tv BBC Newsnight PBS November 20, 2010 12:00pm-12:30pm PST
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a rush in jail. we have a special report on the strange death of sergei magnitsky. >> we were wrong. >> we speak to the darling of the tea party movement about the fight dividing the party. ♪ >> we begin with a curious story of a lawyer of his death in the russian jail has cast a shadow over relations between russia and the west. as a result, congress could ban dozens of russian officials in the united states and freeze their assets. the claim russian gangsters were working to defraud the government of millions of dollars. the russian authorities claim it was the lawyer that was stealing.
"newsnight" has been to russia to investigate and has secured an interview in which the detective at the center of the investigation. [alarm] >> light is rarely cast into russian jails. 4000 inmates died last year, mostly in obscurity. i have come to investigate one case that cannot be ignored. the death of a young lawyer in his preseison. and covered it too much about the corruption and fraud? we are uncovering what he knew and more about the shadowy state within a state that appears to stop at nothing to achieve its aims. the story begins here.
>> the lawyer's name was sergei magnitsky. three years ago, detectives searched his offices. they said they had come to investigate taxes. it is suggested they really wanted something else. >> they went to my entire office and turned it upside down. they took every document for every client that had paid a huge amount of russian taxes. when one of my attorneys tried to stop them and tell them they had a warrant for one company and they were taking all of the other companies that had nothing to do with the investigation, they put him in a room and beat him so badly he was hospitalized for three weeks. something was very wrong. >> he discovered that they were stealing companies' by registering them under new
owners. the new boss was a convicted killer. then'b:00tx he battled with the company about fraudulent tax rebates. $330 million was paid with no questions asked. >> to approve a $230 million tax return has got to got to ministry global. it does not go any lower than deputy minister. >> detective who led the raid and the police investigator behind it have the company seals. they have been protected by both offices. soon after, one of them had him arrested for tax evasion. >> we mistakenly thought he would testify against these people and the authorities would
crush them like bugs. we were wrong. they crush us. they killed sergei. he was held for almost a year awaiting trial in a series of detention centers. he complained in handwritten notes a frequent transfers between cells, the lack of water, extreme cold, denial of family meetings, and denial of treatment for pancreatitis. the russian watchdog says the authorities have tried to cover up what amounted to torture. >> they will not tell us the truth. they hit him. every time we spoke to them, they change the story. >> the truth about the death that has become a major embarrassment to russia is
locked up in here. the remand center where the lawyer was brought the year-ago -- one year ago. they say they tried to revive him on this table. one doctor says that by then he was already dead. the prison staff had left him alone in a cell without help for more than one hour until it was too late. he arrived with a diagnosis. should he have been put in the hospital immediately? >> i am not a doctor. i cannot tell you what he came with in medical terms. i know he came as a patient. >> his family still cannot understand how the tragedy could happen. to them, his refusal to withdraw his allegations despite the
pressure showed he was too idealistic to survive in today's russia. >> he was a great russian patriot. he studied history. he loved it. he believed that hours lost -- our laws which protect him. in that respect, he was naive. >> before they buried him, they asked for an independent autopsy. it was not allowed. when they saw his hands, they began to understand why the authorities might want to avoid awkward questions. >> there were bruises and scars on the knuckles. it was not from the body decaying. it was from blows. we looked at those and thought
and wondered what had happened to his hands. even there was violence inflicted upon him or there was a fight. it was not a natural death. at the least, the very much helped him to die. [bell tolling] ,> in moscow's oldest cemetery i am looking for a new graves. in inquiry into his death was ordered by the president himself. million theft het revealed involving officials of many levels, only the fall guy was arrested. as for the money, it has vanished. the state did not seem to care.
>> in 2007, the lieutenant colonel and 34-year-old officer -- >> an aggressive internet campaign by his employers against the team of detectives he accused claims and their families were on a spending spree. it alleges they enjoy the lifestyle that their salaries would not allow. >> the family has acquired real- estate in and around moscow worth over $3 million. >> that does not prove anything. both officers supported by the state are claiming libel. but we have heard he was not the first to accuse them of abuse of power. one vital witness in an unconnected case so frightening similarities between his affair and her own. for the last quarter years, she has brought in her daughter's on
her own. her businessman husband is in jail for fraud she says he did not commit. even now, she is bewildered at his arrest. she says that outside police headquarters, he was told to get into a car with unknown men. >> he sounded very educated. he said the police had relieved him. other people were taking him away and he was told not to say where. >> under instructions from his captors, she drove to a rendezvous. ♪ surrounded by revelers, she was left sick with fear as the man described what he would do if she reported the kidnapping. >> they said call what i like it
if they would take me to a house with drunken men who could do what they like with me. >> the price for her husband's release was $20 million from his boss. going to the police would do no good the kidnappers said because he was working on police orders. >> he said they were allowed to take any bribes from any people. >> she would not be intimidated. she went to another section of the police, freed her husband, and arrested his captors. but the kidnapping case was mysteriously dropped. instead, her husband, the victim, was arrested again. who was behind it all? one of the kidnappers turned out to beat this man, the convicted killer who went on to be part of the massive tax scam. among the police officers involved, the lieutenant-
colonel and the major who would nitsky ofd by nag the same scam. she believes her husband's sentence was punishment for reporting the kidnapping. magnitsky was also punished for reporting the scam. >> if someone has power in our police and it suits them to break a man's life, it is very easy. later when i heard that he had died, i realized there were still carrying out their crimes and no one could stop them. >> how high up like the corruption go? i am going to see the wife of another jailed businessme who .ays that she has a clueaj
she has just published the prison diaries of for husband. after his arrest, she was questioned by an investigator who she says demanded $1.5 million to have him released. she says the woman was one of the most senior officials in the same police department. >> she laid all of her cards on the table. it was an exclusive deal. she gave me three days to collect the cash. the bag i put it in was heavy. the driver and bodyguard helped me to carry it. she counted the notes. there was one funny thing. she said it would not be good if i was seen arriving with a bag and leaving empty-handed.
someone might think that i had brought a bribe. she said that i must leave with a full bag. she took out the money and put in a big encyclopedia. she said that she had published it with her own money because the principles of religion were so important to her. >> in the end, her husband got eight years. ifshe says the police did not kp their side of the deal. like others, she realized there was no one in authority that she could appeal to against them. >> it is a brigade, an informal brigade. in another country, it could be called the mafia. other countries have banned it. here we are talking about a judge's and investigator.
-- here we're talking about the judges and investigators. they are engaging in economic crimes in carrying out kidnapping and extortion. >> if such a brigade exists, criminals in uniform, is it being protected by the state itself? some think it is licensed by the all-powerful agency that russians have always feared. new times, one of russia's most daring publications, says it found evidence from a confidential source of the original order to put him in jail came from the successor of the kgb. >> in spite of all the international attention for the case, the answer is that it means they have protection from the very top of the russian
government. there is a corporation that runs this country. the name of the corporation is the kgb. that is it. >> why is it worth protecting people like these investigators? >> they are trusted people. they are people were known to do the dirty work. they will keep their mouth shut. >> the police department that masterminded the case against him was behind ithis unmarked door. and usually for a foreign reporter, i have been invited in. in the soviet-your offices, russia's finest detectives are trying to crack the most complex or politically sensitive cases. >> to say there is a network of criminals, maybe such a thing
exists somewhere, but i have not heard of them. if you take that in relation to our investigative committee, it could not be. in a case as high-profile as this, no one would protect an investigator who had broken the law. >> what of the investigator that magnitsky accused of fabricating the case against him? he has never spoken publicly before. >> what pressure did you put on him? >> what happened was a big misfortune for the relatives. the job of an investigation is to investigate not to put pressure. we had enough evidence of his guilt. >> you denied him phone calls to his family. you denied him meetings with his
family the whole time he was there. >> once or twice, it is hard to say. there was an attempt to exert pressure, to say that, is wrong. >> he says all of the allegations against him and other officials are smokescreens by his employer to hire his own crimes. -- to hide his own crimes. robrowder made millions investing in russia. he has been banned as living in london now. he has gone to congress. he once similar measures in europe as well. >> the ones who did this to him are trying to get away with murder. i am not going to let that happen. i can make sure that even if we get no justice in russia, the people who killed him will be
treated like north koreans or iranians terrorists. >> the lieutenant would be very high on the wanted list. he is fighting back with documents that he say show that browder evaded taxes and bought shares he had no right to. he suggests3.v'=e that magnitss not a whistle-blower but a culprit. >> we are investigating the possible involvement of the staff in the theft from the state budget. i do not want to jump ahead. we will know in the very near future. >> the affair is rapidly developing into a classic east- west standoff.
it is bound to look like a sign of contempt for outside opinion. the kremlin has just given state awards to some of the officers accused of abuse of power in the case. loyal servants are worth defending. whistleblowers are a liability. >> sarah palin has told abc news she thinks she could beat barack obama in an election. it is being seen as the starting gun in her 2012 presidential campaign. she is a phenomenon in her own right. it raises an interesting question. how much as the republican party about to become the tea party? what will the leaders in that movement to a traditional right of american politics? i am joined by the minnesota congresswoman, the founder of the tea party caucus. some think she will someday soon eclipse sarah palin. >> the governor and i have five
children. we're both committed to limited government and tea party principals. that includes not taxing any american any more than they are now. that is having our federal government live within its means, not spending more than what we taken. under our constitution, we believe the congress should not be acting beyond those limitations. i think that is very compatible with people that stand 40 party ideals. >> you have a new stream of tea party candidates coming into congress. do you believe you are making the republican party stronger? are you working against it? >> far stronger. the energy of this election came from the tea party candidates. i think the republican party has found its way. it understands its core and solul. these wonderful fresh men are very strong in the principles going forward. >> would you like the tea party to replace the republican party?
>> it will not. the tea party is not a political party. it is a set of ideas. it is ideas that the republican party were founded on. all we have done is reappointed ourselves with our origins. the spirit of 1776 is alive and well in the hearts of americans today. >> do you think president obama is anti-american? >> i have been very concerned about the policies that have come out of the white house. i think i share that agreement with people who voted at the ballot box on the first tuesday of november. they are rejecting the federal government foray into buying and owning equity shares in businesses. >> do you think the president of america's anti-american? >> the policies that anti-free enterprise are not familiar of the people of the united states. that is why we saw such a strong reaction of the ballot box.
the government takeover of health care is a great example. that is not what we have done in throughoutstates is stark history. people do not want to see the government dictate health care. >> you claim the president spent $200 million a day on a trip to india. >> i did not claim that. i was quoting the newspaper in india. i only used that after -- it came out of the host country in india. it came out a well-respected financial newspaper. >> $200 million a day? >> all i did was quote the newspaper. major national figures in the united states and in the media for several days had already been using that figure. i am not the originator of that figure.
it came out of the host country where the president was flying too. the reason why it was so important is that the president has a two-year history of out of control spending. only the white house knows. the white house has not cleared it up. >> do you believe he spent $200 million a day? >> i have not said whether i believe it or not. i was quoting the newspaper of the host country. it is up to the white house to prove or disprove that number. it is not up to me. >> your local newspaper says that you specialize in flame throwing and falsehoods. >> newspapers say what they want to say. that is a problem. >> your local newspaper that might support you and president clinton are saying that you cannot with things that are ideological without any evidence
at all. what do you say to that? >> that is a false statement. the former president clinton was campaigning for my opponent in the election. things like that it said. the fact is i was quoting the newspaper. the bigger issue was the fact that the president on his trip is taking over 870 rooms at a hotel. we have never seen this level of access before on a presidential trip. >> there is news today that sarah palin may run for president. are you excited? >> she may be one of the candidates. i am very excited about the republican appealing to president challenging president obama. i think people in the united states are not happy with his policies. i think it is likely he will be a one-term president. i think it is very important that we have a good group of candid it's going forward for
2012. >> she thinks she can be president obama. do you? >> i think she has a very good chance of beating president obama. right now, president obama as a lot of difficulties. that will remain for 2012. no one knows until the election comes. >> will you run? >> of course i will vote. >> will you run? >> i am in the house of representatives. i just won that election. all i am focused on right now is getting our financial house in order in the united states. >> thank you very much. we appreciate your time this evening. that is it for this week. for all of us here, goodbye. ♪ >> "bbc newsnight" is presented by kcet, los angeles. funding for this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu. newman's own foundation. the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. and union bank.
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