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Browder Almighty Who Passes Laws in Congress and Censors Worldwide Media!

Why an investigative documentary by a former Kremlin accuser is banned in the West

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

RI has widely reported on the film “The Magnitsky Act - Behind the Scenes” and on Bill Browder’s efforts to suppress its screenings in the West (here, here, here and here). Now take the story directly from the film director in an exclusive interview to one of Russia most popular news resources and in a video monologue.

KP talked with the opposition figure Andrei Nekrasov who directed “The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes”. Surprisingly this investigative documentary was harshly treated in the West - its showings cancelled, perhaps for shedding light on why the American financier William Browder, who made a fortune in Russia, is trashing Moscow, demanding Western countries produce Magnitsky Lists - sanctions against Russian citizens, like the one enacted by the US.

<figcaption>Bill Browder</figcaption>
Bill Browder

KP talked with the opposition figure Andrei Nekrasov who directed “The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes”. Surprisingly this investigative documentary was harshly treated in the West - its showings cancelled, perhaps for shedding light on why the American financier William Browder, who made a fortune in Russia, is trashing Moscow, demanding Western countries produce Magnitsky Lists - sanctions against Russian citizens, like the one enacted by the US.

Who stole a quarter of a billion

- Andrei, why did you choose this story to investigate?

- In the West Magnitsky is known solely as a whistleblower who paid with his life. My movie is a bomb for the West, that ignored the facts. I did not plan to investigate anything. I thought Magnitsky revealed everything and Browder told us about it. The film was shot in Kiev in the fall of 2014, and even then I started to realize that everything was much more complicated. Browder’s claims were not substantiated. For example, it was not Magnitsky who went to the police with revelations, it was the other way around: law enforcement called him in for questioning in the already existing criminal case.

- So. you started filming firmly believing in good Browder and bad Russia who killed Magnitsky?

- Yes, even in the movie, Browder’s account of searches in his companies, confiscation of documents, remains. Browder’s companies were stolen and it is Magnitsky who goes to the police where he is beaten with batons. That is how our story begins.

- What about the end?

- This picture has almost nothing to do with Magnitsky’s death. It’s about three Russian companies that Browder owned through offshore companies. They paid taxes from sales of Gazprom shares, then declared losses and the state returned their tax payments - a quarter of a billion dollars! That was the crime. The question is: who controlled the companies when the payments were returned? Browder says that at the time the money was transferred, they had already been ‘taken  over’). But he is suspected of lying, he recovered his money through stooges.

- Do you have proof?

- The movie doesn’t accuse him of stealing the money, and I do not have direct evidence. But Magnitsky, may have filled out required documents. The main question is, were Browder companies stolen or not? I proved that Browder’s story about Magnitsky is a lie, possibly invented to distract attention from real machinations involving enormous sums.

“I used the same sources as Browder”

- How did Magnitsky die?

- He died from a heart attack. By the end of his life he had hepatitis, pancreatitis, diabetes, obesity - a whole bunch of diseases. I have sincere sympathy for Sergei and his family, but it is not me who is using his tragedy, it is Mr. Browder. Nobody tormented or tortured Magnitsky. There was criminal negligence by the doctor. Even the psychiatric emergency doctor Kornilov, who Browder often cites and who arrived on Magnitsky’s call three hours before his death, never mentions signs of beating. The conclusion by the Public Oversight Commission, does not say that Magnitsky was beaten or killed. Some believe that his death benefitted Browder. There is no proof of that, but it’s clear that Russia did not need to murder an accountant.

- Are the facts supported by documents?

- I used open sources. At first, trusting Browder, I used his two sites. All the documents are there. I’m sure they forgot to remove some of the material. Comparing investigator reports, and records of interrogations, I came to the conclusion that Magnitsky was not killed. Also there was a forensic examination. Browder says these sources are unreliable, but he quotes them when it is beneficial for him.

Frau turns into Fury

- Did Browder lobby the Magnitsky Act in the US?

- Of course he lobbied it, that’s the whole point.

- How did the movie affect you?

- I was seriously worried about all this.. I sincerely love the country, previously I contributed to its democratization - I was involved in opposition politics, knew Nemtsov, talked with Yashin and Kasyanov. Magnitsky was my hero, next after Litvinenko. I could make a movie in line with this, but what changed is not the story itself, it was how I understood my role in Russian society. I came to serious conclusions and cannot be silent about it.

- Why are there so many scandals around the movie in the West?

- Browder has lawyers in every country. They threaten organizers of screenings and the companies who financed my film, which are Western state owned, not private! You cannot condemn the movie as Russian propaganda! They banned showings in Belgium, threatened a German channel, in Norway we could only show the movie on our second try. In the US there was a closed screening of the movie, but Browder tried to cancel that as well.

He has unlimited financial resources, and I don’t have money to sue him. I have always criticized Russia for censorship and I remain a critic of the authorities now. Earlier my movies were banned in Russia, now they are not shown in the West. This is a cruel joke! The most terrifying thing is that Browder can call you a liar and a bastard dancing on a grave, he can destroy your reputation, insult your mother, and you cant do anything about it.

- Did Browder sue for libel?

- No, because he would have to refute details of the story. I think he’s afraid of that.

- Can your investigation lead to the abolition of the Magnitsky Act?

- I want politicians who passed the Act to know the truth and to feel ashamed. Democracy should not be abused like that! One Bundestag member was a polite, reasonable woman, but after I told her about some inconsistencies in Magnitsky’s case she turned into a fury and called me an FSB agent.

To some friends, their political circle opinion is more important than facts

- You supported the Russian opposition and you are no stranger to them now, but you made this film. Why?

- This is a problem. Friends accuse me of betrayal. When I tell Ilya Yashin that Magnitsky did not investigate anything, he turns facts on their heads in bad faith. Opposition members tell me that the movie was released specifically to abolish anti-Russian sanctions. But I started filming when there were no sanctions! I thought my friends from the opposition would not betray the truth.

The opposition are good people, but when their friends are more important to them than the truth, that’s sad. I’ve always been a rebel, but they don’t discuss the content of the movie, they just tell me: why did you do that? They suspect a financial motivation. and I wonder how could you have such low thoughts? I’m very disappointed.

- Before you made films accusing Russia

- Yes, they caused a furore in the West - movies about explosions of apartments in Moscow, Litvinenko’s case, the war in Georgia in 2008, Chechen children wounded and killed.

- Did they have any basis in fact?

- I understood them as an opposition documentary maker. I was not denouncing anything in these movies, but in the Magnitsky film I became a detective. I did not carry out such scrupulous investigations in my earlier movies.

- Where do you live? In Russia or in Europe?

- I live between Germany and Scandinavia. I am completely independent of Moscow professionally and politically.

The ideological war goes on

- What topics are you planning to tackle next?

- Norwegian producers want me to do a sequel about Magnitsky. The West has huge prejudices about Russia. When a Western journalist investigates corruption in his country, he has to present irrefutable evidence. But when it comes to Russia, he can refer to an unfounded claim in a blog: courts are corrupt, the police are criminals. Proof? Not necessary. Even Magnitsky’s case was built on prejudices. I know how the West thinks, and I want to make a movie to dispel these prejudices.

- What’s happening between the West and Russia right now?

- There is an ideological Cold War, not only between Russia and the West, but also within Russian society. I suspect Browder has more allies in Russia than it seems. How could a non-elected, private citizen like Browder have such huge political influence? This should worry not only Russia, but the West as well.

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