Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Russia

Kremlin Critic Rejects Prosecutor's Claims About Opposition Video

A combo photo of Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika (left) and Hermitage Capital co-founder William Browder
A combo photo of Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika (left) and Hermitage Capital co-founder William Browder
By RFE/RL

A major Western investor turned Kremlin critic, William Browder, has rejected Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika's claim that he was behind the production of an online video that accuses Chaika and his family of corruption.

Chaika wrote in a letter published in the Kommersant newspaper on December 14 that he had "absolutely no doubt" that Hermitage Capital co-founder Browder, an American-born British citizen, and the "security services behind him" ordered the making of the video. 

The 43-minute video, which was released earlier this month by Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, accuses Chaika's two sons of illegally amassing large sums of money with the help of Russian officials under the patronage of their father.

Chaika alleged that the production of the video was part of a broader campaign to discredit the Russian government's credibility.

Browder's response, made in a December 14 press release, rejected the allegations made by the prosecutor-general.

"Chaika's seven pages of unhinged allegations -- that I am a CIA agent who was running a special operation designed to destroy Russia -- looks like the emotional ranting of someone who has been caught red-handed and is desperately looking for an escape route," Browder wrote.

Browder also wrote that Chaika's letter had failed to provide a response to allegations made in the video about his sons' "vast business empires." The video alleged that Chaika's two sons own and control significant business empires, built on the abuse of prosecutors' offices across Russia.

"After watching this movie, it's clear that Prosecutor Chaika has serious and grave allegations to answer to. It's simply not credible for him to say that he can ignore them because a foreigner who is regarded as Putin's No. 1 enemy was supposedly behind them," Browder said. "Even if only a fraction of allegations in this movie are true, this would further confirm that Russia is truly being run like a mafia state by mafialike officials."

Browder became well known in Russia after he accused Russian tax officials of carrying out large-scale fraud uncovered by his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. 

Shortly after the accusations were made, Magnitsky died in prison in 2009 after failing to receive proper medical care.
 
Browder was convicted in absentia in 2013 of tax evasion by a Moscow court and sentenced to nine years in prison.

With reporting by Interfax and AFP

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