Russia has applied to Interpol to monitor the travel and whereabouts of a British hedge fund boss wanted by Moscow who is at the heart of a diplomatic stand-off over the alleged killing of whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
The international policing body will decide this week whether to approve the request from the Russian authorities to issue an "All Points Bulletin" for US-born financier Bill Browder, whose Hermitage Capital Management employed Mr Magnitsky prior to his death in a Russian prison in 2009.
The death of Mr Magnitsky, who died at the age of 37 after being beaten and then denied essential medical treatment, has become a symbol of corruption in Russia and prompted a law in the United States imposing visa bans and freezing the assets of officials involved in the alleged killing.
A Russian court last month issued a warrant for the arrest in absentia of Mr Browder, who has led a campaign for justice for Mr Magnitsky, on tax evasion charges which the businessman said are part of a politically-motivated vendetta against him by Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The Independent understands that the application from the Russian Interior Ministry stops short of a request for a so-called Interpol "red notice" requesting the arrest of a wanted individual.
Instead it will request Interpol's 190 member countries to alert Moscow to his whereabouts, potentially allowing the Russian authorities to make a direct demand for him to be detained if he travels abroad.
An Interpol committee will meet on Thursday to decide whether to accept the Russian request, which can be rejected if it is found to breach Article Three of its constitution which states that it is 'strictly forbidden for the organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character'.
An Interpol spokesman said: "This prohibition is taken extremely seriously by Interpol."
In a statement, Hermitage Capital said: "The Russian authorities seek to involve Interpol in an abusive and politically-motivated attack on Mr Browder. Anyone offering the Russian Interior Ministry support... will become part and parcel of Mr Putin's political vendetta against Mr Browder and attempts to cover up the murder of Sergei Magnitsky."
Mr Browder, who is based in London, has strongly denied the charges laid against him in Moscow, where he is accused of breaching a regulation on the foreign ownership of shares in the Russian gas giant, Gazprom.
The fund manager, who was barred from Russia in 2006, has led efforts to raise the public profile of the Magnitsky case after the lawyer alleged that a circle of interior and tax ministry officials had conspired in a $230m (£151m) tax fraud.Reuse content