Ban suspected Russian gangsters from the UK Dominic Raab
The body of the whistleblower Alexander Perepilichny was discovered near his Surrey home only months after he gave evidence to a Swiss investigation into money laundering. It is understood that he fingered the husband of an official implicated in Russia’s biggest tax fraud. His death is “unexplained” — the fourth unexplained death linked to the case.
Sergei Magnitsky was the first to pay with his life in 2009. Having exposed the $230 million scam, the dissident lawyer was persecuted by the officials he named. Magnitsky is the Solzhenitsyn of his age — except that Solzhenitsyn was sent to the gulag, whereas Magnitsky was tortured to death and is now being prosecuted posthumously for the crime he uncovered. Only in Putin’s Russia.
Toxicology tests are being carried out on Mr Perepilichny. Meanwhile we need to know whether any of the 60 named suspects in the Magnitsky case have been allowed to enter the UK. Government policy is not to routinely reveal the names of those subject to visa bans, but the Foreign Affairs Select Committee recommended disclosure in the public interest. In this kind of case it is vital.
Behind the scenes, the Government must co-operate with the Swiss to protect other witnesses, find if any are living in Britain and swap intelligence.
This is not the only case of its kind. It is the sixth anniversary of the murder of the former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko, and the Russian banker German Gorbuntsov escaped an assassination attempt in March.
We should not respond by isolating Russia. We should welcome it into the World Trade Organisation and engage with its Government. But, this does not mean allowing individuals who engage in torture or assassination to come to Britain, buy up property or send their children to UK schools.
The US House of Representatives recently passed a Sergei Magnitsky Bill that would impose mandatory visa bans and asset freezes on those responsible for his murder and cover-up. In March I led a cross-party debate — backed by five former foreign ministers — calling for a similar UK law. It would not be limited to the Magnitsky case or Russia, but apply to dictators and kleptocracies around the world. The proposal was unanimously endorsed by the House of Commons.
We have a chance to target those in the Russian, Syrian and other rogue regimes who use torture or extrajudicial killing for profit and to silence the voices of freedom in their own countries. I, for one, don’t see why Magnitsky’s tormentors should be free to waltz down Kings Road to do their shopping this Christmas.
Dominic Raab is the Conservative MP for Esher & Walton
Sergei Magnitsky was tortured to death. He’s the new Solzhenitsyn