After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, U.S.born British businessman Bill Browder saw opportunities. Setting up the investment company Hermitage Capital Management in 1996, he and his partners planted seed capital of $25 million and, over the next 11 years, saw it grow by a staggering 2,697 percent during the period of corrupt and chaotic privatization..
While ordinary Russians saw their savings wither, wages plunge and life expectancy plummet amid the gangster capitalism of Russia in the late 1990s, the company was also fighting the country's ubiquitous corruption.
But by 2005, Hermitage’s efforts to disrupt the flow of money from businesses to corrupt Russian bureaucrats had become too successful for the regime of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to ignore. Browder was banned from the country (rather cynically as a “threat to national security”). The state began to bring the pressure of its state-controlled judiciary to bear on Hermitage. Hermitage lawyer and auditor, the Odesa-born Sergei Magnitsky, died in a Moscow jail on Nov. 16, 2009, at the hands of his jailers, a year after his arrest in 2008 for exposing a major theft scheme by top Russian officials. Human rights activists in and out of Russia have concluded that he was tortured by prison staff and denied medical treatment, killing him. Since Magnitsky’s death, Browder has worked to punish the Putin regime. This resulted in the 2012 passage by the U. S. Congress of the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions senior Russian officials for human rights abuses. This infuriated Putin. Russia has four times tried to issue Interpol arrest warrants for Browder, and on Oct. 19 — the same day Canada passed its version of a Magnitsky Act — Putin attacked Browder in public comments. Then, on Oct. 22, Russia used a legal loophole to issue an Interpol “diffusion notice,” which resulted in the United States automatically revoking Browder’s U. S. visa. That mistake was quickly fixed. But Putin's enmity and desire for revenge shows how much the dictator hates Browder and how much the Kremlin leader fears international sanctions on his cronies. Browder is now in the front ranks in the fight against Putin, although he started out only as a businessman looking to make money. The enemy of our enemy is our friend — and Browder is Ukraine’s Friend of the Week, easily winning the Order of Yaroslav the Wise.
Order of Yaroslav The Wise