Vladimir Putin has worked hard to maintain his carefully constructed image of a macho authoritarian figure, including sending away the members of Pussy Riot for speaking out against him and his alliance with the Russian Orthodox Church. However, he continues to distinguish himself among budding dictators. For example, anyone can prosecute whistle-blowing lawyers. China continually does it. Iran does it. However, Russia is prosecuting a whistle-blowing lawyer after he died. Now that is a tough guy.
Russia has been denounced internationally for its jailing and prosecution of Sergei L. Magnitsky (left), the whistleblowing lawyer. However, Magnitsky, 37, mysteriously died in a Moscow jail three years ago, but that does not mean he cannot still be punished.
Prosecutors arrested Magnitsky on tax evasion charges widely viewed as a manufactured case to stop his investigation of the alleged theft of Russian officials of hundreds of millions of dollars in a tax case. The charging of Magnitsky of tax fraud was widely viewed as a signal that such whistleblowers will gain little from raising corruption except a criminal charge. Supporters say that he was beaten in custody and died of a heart attack.
Notably, not only can Magnitsky not speak for himself, the Russian have banned his co-defendant, William F. Browder, the manager of the Hermitage Capital hedge fund, from entering Russia since 2005.
The defendants chairs simply remained unoccupied in the courtroom — superfluous to the real purpose of the trial to punish those who criticize the regime or its supporters.
Judge Igor B. Alisov, however, has ordered a delay to allow the appointment of public defenders for the dead man and banished man since their lawyers wisely refused to appear.
Presumably, Alisov decided to continue to the trial after hearing no objections from the defendants.
Kudos: Vladimir Semendyai