Let’s put aside for the moment that under Vladimir Putin the Russian Federation is every bit the enemy of the United States as was the Soviet Union during the cold war. The only difference is that capabilities wise the Russian bear of today is but a small cub compared to the fierce USSR grizzly. Instead let’s concentrate on the fact that the Russian leader who is Donald Trump’s bedmate is a criminal scumbag of the first order who conspires with Russian oligarchs to rape and pillage his own country and imprison and/or kill anyone who stands in their way.
While we were distracted by Trump’s transgender tweet and Scaramucci’s melt down, Bill Browder was testifying in an open hearing before the Senate judiciary Committee about his experiences with the corruption in Russia. His testimony didn’t get much coverage by the national press because of the other two outrageous stories.
Browder who spent 20 years doing business in Russia as an investor and investment advisor recounted in detail the corruption he encountered in Russian businessmen, the Russian government and especially Putin himself. It was not a new story. Browder told this story to Congress once before, five years ago, though over time the story has added new chapters.
On the same day that Scaramucci story broke, July 25th, Browder described in his opening remarks of his Congressional testimony how the Russian government, under the direct orders of Putin, engages in corruption, blackmail, torture and murder, all with one objective in mind – to make Putin and his friends rich. I will provide a link to a story which contains Browder’s opening remarks, which are long and involved, but the following is his story in a nut shell:
In the course of his business dealing in Russia, Browder and his lawyer, Serge Magnitsky, discovered that Russian oligarchs had stolen $250 million from the shareholders of his client companies. He originally believed that the guilty would be prosecuted so he brought his evidence to Russian government. Instead Browder was charged with tax evasion and was deported from Russia. His lawyer, Magnitsky, fought the charges against his client and sought to have the corrupt Russian officials involved prosecuted. Instead he himself was arrested. After spending two years in Russian jails without a trial, Magnitsky was tortured and beaten to death while still in prison.
Browder sought to avenge Serge in the only way he knew how; he certainly wasn’t going to get justice in Russia. He advocated to governments around the world to punish the Russians involved in Magnitsky’s death by seizing the financial assets they have stashed in their countries. Browder’s partner when he testified before the US Congress, the European Parliament, the Canadian Parliament, etc. was a Russian citizen, Boris Nemtsov. You may remember Nemtson – he was killed on the street in front of the Kremlin. Nemtsov’s protégé, Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was also involved in his mentor’s activities, was poisoned and barely survived. Nikolai Gorokhov, the lawyer who represented Serge Magnitsky’s mother in her case against the Russian officials who were responsible for her son’s death was thrown off of the forth floor of his apartment building the day before he was due to testify in court. Somehow he also survived. Browder stated they he has also received many death threats.
The first time Browder appeared before the US Congress, his testimony resulted in the passing the Magnitsky Act (named for the slain Russian lawyer) which was signed into law by President Obama in 2012. Other Western countries have either passed or are considering similar legislation. When the Magnitsky Act went into effect, Putin was furious. He retaliated by barring the adoption of Russian children by American Citizens. He still has people working very hard in this country to have the Magnitsky Act sanctions lifted. One of those people is a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. You probably remember Veselnitskaya. She met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort along with several other Russian representatives with offers of help by Russian government. (Now you know why in Don Jr.’s first statement about the meeting he said it was about “the adoption of Russian children”.
And why was Putin personally enraged by the Magnitsky act? Browder explained in his Congressional testimony that Putin and his accomplices have stashed the billions of dollars they have stolen from the Russian government and the Russian people in Western countries because they don’t consider Russian banks safe. They are afraid that someone else in Russia will rip them off.
Browder believes Putin is the richest man in the world and has $200 billion stashed away in Western banks and tucked away in real estate and other investments abroad. Putin is afraid that since he has been personally implicated in the corruption which ultimately lead to the death of Serge Magnitsky, investigations may turn up his money and property in the US and other countries and his assets will be seized. Thus getting rid of the Magnitsky sanctions is at the top of Putin’s agenda. (Now you know why a certain Russian lawyer and her support staff wanted to talk with the Trump campaign in exchange certain favors for Russian “help” with their campaign against Hillary Clinton.)
Browder’s testimony is contained in a HuffPost article – the link to that article is provided below. As a side note, while I believe that Trump’s transgender tweet was definitely intended to distract from Browder’s Congressional testimony, I am skeptical of the story’s contention that Scaramucci’s rant was designed for the same purpose. I don’t believe for a moment that Scaramucci would sacrifice the job that he craved for so long just to cause a distraction. Scaramucci is just a dumb butt who thought he could vent about his enemies in the White House to a reporter and his rant would not be published.