14 Jan 2021 21:35

Wallenberg family loses case against Russian Prosecutor General's Office

MOSCOW. Jan 14 (Interfax) - The Second Cassation Court of Common Jurisdiction has fully upheld rulings which were challenged by the niece of Raoul Wallenberg in a lawsuit against the Russian Prosecutor General's Office and the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office, demanding that they submit documentation relating to the rehabilitation of the Swedish diplomat, human rights group Team 29, which represents the plaintiffs, said.

"On January 13, the Second Cassation Court of Common Jurisdiction dismissed the complaint in the case of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg," Team 29 said.

"The prosecutor's office asserts that the conclusion on Wallenberg's rehabilitation and the documents it was based upon constitute internal information. The courts supported it on this. However, there is no proof of that in the case. Besides, by law, the provision of documentation requested in such situations cannot be denied. No doubt the ruling will be appealed," senior lawyer with Team 29 Maksim Olenichev said, commenting on yesterday's decision.

On February 15, 2019, Moscow's Khamovniki District Court rejected an administrative appeal filed by Elsa Marie Dupuy, the niece, and investigators Vadim Birstein and Susanne Berger, demanding that "the refusal to provide information and enforce such information provision be found unlawful."

On June 30, 2020, the Moscow City Court rejected an appeal against a lower-court ruling (copies of which were seen by Interfax), in which the plaintiffs asked the court to rule on the illegality of the refusal by the Prosecutor General's Office to provide a number of documents relating to Wallenberg's rehabilitation and to compel it and the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office to provide the material.

At issue is the Prosecutor General's Office conclusion rehabilitating Wallenberg, along with a list and copies of supporting documentation.

According to the plaintiffs, in 2018, prosecutors unlawfully refused to provide that documentation on the grounds that it did not affect their interests, without invoking the relevant regulations. The requested documents, let alone a list thereof, cannot be classed as authorized access only information, the three plaintiffs said.

Earlier, Russian courts rejected Dupuy's lawsuit against the Federal Security Service demanding access to the original documents relating to the Wallenberg case along with their uncensored copies.

Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Jewish lives in Budapest during the last year of the Second World War before his arrest in 1945 by the Soviet authorities on suspicion of espionage. According to the official version of events endorsed by the Russian government, Wallenberg died of a heart attack in custody in the Lubyanka area of Moscow in 1947. This version of events has been questioned by some historians, who cite evidence from other inmates claiming they saw or heard about Wallenberg in other prisons in the 1950s.

In 2000, the Russian Prosecutor General's Office rehabilitated Wallenberg and his driver Vilmos Langfelder after concluding that the two employees of the Swedish diplomatic mission in Budapest were repressed by the Soviet authorities and thus fall under the Russian law "On the rehabilitation of victims of political repression," dated October 18, 1991.

In 2016, the Wallenberg family and the Raoul Wallenberg Research Initiative (RWI-70) sent the Russian authorities a catalogue of open questions concerning the diplomat's case; access to archives was denied. The family vowed to continue fighting to have all information about the diplomat's fate disclosed.

In 2019, RWI-70 said that the Swedish authorities would ask the Russian Foreign Ministry and Russian archives to provide a number of documents relating to the Wallenberg case.

In June 2020, First Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov told Interfax, "Several dozen requests from Swedish experts and other foreign citizens conducting inquiries into the diplomat's fate have been considered over the past years. A large quantity of additional declassified material has been sent to the Swedish side."

"However, it hasn't been possible to add any substantial documental proof to the already available information, including the theory of a number of Swedish researchers that Wallenberg was alive after July 17, 1947, the date of his death in a Soviet jail, which has been actively circulated in the past few years," Titov said.