OCCRP Weekly News Roundup

VIDEO ASSAILS RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES, RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES ASSAIL NGOS.

A website called “Russian Untouchables” produced a short investigative documentary, found here, about the alleged murder of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The video examines how organized crime figures connected with government officials, tax agents and lawyers supposedly colluded to steal millions of dollars through tax fraud and silence Magnitsky’s investigation into the crime, and eventually kill him.

The Magnitsky case has recently made headlines as the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the “Magnitsky Bill,” which would sanction Russian individuals involved in the scandal. Russian authorities have responded  by planning to sanction all supporters of the Magnitsky Act.

Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer imprisoned after accusing officials of tax fraud, only to have charges of tax evasion leveled back at him. He died in jail in 2009 under dubious circumstances.

In legislative developments, the Irish Times reported that foreign NGOs operating in Russia are under fire as a proposed law would force them to register with authorities. Opponents call the law an attack on democracy aimed at discrediting foreign funded organizations as the NGOs would be labeled “foreign agents.”

Aleksandr Sidyakin, a deputy for the ruling United Russia party and co-author of the bill wrote on twitter, “Get your cash ready, foreign agents!” Sidyakin has proposed that NGOs that fail to register face fines up to €24,360 and four years in jail.

A 1-2-3 KIND OF WEEK FOR BULGARIAN AUTHORITIES

  1. Fabricating fake Euro coins was the business of four Bulgarians detained by authorities on June 27. The coins were made at a factory producing metal goods, then transported to Greece and put into circulation. Three Greek citizens were also arrested in the sting, including the group’s ringlinger, a 59-year-old man with duel Bulgarian and Greek citizenship.
  2. Last Friday, Bulgarian authorities busted a six-person gang of drug dealers, including the notorious Sofia mobster Viktor Batsev, aka "the Lip," who is believed to be the group’s boss. The gang was active in five cites, including the resort city of Sunny Beach. Authorities had investigated the gang for four months before moving in.
  3. Bulgaria authorities from multiple agencies busted the most powerful hacker group operating in Bulgaria. According to focus news:
    “Its members used cyber terrorist methods and discredited the services of lots’ of big financial and Internet-based companies. In addition, they were illicitly accessing computer systems, finding cracks or faults in the building of lots’ of governmental and non-governmental websites, sharing specific software for illicit access to computer information, stealing and distributing data stolen from credit cards of people across the world.”

EURO 2012 ENDS, BUT WITH CONSEQUENCES FOR UKRAINIAN AIDS PATIENTS

EURO 2012 may be over, but the infighting continues.

The government of Ukraine is facing accusations that individuals close to President Viktor Yanukovych pocketed billions of dollars in no-bid contract kickbacks related to Euro 2012 construction projects. Up to 40 percent of over £6bn could have been pocketed by individuals with close ties to the current government, according to The Independent.

And this is coming at the expense of AIDS treatment, because the state says it does not have the funds to treat patients.

In addition, much like the soccer scandal, groups say that the Health Ministry is buying drugs at inflated prices and keeping the kickbacks to themselves. The millions of dollars in corrupt drug tender money is depriving patients of treatment for AIDS.

Meanwhile, Borys Kolesnikov, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, has reacted harshly to the Euro Cup accusations. He said he “Absolutely” can account for every penny that was spent.

Kolesnikov in turn blamed the former government of Yulia Tymoshenko, the imprisoned former Prime Minister, of corruption after her party won the bid to host the Euro 2012 tournament.