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Acquittal of Russian Doctor in Magnitsky Case Sparks Disappointment, Not Surprise

For Immediate Release

Today’s acquittal of a Russian doctor implicated in the death of a Russian anti-corruption lawyer is disappointing but not surprising, PHR said today.

At the prosecution’s request, a Russian judge acquitted Dr. Dmitri Kratov, former head of the medical service at Butyrka Prison, of culpability in the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky just before his trial was set to begin. Dr. Kratov had been accused of ignoring Magnitsky’s repeated pleas for medical care. Charges against another doctor had previously been dismissed.

An independent medical investigation by PHR last year concluded that calculated and deliberate neglect and inhumane treatment by prison officials, including inadequate medical evaluation and treatment, had ultimately led to Magnitsky’s death.

“Acquittal is a predictable outcome to a trial in which truth and justice were never the goals,” said Hans Hogrefe, PHR’s chief policy officer. “The pattern of impunity from liability for Magnitsky’s torture and death suggests that Russian officials are free to detain, torture, and even kill their critics and whistleblowers with little fear of sanctions.”

The acquittal comes on the same day President Vladimir V. Putin signed legislation halting adoptions of Russian children by Americans. That law is seen as retaliation for US passage earlier this month of the Magnitsky Act, which imposes travel and financial restrictions on specific Russian officials associated with the death of Magnitsky, who had uncovered a $230 million fraud by Russian police and tax officials.

“Now the most vulnerable Russians—orphaned children put up for adoption—must also suffer because of the government’s refusal to protect the human rights of its citizens,” Hogrefe said.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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