AG objects Browder’s request to cancel cooperation with Russia

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By Stelios Orphanides

The Cypriot government objected to a request filed by Hermitage Capital’s founder Bill Browder for an emergency injunction barring Cyprus from cooperating with Russia in a probe against him, citing also the court’s lack of capacity to decide on the matter.

“The district court lacks the jurisdiction to examine the application in question or to examine any decision of the competent authority taken under the convention of international cooperation,” Attorney-general Costas Clerides told the court according to a document seen by the Cyprus Business Mail.

The court, the AG added, may not rule on the application for an injunction as only the competent authority of the Republic, if -and provided- that, preconditions stipulated by the law are fulfilled.

“This discretion is not subject to a court’s control,” Clerides said in the document signed by a group of government lawyers led by senior legal counsel for the government Theano Mavromoustaki. “Even if there were a possibility for the court to control the competent authority’s decision, passing on the requested evidence cannot be prevented as the very law defines in which cases an authority may deny cooperation and this case does not fall in this exception”.

Browder resorted to a Cypriot court in response to a request by the Russian government for legal assistance in a probe which he considers “politically motivated” as it came in response to his campaign for justice for Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in prison eight years ago after exposing a $230m (€196m) tax theft. The police officers Magnitsky implicated in the case, arrested him, subjected him to torture and deprived him access to medical care.

Browder’s campaign convinced several governments to adopt a Magnitsky Act with measures targeting those considered responsible for the lawyer’s death. The Council of Europe asked its member states to ignore Russia’s requests related to the investor-turned-activist and to follow the example of the US, which was the first country to introduce a Magnitsky Act in 2012. Interpol also regularly ignores Russia’s arrest warrants against Browder.

Cypriot authorities do not consider the offences Russia investigates as “political offences” as described by Cypriot law, according to the document. “Even should it be proved that they are ‘politically motivated offences,’ as the plaintiffs argue, these are not covered by the legal framework and they can in no case constitute a reason to deny the requested (legal) assistance,” it said.

The applicants did not present evidence or reason supporting the issue of the injunction, lack the right to prevent an “act of government” and therefore, should the court rule in their favour, this would violate the “principle of distinction of powers,” the document said.

The Cypriot government temporarily suspended in early October its cooperation with Russia in the probe after Browder and his associate Ivan Cherkasov filed their application for an injunction and a lawsuit, days ahead of President Nicos Anastasiades’s visit to Russia, angering Moscow. In his meeting with Anastasiades on October 24, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said that he expected a satisfactory decision which would allow the two countries to cooperate. In his response, Anastasiades said that the responsibility laid with the court.

Cyprus’s economy, which emerged in 2015 from a prolonged recession, heavily relies on Russia.

The attorney-general “will suffer irreparable damage” should the court satisfy Browder’s application as the Cypriot official may be compelled to violate obligations stemming from international agreements which may have consequences, the document said.

The court is expected to give instructions to the parties on December 4, about the future course of the procedure.

Christos Pourgourides, the lawyer representing Browder’s side, is likely to file a supplementary affidavit in response to the government’s objection.

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About Author

Stelios Orphanides is a journalist at CyprusBusinessMail.com. To contact Stelios Orphanides: [email protected]

  • Bob Ellis

    Transparancy in Cyprus, clearly something is wrong.

    • Gipsy Eyes

      Ooooh, let’s not jump the gun BE, after all, Browder is not a Cypriot! He’s American with a splattering of English!.

  • Roof Tile

    Vlad has spoken!

  • Jeremy Rigg

    He who pays the piper calls the tune. The island has climbed into bed with the devil so you have only yourselves to blame.

  • almostbroke

    Obviously Bowder is not up to speed with Cyprus / Russian relations , just slightly less pandering to Russia than to Greece.

    • oratis

      true and very similar to the way the British pander to the Americans and go on about a special relationship which the Americans just laugh at.

      • almostbroke

        Dident know that not British !

      • gentlegiant161

        Poor effort .. …I think everybody with half a brain will know who was shouting and throwing ashtrays in the last meeting and it wasn’t the man of crass Montana. …same as the special relationship which the Russians laugh at then with Cyprus.
        You are already further under the influence than you realise…
        Thank your betters for that.

  • John Henry

    Dogs always cooperate with their Masters. Its the way things are!

    • Sandie

      Especially puppy dogs!

      • oratis

        yes puppy dogs like the Brits especially Tony Blair.

    • oratis

      true as can be seen with the Brits cooperating with the Yanks.
      that’s why a lot of people called Tony Blair , George Bush’s poodle.
      Brits even sent their own sons and daughters to fight in a war in Iraq on a lie that there were weapons of mass destrucyion there just to please their masters ion America, its so stupid and ridiculous you couldn’t make it up.

      • Nemisis

        The most ridiculous thing is you bringing up garbage that has no relevance to the subject, you’ve obviously got nothing of interest to say but want people to notice you…But well done, logging on here while at pre-school is good.

  • Pc

    Logical. In no country would a judge be allowed to set foreign policy.

  • Muffin the Mule

    Their masters bidding…..

  • VCY

    I hope that CY govt understands that one of the primary reasons many legitimate Russian businesses are present in Cyprus is precisely because they expect to be protected from the hands of corrupted homeland officials. Prospect of Cyprus becoming a branch of Russian CID will not make happy.

  • Mountainman

    If Browder had nothing to hide he would have no problem with the Cypriot government cooperating with the Russian request.