Possible adoption of Magnitsky list should not to hinder visa discussions
MOSCOW, September 27 - RAPSI. The possible enforcement of the Magnitsky list by the European Council will not affect the Russia-EU dialogue on visa-free travel, Anvar Azimov, the Foreign Ministry's ambassador, said on Thursday.
"If this list is approved, a measured response will follow, but we would not want this to affect our discussion," Azimov said.
He said that the Magnitsky list is being politicized but that these kind of cases shouldn't influence our talks.
Magnitsky, an auditor at Hermitage Capital Management Fund, was charged with large-scale corporate tax evasion. He died in a Moscow pretrial detention center on November 16, 2009, after spending nearly a year behind bars.
According to investigators, Magnitsky and his accomplices stole hundreds of millions of rubles from the state by manipulating tax returns between September and October 2007.
In turn, Hermitage Capital maintains that it paid the 5.4 billion rubles ($182.75 million) in taxes, but that the money was stolen by corporate raiders with the help of law enforcement officials. Magnitsky's prosecution was based on this theft.
His death sparked a public outcry and triggered amendments to the Criminal Code and a reshuffling of officials in the penal system.
Last April, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe party in the European Parliament, the third largest party, launched a parliamentary procedure stipulating the drafting of a black list of the Russian officials involved, according to the MPs, in the death of Magnitsky.
In February, members of the European Parliament's delegation on relations with Russia urged the immediate enforcement of the black list that would prohibit some Russian officials from entering the EU and that would freeze their assets in Europe.
Knut Fleckenstein was the only one who abstained from the vote. Apart from being the head of the European Parliaments delegation for relations with Russia, he also co-chairs the Russia-EU Parliamentary Cooperation Committee.
The European Parliament has urged Russia to finish investigating the circumstances around Magnitskys death several times and to bring to justice those who were involved in his death.