Nikolay Gorokhov, a lawyer for the family of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer whose death in 2009 sparked a crisis between Russia and the West, has been badly injured.
According to Russian media, Nikolay Gorokhov fell from the fourth floor when a rope snapped as he and others tried to lift a bathtub into his house near Moscow.
The lawyer was flown to hospital by helicopter, a medical source was quoted as saying.
However, British businessman Bill Browder, for whom Sergei Magnitsky worked, said Nikolai Gorokhov had been “thrown”.
Bill Browder did not give a source for his allegation.
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According to a press release on a website linked to Bill Browder, Law and Order in Russia, Nikolay Gorokhov was due to appear in an appeals court in Moscow on March 22 to contest its refusal to investigate allegations of organized crime.
Sergei Magnitsky died in prison after revealing alleged fraud by state officials.
The incident involving Nikolay Gorokhov occurred in the town of Troitsk, south-west of Moscow. Russian media said several workmen were helping the lawyer at the time.
Footage on Russian media showed pictures of the tub and the debris of a wooden structure beside it.
One man described as a witness told Russia channel NTV that a delivery company had offered to carry the tub up to the fourth floor but that Nikolay Gorokhov had said he would winch it up the side of the building himself.
“He tried to use a homemade mechanism to lift it to the fourth floor. While he was doing that the winch got jammed. He went to fix it a bit and fell, with the jacuzzi and the makeshift scaffolding which landed on top of him,” the man said.
His comments appeared to indicate the workmen were on the ground at the time of the accident.
Sergei Magnitsky was jailed after being accused of committing fraud himself. Supporters say his death in November 2009 was the result of a severe beating, but official records say he died of acute heart failure and toxic shock, caused by untreated pancreatitis.
He had acted as a legal adviser for London-based Hermitage Capital Management, founded by Bill Browder (formerly a US citizen), who was himself tried in absentia.
The Magnitsky affair soured relations between Moscow and Washington, casting a spotlight on corruption in Russia.
Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in 2009, has been found posthumously guilty of tax fraud by a Moscow court.
Sergei Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 after accusing officials of tax fraud, but was later himself accused of the crime.
His death in custody a year later led to a major diplomatic dispute between Russia and the United States.
In the same trial, William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management which Sergei Magnitsky represented, was also found guilty of tax fraud.
William Browder was convicted in absentia, and sentenced to nine years.
The London-based hedge fund manager has denied the charges and said the trial was politically motivated. His defense team have said they will appeal against the verdict.
In a statement, he said the verdict “will go down in history as one of the most shameful moments for Russia since the days of Joseph Stalin”.
“The desperation behind this move shows the lengths that Putin is ready to go and to retaliate against anyone who expose the stealing and corruption he presides over,” he said.
No sentence will be passed for Sergei Magnitsky, whose relatives regard the case as illegal.
A lawyer for the family told Russia’s Rapsi news agency: “I did not doubt that the decision would look like this.”
“I know that he committed no crimes.”
Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in 2009, has been found posthumously guilty of tax fraud by a Moscow court
It is believed to be the first time in Soviet or Russian history that a defendant was tried posthumously.
Employed as an auditor for Hermitage, Sergei Magnitsky uncovered what he described as a web of corruption involving Russian tax officials, including the alleged theft of more than $200 million.
After reporting the allegations to the authorities, he was himself detained on suspicion of helping Hermitage evade $17.4 million in taxes.
Sergei Magnitsky was accused of having registered two firms in the republic of Kalmykia – at the time a Russian “offshore” tax haven – to hide assets.
Then, it is alleged, he hired local people with disabilities as “analysts”, entitling the firms to tax benefits. In his pre-trial testimony, Sergei Magnitsky insisted that the firms’ tax advantages were legal and that those hired were genuine, wage-earning employees.
He had pancreatitis and died in custody in 2009, but an investigation by Russia’s presidential council on human rights concluded that he had been severely beaten and denied medical treatment.
Last December, a Russian court acquitted a prison doctor accused of negligence over Sergei Magnitsky’s death. And in March this year the investigation into his death was dropped altogether due to “lack of evidence of a crime”.
William Browder has described the charges filed against him as an “absurdity” and revenge for his campaign to put pressure on Russia over the Magnitsky case.
He said it was his expectation “that no Western country will co-operate with the Russians”, as Interpol has said it considers the trial politically motivated.
“We will carry on in our fight for justice for Sergei Magnitsky as long as it takes,” William Browder said.
The case became a symbol in the US of the fight against corruption in Russia.
Last year, Washington passed the Magnitsky Act, blacklisting Russian officials accused of human rights violations, including those linked to the case.
In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law barring Americans from adopting Russian orphans.
The Russian foreign ministry also drew up its own blacklist of US officials who are alleged to have committed human rights violations.
Senior officials from President Vladimir Putin’s entourage who had been expected to be included were left off, including Russia’s top police official Alexander Bastrykin.
Russia’s list, announced by the foreign ministry, includes two former Bush administration officials who are said to have advocated harsh interrogation techniques and two former commanders of the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay.
David Addington, chief of staff to former Vice-President Dick Cheney is one of them.
Sergei Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 for tax evasion after accusing Russian police officials of stealing $230 million from the state
The other 14 were named as having violated the rights of Russian citizens abroad.
“The war of lists is not our choice, but we cannot ignore outright blackmail,” a statement from the Russian ministry said.
“It’s time for Washington politicians to finally understand that there are no prospects in building relations with a country like Russia with the spirit of mentoring and undisguised dictating.”
Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying there was also a secret section to the list with more names, as the US list had.
A Russian law barring Americans from adopting Russian orphans, regarded as a response to the US law, has already been passed.
The final US list published on Friday included people born in Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, 16 of them linked to the Magnitsky case. Some 250 names had originally been put forward by US politicians.
The others are officials deemed to have participated in recent Kremlin moves to restrict Russians’ political rights.
Sergei Magnitsky was arrested in 2008 for tax evasion after accusing Russian police officials of stealing $230 million from the state through fraudulent tax rebates. His family and rights groups say he was badly beaten and denied medical treatment in custody.
The Magnitsky Act passed by Washington in 2012 blacklists Russian officials accused of involvement in his death. All the names on the list had until Friday been kept secret.
Those affected by the American measures have had their US accounts frozen and have been added to a list of people who will be denied US entry visas. Some European nations are taking similar measures.
Correspondents say that the argument threatens to cast a shadow over a visit to Russia by President Barack Obama’s National Security adviser Tom Donilon, who is to hold high-level talks in Moscow on Monday.
The posthumous trial of Sergei Magnitsky – who died in 2009 aged 37 in pre-trial detention after developing pancreatitis – opened in Moscow in March but was adjourned shortly afterwards.
Legal experts say they are unaware of any precedents for the trial of a dead man in Russian history.