Russia: Death Threats in Magnitsky Trial

Olga Grigorieva, formerly a senior medical official in the Moscow Prison Service, received death threats against her mother and son several weeks before her testimony in Moscow court on the circumstances of Sergei Magnitsky's death.

Magnitsky was the lawyer for Hermitage Capital who was arrested and killed in Russian police custody after he exposed the $230 million theft implicating government officials. For four months prior to his death in 2009, he was held at Butyrka detention center where the prescribed treatment for pancreatitis and gallstones were withheld from him.

Last Thursday, Ms. Grigorieva testified that Mikhail Tremasov, a former top medical official at Butyrka, phoned her two days after she received a court summons and told her that she should fear for her son and mother.  He also said that Dmitry Kratov, former deputy head of Butyrka and the only defendant in the case, might be killed.  He warned Grigorieva "not to talk."

Despite repeated requests from Magnitsky’s family to open an investigation into officials of the Russian Interior Ministry, Prosecutor’s Office and judges, the Russian authorities have only pursued a suit against Kratov, alleging “negligence” in medical care at Butyrka.

The lawyer for Magnitsky’s mother asked for details about the threat on Kratov’s life during Grigorieva’s testimony. When the judge forbid the question on the grounds of irrelevance, the lawyer objected, saying the court was obstructing justice.