A guide to the Russian officials on the U.S. Magnitsky list

On Friday, the State Department announced the names of Russian officials who will face travel bans and asset freezes under the Magnitsky Act, a law Congress passed last year that tasks the government with identifying Russian human rights abusers. The 18 individuals cited are largely minor players in the Magnitsky affair — a case involving ...


On Friday, the State Department announced the names of Russian officials who will face travel bans and asset freezes under the Magnitsky Act, a law Congress passed last year that tasks the government with identifying Russian human rights abusers.

The 18 individuals cited are largely minor players in the Magnitsky affair — a case involving the death in Russian custody of a whistleblowing lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky — rather than the high-level officials close to President Vladimir Putin who some believe were ultimately responsible for the $230 million tax fraud case that Magnitsky was pursuing before his imprisonment. Officials in the FSB — the successor organization to the KGB — are most conspicuously absent from the list, perhaps in an effort to avoid any action that Putin could interpret as a declaration of war. (It’s worth noting that the Obama administration has also created a shorter classified list that could include figures such as Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, according to the New York Times.)

The following rogues’ gallery — in rough order of seniority and importance — details the allegations leveled against the Russian officials named by the State Department today and their connections to the Magnitsky case. Much of the information is based on documents assembled by Rep. Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat who sent the Obama administration 280 suggested names for inclusion in the Magnitsky list. Those documents are available in full here.

Maj. Gen. Oleg Logunov: The most high-ranking official targeted, Logunov, in his role as the deputy head of the Interior Ministry’s Investigation Committee, directed the case against Magnitsky. According to the McGovern documents, he was behind the decision to appoint a group of Interior Ministry investigators with deep conflicts of interest in the case. By appointing investigators who had participated in an initial raid on Hermitage Capital — the hedge fund that employed Magnitsky — to also investigate the Russian lawyer, Logunov created a situation in which the individuals responsible for prosecuting Magnitsky also had a vested interest in ensuring that the allegations he sought to expose would never see the light of day. Logunov allegedly played a key role as well in authorizing Magnitsky’s prolonged detention and denying him medical care, plus the subsequent cover-up.

Col. Natalya Vinogradova: A colonel in the Interior Ministry, Vinogradova had responsibility for overseeing the case against Magnitsky. In that role, she allegedly ensured that Magnitsky endured prolonged confinement in prison and the denial of medical care that ultimately resulted in his death. It is also alleged that the Interior Ministry denied Magnitsky access to his lawyers and that the ministry systematically ignored — and perhaps even destroyed — reports documenting Magnitsky’s mistreatment.

Lt. Col Oleg Silchenko: The Interior Ministry apparatchik charged with carrying out the operation against Magnitsky, Silchenko issued the order to extend Magnitsky’s imprisonment and deny him medical care two weeks prior to the lawyer’s death, according to the McGovern documents. Silchenko also played a role in the alleged cover-up, heading up the investigation that led to the conviction of a sawmill worker — and the exoneration of officials — in the $230 million fraud.

Lt. Col. Dmitriy Komnov: The head of the Butyrka Detention Center, the facility that held Magnitsky, Komnov was the lawyer’s jailer and the man most immediately responsible for the deplorable conditions of his imprisonment. According to the McGovern documents, Komnov was behind a cover-up regarding Magnitsky’s medical condition and, in response to complaints, reported to the Moscow prosecutor’s office that no violations had been committed as part of Magnitsky’s detention. He was also allegedly behind the disappearance of complaints related to Magnitsky’s detention.

Lt. Col. Artem Kuznetsov: Another Interior Ministry apparatchik, Kuznetsov participated in the 2007 raid that seized documents used to perpetrate the $230 million fraud, the ministry’s subsequent investigation into the fraud, and the actions that led to Magnitsky’s imprisonment, according to the McGovern documents.

Olga Stepanova: The head of the Moscow tax office, Stepanova signed off on a large portion of the tax returns — totaling $155 million, according to the McGovern documents — that dispensed cash from the fraud to those who profited from it. According to Businessweek, several million dollars ended up in bank accounts belonging to her ex-husband, Dmitry Klyuev, who is not one of the officials designated by the State Department.

Yelena Khimina: A Moscow tax official, Khimina signed off on another portion of the fraudulent tax returns totaling $75 million out of the total $230 embezzled, according to the McGovern documents.

Andrey Pechegin: An official responsible for oversight of Interior Ministry investigations, Pechegin provided cover for the investigators pursuing charges against Magnitsky. He repeatedly rebuffed requests to examine the Magnitsky case and denied any instances of wrongdoing. 

Pavel Karpov: An Interior Ministry investigator, Karpov was in charge of documents seized from Hermitage Capital, according to McGovern. By holding on to the documents and refusing to release them, Karpov played a key role in obstructing the work of lawyers acting on Magnitsky’s behalf and allowed the fraud to move forward.

Aleksey Droganov: A footsoldier in the campaign against Magnitsky, Droganov is an Interior Ministry operative who participated in the raid against Hermitage and later took part in the investigation against Magnitsky.

Sergei Podoprigorov, Yelena Stashina, Svetlana Ukhnalyova, Aleksey Krivoruchko: Judges tasked with ruling on the Magnitsky case, Podoprigorov, Stashina, Ukhnalyova, and Krivoruchko are all alleged to have ignored evidence in the case and to have ruled on the basis of unconfirmed or fabricated reports.

Also included on the State Department’s list are Dmitri Tolchinskiy, an Interior Ministry operative; Ivan Prokopenko, a prison official; and Letscha Bogatirov and Kazbek Dukuzov, two Chechen police officers tied to human rights abuses.

Elias Groll is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @EliasGroll

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