Magnitsky’s Mother Challenges Russian Senators Over Posthumous Defamation of Her Son in DC, Russian Senator Leading Delegation to DC is Linked To Organized Crime

Press Release
Hermitage Capital

16 July 2012 – Today, Natalia Magnitskaya, mother of the late Sergei Magnitsky, wrote an open letter to Valentina Matvienko, head of the Russian Federation Council (the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament), demanding answers over the defamatory remarks made posthumously against her dead son in Washington DC last week by Russian multi-millionnaire senator Vitaly Malkin, who was previously named as “a member of a group engaging in organized or transnational crime” by the Canadian government in court proceedings.


Russian multi-millionnaire senator Vitaly Malkin. (Photo Courtesy of Forbes)

“I believe that an attempt to slander the good name of my son posthumously looks shameful and not deserving of the honorable title of people’s representative,” said Natalia Magnitskaya in her open letter to the leader of the Russia’s Federation Council (

On the trip, Mr. Malkin and three other Russian senators met with U.S. congressmen to lobby against the passing of the Magnitsky Act, a piece of legislation which would impose U.S. visa bans and asset freezes on corrupt officials and human rights abusers. In their meetings, Vitaly Malkin and his Federation Council colleagues circulated a report defaming Sergei Magnitsky, which they claimed was the result of an official “parliamentary investigation”. The mandate of the Malkin’s report was immediately put into question by Mikhail Margelov, head of the Federation Council’s Foreign Relations Committee, who  stated that it was not “a parliamentary investigation in the accepted meaning of the word” (see further Interfax news agency

It has now transpired that Mr. Malkin, who led the Russian delegation to DC and lobbied against visa sanctions, had a conflict of interest due to his visa applications being repeatedly rejected by the Canadian government on the grounds of his reported links to “organized or transnational crime”, and “association with individuals involved in money laundering, arms trade and trade in Angolan “conflict diamonds,” according to court documents revealed by Canadian National Post and The Moscow Times (

According to the Moscow Times, between 1994 and 2009, Mr. Malkin applied for a permanent residence permit in Canada and subsequently for a tourist visa to Canada. Both applications were rejected because of his reported links to individuals involved in organized or transnational crime.

“A visa officer told the Canadian court that Malkin was a shareholder in a company thought to have received money diverted from a debt-reduction deal with Angola. “Mr. Malkine is reported to have personally received some $48 million in the transaction,” a passage published by the court in May reads,” reported Moscow Times in 2009.

“The visa officer also noted Malkin’s association with individuals involved in money laundering, arms trade and trade in Angolan “conflict diamonds, the document say,” according to the Moscow Times.

Mr. Malkin filed a lawsuit in Canada over his entry being denied, the outcome of the proceeding is not known.

“It’s remarkable that a Russian official, who has been linked to organized crime and arms trading by a major Western government, would be sent by the Russian parliament to lobby against US legislation to ban similar types of Russians coming to the United States. It is even more remarkable that such a compromised character would have the nerve to slander Sergei Magnitsky on US soil. Mr Malkin should go back home and publicly apologize to the Magnitsky family for the disgraceful way he insulted Sergei Magnitsky’s memory,” said a Hermitage Capital representative.

During the trip to Washington Mr. Malkin made a number of public and defamatory statements about Sergei Magnitsky claiming Magnitsky was a “drunk”, “out of shape” and that he didn’t die from his injuries after a severe beating. Mr. Malkin’s report has been condemned by Sergei Magnitsky’s mother as echoing the same false accusations made by the Russian Interior Ministry officials who had tortured and killed her son in custody.

In her open letter, Ms. Magnitskaya said:

“The statements by Russian senators are identical to the misleading version of events concocted by the  investigators and prosecutors who are responsible for my son’s death. They completely ignore the conclusions of the Moscow Public Oversight Committee and the President’s Human Rights Council.”

The Russian President’s Human Rights Council concluded that Magnitsky had been arrested illegally, using a falsified report from the FSB (the Russian secret police), that Magnitsky was denied justice and was persecuted by the same investigators he had accused of a corrupt scheme to steal $230 million of budget funds, and that all attempts to investigate the role of officials in the thefts have been blocked by the Russian government.

Ms. Magnitskaya stressed that the report released by the Federation Council members in Washington was prepared secretly and that the authority of the Russian officials who presented it has not been disclosed to the public. She asked Valentina Matvienko, head of the Russian senate, to address three points:

1) Disclose which senators in the Federation Council made the decision to carry out the secret investigation into the Magnitsky case and under what authority the senators carried it out;

2) Provide Magnitsky’s family lawyer all documents that the senators claimed to have received from government bodies and the notes they drafted;

3) Disclose the budget and sources of financing of the senators’ trip to Washington.

On the trip, Mr. Malkin was accompanied by three other Russian senators: Valery Shnyakin, Alexander Savenkov, and Aslambek Aslakhanov.

“Abusing their status, these people allowed themselves to posthumously defame the memory of my son. They used the fact that my son can no longer defend himself. I ask of you as the leader of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament to give an objective assessment of the actions of these individuals,” said Ms. Magnitskaya in her letter to the leader of the Federation Council.

Mr. Malkin, head of the Federation Council’s delegation to DC, has represented the East Siberian republic of Buryatia in the Federation Council, Russia’s senate, since 2004. He is a multi-millionaire currently ranked 7th on the Forbes’ list of Russia’s richest officials, and is the 163rd richest businessman in Russia, with a net worth estimated at US$ 600 million (2012) (

For further information please contact:
Hermitage Capital
Phone:          +44 207 440 17 77
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Russian Human Rights Leader Detained for Second Time in Two Weeks

By Ricardo Zamora
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

MOSCOW, Russia – Russian human rights leader, Lev Ponomarev, 69, has been sentenced to administrative detention for the second time in two weeks.  The ruling came down yesterday after the Tverskoi District Court of Moscow found him guilty of “disobeying police orders.”  The city court handed Ponomarev the same verdict on August 25 for his first arrest, which came on August 22.  Ponomarev missed a scheduled meeting with senior member of the US National Security Council, Michel McFaul, today due to the sentence.

William Burns, the United States Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs who attended the meeting, was critical of the ruling.  “I should note that it is regrettable that Lev Ponomarev, who was supposed to be at the meeting, was not able to attend,” he said in remarks to the Interfax News Agency.  “The freedom of assembly is very important to the United States and very important for any democratic society.

The new ruling arises from Ponomarev’s participation in a peaceful anti-government protest, called “A Day of Rage,” in Tverskaya Square on August 12.  The hearing was delayed until yesterday due to health complications which sent Ponomarev to the hospital shortly after the August 12 arrest.

“A Day of Rage” was a rally where protesters demanded the resignation of Moscow’s mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, for interfering with freedom of assembly.  During the demonstration, two other individuals were arrested and charged with the same offense. While Ponomarev was undergoing medical treatment, those individuals served 3- and 4-day sentences, respectively.

Russian authorities allege that Ponomarev had “obstructed pedestrian traffic” by standing in the street while he spoke with journalists.  Other police officers added that Ponomarev resisted arrest by pushing an officer and stepping on the foot of another.

Ponomarev testified that officers treated him harshly, dragged him away, and threatened to hit him.  The Court found a video recording of the events to be inadmissible as evidence.

“We need to create a name-and-shame blacklist of judges and to make these public,” Ponomarev said.  He plans to appeal the ruling.

For more information, please see:

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH – Russia: Release Human Rights Defender – September 8, 2010

THE OTHER RUSSIA – U.S., Amnesty Intl. Criticize New Arrest Sentence for Ponomarev – September 8, 2010

ROBERT AMSERTDAM – Interview with Lev Ponomarev – August 30, 2010

Militant Russian Separatists Claim Credit for Killing of Orthodox Priest

By David Sophrin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

MOSCOW, RussiaThe killing of a Russian Orthodox priest last month was the responsibility of a Islamist militant group based in the Northern Caucasus region, according to the website of the separatist group’s leader.

Doky Ymarov, the separatist leader, declared on his website earlier this week that “one of our brothers who has never been to the Caucasus took up the oath of [Doky Ymarov] and expressed desire to execute the damned Sysoyev.”  The identity or affiliation of the shooter who killed Daniil Sysoyev, the Orthodox priest, last month in the Saint Thomas Church in Moscow has yet to be confirmed.

Ymarov went on to explain that the killing of Sysoyev was brought on by his distribution of pamphlets viewed as insulting to Islam.  “Those in the future who defame Islam and insult the religion of Allah will suffer the fate as Sysoyev.”  Ymarov has pledged to unite the various militant Islamist groups in the Caucasus region towards achieving the goal of establishing a separate nation governed by Islamic Sharia law.

Sysoyev had received past death threats for his efforts to convert Muslims to Christianity, as well as his books on his observations of the Russia’s responses to Islam’s presence in Russia, entitled “An Orthodox Response to Islam”.  Sysoyev also published a text encouraging Russian women against marrying Muslim men.

The death of Sysoyev marks the second death of a Russian Orthodox priest in the last two months.  Additionally, according to the Interfax News Agency there have been twenty-six Orthodox priests killed in Russia since 1990.  The Caucasus region has also seen the killing of a number of Islamic clerics in recent years.  The killings of religious leaders have heightened the tensions between the Russian Orthodox Church and the more than twenty million Muslims currently in Russia.

For more information, please see:

AFP – Islamists claim killing of Russian priest – 26 December 2009

RADIO FREE EUROPE – Militants Claim Russian Priest Slaying – 26 December 2009

VOA – Wave of Clergy Killings in Russia – 23 December 2009

TELEGRAPH – Russian priest who criticised Islam assassinated in his church – 20 November 2009