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MEPs call on Estonia to work toward EU-wide Magnitsky List sanctions

Woman with a portrait of Sergei Magnitsky at a protest march in Moscow.
Woman with a portrait of Sergei Magnitsky at a protest march in Moscow. Source: AFP/Scanpix

21 MEPs on Wednesday addressed Estonia as the current presidency of the Council of the EU, calling on Estonia to work toward the EU making a decision to put individuals on the so-called Magnitsky List under EU-wide sanctions.

"We call on the Estonian presidency of the Council [of the EU] to act and finally adopt EU-wide sanctions, visa bans and asset freezes targeting all the Russian officials and individuals who caused Sergei Magnitsky's tragic death," Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group (ALDE) chairman and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said on social media on Wednesday.

In a statement addressed to President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor (SDE), Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE), it is noted that as of 2010, the European Parliament has adopted three resolutions and two recommendations to the Council of the European Union in regard to the Magnitsky case.

"We have been persistently calling on the Council to take the necessary step to ensure that those Russian officials and individuals who caused Sergei Manitsky's tragic death and stand behind its subsequent judicial cover-up are placed under EU sanctions," the statement reads. "To our big regret and disappointment, however, none of these requests of the European Parliament have been adequately followed up so far.

"We wish to start by highly commending the Estonian authorities for this courageous, value-based and timely piece of legislation," the MEPs continued. "It has set a clear standard for other democracies across the globe. We are happy to see that this admirable example has already been followed by the U.K. and, recently, by Canada."

The statement's authors call on Estonia in its capacity as the current presidency of the Council of the EU to take necessary steps and present the most recent European Parliament's recommendation of April 2, 2014 to the Council as soon as possible.

"By achieving that the individuals listed in Magnitsky List are finally put under EU-wide sanctions of visa bans and asset freezes, we will not only pay due tribute to the memory of Sergei Magnitsky; by finally doing this, we will make a considerable effort to protect lives of those opposition activists and dissidents, human rights defenders and whistle-blowers who continue their tireless struggle in today's Russia," the MEPs said in their statement.

Three of the 21 MEPs who signed the address are Estonian: Indrek Tarand, Urmas Paet and Tunne Kelam.

Sergei Magnitsky revealed a large-scale tax fraud of high-level officials of the Russian Ministry of the Interior, after which he himself was charged with tax fraud in 2008 and arrested. Magnitsky died in 2009 in a pretrial prison in Moscow after not having received medial assistance, and allegedly having been previously beaten and tortured.

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on Russian officials who were connected to the death of Magnitsky and the European Parliament has called on European countries to do the same on several occasions.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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