William Browder and the Magnitsky Act

While a fair number of people have contributed to Pharyngula’s “Political Madness” thread, one of the top contributors is Salty Current.

I watched Bill Browder’s Senate testimony live the other day. Here’s the link to the recording.

This one is better, actually, but if you follow either link you’ll be treated to a nearly two-hour Congressional hearing featuring William Browder, who learned about corruption at the Kremlin the hard way.

In June of 2007 my Moscow office was raided by 25 officers from the Moscow Interior ministry…. I hired the smartest man I knew, a young man named Sergei Magnitsky… , to investigate who did what and how we could stop them. … he came back with an astounding conclusion… the purpose of stealing our companies was to try and steal our assets, which they didn’t succeed in doing, however they did succeed in stealing 230 million dollars in taxes to the Russian government, from the Russian government.

Magnitsky was arrested by the high-ranking officials, and tortured in jail for much of a year. This included denying or ignoring 20 requests for medical attention to take care of pancreatitis, which left him screaming in pain. Magnitsky was eventually moved to a jail with medical facilities, but (according to Browder) was instead beaten with batons until death. Faced with a government that gave state honours to the people involved, Browder successfully lobbied for the Magnitsky Act in the United States.

That’s just the beginning of the testimony, though. Browder goes on to discuss various murders, Natalia Veselnitskaya‘s role in all this, and the depths of corruption within the Kremlin. It’s riveting stuff, and worth the watch. Can’t watch? Don’t worry, they have a rough transcript below the video. Some of the highlights I plucked from it:

  • “There’s no such thing as a former FSB agent, it’s a lifetime commitment.”
  • Fusion GPS, which hired Christopher Steele to compile that infamous dossier, is claimed to have been indirectly hired by the Kremlin to spread lies about Browder. They deny it, but if Browder is correct then it suggests that dossier was commissioned by the Kremlin so they could discredit or blackmail Trump should they have the need.
  • “Nobody was talking about adoptions, they were talking about the repeal of sanctions so that Russian torturers and murderers could freely travel and keep their money in America.”
  • The Panama Papers contain a treasure trove of information about Russian connections, one of which involves a cellist worth 2 billion dollars.
  • Brower believes that by muscling oligarchs, Vladimir Putin was able to skim off 50% of their transactions for himself and become the richest person in the world.

And there’s a lot more where that came from.