24th Mar 2018

EU parliament hosts Russian propaganda circus

  • The trail of stolen Russian taxpayers' money goes to the highest levels of the Kremlin (Photo:

Russian TV, blacklisted officials, and lobbyists in the European Parliament on Wednesday (27 April) hurled accusations at a deceased Russian lawyer and attacked EU institutions.

TV crews from five pro-Kremlin outlets - NTV, 1TV, 5-TV, Live Ru and Vesti - went to a parliament film premiere on Sergei Magnitsky, who denounced corruption in Russia and who was subsequently killed in prison.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Karpov and Pavlov hurled accusations at Magnitsky (pictured) in the EU parliament on Wednesday (Photo: Hermitage Capital)

Two Russian officials - Pavel Karpov and Andrey Pavlov - attended the event.

They came despite the fact the EU parliament, in 2014, put them on a list of 32 people it holds responsible for Magnitsky’s killing. The US blacklisted them for the same reason.

MEPs and congressmen said they and their associates stole $230 million from the Russian taxpayer and laundered the money via European banks and offshore entities.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer-lobbyist for Prevezon, a firm on trial in the US for laundering the funds, also came to the EU premiere.

The film accuses Magnitsky and his former employer, Bill Browder, of stealing the money and absolves Karpov and Pavlov.

ZDF, a German public broadcaster which funded the movie as part of the joint Franco-German Arte channel, cancelled the showing at the last minute citing technical and legal concerns.

But Russian TV gave prime time coverage to Karpov and Pavlov’s statements. They said ZDF’s decision meant that there’s no free speech in the EU.

“That the film was so easily removed from … the European Parliament demonstrates that the right to freedom of speech here is only provided to one side,” Veselnitskaya told Tass, a pro-Kremlin news agency.

FTI Consulting, a lobby firm in the EU capital, circulated her statement to media.

FTI Consulting’s Aled Williams, a former British diplomat who was until last December the UK’s spokesman in Brussels, fixed meetings between the Prevezon lawyer and journalists.

FTI Consulting’s entry in the European Commission transparency register does not list Prevezon.

Karpov and Pavlov

Heidi Hautala, a Finnish Green MEP who organised the premiere, defended her decision to invite Karpov and Pavlov.

“They’re not on any travel ban list … So why should we limit their right to travel when they have the right to travel?”, she told this website. The EU parliament list of 32 people is not legally binding on EU states.

Her invitation prompted complaints from other MEPs.

Petras Austrevicius, a Lithuanian liberal MEP, told a plenary debate in Brussels on Thursday the fact the two men “were not only let into this house, but had a possibility to make their interventions” is “an issue of the integrity of our own decisions.”

EU states and the EU foreign service in the past declined to impose visa bans on the group-of-32.

But MEPs from leading groups - the EPP, the S&D, ECR, Alde and the Greens - are to write to EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini urging her to take action.

“Ironically, the effort to discredit me had the opposite effect,” Browder told EUobserver.

“Many people in the European Parliament have taken a new interest [in the issue] and plan to put pressure on the EU Council [where member states meet] to implement the 32-person Magnitsky sanctions list.”

Browder and a German Green Bundestag member, Marieluise Beck, had warned ZDF that the film contains libellous accusations.

EUobserver asked ZDF why they pulled it and if they still planned to show it on 3 May on national TV. The broadcaster declined to comment.

Andrei Nekrasov, the Russian film-maker who directed the movie and who stars in it as its narrator, told this website he’s confident “they’re still behind me.”


Nekrasov said he did not know the pro-Kremlin TV crews would come to the EU premiere.

“I never told them that there’s was no freedom of speech in the West. Of course, that’s not true,” he said.

“I don’t think I said that. Of course, you can cut film in certain ways and add a voiceover and make it look as if these are my thoughts.”

Austrevicius said Wednesday’s events “didn’t bring any prestige” to the EU assembly.

Andrew Stroehlein from Human Rights Watch, a New York-based NGO, said on Twitter: “Why is Green Party in EuroParliament hosting film attacking Magnitsky, who was tortured to death in Russian custody?”.

Green group

The Green group said it had nothing to do with Hautala’s premiere.

“I think I will survive this,” Hautala said.

Nekrasov, her personal friend, said no Russian money was involved in his Magnitsky film.

The OCCRP, a club of investigative reporters in Europe, this week linked the stolen $230 million of Russian tax money to the highest levels of the Kremlin.

Documents obtained in the Panama Papers leak showed that Russian leader Vladimir Putin's close friend, Sergei Rudolgin, took $800,000 from one of the firms used to launder the funds.

Cyprus in spotlight on Russia money laundering

Cyprus’ failure to go after Russian mafia money in its banks indicates it's paying no more than “lip service” to international money laundering laws, a Dutch MP has said.

MEPs clarify position on Magnitsky sanctions

Senior MEPs from the EU parliament’s main groups have urged diplomats to impose sanctions on Russian officials over the killing of anti-corruption activist Sergei Magnitsky.


Kremlin lies: EU's response to disinformation

Russia's disinformation campaigns have become a homeland security issue inside the EU. Pro-Kremlin disinformation campaigns are not only targeted at Ukraine or the Baltic states.

EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'

EU leaders demanded a permanent exemption from US tariffs on steel and aluminium - and ruled out any bilateral trade talks within the 1 May deadline set by Donald Trump.

News in Brief

  1. EU wants 'Paris' climate strategy within 13 months
  2. Workload of EU court remains high
  3. Spain's supreme court charges Catalan separatist leaders
  4. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  5. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  6. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  7. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  8. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Nordic states discuss targeted Russia sanctions
  2. Commission sticks to its line on Barroso case
  3. Germany and France promise new Russia sanctions
  4. EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'
  5. Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK
  6. EU leaders roll over Brexit talks amid Trump and Russia fears
  7. Europe needs corporate tax reform - a digital tax isn't it
  8. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  2. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  3. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework
  4. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  5. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  6. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  7. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  8. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections