Putin critic William Browder gives chilling account of corruption and injustice in Russia
A podcast of this talk is now available to download from our Podcast pages or the right-hand link
On November 6, 2015, Putin critic and bestselling author of Red Notice, William Browder gave a fascinating and at times chilling account of corruption, injustice, and murder in Russia, in a lecture organized by the Foundation for Law, Justice and Society at Wolfson College.
The lecture, entitled The State of Law in Putin’s Russia, offered a unique insight into the corrupting influence of the vast riches that were plundered in Russia following the privatization of state assets by President Yeltsin in the 1990s.
Drawing on his firsthand experience of founding and running the Heritage Capital hedge fund which made him one of the largest foreign investors in Russia, Mr Browder recounted how his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky had exposed the theft of $230 million in taxes by Russian Interior Ministry officials, only to be imprisoned weeks later on trumped up charges of tax evasion.
Following a year of ill-treatment in a freezing Moscow jail, Mr Browder described Magnitsky’s steadfast refusal to accept the false charges that the authorities had offered him in return for his freedom, and how Magnitsky was then refused medical assistance and finally beaten to death by the authorities.
By way of testament to his lawyer’s character, Mr Browder movingly recounted Magnitsky’s patriotic refusal to succumb to the corrupting influences of the Putin regime:
To compound the injustice, Magnitsky was subsequently convicted in a posthumous show-trial for tax evasion, while Putin has given promotions to the perpetrators, and publicly denied all responsibility.
Mr Browder went on to outline his campaign over the past half-decade to expose the crimes committed by the oligarchs and Kremlin officials, and how, in 2012, the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act was signed into US law, imposing visa bans and asset freezes on the officials involved in Magnitsky’s death.
Mr Browder closed the lecture with an optimistic assessment of the effectiveness of the law as a new form of de facto justice against the impunity of powerful perpetrators of human rights violations, and the prospects for the wider adoption of the law in Canada and various other jurisdictions.
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