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

Summary

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.

Disproof

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.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 177
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 30/11/2019
  • Outlet language(s) French
  • Country: UK, US, Russia
  • Keywords: Bill Browder, Sergei Magnitsky, Anti-Russian, Sanctions, Russophobia
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Russia has nothing to do with Donbas conflict

As for the conflict in Donbas, Russia has repeatedly asserted that it is not a part of it, blaming the Ukrainian authorities for the continuing clashes in the region.

Disproof

One of the most common disinformation narratives about the "conflict" in Donbas, claiming that Russia has nothing to do with the war in Ukraine. See a similar case denying Russia’s involvement in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

There is irrefutable evidence of direct Russian military involvement in Eastern Ukraine. The EU has condemned the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014.

Ukraine broke the Minsk agreements by allowing the National Police on the contact line

Ukraine knows that it can’t allow the National Police to be on the line of contact [in Donbas]. It violates the agreements. And Ukraine broke the agreement before the Normandy Format meeting.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Minsk agreements, portraying Ukraine as the only violator of the agreements. See previous cases about the Minsk agreements and the war in Ukraine. On 20 September 2016, the Framework Decision of Tripartite Contact Group on the Withdrawal of Forces was signed. The document listed violations such as the movement of forces and means on the contact line, shelling or placing mines on the contact line, etc. However, there is no mention of the use of the National Police for controlling order there. Ukrainian Defence Minister Andrii Zagorodniuk said in October 2019 that the condition of the withdrawal of forces and means is the fulfilment of the condition of observing the ceasefire regime at both sections of the contact line and the verification of the absence of fire should be carried out by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission. He also stated that the National Police will protect civilians on the contact line.

Euromaidan was a coup fomented by Victoria Nuland

Maidan was a coup fomented by Victoria Nuland.

Disproof

No supportive evidence is given to this recurrent conspiracy narrative on the coup in Ukraine in 2014, fomented by the West, Georges Soros or Victoria Nuland in person, often also portrayed as a "Nazi coup". There was no coup d'état in Ukraine. The spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was the people's reaction by numerous segments of the Ukrainian population to former President Victor Yanukovych’s sudden departure from the promised Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013. See other disinformation cases on Euromaidan and their debunks.