The guilty verdict passed down to lawyer Sergei Magnitsky undermines any claim to moral authority by the Russian state, human rights analysts at the Henry Jackson Society have said.
This morning a Russian court found Magnitsky guilty of tax fraud. The whistleblowing lawyer had uncovered a web of corruption and theft among Russian officials, and died in custody four years ago after being tortured and denied medical treatment.
The Henry Jackson Society (HJS), whose Russia Studies Centre promotes human rights and political freedom in Russia, has condemned the trial and the guilty verdict.
HJS Executive Director Dr Alan Mendoza said: “This verdict, and the show-trial of a dead human rights lawyer, is frankly beyond belief. If there was ever an example of a state which has lost any credible claim to having a moral authority, this is it.
“We in the West must do more to try to halt Russian corruption, and the Sergei Magnitsky case should act as a warning to Western governments on how the Russian state conducts itself.”
The HJS has been working closely with Mr Magnitsky’s former client William Browder, of the Hermitage Capital investment fund, to highlight the case and spearhead a campaign to put pressure on the British Government to do more to prevent Russian officials from benefiting from crime and corruption. Mr Browder was also found guilty today in his absence.
Following Magnitsky’s death in custody, the US passed the Magnitsky Act, legislation which places travel and financial sanctions on those suspected of crime and human rights abuses in Russia and names those involved in a public US Government listing
A poll released this week by the Henry Jackson Society revealed almost three quarters of voters in Britain would support the introduction of similar legislation here, with just 14 per cent of people believing the British Government was doing as much as could be reasonably expected to stop money from Russian crime and corruption entering the UK.