Simon Bushell comments on the challenges of representing Ziyavudin Magomedov

The passing of Alexei Navalny is a tragedy and a very dark day in Russia’s modern history, signalling the end, for now at least, of any meaningful opposition to President Putin.

Mr Magomedov was unexpectedly arrested in March 2018 following an investigation by personnel involved in the infamous Magnitsky affair. During his pre-trial detention Mr Magomedov’s strategic assets, the Far Eastern Shipping Company and the Black Sea Port Novorossiysk were unlawfully seized and placed into the hands of Kremlin-controlled companies. These assets play a vital role in maintaining Russia’s war economy.

Despite agreeing to post bail, Mr Magomedov was detained for over 4 years before being convicted of financial crimes which he vehemently denies, and sentenced to 19 years imprisonment following a trial which occurred largely in secret.

His real crime was a political one: speaking his mind behind closed doors directly to Russia’s leadership and seeking to resist the disastrous path along which Russia has been taken. These political “crimes” are being aggravated by the pursuit of extensive, eye-opening conspiracy claims advanced in the English High Court which are unsettling the Kremlin, and proxy figures close to the Putin regime.

Mr Magomedov faces increasingly deteriorating conditions having recently been transferred to a penal colony in Kirov, remote Russia on the notorious Stolypin train, described by Amnesty as “cruel inhuman and degrading”.

As he gradually exhausts his avenues of appeal in Russia, Mr Magomedov’s only hope of justice is the continued pursuit of his High Court claims. His family and all those seeking to support him are obviously fearful for his health and well-being and concerned that he will be deprived entirely of his ability to liaise properly with his legal team. His Russian lawyers in particular feel intimidated by the recent steps taken to restrain Mr Magomedov from pursuing his legal claims in England. He is now entirely reliant on the safeguards of the international community to ensure that he is not silenced and that he does not suffer the same fate as Mr Navalny.