President Medvedev’s Investigation Goes Awry

On 24 November 2009, President Medvedev ordered an investigation into the death of Sergei Magnitsky in pre-trial detention.

Unfortunately both the target of the investigation and its implementation are deeply flawed.


1) The investigation must be expanded to investigate the crime Sergei Magnitsky exposed.

There is overwhelming evidence that Sergei Magnitsky was arrested by corrupt Interior Ministry officers who were trying to conceal their crimes by pressuring the witness – Sergei Magnitsky – who had testified against them.

For this reason the President’s investigation must be expanded to explore the role of the Interior Ministry officers in stealing $230 million of state funds and subsequently repressing and killing the witness who exposed this theft.

  • This means investigating the allegations that Sergei Magnitsky made against the Interior Ministry officers Artem Kuznetsov and Pavel Karpov.
  • This means investigating Sergei Magnitsky’s testimony that he was essentially kept as a hostage of those officials who stole $230 million, their superiors and their accomplices.
  • This means investigating why Interior Ministry officers with a clear conflict of interest were allowed by the highest-ranking Interior Ministry officials to bring a case against a witness who was testifying against them.
  • This means investigating how and why all of the many complaints Sergei Magnitsky, his lawyers and colleagues, wrote to Russian General Prosecutor Yuri Chaika were either ignored or denied while he was still alive.
  • This means investigating why the appeals to President Medvedev and General Prosecutor to release Sergei from pre-trial detention from the Council of Europe, the International Bar Association and the UK Law Society and other organisations were ignored while he was still alive (see select appeals here).
  • This means investigating why, seven months after Sergei Magnitsky’s death, the petitions to open a murder investigation against the Interior Ministry have been unaddressed.
  • It also means investigating how the families of the officers Sergei accused became extremely wealthy at the time of the theft.

None of this investigation has been done, and every attempt to ask the General Prosecutor’s Office to investigate Sergei Magnitsky’s allegations and his false arrest has been rebuffed. See the Petitions written to the General Prosecutor’s office regarding Sergei’s arrest, torture and murder. The General Prosecutor’s Office simply refuses to investigate any of these allegations.

2) The investigation is treating Sergei Magnitsky’s death, as a death by negligence when all the evidence indicates that torture and deadly conditions were created intentionally at the request of Interior Ministry investigators and officials.

According to independent findings, there is overwhelming evidence that torturous and deadly conditions were systematically created for Sergei Magnitsky in pre-trial detention to coerce him to withdraw his testimony against Interior Ministry officers Kuznetsov and Karpov.

Once again, the General Prosecutor’s Office simply refuses to investigate any claims that the torturous and deadly conditions that Sergei Magnitsky was subjected to in pre-trial detention were created intentionally and that these Interior Ministry officers were directing his torture and persecution.

Over six months have passed since Sergei Magnitsky’s death and not one person has been accused of intentional wrongdoing and not one person has been accused of a crime. In fact, to date the investigation has spent an inordinate amount of time trying to close the investigation. As reported in May 2010, the investigation has been wasting government time and money analyzing the handwriting of Sergei’s complaints to try and determine if they were really filed by Sergei in the hope that they could be thrown out and the investigation closed.

Read various petitions and complaints chronicling how the Presidential Investigation has been sidetracked and is now degenerating into farce. See the Petitions filed after Sergei Magnitsky’s death where various parties tried and failed to get the Russian President, the General Prosecutor’s office and other government agencies to investigate how Sergei was falsely arrested or tortured. In every case the General Prosecutor’s office simply refuses to investigate and gives a standard answer. The situation has become so egregious that Alexey Navalny is currently suing the General Prosecutor’s office for its failure to act.

Select press articles:

24 May 2010. “The Precedent of Magnitsky: Moscow will respond to Europe about the Death of a Lawyer” (Russian). An article in the New Times about how President Medvedev’s investigation into Sergei’s Magnitsky’s murder is not moving, how surprised the Europeans and Americans are about this, the importance of the case, and how they do not intend to let the matter drop.

14 May 2010. “Prison as a Death Sentence” (English). An article in Open Democracy about Sergei Magnitsky’s death by Zoya Svetova, a member of the Moscow Prison Watchdog (Public Oversight Commission for Detention Centers), explaining how employees of the detention centre lied to the watchdog members and how the actions that created lethal conditions for Sergei Magnitsky were dictated by the Interior Ministry investigators.

To learn more about what happened to Sergei Magnitsky please read here.

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