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Sweden deputies call for sanctions against Russian officials under the Magnitsky case

March 13, 2012, 12:20 UTC+3
The initiative to introduce sanctions against Russian officials on the so-called Magnitsky List, was offered by 59 members of Sweden’s parliament
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MOSCOW, March 13 (Itar-Tass) —Deputies of Sweden’s parliament have urged Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to introduce sanctions against Russian officials, who, in their opinion, are involved in the death of Hermitage Capital’s Lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Similar initiatives keep arising in more and more countries. However, experts say, governments will not chose to isolate Russia.

The initiative to introduce sanctions against Russian officials on the so-called Magnitsky List, was offered by 59 members of Sweden’s parliament of 349 seats, THE KOMMERSANT writes. While putting together the petition, Sweden’s deputies based on experience of their counterparts in the United States and Great Britain, the newspaper writes. The US senators Benjamin Cardin and John McCain were the first to offer visa sanctions against Russia’s 60 officials involved one way or another in the case of Magnitsky. A week earlier, deputies of the UK’s House of Commons supported sanctions against persons on the black list.

“If Russia’s position does not change, it is possible to forecast all civilised countries will follow suit,” Hermitage Capital told THE KOMMERSANT. The company said “a resolution of the European Parliament of February 28 states it necessary for all EU member countries to start introducing sanctions.”

However, experts do not hurry to share the conclusions. First Deputy President of the Centre for Political Technologies Alexei Makarkin told the newspaper “deputies are free to express their emotions and indignation, but members of cabinets should keep normal relations with Moscow.” The expert is sure “authorities of the United States and of European countries are not seeking isolation of the Russian Federation, as they realise too strong pressure may cause the opposite result.”

This version is supported in a recent statement made by the UK’s Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt as he assured reporters that London intended to refrain from any steps against persons on the Magnitsky List. At least until Washington makes a decision on the issue.

At the same time, Alexei Makarkin is sure, nobody will allow Moscow to forget the case of Magnitsky – the West will continue demanding thorough investigation of the accident. “However for Russian law enforcement authorities this is a matter of principle and they will still prove Magnitsky was a swindler and thief,” the expert calling the current situation a “deadlock.”

The international reaction of the kind in the long run will make Russian authorities organise a “good-will” checking of the “case of Magnitsky,” Chairperson of the Non-Government Supervising Commission on Human Rights in penitentiaries Valery Borshchev said. THE NOVYE IZVESTIA quote him as saying “Aggression against those who make decisions on sanctions against officials on the Magnitsky List proves the decision affects interests of many people, and not only of those on the list. It is absolutely clear that those people do not receive proper punishment as they have mighty patrons. But now those mighty people have the only way out – to organise honest and thorough checking of the facts Sergei Magnitsky had mentioned.”

Besides, Borshchev said, it is necessary to investigate into the facts presented by the Presidential Council on Human Rights, containing figures and names of those involved in the scandalous and tragic case. Now the investigation into the lawyer’s death and the stealing of five billion roubles, of what Magnitsky accused the police and tax officials, is not smooth: the Investigative Committee is involved in the probe into Magnitsky’s death, and the Interior Ministry is investigating into the corruption case. “The Investigative Committee brings to responsibility minor people, who are responsible, of course, and this is only the beginning,” Borshchev said. “And representatives of the Interior Ministry deny categorically any involvement of the persons we have named. The position of the Interior Ministry is simply outrageous. The fact, that now they have opened a case on dead Magnitsky and want to accuse him of stealing money, is defiance to the society, which arouses everybody’s indignation. This should be investigated, not avoided.”

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