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Post Magnitsky Case Revisited
Created by John Eipper on 11/01/17 7:00 PM

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Magnitsky Case Revisited (Istvan Simon, USA, 11/01/17 7:00 pm)

Sergei Magnitsky was tortured and murdered by the Russian government. This 37-year-old lawyer and auditor was arrested because he denounced official corruption in Russia. He was asked to sign false confessions, which he refused to do. Asked to confess that he was the one who was stealing money, once again, in spite of being tortured for nearly a year, being a man of great integrity he refused his torturers' demands, and was tortured to death. He died in police custody on November 16, 2009 at age 37, leaving a widowed wife and two orphaned children behind.

Sergei Magnitsky was also the lawyer for American-born British businessman Bill Browder, one of the founders of an investment advisory company called Hermitage Capital Management with operations worldwide, including Russia. Bill Browder was not in Russia when Sergei Magnitsky died in police custody, but being a friend of his Russian lawyer, he has sought justice for Magnitsky. He dedicated a great deal of his energy to lobby in favor of severe sanctions against all involved in what became known as the Magnitsky case in several countries. He was successful in the USA, the UK, and Canada, where laws were passed sanctioning Russian individuals believed to be involved in the corruption scandal that ended up with Magnitsky's death.

Vladimir Putin's government, once again showing a lack of pudor and of any semblance of decency, in a bizarre act of Kafkaesque absurdity, issued an Interpol arrest warrant for Bill Browder (get this!), for the murder of Sergei Magnitsky. Apparently, the sanctions imposed on Putin's friends irritated the "great" leader of Russia to the point of issuing this absurd warrant. Bill Browder is currently stuck in the UK, because if he leaves he will be arrested because of this absurd warrant, and who knows might end up even extradited to Russia, to facilitate his murder as well, just like his Russian friend was murdered. I suppose, one needs a strong stomach to not lose one's lunch in light of these developments:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Browder

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermitage_Capital_Management

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Magnitsky

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-lifts-travel-ban-on-british-businessman-targeted-by-vladimir-putin/2017/10/24/b21a5b8d-fc67-4b0b-a99f-bd5980097810_story.html?utm_term=.6da9590eccc9

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/23/world/europe/russia-us-magnitsky-browder.html?ribbon-ad-idx=11&rref=world/europe&module=Ribbon&version=context®ion=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Europe&pgtype=article

Addendum: The post above was written October 24. Since that day there have been developments in the case. Initially Browder wanted to travel to the USA. Within hours thanks to the intervention of US senators, the Interpol arrest warrant was not applicable in the US and he was issued a new visa to travel to the US. Meanwhile the outrageousness of the Interpol arrest warrant was so evident that Interpol itself removed the arrest warrant a few days later. So Browder is free to travel wherever he wishes and fortunately the episode of the Interpol arrest warrant is over.

On Sunday October 29 Browder was interviewed by Farid Zakaria on CNN and he revealed interesting further details. First, that in his estimation Putin is perhaps the richest man on Earth, with a fortune that Browder estimated at $200 billion. I'd love to hear informed WAISers' opinions about this figure. According to Browder Putin went apoplectic and was filmed raving about Browder's success to add Canada to the list of countries where Magnitsky sanctions were passed as law. The importance of Canada in this list is that Putin realizes that with the inclusion of Canada, many other countries will follow. Putin is worried that his 200 billion would then be at risk, as he would not be able to keep his money safely anywhere in the West.

A further interesting connection to US politics was revealed in the interview. In the now famous meeting between Putin's agents and high-ranking members of the Trump presidential campaign, including Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner who were present at the meeting, Putin's agents offered "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in exchange for a repeal of the Magnitsky sanctions if Trump were to be elected. What further inducements might have been offered by Putin, is not yet knows with certainty, though Scott Dworkin, who is amazingly well-informed in my opinion, has posted on Twitter several documents that point to the bribery of Trump in case he removes Russian sanctions--not just the Magnitsky sanctions but all US sanctions. In that eventuality Trump was offered a multi-billion dollar bribe by Rosneft, the giant Russian oil company. A recent NYT article points to the fact that Russia is routinely using Rosneft as a tool of its foreign policies. See:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/29/business/energy-environment/russia-venezula-oil-rosneft.html

The article is highly recommended to WAIsers with connections to Venezuela, Kurdistan and many other places listed (like Cuba, Egypt, and Vietnam).

On Scott Dworkin see:

https://www.democraticcoalition.org/scott-dworkin

JE comments:  What a cesspool of intrigue, and no country is immune.  What do WAISers know about Putin's alleged $200 billion fortune?  That, my friends, is not chump change.


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  • Magnitsky and Browder (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 11/07/17 3:00 PM)

    Regarding Istvan Simon's post of November 1st, I have to say, unfortunately, that nothing of what Istvan writes in this post is true. As a matter of fact, virtually every word is wrong.


    Honestly, I am tired of commenting the Magnitsky case. I gave a rather detailed exposé in October 2013 during the WAIS conference in Michigan. My keynote address is available online on YouTube. It is also a 40-page long chapter of my new book Assassins: The KGB's Poison Factory 10 Years On coming out in London in August 2018.



    If our esteemed editor asks me, I shall of course give a full presentation of the case, but to make it short, I must say that Bill Browder is not an angel. Far from it. He came to Russia in the 1990s as the son of the former CPUSA general secretary Earl Browder (a KGB agent codenamed RULEVOY), thinking it would be easy for him to do business there. It was, indeed, easy and he became a personal adviser to Putin. All went extremely well until one day he decided he could bite off more than he could chew and started (illegally) buying shares of Gasprom, Rosneft and other important Russian companies, not only buying shares but also throwing dirt on the top managers by giving certain internal documents to the international media.



    The late Sergey Magnitsky, I am very sorry to say, was never a lawyer and never worked for Browder. They didn't even know each other. Magnitsky was an auditor and was hired by the attorneys Firestone Duncan (I talked to Jamie Firestone several times and am sure Cameron Sawyer knows him) as a consultant to find ways to buy specific shares otherwise forbidden for foreign investment companies at prices far below the market level in the West. Magnitsky did not denounce any corruption and was arrested because all Browder's employees including Browder himself left Russia. Browder wanted to make peace with the Russian leadership and asked Medvedev to help when they met in Davos, but got nothing. Magnitsky was not tortured, as all official investigations proved, but was not provided with proper medical treatment and died of poor health. Browder very cleverly used this case together that of another victim, Alexander Perepilichny, to enhance his own reputation and position himself as the Enemy of Russia No. 1, a place formerly held by Trotsky and Berezovsky. Today, when we live in the Cold War 2, this is very profitable. Neither Trotsky not Berezovsky, with whom I met several times, had ever profited from it, I must add.



    Andrey Nekrasov, a friend of Alexander Litvinenko whom I also know well personally, made a wonderful documentary "The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes" (author and director Andrei Nekrasov, private viewing, Museum of Journalism, Washington, DC, June 2016), available online.  I highly recommend the film--it tells the true story of Browder and investigates the Magnitsky case well enough.


    JE comments:  Browder seems adept at playing the victim card, all the while living in a comfortable exile.  Here's a detailed WAIS posting on Browder-Magnitsky from Boris Volodarsky (December 2012):


    http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=74005&objectTypeId=65902&topicId=51


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