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The Political Animal

Official Corruption and Death in Russia

Back in December I posted about the death in Moscow police custody of Sergei Magnitsky. Yesterday – I presume because of my post – I was one of an undisclosed number of bloggers to receive from Magnitsky’s employer, Jamison Firestone, of the Moscow-based law firm of Firestone Duncan, the following video detailing the events of a $230 million tax theft and Magnitsky’s subsequent, fraudulent arrest, leading to his torture and death.

Firestone, a native New Yorker who has spent the past two decades in Russia helping foreign companies navigate the Russian business environment, himself chose to flee Russia in February, fearing that Russian Interior Ministry official were attempting to set him up for arrest in another tax theft and fraud scheme. Working from London, with his firm still operating in Moscow, Firestone is apparently attempting to provide for Magnitsky what most victims of official murder in largely lawless nations rarely receive, a professionally produced and orchestrated campaign to hold the perpetrators accountable.

Last month, Firestone gave a detailed interview to OpenDemocracy on the history of the case and his fight on Magnitsky’s behalf. Now there is an extensive website devoted to the case, Russian Untouchables. The website offers a trove of information, including links and copies of case evidence discussed in the video. The case appears to be heating up, as The Moscow Times reports: Pressure Mounts on Interior Ministry in Magnitsky’s Death.

The video itself is a high quality professional production – Sixty Minutes for the Internet. It is compelling viewing. As you watch, keep in mind what Bloomberg reports:

Perceived lack of law is one reason Russia has attracted less than one-fifth the investment in China and Brazil and half of what’s invested in India, its fellow members of the so-called BRIC group of emerging nations, according to three years of data compiled by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based fund- tracker EPFR Global. The nation’s economy shrank the most on record in 2009….

Russia ranked 146th in Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perception Index, tied with Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone. The Berlin-based group’s Global Corruption Barometer suggests “endemic” corruption among public officials and civil servants in the country, with one-third of Russian respondents reporting paying a bribe in the past 12 months.

AJA

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