What About a “Bill Browder Tribunal?”

11.04.2019 Author: Phil Butler

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The story at Salon sets the stage for what should take place for resetting US – Russia relations. According to author Matthew Rozsa, President Donald Trump is considering turning both “Bill Browder and a former US ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, over to the Russian government for interrogation.”

Whether or not the US president actually spoke of this “interrogation” with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki is irrelevant. What matters for the world is the justice that would prevail if he did send these two to Moscow for questioning. In fact, what needs to take place is an internationally televise tribunal to condemn the Hermitage Capital pirate for what he is finally.

First of all, let me say this. Only idiots believe that a financial highwayman like Bill Browder cares about human rights for Russians. The man who had Hermitage on the threshold of stealing the Russian legacy is foaming and fuming in Washington and London over sour grapes he was left when Putin put a stop to the rape of Russia. This is the end of the story, but in the script offers us more clues as to Browder’s real intentions. Before I continue, this paragraph from the Salon piece helps us open the drama with a US law brought into effect over the death of Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison.

“The Magnitsky Act, as well as other efforts Browder has spearheaded to punish Russia for its human-rights abuses, poses a serious threat to the enormous wealth of both Putin and the oligarchs around him.”

Now let’s turn to a film directed by Andrei Nekrasov, “The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes,” which portrays Browder as the fraud and criminal many say he is, and Magnitsky as an accomplice to the theft of Russian assets. This film was slated to premiere at the European Parliament in Brussels on April 27, 2016, but was blocked at the 11th hour by German television broadcaster ZDF, which shelved the film a few days before. The revealing exposé was eventually shown at the Newseum, a private museum in Washington, D.C. despite Bill Browder’s legal and political shenanigans to stop it. In the wake of the film’s release, The Nation wrote:

“… the Newseum deserves great credit for sticking to its principles. The film provides a valuable service by asking how it is that American (and European) officials bought Browder’s story without doing even the slightest due diligence. The American and European legislators who took Browder’s version of events on faith now look credulous, at best.”

These legislators accepted Browder’s version of the story because it suited their purposes and those of the people who control them. We all know this, but still, Russia and Putin are the villains in the popular narrative. The film that aired to a private audience was even taken off of Vimeo in 2018, but some of the film’s subject matter can still be gleaned from the official website of the film. At the end of the day, Andrei Nekrasov and his collaborators show the other side of the Magnitsky affair, and give “evidence of political institutions and governments having been deceived or co-opted by Browder.” The fact that the elitist owner mainstream media has totally ignored this evidence shows us again the vile and demonic cooperative against Russia and Putin. And the Andrei Nekrasov film is not the only dissenting view on Browder and his relentless hate campaign against Russia and Putin.

This New Republic story reveals more details of the sketchy and suspicious “Browder war” on Putin. This story tells of a man named Denis Katsyv, a Moscow-based businessman who has been snared in the US Justice Department’s cases based on Browder’s largely unsubstantiated claims. Most noteworthy among Katsyv’s counterclaims is the fact Browder admitted to personally signing official Russian tax documents containing misleading information about Hermitage’s dealings. In addition, “Browder did not deny claims his representatives had tried to bribe a Russian journalist who spoke with Magnitsky in prison.” This accusation is tied to Magintsky telling the journalist “that bosses at Hermitage “set him up” to take the fall for Browder’s alleged tax fraud.”

Bill Browder, who gave up his US citizenship back in 1998, has been on the dodge from subpoena servers trying to get him to testify on the Katsyv American courts. Here is a YouTube video showing the Hermitage boss fleeing the server on foot in New York. Browder seeks out every opportunity to tell his side of the story to major media, but he is not willing to testify under oath about Katsyv’s claims. These are not the actions of an innocent victim. Judges, the media, big business, Washington and UK politicians have all jumped on the Browder story, but Katsyv’s lawyers are asking the most valid question, “How can a person who does not pay taxes [in the US] have this kind of influence?”A large part of the screwy case against Katsyv seems to have been based on “supposed” investigative journalism by the Putin hating Russian news outlet Novaya Gazeta, which has been shown to practice sloppy (fake) journalism in the past. This part of the Browder drama involved a suspicious Novaya Gazeta/OCCRP/Barron’s investigation that supposedly led to part of the $230 million supposedly stolen from Browder and Hermitage.

When all is said and done, no trace of the alleged Russian theft of Browder’s Hermitage/Magnitsky dough has ever been found. The Russians say Browder cooked up an elaborate story to conceal the fact that Hermitage paid itself back the defrauded tax revenues. Right here is as good a place as any to mention Yukos Oil mafioso Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his partner Leonid Nezvlin, along with American journalist David Satter, British journalist Luke Harding, former RFE/RL president and think tank scholar Jeffrey Gedmin, and Novaya Gazeta founder Dmitry Muratov launching a new “Justice for Journalists” operation. There is no space in my current report to discuss Muratov and his association with the others, but the former Novaya Gazeta editor is on the human rights lecture circuit spouting Browder-ish narrative since resigning from his newspaper.

Bill Browder has been painted like an ideologue by the elitist liberal order. The man who envisioned Hermitage Capital is portrayed as a man with a dream to build Russia into a capitalist Utopia. He’s idolized by the likes of the damaged Russian dissident Masha Gessen in “The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.” CIA and US State Department Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty cite him regularly. Browder has been accused of giving up his American citizenship to evade taxes (US Treasury documents). The Hermitage Capital founder was also fingered for being an MI6 agent, who went by the code name “Solomon.” And while these assertions may seem extraordinary, there seems to be more proof of their validity than the evidence our government used to create the Magnitsky Act.

Where Browder and the Maginsky Act fiasco are concerned, we are left with a nagging quest for truth. Is Bill Browder the anti-Putin hero he is proclaimed to be? Only if you are a someone or a business entity vested in seeing this narrative perpetuated. For the rest of us, Browder’s motives are questionable. After all, what sort of multimillionaire goes on a quest to destroy Russia’s leader and her political assemblage instead of investing in some other entrepreneurial venture? Browder and Yukos billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky bear the mark of men under somebody’s command. For if these were the genius hedge fund and entrepreneurial gods they are proclaimed to be, fighting Russia and Putin would be folly. This leaves me with a financial or contractual lever of unspeakable power hanging over these two in particular. They were out for riches from the start, and now they are both acting in a zero-sum game?

I for one think Trump should organize a tribunal to put these stories to rest once and for all. Thank you, Salon, for calling my attention.

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”