Bill Brow­der

Kyiv Post - - Opinion - – Euan MacDon­ald

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

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