Dutch vote on “Magnitsky list” is pre-meditated – Russian official

Dutch flags fly at half-mast near the Dutch Parliament building (background) in The Hague, Netherlands (AFP Photo / Getty Images)
The Dutch parliament has voted unanimously for a resolution to impose travel and economic sanctions against Russian officials allegedly involved in the Sergey Magnitsky case. Moscow believes the move is a “pre-meditated action”.

Allegedly, the Dutch legislators supported initiatives which had been put forward by the American Senate and the European Parliament.

Konstantin Kosachev, head of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, called the vote in the States-General of the Netherland (the Dutch parliament) a “pre-meditated action”. In an interview with Echo Moskvy radio station, the MP stressed that Moscow is interested in solving the Magnitsky case as soon as possible. He added that despite the States-General of the Netherland’s decision, Russia’s lower house is not going to speed up the development of its own “black list” of foreign officials who have violated the rights of Russians in their countries.

According to a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Dutch parliament’s decision “is unacceptable”. The latest move would not make a positive impact on Russian-Dutch relations, the source told Interfax.

Magnitsky, a lawyer for the Hermitage Capital Management Fund, was arrested by Russian authorities on charges of alleged tax evasion and died of a heart attack while in a Moscow pre-trial detention facility in November 2009. The fund maintains that the true reason for his detention was that he had uncovered a multi-million corruption scheme involving high-ranking state officials. His family and colleagues also claim he was abused in prison and deliberately denied medical aid. Russian prosecutors, however, say they have not found any evidence of wrongdoing.

Citing a statement by Hermitage Capital, Interfax news agency reports that the Dutch legislators have underlined “the unacceptability of a situation in which Russian officials responsible for the death of the 37-year-old lawyer…who uncovered a large-scale corruption [scheme] go unpunished”.

The deputies urged the government of the Netherlands to freeze the assets of Russian officials’ on Dutch territory and ban them from entering the country.

The State Duma is also debating whether to ban foreigners from entering Russia if they violate the rights of Russians abroad. Under a bill submitted to the lower house on Tuesday of last week, the law-enforcement agencies would be allowed to deny entry to applicable officials and freeze their accounts in Russian banks, including those located abroad. The draft law also empowers parliamentarians, Russian ombudsman and Public Chamber members to request that the government deny entry into Russia those persons involved in inflicting moral or material damage to a Russian citizen. The move is believed to be a response to the so-called Magnitsky list developed in some western countries.

Meanwhile, the Dutch deputies’ decision was welcomed by some Russian human rights activists.

“This wouldn’t have happened if an efficient investigation of Magnitsky’s death had been carried out in Russia,” the head of the Civil Assistance Committee, Lyudmila Gannushkina told Interfax.

In December of last year, the European Parliament backed a resolution that calls on member states to introduce sanctions against 60 Russian officials involved in the Sergey Magnitsky case. The move was met with a sharp reaction from the Russian State Duma, which called the resolution a crude interference into the country’s internal affairs.

Earlier, the Canadian parliament's subcommittee on human rights adopted a resolution to deny visas and freeze the Canadian assets of Russian officials allegedly linked to the death of the lawyer.

Currently, the US Senate is considering a draft on imposing unilateral sanctions and a travel ban against the suspected Russian officials.

Magnitsky’s death was one of the incidents that prompted President Dmitry Medvedev to propose a law abolishing the arrest of severely ill suspects in financial crime cases. Medvedev also ordered an inquiry into the investigation of laywer’s death.

Doctors to be sued for Magnitsky’s death

Sergey Magnitsky died in a pre-trial detention facility because of the failure to render medical assistance to the Hermitage Capital investment foundation lawyer, the Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said on Monday.

"Negligent medical care directly caused his death. In compliance with the criminal-procedural code, we will prosecute the personnel responsible for the negligence which was uncovered," he told Interfax.

An additional forensic medical examination revealed that the lawyer’s death was caused by a combination of two illnesses – heart problems linked to diabetes and “chronic active hepatitis”. The experts found out that because of the negligent medical care Magnitsky’s received while being detained, the illnesses had not been diagnosed in a timely fashion. In addition, he was not provided with “adequate therapy” on November 16, 2009 – the day when the lawyer’s health rapidly got worse and he subsequently died.

Markin added that the names of the suspects will not be made public until charges are officially brought against them.