In the United States, the State Department has put a number of Russian officials connected to the case on a visa blacklist. Last month, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post, calling Magnitsky a hero and explaining why he had sponsored a law in his honor that would require sanctions against Russians who violated human rights.
“He was denied medical care and beaten by prison guards; he died alone in November 2009 in an isolation cell as doctors waited outside his door,” Cardin wrote. “These facts are accepted at the highest levels of Russia’s government, yet those implicated in his death remain unpunished, in positions of authority. Some have even been decorated and promoted.”
Earlier this month, the Interior Ministry summoned Natalya Magnitskaya for questioning. They have reopened the investigation of tax fraud charges against her son, which had been closed when he died. She has refused to appear.
“I’m not frightened for myself,” she said last week, her voice quiet and hesitant. Nothing, she said, can be worse than losing her son.
Magnitskaya described him as one of the country’s best and brightest. A child who loved to read, he had grown up in the small town of Nalchik, in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, always getting 5’s---straight A’s in Russia.
In 1991, as the Soviet Union dissolved and Russia set out toward independence, Magnitsky was 19, studying economics at the Plekhanov Academy in Moscow. Those were difficult years. At one point his mother lost her job, and his parents—his father is a retired engineer--- had a hard time buying food. This, at last, makes his mother smile, remembering how she sent him potatoes from a thousand miles away because she worried that he wasn’t getting enough to eat. He earned a Red Diploma, an honors degree.
“He loved his job,” she said. “He believed life would be good in this country. He believed you could live and work here, and the law would protect you. Maybe he was naïve, an idealist, but he was always honest.”