Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, met at the U.S. Capitol with the family of the late Sergei Magnitsky who died in a Russian prison. Natalya Magnitskaya (mother of Sergei Magnitsky), Natasha Magnitskaya (widow of Sergei Magnitsky) and Nikita Magnitsky (son of Sergei Magnitsky) are visiting the U.S. for the first time just one week after the Administration released the first list of sanctioned individuals required under the provisions of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which was authored by Senator Cardin.
“We applaud the courage of the Magnitsky family. Their son, husband and father exercised tremendous courage in doing what we hope that any citizen would do: As a young lawyer who discovered corruption, he reported it to local authorities. But as a result of doing the right thing, Sergei Magnitsky was arrested. He was tortured. He was denied medical care and he died in a Russian prison.
“Sergei Magnitsky is an inspiration for human rights advocates around the world. He offers a legacy of courage and that people will in fact stand up for basic human rights,” Senator Cardin added. “The work that the Magnitsky family is doing today — being the face of this issue — is so important. They personalize this human rights issue and help the international community understand that what happened in Russia cannot go unpunished.
“We now have a public list. If Russia would prosecute legitimate criminals who have committed these human rights violations, instead of wasting their time prosecuting a dead man who simply wanted to do the right thing, this list would not be necessary.
“It is our intention that this is an international standard. Those who violate human rights around the world are put on notice that they can no longer seek legitimacy and refuge when their home country fails to follow internationally recognized standards and the rule of law.”
Sergei Magnitsky was a 37-year-old Russian lawyer who uncovered massive fraud and corruption in Russia and then was arrested for his whistleblowing. He died in 2009 after suffering torturous conditions in pre-trial detention, being repeatedly denied medical treatment. Those who committed the corruption uncovered by Magnitsky and those responsible for his death have not been brought to justice. In some cases, they have been promoted since Magnitsky’s death. Magnitsky currently is being tried posthumously. Since 2010, at the encouragement of Senator Cardin and his colleagues, the State Department has barred dozens of Russians implicated in Magnitsky’s death from receiving travel visas.