DISINFO: Western politicians and the media embrace Browder's story about Magnitsky without even checking it first
  • Outlet: RT France - YouTube (archived)*
  • Date of publication: November 30, 2019
  • Outlet language(s): French
  • Reported in: Issue 177
  • Countries / regions discussed: UK, US, Russia
Bill Browder Sergei Magnitsky Anti-Russian Sanctions Russophobia

DISINFO: Western politicians and the media embrace Browder's story about Magnitsky without even checking it first


Browder’s Justice for Magnitsky campaign could be presumed to personal revenge against Russia. A campaign that uses the deadly fate of the auditor to punish the country that sued him. Why did Western politicians and the media embrace Browder’s story so easily without even checking it first? Probably because his story is in perfect harmony with the disastrous image of Russia in the West.


This case is part of the pro-Kremlin media's ongoing disinformation campaign against Magnitsky sanctions and their chief proponent, Bill Browder accusing him and the West of Russophobia - a disinformation tactic commonly used by pro-Kremlin outlets to deflect criticism about Moscow's policies by painting Russia as the innocent victim of Western antipathy. As the CEO of Hermitage Capital, once the largest investment firm in Russia, Bill Browder fell afoul of the Russian government in 2005 after exposing the details of a vast $230-million corruption scheme involving several high-ranking Russian officials. While investigating the corruption scheme, Hermitage Capital’s tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was arrested. During his 11-month imprisonment, he was tortured, denied medical care, and ultimately left to die. A Russian investigation concluded that Magnitsky had died of natural causes; the case was then closed and Magnitsky was posthumously convicted of tax evasion. To commemorate Magnitsky, Bill Browder launched a campaign to sanction the individuals involved in his mistreatment and death. This campaign has led the United States and several other countries (the UK, Canada, and the Baltic States) to adopt so-called 'Magnitsky sanctions' that restrict the travel and freeze the assets of individuals who have been involved in human rights abuses and mass corruption. The case of Sergei Magnitsky has been widely studied by investigative journalists, subjected to investigative TV programs (giving the floor to all protagonists), and examined by the anti-corruption NGO Transparency International which posthumously bestowed its integrity award to Magnitsky. Moreover, in August 2019, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russian authorities “had deprived Sergei Magnitskiy of important medical care and had failed to comply with their duty to protect his life.” The judges unanimously concluded that Magnitsky's treatment in detention violated his human rights, the right to live, right to liberty and security, and right to freedom from torture. For more disinformation cases on Magnitsky, see here.


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Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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