The Murder of Vasily Alexanyan

From Catherine Belton’s Financial Times coverage of yesterday’s death of Yukos lawyer Vasily Alexanyan, who, like Sergei Magnitsky, was denied urgent medical treatment while unlawfully jailed by the Russian government.

“He would still be alive if he hadn’t spent a long time in solitary confinement and had received medical treatment in time,” Russian human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov told the radio station Ekho Moskvy.

The Harvard-educated lawyer had been swept up in Moscow’s politically charged attack on Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed Yukos owner. As a former Yukos vice-president, he was arrested in 2006 on charges of tax fraud and embezzlement as the government expanded its campaign.

Doctors diagnosed him with Aids soon after his arrest and then later with advanced cancer of the lymph nodes. But he suffered more than two years in a dank and dirty Moscow jail cell before prison officials agreed to transfer him to a specialist clinic and then later granted him bail. The move came only after a widespread outcry and a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights calling for him to be released.

A Moscow court last year dropped the criminal charges against him citing lapsed statutes of limitations on the charges. But it did not clear his name.