New developments
The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes is a Norwegian, internationally supported investigative documentary feature. Its scheduled premiere at the European Parliament in Brussels on April 27 2016 was cancelled at the last moment due to the legal threats from the protagonists at the centre of the investigation. A few days later ARTE (a French-German TV network that co-financed the film) annulled the May 3 broadcast at a short notice. The legal and political pressure on the film and its makers has continued ever since. In September 2018 the film was taken down by Vimeo for alleged defamation.

The film tells the story of how William (Bill) Browder, an American born investment consultant and manager of a fund trading in Russian energy companies' shares, invented a seminal narrative of Russian corruption and brutality.

Using PowerPoint presentations and two websites Browder (and a team of his mainly Russian U.K. based associates) developed a story about a lawyer and heroic whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky who had uncovered an elaborate financial fraud and exposed its perpetrators, in particular, two police officers who subsequently had Magnitsky arrested and imprisoned. During Magnitsky's year long detention he was, according to Browder, tortured every day to be forced to take back his accusations of the police. Magnitsky refused and was beaten to death, Browder claims, by eight riot guards in an isolation prison cell in November 2009.

The fraud Magnitsky allegedly uncovered was a large fraudulent refund (approx. USD 230 million) of taxes on dividends to three shell companies under Browder's control. The taxes were paid by the companies upon the sale of shares at the beginning of 2006. At the end of 2007 USD 230 million was wired back to the companies. Even though Browder does not deny that he was a de facto owner of the companies ("through which we made all our investments in Russia") - formally they were subsidiaries of HSBC Management Guernsey Ltd. - Browder claims he had lost control over them (they were "stolen" by Russian criminals) by the time the fraudulent refund was received by the companies.

The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes explores the veracity of Browder's claims. Andrei Nekrasov, the film's director, started out by believing Browder, as did virtually all mainstream media of the world. At a closer look it turned out, however, that the company theft story was riddled with inconsistencies, and the whistleblower role had been falsely assigned to Magnitsky to reinforce the impression that the companies had been stolen by the people Magntisky had allegedly accused.

Browder's version of the events has, however, been universally accepted as true and indicative of total corruption and lawlessness Vladimir Putin presides over. As the Magnitsky narrative evolved over the years Browder started to claim that Putin personally had been motivated to target Magnitsky and him, Browder. The Russian state, Browder claims, has been covering up the crime because a part of the stolen 230 million was sent to Putin's friend, cellist Sergei Roldugin. This is one in the multitude of Browder's claims that is shown to be baseless in The Magnitsky Act - Behind the Scenes.

The media's wholesale adoption of a narrative sourced solely by Browder, a businessman with a vested interest in the case, is exceptional. The Magnitsky Act - Behind the Scenes being all but suppressed by those it exposes, Andrei Nekrasov has, nevertheless, extensive experience discussing the case with journalists working for mainstream corporate media, such as Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post, New Yorker, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Foreign Policy. The director concluded that each time there was little interest in the details of the white collar crime at the centre of his investigative film. Instead, the reporters seemed to be concerned with the political and even geopolitical context of the Magnitsky story. Nekrasov's impression is that the implications of the possibility that Browder's version of the financial fraud might be false are considered potentially too damaging to the political and media establishment. The mistake cannot be undone, and must be turned into an unassailable truth at any cost.

Browder's story is at the foundation of the so-called Magitsky Acts, or laws, in a number of countries, that are supposed to punish the alleged torturers and killers of Magnitsky and other human rights violators. The fact that the American, Canadian, British and other governments have put their stamp of approval on Browder's version of events involving Magnitsky is used to discredit The Magnitsky Act - Behind the Scenes. That is a highly spurious argument, as the evidence of political institutions and governments having been deceived or co-opted by Browder is contained in the film itself.
Director: Andrei Nekrasov
Producer: Torstein Grude
Written by: Andrei Nekrasov and Torstein Grude
Editor: Philipp Gromov
DOP: Tore Vollan, Torstein Grude and Joona Pettersson
Original Music: Karsten Fundal
Original title: The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes
Year: 2016
Length: 152 min, 125 min
Languages: English, Russian, German, French
Production company: Piraya Film.
Co-production: Illume and Wingman Media
Production countries: Norway, Finland, Denmark
Distribution: Piraya Film.
Festival distribution: The Norwegian Film Institute
The Norwegian Film Institute (Norwegian state film funding body, Oslo)
Filmkraft Rogaland (Norwegian state film funding body with regional base in Rogaland)
The Finnish Film Foundation SES (Finnish state film funding body, Helsinki)
The Nordic Film & TV Fund (Nordic film funding body, Oslo)
Fritt Ord (The Freedom of Expression Foundation, Oslo)
Stiftelsen Matriark (The Matriarch Foundation, Stavanger)
Piraya Film (Producer, Stavanger)
Torstein Grude (Producer, Stavanger)
Andrei Nekrasov (Director, Stavanger)
Hinterland AS (Equipment rental / post production company, Stavanger)
NRK (Norwegian state broadcaster)
YLE (Finnish state broadcaster)
ZDF/Arte (German/French state broadcaster)
2016 Premiere an the European Parliament in Brussels - cancelled due to legal threats by Bill Browder and Marieluise Beck
2016 ARTE broadcast - cancelled due to legal threats by Bill Browder and Marieluise Beck
2016 The official world premier in Oslo.
2016 The Newseum, Washington DC, USA.
2016 The Norwegian Short Film Festival, Grimstad, Norway - cancelled due to legal threats by Bill Browder
2016 Nordisk Panorama Film Festival, Malmö, Sweden
2016 Moscow International Film Festival, Russia
2016 Bergen International Film Festival, Norway
2016 Kapittel Film, Stavanger, Norway
2016 Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy, Finland
2017 Eurodok, Oslo, Norway
2017 Tampere Film Festival, Finland
2017 Nordic/Docs, Fredrikstad, Norway
2017 The Norwegian Short Film Festival, Grimstad, Norway
2017 Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin, Germany
2017 International Festival Signes de Nuit, Paris, France
2018 Festival Internacional Signos de la Noche, Tucumán, Argentina
2018 International Festival Signs of the Night, Bangkok, Thailand
2018 Telepolis Salon, Munich, Germany
2016 Special Commendation – Prix Europa TV Documentary
2017 Main Award, Student Jury – Festival international Signes de Nuit, Paris
2018 Night Award, Festival Internacional Signos de la Noche – Tucumán, Argentina
2018 The Signs Award, 16th International Festival Signs of the Night, Bangkok, Thailand
Why is the U.S. mainstream media so frightened of a documentary that debunks the beloved story of how "lawyer" Sergei Magnitsky uncovered massive Russian government corruption and died as a result? If the documentary is as flawed as its critics claim, why won't they let it be shown to the American public, then lay out its supposed errors, and use it as a case study of how such fakery works?
Robert Parry, investigative journalist
"Meanwhile I am beginning to think that we are all just a part of the Browder PR machine (...) Here I will just quote from "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence": When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
Robert Otto, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency; Page 187
  • NEW! Andrei Nekrasov
    A recent ruling in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) supports findings in a Norwegian documentary and points to a falsification of the central premise in the Magnitsky case as told by Bill Browder. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee again act as spin doctors.
  • NEW! Andrei Nekrasov
    Three years ago Bill Browder and European politicians banned a film exposing Browder's fake Magnitsky narrative. On the day of the scheduled premiere of "The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes" at the European Parliament, Sueddeutsche Zeitung published, as a part of their famous Panama Papers investigation, a sensational story, suggesting that a close friend of Vladimir Putin might have benefitted from the crime at the centre of the Magnitsky Case. Here's an article based on an analysis of Sueddeutsche's claims, and inspired by the concern for the truthfulness of information in the era of corporate media's revanchism against independent reporting and free thinking.
  • Andrei Nekrasov
    Hermitage did not lose control of its companies and was involved in the preparation of the tax refund. I can't prove Hermitage actually received the 230 million dollars because it operated through figureads and offshore structures, but I can prove that the story of the company theft is false, and false stories are not knowingly told without a reason.
  • Andrei Nekrasov and Vetta Kirillova
    The former hedge fund manager, who became rich in Russia, now presents himself as one of the greatest human rights activists and has so far successfully prevented the screening of a revealing film.
  • Torstein Grude
    Producer, Piraya Film
    Deceptive legal letters from Hermitage Capital and Carter-Ruck lead to takedown of The Magnitsky Act - Behind the Scenes from Vimeo. Piraya Film will not be silenced and will provide the film on other platforms soon.

    Piraya Film challenges Vimeo's censorship of The Magnitsky Act - Behind the Scenes
    in a legal letter.
  • Andrei Nekrasov
    It would be disingenuous not to recognise that every speaker here, apart from myself, represents Bill Browder's version of his Russian activities and Sergei Magnitsky's role in the affair. And - five minutes is all I am given to present my case.
  • Andrei Nekrasov
    Statement Into a Record of June 2016 House Committee on Foreign Affairs Hearing: U.S. Policy Toward Putin's Russia.
  • Andrei Nekrasov
    The bombshell New York Times article about the fateful Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 contained at least one falsehood. We could prove that in any independent probe. Nekrasov wrote a letter to the editor ( in accordance with all NYT guidelines, asking for the falsehood to be corrected. It was left intact, and no reply was received.
  • Lucy Komisar
    Did Bill Browder's Tax Troubles in Russia Color Push for Sanctions?
  • Rober Parry
    As Congress still swoons over the anti-Kremlin Magnitsky narrative, Western political and media leaders refuse to let their people view a documentary that debunks the fable.
  • Gilbert Doctorow
    A new documentary blows apart the West's Russia-bashing narrative about the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky. So the response has been to stop the public from seeing the film while calling it Russian "agit-prop".