Former Interior Ministry investigator Pavel Karpov, notorious from the case of jailed whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky left to die in prison, has accused Hermitage Capital director William Browder of links to Navalny’s report published last week alleging corrupt practices by Prosecutor General Yury Chaika and his two sons.
Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.
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–The Non-Hybrid War
–Kashin Explains His âLetter to Leadersâ on âFontanka Officeâ
–TV Rain Interviews Volunteer Fighter Back from Donbass
–âI Was on Active Dutyâ: Interview with Captured GRU Officer Aleksandrov
(Note: The Interpreter is a project of the Institute for Modern Russia which is funded by Pavel Khodorkovsky, the son of Mikhail Khodorkovsky.)
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Russia-watchers have been waiting to see what the response of the authorities might be to opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s sensational exposé of Russia’s top law enforcers in allegations of corruption.
Now former Interior Ministry investigator Pavel Karpov, notorious from the case of jailed whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky who was left to die in prison in 2009, has accused Hermitage Capital director William Browder of links to Navalny’s report, Kommersant and RBC. ru report.
Karpov lost his contrived libel case against Browder in a British court in 2014 over the exposé of Magnitsky’s murder.
Translation: They asked ‘what will happen to Navalny over Chaika?” For now, there’s this. (Well, a three-year [sentence], minus).
Although Navalny and his staff drew the materials of their report from public real estate and court documents, Karpov claims in a statement to law-enforcement agencies that Navalny decided to publish his report detailing the lavish deals of Chaika’s two sons after Interior Ministry investigators conducted joint searches with Cypriot police regarding missing Gazprom shares valued at 5.4 billion rubles, said to be unlawfully taken out of Russia by a company Browder directed called Dal’nyaya Step’ (Distant Steppe).
Kommersant said that in a statement to the press, Kira Yarmysh, press secretary for the Anti-Corruption Foundation, said Browder did not order their film on the prosecutor general and his family and “did not pass on the information which is publicized in it.”
“The commissioners of this film are the donors of our fund, and all the information is taken from open sources,” she said.
As evidence for his claim, Karpov cites the “advertising and distribution” of the “Untouchables” videos published on Browder’s website, although the videos have been available for years and numerous human rights and opposition activists in Russia and abroad have circulated them (one on Karpov himself, for example, published in 2010, has 42,000 views).
Kommersant said according to its sources, a case was opened up this summer to investigate what was seen as the deliberate declaration of bankrupcy of Dalnyaya Step’ (Distant Steppe), founded and registered in June 1998 in Elista in Kalmykia, with Browder and his associate Ivan Cherkasov listed as general directors. Kommersant says the investigation believes Browder’s company was used to acquire 37.5 million shares in Gazprom in circumvention of a presidential degree banning such deals by foreigners before 2006.
But now officials say when the company declared bankruptcy, the shares, said to be valued at 5.4 billion rubles or $78 million were missing from its balance sheet after the company was broken up and sold to a company named Business Capital, with the proceeds going to an offshore company named Serasus Investments Ltd. in Cyprus.
The ex-manager partially acknowledged his guilt, believing in fact that he had committed an administrative error but not a criminal offense. In turn, the investigators call Dal’nyaya Step’ William Browder’s “Kashchey’s Egg,” since with its help he could either return money gained from the Gazprom shares or try to subrogate the bank through which they were taken out, which would lead to the freezing of the shares of HSBC in Russia.
Kommersant said HSBC had no comment on the matter.
Kashchey the Deathless is a figure from Russian fairy tales used to evoke complexity and invincibility because his soul is hidden separate from his body inside a needle within an egg in turn nested in a series of creatures inside a chest buried under an oak tree in the ocean.
Kommersant reports that Hermitage’s Cypriot office was searched on December 1 by local police, working alongside two Russian investigators – Sergei Petryashov and Artyom Ranchenkov. Ranchenkov is the very same investigator who blocked Magnitsky’s mother from pursuing an investigation into his death. During the search, correspondence was seized which could shed more light on the fate of the Gazprom shares. But after the publication of Navalny’s report, Cyprus did not turn over a single one of the documents.
“It is remarkable that the law enforcement authorities in Cyprus, a country that is a member of the European Union, would agree to become directly involved in assisting the Russian officials in a case that has been universally condemned around the world,” Browder told the Mail in an email.
“They’re cooperating with the people they’re supposed to be investigating,” Hermitage CEO William Browder told BuzzFeed News. “This raises a very serious question about whether Cyprus is part of the European Union, or whether it’s a colony of Russia.”
Russia has declared both Browder and Cherkasov “wanted” and have tried unsuccessfully to get Interpol to also place them on international police lists — an effort that a commission at Interpol said was “predominantly political in nature and therefore contrary to Interpol’s rules and regulations.”
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick