The film focuses on Sergei Magnitsky, who is widely believed to have been murdered in 2009 for accusing the Russian police of stealing some $230 million from the Russian state treasury. This, however, is not the narrative that Nekrasov is following.
According to the Russian-born filmmaker, it was the other way around, as Russian authorities were the ones who saw the chunk of change stolen from Russian taxpayers by outsiders. Throughout the film, Nekrasov offers viewers evidence that suggests Bill Browder, the US financier who claimed Russian police stole the money, was involved in the multimillion dollar theft.
Taking note of the film's release, Browder has in turn set lawyers on any theaters or broadcasters who show interest in airing the film, leading many to walk away from the project. As a response, Nekrasov and his team decided to recently upload the film to Vimeo, where viewers can stream the flick for the low price of $10.
Nekrasov told Radio Sputnik's Fault Lines on Monday that while the movie is out there and ready for consumption, uploading it onto Vimeo wasn't exactly what he originally had in mind for distribution.
"It's still not ideal, because we were hoping [for a bigger platform]," he told show hosts Garland Nixon and Lee Stranahan. "The film was a mainstream, western European product to be broadcast on primetime TV, and we're hoping that a channel like PBS would be interested, because everything was pointed in that direction before Bill Browder struck back and threatened just about everybody in the world trying to show it."
"One can watch it on Vimeo, but, of course, you know, you need to let people know… this story is really exceptional, and not because I made this film, but because it is absolutely unique," the filmmaker added.
Browder, who'd become a prominent investor in Russia in the late 1990s, saw his steady rise turn to a decline in November 2005 after he was blacklisted by officials in Moscow for being a national security threat to the country. According to reports, after being blacklisted over alleged white-collar crimes such as insider trading, investigators raided Browder's company, Hermitage Capital Manager, in Moscow in 2007 to obtain documents relating to his finances.
Per Browder, the raids allowed corrupt police officers to seize three of his holding companies and use them to claim a rebate of $230 million. Magnitsky, an accountant for the company, was later arrested. He ultimately died in prison, sparking international speculation that he was murdered in an attempt to silence accusations that Russian officials were behind the theft.
This is where accounts start to differ, Nekrasov told Nixon, saying, "Browder uses this [Magnitsky's death] to tell an entirely wrong story and divert attention from what, actually, the story is about, which is his white-collar crimes."
In one scene in which Nekrasov is seen questioning Browder on his side of the story, the filmmaker told show hosts that the 54-year-old Chicago native brushed him aside and bashed his inquires rather than giving him any answers.
Looking ahead, Nekrasov indicated that he hopes the film will be able to reach a larger audience. "It must be seen, and not because I made it. It must be seen because it's important," he said.