Various irrational political games started after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky tragically passed away in prison in 2009, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
Putin noted that when Magnitsky died, he served as prime minister, and monitored the events around the case of the Russian lawyer and discussed it with then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
"It seemed completely unexpected and strange to us that such political games have occurred around the tragic death of this man. These are very non-constructive political games around things that in reality should not be worked in such a way and blown out of proportion," Putin said at the Valdai Discussion Club, held in Sochi.
Putin stressed that all events around this case were caused by illegal activities of a group led by UK millionaire and Hermitage Capital Management CEO William Browder, who had been living in Russia as a tourist for ten years and was involved in illegal activities, such tax evasion, both in Russia and in the United States, such buying shares of Russian companies without the right to do so.
For his crimes, Browder has been convicted in absentia to 9 years in prison in Russia, Putin recalled, and underlined that the Magnitsky case is used for anti-Russian hysteria abroad even though the whole case is based on crime and theft.
"In recent years, according to the open data of US company Ziff Brothers, with whom Browder is connected, finances the Democrats or, to a lesser extent, the Republicans. They protect themselves this way," Putin said.
The last transfer of money to the Democrats by the company amounted to around $1.2 million, according to the president.
Sergei Magnitsky, who worked for Browder, was a legal consultant for the London-based Hermitage Capital Management investment fund and was detained in 2008 on suspicion of involvement in a tax evasion scheme. Less than a year later, Magnitsky died of heart failure while in custody. An official investigation closed the criminal case into the death of Magnitsky, citing lack of criminal evidence.
In late 2012, the United States adopted the Magnitsky Act, imposing travel bans and economic sanctions against Russian officials allegedly involved in the lawyer's death.