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.
“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 (http://russian-untouchables.com/rus/docs/D524.pdf).
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 http://russian-untouchables.com/eng/2012/07/senator-denies-russian-report-on-magnitskiy-case-based-on-official-inquiry/).
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 (http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/billionaire-senator-cant-get-canadian-visa/378307.html).
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) (http://www.forbes.ru/profile/vitalii-malkin).
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