Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sergei Magnitsky

Sergei Magnitsky was a lawyer who investigated the agencies of the Russian government that looted the British firm Hermitage Capital Management.  On June 4, 2007, police from the Ministry of the Interior raided the offices, taking all the records and the corporate seal.  They then turned over all the assets to various criminal gangs.  Hermitage hired Sergei Magnitsky from the law firm of Firestone Duncan to investigate.  Magnitsky was arrested and held in prison without charges until he died in 2009, after 359 days, one day short of the legal maximum that you can be held without being charged in Russia.  Now, although dead, Magnitsky is being tried for embezzlement.
Sergei Magnitsky
8 April 1972 - 16 November 2009

The Magnitsky Affair is why Russia canceled adoptions by Americans.  The Magnitsky Affair is why Russia condemned large lots of US beef as “unfit for sale.”  The Magnitsky Affair is the reason for the U.S. Senate bill called the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Bill” which was eventually made an amendment to H.R. 6156 normalizing trade with Russia, which President Obama signed into law on December 14, 2012. 

Unlike the Cold War, the present hostility between Russia and the United States is not in the minds of most Americans.  It should be. We knew then that Communism was inhumane. Islamic terrorism has our attention now, but in the past ten years, Russia has changed very little. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism hardly affected the deeper culture of Russia that made Communism possible there in the first place.  Karl Marx expected the workers in Germany, the United Kingdom, or France (and perhaps America) to rise up first.  But Marx misunderstood history and it was in Russia which hardly knew any democratic institutions or dynamic pluralism that made Communism possible.  Today, the President of Russia is Vladimir Putin.  Born in 1952, he joined the KGB in 1975 at the age of 23 and rose to lieutenant colonel.  In 1991, after the collapse of Communism, he entered politics. In eight years he rose to Prime Minister of Russia (1999-2000 and President (2000-2008).  He held these posts again by manipulating the constitution to rule without interruption today.

The doctor who refused to treat him in prison was found not guilty of killing him. (The Independent UK here.)

Russia puts dead lawyer Sergei Magnitsky on trial. (Perth Now here.)

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