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    Who is Magnitsky and why did he have to die

    Who is Magnitsky and why did he have to die

        There is a law named after Sergei Magnitsky who died in Russian custody in 2009. Who was Magnitsky and why did he have to die?

        In the West, the name Sergei Magnitsky is often spoken along with that of Anna Politkovskaya or Boris Nemtsov, prominent critics of the Kremlin who were killed. But Magnitsky, a Moscow lawyer, was not in opposition - and became famous only after his death in pre-trial detention in 2009.

        Abroad, his case has become synonymous with corruption and judicial arbitrariness in today's Russia. He was sentenced to death in his homeland and his death triggered a spiral of sanctions - not just against Russian citizens.


    "Enemy number one"

        Sergey Magnitsky was born in 1972 in Odessa. Initially, he worked as a financial auditor in Moscow. Among his clients is the Hermitage Capital Management company of the American entrepreneur with a British passport, William Browder, who has been one of the largest investors in Russia since the late 1990s.

        Eventually, however, Browder fell out of favor and was banned from entering the country. He calls himself "Putin's number one enemy." In 2007, his company was raided on suspicion of tax evasion.

        Attorney Sergei Magnitsky came to Browder's aid, uncovering a giant corruption scheme during the investigation. He claims that the tax police diverted 5.4 billion rubles. This money was later "laundered" through a Scandinavian bank in the Baltic countries.

        In 2008, Magnitsky himself was detained on charges of tax evasion. He spent nearly a year in detention, where his health deteriorated. Magnitsky later died at the age of 37. According to the official version, the cause of his death was heart failure, but Magnitsky's relatives doubt this.

        In August 2019, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Magnitsky did not receive the necessary medical care while in custody. Furthermore, the circumstances of his death have not been fully investigated.

        Shortly thereafter, US Senator Benjamin Cardin took the initiative to impose sanctions on those responsible for Magnitsky's death. In late 2012, under President Barack Obama, the US Congress voted in favor of the so-called Magnitsky Act.

        The measure includes freezing bank accounts and imposing a travel ban on the United States.

        Initially, the list of sanctioned individuals included only the names of little-known officials in the Russian justice system who US authorities believe were involved in Magnitsky's death.

        In 2016, a completely new version of the law was adopted, which no longer applies only to Russia.

        The new law gives the US government the power to take action against people around the world suspected of violating human rights. The law imposes sanctions on, for example, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, as well as those involved in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.


    How did Russia react?

        After an investigation in Russia, authorities announced that Magnitsky died of natural causes. And the case was closed. In 2013, Magnitsky was convicted in absentia of tax evasion. Businessman Browder has also been convicted twice, also for tax evasion. Moscow even put the name of an outspoken critic of Putin on Interpol's international wanted list several times, but to no avail.

        In response to the first Magnitsky Act, Russia passed a law in 2012 barring certain US citizens from entering Russia on charges of human rights abuses or acts against Russian citizens abroad.

        Much criticism has been leveled at the part of the law that prohibits American citizens from adopting Russian orphans. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this became a widespread practice, with thousands of Russian orphans being adopted in the United States. Unofficially, Russian media named the law after Dima Yakovlev, a Russian boy who died shortly after his adoption in the United States. Because his father left him too long in the warmth of a closed car.


    The Magnitsky Act will also affect Bulgaria

        The moment came when the Magnitsky Act was applied to the three Bulgarian citizens and all related persons and companies. After that, the list was filled with the names of more Bulgarian citizens.


    Based on materials from Deutsche Welle

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