Browder files demand to ban Cyprus-Russia cooperation

The Nicosia District Court on Monday examined a demand filed by Bill Browder, who is wanted in Russia, for a decree prohibiting the Republic of Cyprus to cooperate with the Russian authorities in relation to this case, which has now taken on an international dimension.

The Law Office objected to the demand, filed by Browder’s lawyer, pointing out that according to the law, Cyprus cannot refuse to cooperate with Russia.

The Russian authorities had filed a request for judicial assistance from Cyprus, calling on the Cypriot authorities to give information and data regarding the accounts of Browder’s offshore companies, based in Cyprus.

A Law Office source told CNA that, according to the law, the only case in which Cyprus can refuse to cooperate with the Russian authorities in the framework of a demand for judicial assistance is if the wanted person has committed a political crime, such as a coup d’ etat, which is not the case in the Browder case, who is wanted by the Russian authorities for tax evasion.

Browder, on the other hand, argues that the procedures of Russia against him are politically motivated, which for the Law Office does not justify refusing to cooperate with the Russian authorities.

During Monday’s hearing, Browder’s attorney in Cyprus, Christos Pourgourides, was scheduled to answer to the appeal of the Law Office. Instead, he filed a new demand for an additional affidavit by a foreign lawyer of Browder. The Court accepted Pourgourides’ demand, giving until December 22 to submit the affidavit.

Law Office representative Theano Mavromoustaki objected to the demand, arguing that an additional testimony could not be introduced during a process for issuing a temporary decree, and asked for the immediate examination of the demand for the decree. The Court dismissed the objection of the Law Office and met Pourgourides’ demand, which constitutes a procedural right.

Brownder had initially filed a case demanding general damages. This will be decided on after his request for a temporary decree is examined.

The Browder case had been discussed during a meeting between President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and Russian President Vladimir Putin, during the latter’s recent visit to Moscow.

Nicosia had initially accepted to meet the demand of the Russians for judicial assistance, and had given permission, according to the media, for Russian investigators to visit Cyprus and gather information regarding Browder’s interests regarding the purchase of shares in Russian Gazprom.

However, after Browder filed a case in the Cypriot Courts, Minister of Justice and Public Order Ionas Nicolaou told Russia that court proceedings must first be completed, a development which annoyed Russia. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a press release had expressed its dissatisfaction towards Nicosia.

Browder says that Russia is suing him politically because he had uncovered a multimillion dollar scam, in which Russian officials were involved. Many other countries also adopted this allegation, including the USA and European countries, as well as Interpol, which refuses to cooperate with Russia in this issue.

Social information website EUObserver wrote last month that 17 MEPs in a letter called on Nicosia to mend the bad management of a corruption case concerning Russia, and accused Cyprus of actively assisting Russia against Bill Browder, a British supporter of human rights.

The case came to the foreground when Browder’s Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky suddenly died in 2009 while being held in a Russian prison, amid accusations that his death was brought about by torture. Since then, Browder launched an international campaign to inform the international public opinion regarding, as he says, the violation of human rights in Russia.

In a book he wrote, Browder calls himself the greatest enemy of the Russian President.

Source: Cyprus News Agency