Browder, Putin, Congress, and the Magnitsky Act
William Browder was born in America, made billions in Russia during the 1990s, renounced his American citizenship in 1998, and then persuaded the Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act in 2012, punishing Putin and his friends after Putin barred Browder from Russia in 2006.
The Magnitsky Act was the subject of the famous meeting between Donald Trump,Jr., and the Russian lawyer Natalia Vishnevskaya, that Trump famously said was about adoption, which it was. After the US Congress passed the Magnitsky Act, in retaliation Putin passed a Russian law banning US adoption of Russian children.
Of course, the main, underlying issue for Browder, Putin, and the Congress is money, particularly Jewish money. Born in Chicago, Browder is Jewish. His grandfather, Earl Browder, was the head of the Communist Party of the USA in the 1940s, when he was also a spy for the Soviet Union, according to Wikipedia.
When the Soviet Union began to self-destruct under Yeltsin in the 1990s, Browder was there to grab some of the old Communist government assets that were being sold off for pennies on the dollar. He was then still an American, but many of his Jewish colleagues were native Russians who also grabbed the opportunity to buy up these assets. Several of the original Russian oligarchs were ethnic Russian Jews — Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Boris Berezovsky, Vladimir Gusinsky, Mikhail Fridman, and Alexander Smolensky. Under Putin a new group of Russian oligarchs has been created, which according to Wikipedia includes Roman Abramovich, Alexander Abramov, Oleg Deripaska, Mikhail Prokhorov, Alisher Usmanov, German Khan, Viktor Vekselberg, Leonid Mikhelson, Vagit Alekperov, Mikhail Fridman, Vladimir Potanin, Pyotr Aven, and Vitaly Malkin. About half of the Putin oligarchs are also ethnically Jewish Russians. Browder did not make the cut under Putin.
In 1996 Browder founded Hermitage Capital Management with wealthy Jewish banker Edmond Safra to invest in Russian businesses. As time passed, Browder felt that the Russian government was illegally taking or extorting money from the companies he had invested in, and he began exposing this Russian corruption. In 2006 Browder was blacklisted by the Russian government. A Russian raid on Hermitage offices found papers that the government said showed Hermitage had engaged in illegally claiming tax deductions. In the process, they arrested Sergei Magnitsky, Hermiatage’s auditor, who died from mistreatment in prison. Browder then persuaded the Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act, which targeted people around Putin who had been connected to Magnitsky death, preventing them from traveling to the US or using its banking system. Putin then banned US adoptions, which was sort of a target of opportunity because it was a divisive issue in the news when Putin wanted to punish the US.
I don’t understand why the US Congress was so quick to act on the request of a man who had renounced his American citizenship. Browder couched his request in human rights terms, punishing Russia for torturing his auditor, but in fact it was largely Browder’s personal revenge against Putin for banning him from the Russian cookie jar where he had been making millions. He essentially said, if you punish me, I will punish you by banning your buddies from the American cookie jar. It was tit-for-tat financial retaliation, under color of human rights legislation. It was probably a politically useful weapon as the US-Russian relationship deteriorated and Putin and Obama developed a personal animosity towards each other. However, it made Browder appear to have enormous power over the US government, pushing the US into open hostility towards Putin. I would think that if the US were going to do an enormous financial favor for someone, that person would at least be a US citizen, but Browder was not. He had such contempt for the US that he had renounced his citizenship, but Congress still fawned over him and pandered to him. You would think he was in the DACA program.
Now this huge mess, which mainly affects Browder and Jewish Russian oligarchs, threatens to envelop the whole Trump presidency.