Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Russian Lawyer In Corruption Investigation Badly Injured In Fall


A Russian lawyer getting injured in Moscow is not the kind of story we would normally cover, but yesterday the lawyer representing the family of Sergei Magnitsky was critically injured. And here's why we're talking about it. Magnitsky was a whistleblower who died in a Moscow prison, and his death caused a rift in U.S.-Russian relations. Charles Maynes reports.

CHARLES MAYNES, BYLINE: Nikolai Gorokhov reportedly fell from the four-story window while helping movers lift a bathtub into his building. He's in a hospital in critical condition. The incident happened just a day before Gorokhov was to appear in a Moscow court. He was there to represent the family of another Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. Magnitsky died in prison eight years ago after uncovering a $230 million tax fraud scheme involving Russian state officials who imprisoned and convicted Magnitsky posthumously of the very crime they were accused of.

BILL BROWDER: And Sergei did something very unusual while he was in prison, which was, he documented everything that they had done to him in the form of 450 complaints that he filed during his time in detention.

MAYNES: That's Bill Browder. He was Magnitsky's employer at the Hermitage Capital Fund (ph). He was also convicted by a Russian court in absentia on the same tax evasion charges levied against Magnitsky. He spoke to NPR by Skype from his office in London.

BROWDER: And so when they killed him, we have the most well-documented human rights abuse case come out of Russia in the last 35 years.


JOHN MCCAIN: Sergei Magnitsky was murdered fighting the tyranny of Vladimir Putin's Russia.

MAYNES: Magnitsky's death sparked international outrage with U.S. senators like John McCain, heard here, pushing for what would become the so-called Magnitsky Act. The 2012 law imposed travel bans and banking sanctions on Russian officials implicated in human rights abuses.



MAYNES: The law infuriated Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin soon slapped its own blacklist on several U.S. government officials as well as a ban on adoption of Russian children by American families. But Heritage Capital's Bill Browder insists whatever happened last night, Nikolai Gorokhov's fall from a window is the latest gruesome chapter in a continuing Kremlin cover-up surrounding the Magnitsky case.

BROWDER: He's spent the last seven years exposing Russian government complicity in the murder of Sergei Magnitsky and the theft of the $230 million that Sergei Magnitsky had uncovered which got him killed.

MAYNES: And it was Nikolai Gorokhov's plan to present more evidence of that complicity, says Browder, only he never made it to the courtroom. For NPR News, I'm Charles Maynes in Moscow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.