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World Russia pressing new charges against Putin critic Bill Browder

In this March 3, 2015, file photo, U.S-born businessman Bill Browder answers reporters during an interview with the Associated Press in Paris.

Remy de la Mauviniere/AP Photo

Russian investigators are pressing new charges against financier Bill Browder, a British citizen who has spearheaded a law targeting Russian officials over human rights abuses.

Russia's state television's top weekly news show said the charges relate to the alleged illegal funnelling of funds. Late Sunday's show featured Prosecutor-General Yuri Chaika alleging that Browder used the allegedly illegal proceeds to sponsor the 2012 U.S. law that imposed travel bans and froze assets of dozen of Russian officials.

The Magnitsky Act was named after Browder's former employee, Sergei Magnitsky, who died in jail after accusing Russian officials of involvement in a tax fraud scheme.

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The new charges against Browder follow his 2013 conviction in absentia by a Moscow court on tax evasion charges. Browder has dismissed the accusations against him as a sham.

The new case reflected the government's dismay with the financier seen as a key driving force behind anti-Russian sanctions.

The Russian state TV show also featured Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who has testified during the hearings in Moscow's Tverskoy District Court on the new case against Browder.

Veselnitskaya has become known for her June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York with Donald Trump Jr. The meeting was billed in e-mails to Trump Jr. as part of a Russian government effort to aid his father's campaign by providing information that could be used against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Veselnitskaya, Trump Jr. and others present, including Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, have insisted that it mostly involved the Magnitsky Act and a Russian retaliatory measure that banned U.S. adoptions of Russian children.

The secret police of Russia’s Soviet era was the infamous KGB. With the collapse of the USSR, Russia’s intelligence landscape also changed. Today, there is the FSB, the SVR and the GRU, and they each play different roles. The Globe and Mail
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