By Stelios Orphanides
The Nicosia District Court gave Hermitage Capital co-founder Bill Browder and his associate Ivan Cherkasov a deadline until December 22 to file a request for permission to submit a supplementary affidavit, lawyers said.
Browder and Cherkasov resorted to a Cypriot court requesting that authorities ditch cooperation with Russia in a probe initiated by Russian authorities against them on grounds that its motives are political.
Cypriot authorities objected to their request on November 22, arguing that the court lacked the capacity to decide on the matter and that even if the Russian investigation was politically motivated, there was still no reason to deny Russia’s request for legal assistance.
Days after the Cypriot authorities filed their objection to Browder’s request, leaked correspondence from the private email account of attorney Eleni Loizidou, former head of the extradition department at the Law Office, exposed an unprecedented infiltration of the Law Office by Russia. In the leaked emails she appears to have provided tips to Russian authorities on how to handle requests for extradition of fugitive suspects and even Browder’s case.
Loizidou, meanwhile transferred by attorney-general Costas Clerides to other duties, the subject of a disciplinary probe herself, had attended the November 22 hearing.
Investor-turned-activist Browder is considered an enemy of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin after he led a campaign for justice for lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in a Russian prison eight years ago after exposing a $230m (€194m) tax theft. The police officers Magnitsky implicated in the theft arrested him and had him tortured and deprived of access to medical treatment while in jail.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe asked member states in 2014 to ignore Russia’s requests concerning Browder and to follow the US example which the previous year adopted the Magnitsky Act which provides for targeted action against human right abusers. Interpol repeatedly rejected Moscow’s arrest warrants issued against Browder.