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Veteran Russian Activist Backs Travel Ban In Lawyer Case


Lyudmila Alekseyeva (file photo)
Lyudmila Alekseyeva (file photo)
The veteran Russian rights campaigner Lyudmila Alekseyeva has backed a call by a senior U.S. senator for Washington to deny entry to a group of Russian officials over the prison death of a lawyer, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Ben Cardin (Democrat, Maryland), who chairs the U.S. Helsinki Commission, urged the United States to permanently revoke the visas of the 60 people implicated in the case of Sergei Magnitsky.

Magnitsky died in a Moscow jail in November 2009 after implicating several government figures in a $230 million tax-fraud case.

Alekseyeva, who heads the Moscow Helsinki Group, expressed support for Cardin's appeal.

She told RFE/RL that "people should know that their reputation is well-known abroad, or at least in the United States, that will prevent them from carrying out their business if they do have business there, and I think this will have an influence on the corresponding government agencies in European countries, in the European Union."

Magnitsky, a lawyer for the Hermitage Capital Management investment fund, died after spending nearly a year in pretrial detention.

Human rights activists have charged that in order to pressure Magnitsky to give false testimony, the Russian authorities kept him in solitary confinement and denied him medical care for a serious illness.

Today, Hermitage's co-founder, William Browder, called Cardin's appeal an important first step in obtaining justice for Magnitsky.

Browder told RFE/RL that despite a "mountain" of evidence implicating officials in Magnitsky's death, no one had been charged with any crime.

"If justice can't be done in Russia because it just doesn't work, it's important to see that people outside of Russia are as outraged as we are and are ready to take action," Browder said.

"So we were very happy to see the senator who focuses on human rights taking this action and we hope that other regulators and other politicians in different countries will have a similar reaction."