:27 pm

Russia infuriated critics of its human rights record by convicting late whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky of tax evasion today.

The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 targeted officials implicated in the 2009 death of tax attorney Magnitsky, who uncovered wide-scale fraud in the government and was arrested only to die behind bars at age 37.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), chairman of the Helsinki Commission and author of that bill, said “Russia continues to do damage to itself with the shameful, posthumous conviction” of Magnitsky.

“Sadly, we have come to expect this sort of behavior from the Putin regime. Such a verdict does no further harm to Sergei, though it must be torturous for his family and friends. What this does is continue the downward spiral of Russia’s reputation as a law-abiding state and member of the international community,” Cardin said.

“Those who are currently abusing the rights of the Russian people will one day pass into history and Sergei will be honored as a decent man, trying to do the right thing, who gave his life for a more just and free Russia. My hope for the Russian people is that such a day will come soon.”

Magnitsky reportedly suffered torture and was denied medical treatment. Some of the officials implicated in his death and the corruption he uncovered have since received promotions.

“Sergei Magnitsky’s death and the circumstances around his imprisonment are shameful,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said. “Today’s conviction of Sergei Magnitsky – three years after his death – is nothing short of a message to Russia’s activist community of the repercussions of opposing the state. The trend toward authoritarianism in Russia and the accompanying escalation in violations of human and civil rights is reason for grave concern.”

The UK’s foreign ministry said “convicting a dead man who cannot by definition defend himself is bound to add to negative perceptions of judicial process in Russia.”

“We will support all efforts to build confidence in the Rule of Law in Russia and to ensure that such cases cannot happen again.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. is “disappointed” in Moscow’s latest action.

“The trial was a discredit to the efforts of those who continue to seek justice in his case,” she said.



Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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It was very magnanimous of the judge not to impose a sentence on the dead Magnitsky. I suppose he could have dug him up and then locked the body in solitary somewhere.

Even that wouldn't have been quite as ridiculous as the Egyptian law that was being debated a year or two back in the post-Mubarak era where Egyptian widowers and widows could legally have sex with their late spouses for up to six hours AFTER their death. I'm not sure if that law ever got passed given the suspension of the Egyptian parliament but the idea that it could even be debated seriously is one of the most appalling things I've ever heard.

What is it with these people who seek to torture the dead?
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