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Politicized Justice In Russia

Nataliya Magnitskaya, mother of dead anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky reacts during an evening hosted by Russian opposition to remember her son in Moscow April 8, 2013.

The United States has deep concerns about the political motivation behind several recent trials in Russia.

The United States has deep concerns about the political motivation behind several recent trials in Russia.

Politicized Justice In Russia
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The first is the posthumous conviction of Sergey Magnitsky of tax evasion on July 11. Upon his arrest in 2008, Magnitsky was thrown into one of Russia's harshest pre-trial detention centers, repeatedly denied medical care and subsequently died. The Moscow Prison Oversight Commission, an independent human-rights body, later found evidence that he was tortured.

The U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in a statement said Mr. Magnitsky's "conviction in a tax evasion case was an insult to the effort of those who continue to seek justice with respect to the circumstances of his death." The United States continues to call for full accountability for all those responsible for Magnitsky's death, and will continue to support the efforts of those in Russia who seek to hold these individuals responsible.

Another case of politicized justice is that of Alexei Navalny, who was recently sentenced to five years in prison on charges of embezzlement. For the past several years, Mr. Navalny has been a leading member of the political opposition, campaigning against corruption. The case had been dismissed twice by the Investigative Committee for lack of evidence. Mr. Navalny is appealing his case while continuing his bid to be the next mayor of Moscow.

Mr. Navalny’s and Mr. Magnitsky's convictions raise serious questions about respect for the rule of law in Russia. The United States calls on Russian authorities to cease any campaign of pressure against individuals seeking to expose corruption and to guarantee that individuals can freely exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedoms of expression and assembly.

It is incumbent on all OSCE member states to fulfill their commitments to uphold the rule of law. As President Gerald Ford said in 1975 after the signing of the Helsinki Accords, "History will judge [us]. . .not by the promises we make, but the promises we keep."