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Screening Of Controversial Magnitsky Film Ends In Ruckus

Lawyer Sergei Magnitsky
Lawyer Sergei Magnitsky

A ruckus broke out at the Washington screening of a controversial documentary about a Russian whistle-blower whose death in prison inspired the enactment of a U.S. human rights law.

The screening on June 13 drew harsh criticism from supporters of the late Sergei Magnitsky, who the film portrays as responsible for the very fraud he accused Russian officials of perpetrating.

The screening ended with shouts "Shame!" and "Lies!" from the audience, and a question-and-answer session turned into a heated exchange between Magnitsky supporters and the movie's director, Andrei Nekrasov.

Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after accusing Russian officials of stealing $230 million from the government in tax rebates using the companies that he represented. The Russian presidential council on human rights said he was beaten and denied medical treatment in jail.

Magnitsky was a lawyer for William Browder, an investor who made millions in Russia after the Soviet collapse but then was expelled from the country in 2005.

Browder has denounced the movie as a smear campaign. But the Newseum stood by its decision to rent its theater for the screening, saying it was a matter of free speech.

Based on reporting by AP

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