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Magnitsky's former boss appeals to Russian presidential candidates

Source: (info), 09/02/12

· Prisoners & Detainees

Jamison Firestone, head of the Firestone Duncan consulting company and former boss of the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in pre-trial detention, has appealed to the candidates in Russia's presidential election to stop the “mockery” of Magnitsky's memory and of his family by Russia's law enforcement agencies.

The full text of his letter appears on the Stop the Untouchables website, reports.

Firestone believes that Russia's law enforcement agencies "have not done anything to investigate" Magnitsky's death and the economic crimes connected to it, with regard to which, Firestone says, the authorities have blamed “low level doctors, petty criminals, dead men, and now Sergei Magnitsky, the man who died trying to prevent the theft of billions roubles.”

Magnitsky's former boss points out that the late lawyer, while working for Hermitage Capital, had exposed economic crimes by a number of law enforcement officials. Firestone Duncan has named several individuals as complicit in Magnitsky's death, including the tax office director Olga Stepanova, and also Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) officers Artyom Kuznetsov and Pavel Karpov who “were involved in the crime itself and in the cover up of the crime.” The director of Firestone Duncan claims that Magnitsky “was charged with committing a non-existent tax crime and illegally arrested by the very same Interior Ministry officers whom he had accused of committing this fraud.”

Firestone further points out that the pressure from law enforcement agencies continued even after the lawyer's death. “In the worst traditions of the Middle Ages, under protection from the General Prosecution Office, guidance from the FSB and the Interior Ministry, “corrupt officers” continue to persecute Sergei Magnitsky even after his murder by illegally trying a dead man under a fabricated case and interrogating and intimidating his mother and widow,” the letter states.

Firestone's open letter is addressed to Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Prokhorov, Sergei Mironov, Gennady Zyuganov and Vladimir Zhirinovsky. “The Russian people and the international community will not believe the sincerity of your willingness to fight corruption until you demonstrate that you are willing to punish the people who stole from the entire country and murdered Sergei Magnitsky to hide their crime,” Firestone concludes.

A day earlier, on 8 February, Firestone sent a request to Russia’s Investigative Committee to launch a criminal inquiry into the actions of a number of present and former officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Procurator General’s office who, Firestone claims, had covered up for the embezzlers and racketeers.

Sergei Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 on suspicion of developing a tax evasion scheme for Hermitage Capital. He died on 16 November 2009 in the hospital of the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention centre in Moscow. Prior to his death Magnitsky had repeatedly complained about his conditions in detention, which had resulted in a severe deterioration of his health, but his complaints and those of his defence lawyers had not been given any consideration.