Grave of Magnitsky in the Probrazhensky cemetary in Moscow. Photo: RFE/RL
ZDF, a German public-service television broadcaster, has confirmed that they will not broadcast “Sergei Magnitsky, behind the scenes,” an anti-Magnitsky film by Andrei Nekrasov.
Previously, Sergei Magnitsky’s widow and mother expressed their categorical objection to distribution in any form of the Nekrasov’s film about Sergei Magnitsky because of its false and slanderous content.
ZDF has now formally confirmed its commitment to not broadcast Nekrasov’s film. This follows a similar commitment by the French TV network ARTE.
“This film is full of lies and misinformation about the Magnitsky case,” said William Browder, leader of the global Justice campaign for Sergei Magnitsky and author of the New York Times best-seller “Red Notice: How I Became Putin’s No 1 Enemy.”
“It is my duty to Sergei’s memory and to his family to preserve the truth and protect his legacy,” continued Browder.
As a result of the campaign waged by Browder, the US Congress passed a law imposing sanctions against several Russian officials who were allegedly involved in the death of a lawyer in 2012. The law had enraged Moscow.
Nekrasov’s film contains false statements about Sergei Magnitsky, which are refuted by independent international bodies, including the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, comprising delegates from 47 states, the European Parliament, the US Department, and the US Congress, among others.
Russian human rights activists, including veteran dissident and head of the Moscow Helsinki Group Ludmila Alexeeva and Valery Borschev, head of the Moscow human rights commission who investigated Magnitsky’s death, spoke out against the attempts by Andrei Nekrasov to spread the lies in this case for the benefit of those who have been exposed by Magnitsky’s testimony of involvement in the fraud and broader corruption arising out of Panama Papers, and are being affected by Magnitsky sanctions.
Previously, Nekrasov’s anti-Magnitsky film was scheduled for broadcast on ARTE, a Franco-German cultural TV network,on 3 May 2016. ARTE has cancelled the scheduled broadcast of Nekrasov’s anti-Magnitsky film. Browder then sent ARTE a list of factual errors in the film and warned that the TV station may be subject to the legal prosecution for deliberate publication of false information.
“It’s one thing to have freedom of speech, manipulating and using lies, innuendo, and falsities in order to prove something that is not true is something completely different, – Browder then said to RFE/RL. – That’s why there are laws of libel – to protect people from such things.”
“The film is just a set of lies and manipulations that offend the memory of Sergei Magnitsky and replace the entire story of how he died,” said Browder.
The decision not to broadcast Nekrasov’s film by ZDF and ARTE follow the earlier decision not to air Nekrasov’s film at the European Parliament after complaints from relatives and former colleagues of Magnitsky. The screening of Nekrasov’s film was originally scheduled there as a private initiative of Heidi Hautala, Andrei Nekrasov’s girlfriend and a member of the European parliament from Finland.
Magnitsky uncovered an embezzlement scheme of 230 million dollars, was later charged for tax evasion, and died in a Moscow prison in 2009. According to the relatives and friends of the lawyer, before his death, he was subjected to beatings, torture, and did not receive medical care.
ZDF is based in Mainz, Rhineland-Palatinate. It is run as an independent non-profit institution, which was founded by all federal states of Germany.