Kremlin critic wants international probe into Nemtsov death

AP News
Posted: Mar 03, 2015 11:51 AM
Kremlin critic wants international probe into Nemtsov death

PARIS (AP) — A British investor who made millions in Russia before his lawyer was imprisoned and died is calling for an international investigation into the killing of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov.

U.S.-born William Browder is suggesting a probe led by the United Nations, the Council of Europe or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. It could be modeled after the investigation into the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.

Vladimir Putin's spokesman has called the killing of Nemtsov last week a "provocation," and Russian authorities are investigating. But many accuse the Kremlin of involvement.

Based on his difficult experience in Russia, including a tax fraud conviction he says was politically driven, Browder argues that Russian authorities will never find Nemtsov's real killers.

"We're never going to get to the bottom of this if (the investigation) is left in the hands of the people who are at the top of the suspect list," Browder told The Associated Press in Paris on Tuesday.

He said he wants to help in any investigation, because Nemtsov helped raise attention to the case of whistleblower lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Magnitsky, who worked with Browder's investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, uncovered what he said was massive collusion between organized crime and Russian government officials in 2008, and a year later died of untreated pancreatitis in prison at age 37. His death prompted widespread criticism from human rights activists.

Browder helped persuade U.S. Congress to impose sanctions against Russians accused of involvement in the case or of other human rights abuses.

Speaking as thousands of mourners attended Nemtsov's funeral in Moscow, Browder said he expected the attack to unify Russia's small opposition — and "terrify" Putin's critics even more.

Many European companies want to resume trade with Russia and end sanctions imposed over Russia's actions in Ukraine. But Browder warned Western businesses to stay away.

In his recent best-selling book "Red Notice," he describes the thrill of making a fortune in Russia in the 1990s, but says it wasn't worth the risk.

"Security is more important than money," he said.