MOSCOW - A lawyer hired by the family of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian whistleblower who died in jail, has been seriously injured in a fall from his Moscow apartment.
Nikolai Gorokhov, 53, apparently plunged from his fourth-floor apartment Tuesday as he and a group of workers were trying to lift a large bathtub into his home.
He is hospitalized in serious condition with head injuries although he is conscious and responding to doctors, according to a statement Wednesday from William Browder, Magnitsky's former employer.
“They were lifting a Jacuzzi through the window,” according to Anastasia Berezina, 22, a neighbor who called an ambulance for Gorokhov. Berezina said that the equipment Gorokhov and other workers were using was “ramshackle.”
Russian media published photographs from the scene that show a damaged bathtub in the street next to some wooden scaffolding.
Gorokhov was due to represent Magnitsky's mother Wednesday in a Moscow court and is a witness in a U.S. money laundering case, according to Browder. Natalya Magnitskaya said she had no information about the incident.
“It is extremely suspicious,” Browder said by telephone from London, suggesting the fall could be related to Gorokhov's work challenging President Vladimir Putin's government. “Gorokhov is a serious problem for the Putin regime as he has spent the last seven years exposing their complicity in the death of Sergei Magnitsky."
No 'criminal element'
Russian news agency Interfax quoted an unnamed law enforcement officer Wednesday as saying the case had no “criminal element.”
Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison at the age of 37 after accusing officials of stealing $230 million via tax rebates. Russia's presidential council on human rights said Magnitsky, who was a lawyer for Browder's Hermitage Capital firm, was beaten and denied medical treatment while in jail.
The U.S. passed the Magnitsky Act in 2012 that sanctioned five Russian officials involved in alleged human rights violations in the Magnitsky case.