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Classic Western Russophobic Propaganda Patterns in Magnisky case

News William Browder Sergei Magnitsky Magnitsky Law Western economic rape of Russia  

Comparison of human right issues in Russia vs. Us Ally Saudi Arabia is a good start for discussion of Russophobic nature of Magnitsky Case. As Mark Adomanis noted in Forbes:

What I simply cannot understand is how people can continue to say that the United States has any sort of genuine commitment to ending “the rampant problem of impunity for serious human rights violators” while it continues to have a close security and military alliance with Saudi Arabia. And it’s worth reminding everyone that the United States does not simply passively acquiesce to Saudi misbehavior, it routinely sells the Saudis tens of billions of dollars of its most sensitive and advanced weapons systems (weapons systems that it would never even consider selling to the Russians under any imaginable scenario). And the US’ close embrace of Saudi Arabia is hardly a unique foible. Many other Western countries also enjoy close relations with the Saudis and, in a nice contrast to Magnitsky bill, the United Kingdom apparently exempts Saudi Prices from immigration controls entirely.

The gigantic yawning gulf between the United States’ treatment of Russia and Saudi Arabia was something that I simply could not ignore yesterday when I stumbled upon a story about how our close allies were preparing to behead and crucify seven people, including several people who were minors when they were first charged with a crime, who were convicted for a string of armed robberies.* Beheading! Crucifixion! I know that the Russian penal system is a cruel and capricious one, but you have to go back to some of the darkest days of the Soviet Union to find examples of such untrammeled barbarism. Can anyone imagine what the reaction from Freedom House would be if Putin were preparing to crucify someone, or to have decapitation (or any form of capital punishment at all) re-inserted into the Russian legal code? I feel like a draft declaration of war would be circulating on the hill before noon.

Moreover the choice of the knight in shining armor valiantly fighting for justice in Mother Russia is really questionable, or more correctly incompetent.  Magnitsky was a shadow figure, a henchman of William Browder who was a corporate raider. A predator who came to Russia to feast of the body of the dissolved USSR and to use anarchy of first years after the dissolution to his own enrichment.  None of them even in drunk stage can be considered to a positive personality.  It's sad that Magnitsky died in prison, but he would probably be jailed for fraud for a long time.  Despite being an auditor he was also involved in forgery of corporate seals and signatures.  He created fictitious companies for Browder and hired disabled people as financial consultants to get huge tax breaks and avoid paying taxes on machinations with stocks of public companies Brower was involved with.

He never was a lawyer. He was an accountant (auditor) by training. I don't know why in western press he is considered to be a lawyer. And again he was far from a fighter for justice, he was just a Browder stooge. Brower used standard blackmail tactics to cause a drop of stocks of companies he was interested in to buy them on cheap. Brower was a corporate raider of worst sort and he went to Russian in 1990th explicitly to get rich quick and was not very selective in methods he used. Was somebody more influential was standing behind his back is unclear, but the sophistication of his "grey-zone" tactics and the ability to exploit loopholes in Russian law (he never lived in Russia before and do not know the language) suggest that he was has some "brain trust" elsewhere. Equally strange was the fact that he changes his citizenship from US to GB after all those adventures.  Living now in London Yukos' head of law department Dmitry Gololobov noted:

"I crossed paths with Browder in the late 1990's - early 2000's, when the dark clouds started to gather around Yukos. At that time he looked like a typical predator who wanted to swallow Khodorkovsky using minority shareholders to obtain the assets of Yukos. He is very happy when they jailed Khodorkovsky "

Ironic footnote: Corporate raider, greenmail specialist William F. Browder is the grandson of Earl Browder, who headed the American Communist Party from 1930 to 1945.

Still every Western story on Magnitsky pushes the exactly same narrative as if they were mass manufactured by old Pravda propagandists who emigrated to the USA.  He is claimed to be a whistleblower and a lawyer. He may be a victim of the Russian prison system, but he is neither a lawyer nor whistleblower.

Another interesting question about Western coverage of the case is "How can someone outside the Moscow Police have any access to information and documents?" Unless Magnitsky had a "hand" in the Moscow Police. None of the western media coverage even deals with this obvious flaw in the narrative. It is also never reported that why Magnitsky was jailed, the fact that the corporate seals were impounded, yet Magnitsky created forgeries and continued to illegally produce documents for his boss. This sort of forgery usually is considered a serious crime in the West. Why it was not reported? Yet he presented as a whistleblower...  How can a person who forged corporate seals to be simultaneously a whistleblower?

The subject of Karpov’s alleged wealth came up here before via a link to some website purporting to prove his corruption. It has the usual lie by omission nonsense.

  1. The so-called expensive Moscow apartment with no discussion of the price paid for it when it was bought, which is rather critical considering the insane price rises in Moscow real estate.
  2. The so-called expensive cars owned by his family, with a plain Porsche model trotted out. I have seen such models from the late 1990s go for cheap used so this was hardly evidence.

This chorus pattern in western media coverage was particularly bad  in this case. There is only an illusion of many western media outlets and competing voices. There may as well be one single source spewing the same BS. The existence of investigative, independent journalism  looks like a carefully cultivated myth. It's all Pravda journalism tricks all over.

If you a journalist, you either play the game or take a hike. There is no mainstream media in North America and the UK that offers a counter-view to the established narratives.

Here is one masterpiece of Western Russophobua patterns demonstrated by Joe Nocera (Turning the Tables on Russia - NYTimes.com, April 16, 2012):

Who knew that what corrupt Russian officials care about, more than just about anything, is getting their assets — and themselves — out of their own country? They own homes in St. Tropez, fly to Miami for vacation and set up bank accounts in Switzerland. They understand the importance of stashing their money someplace where the rule of law matters, which is most certainly not Russia. Besides, getting out of Russia is one of the pleasures of being a corrupt Russian official.

As it turns out, a man named William Browder knows this. As does Senator Benjamin Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland. As do plenty of other senators, on both sides of the aisle.

As a result, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will likely report out a bill in the next few weeks that would force the State Department to deny visas, and freeze the assets, of Russian officials who are labeled “gross human rights abusers.” After that, it will be attached to an important trade bill that the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-controlled House need to pass later this summer. Which would make it a rare and welcome moment of bipartisanship in this rancorous political season.

Browder’s involvement in this bill is deeply personal. His hedge fund, Hermitage Capital, was once the largest Russia-only fund in the world. But, in 2005, he was essentially run out of the country after criticizing, once too often, the theft of corporate assets by henchmen of Vladimir Putin, the Russian strongman. A small group of officials fraudulently “took over” his company, and landed a phony $230 million tax refund, which they pocketed.

One of Browder’s lawyers, Sergei Magnitsky, insisted on investigating these crooked transactions. In 2008, he was arrested and jailed. Placed in brutal conditions, his health deteriorated, but he was deprived of medical assistance. He died in 2009 at the age of 37. Autopsy photographs revealed that he was badly beaten shortly before he died.

Most businessmen would have moved on. But Browder became obsessed with avenging Magnitsky’s death. His primary tactic has been to push for a law named for his deceased lawyer. It was originally aimed at preventing the 60 or so Russian officials who played a role in Magnitsky’s persecution from traveling to the West.

Here is one comment:

UIV:
Why author did not mention what for Magnitsky has been arrested? More than $1M tax evasion. Didn't he travel around Russian cities in search for mentally retarded people to hire them as "financial analysts"? I would not mind if he passed them to Mr. Browder for Wall Street jobs (we could avoid 2008 crisis). No, they were "employed" in Browder's ZAO and OOO to receive discount on corporate taxes. I bet these handicapped were at the foundation of financial success of Browder's fund :-).

Mr. Browder used to get along with Putin's circle. While making huge money in Russia (for me this business is looting of my country) and promoting Russian "vertical of power" in West he should have realized what kind of people he was dealing with and how much they cared about personal connections and don't give a ... about law. Something happened and things did not go smooth. It's too late and waste of time to hit a wall. You can find a lot of information in Russian Internet about former midrange officials involved in phony $230 million tax refund. They are still free enjoining life in mansions (some of them really remarkable). Russian authorities do not consider them as criminals and one can not change their mind across Atlantic. Magnitsky bill will be a new Jackson-Vanik amendment for most Russian citizens. Besides, it will be big victory of state propaganda against USA.

Good luck.

Richard Luettgen, New Jersey

We don't get many comments that I've noticed from Russians, which is unfortunate: you bring an interesting on-the-ground perspective to the issue.

Question: Did Mr. Magnitsky really do those things, or are the charges merely after-the-fact, invented justifications for the jailing (and elimination) of a politically inconvenient nuisance?


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[Aug 16, 2014] After Magnitsky: Dead lawyer's boss Browder and his legal hurdles – now in US

marknesop.wordpress.com
Warren , August 16, 2014 at 6:45 am
After Magnitsky: Dead lawyer's boss Browder and his legal hurdles – now in US

William Browder is a former Magnitsky boss and a vocal anti-Kremlin campaigner whose claims are believed to be the only evidence in a Russian money laundering case in NY. However, he is "fighting hard" to avoid testifying in US court, lawyers say.

Browder is a US-born national with UK citizenship and a co-founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management investment advisory firm.

The businessman was summoned to a New York court as the principal witness to testify in the US government case against a Prevezon Holdings, a company owned by Russian citizen Denis Katsyv.

The company is accused of laundering a portion of money from $230 million stolen through a tax fraud scheme from Russian treasury. The court hearing is scheduled for August 15.

US prosecutors earlier demanded that all the company's assets in the New York be seized.

The lawsuit against Prevezon Holdings was launched after being lobbied by Browder in September 2013, four years after Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergey Magnitsky died in pre-trial custody in Moscow.

Browder's statements and unsigned articles on the internet were the main sources the Russian money laundering case was based on, according to Prevezon Holdings. That is why the firm insisted on summoning the Hermitage Capital CEO to court to testify.

However, Prevezon lawyers say, Browder does not want to appear in court and has been doing everything to avoid being served with a subpoena.

[Apr 17, 2013] Russia brings fraud charge against Hermitage Capital's Browder in absentia

Investigators have charged Hermitage Capital head William Browder in absentia over alleged violation of the ban on selling the gas monopoly Gazprom's shares to foreigners. The Russian Interior Ministry said Thursday the notification of the charges was handed to the British Embassy in Moscow. On Tuesday, the ministry said that its Investigative Department was examining a criminal case concerning the "illegal purchase of Gazprom shares by legal entities that were majority owned by foreign nationals, notably William Brower." Russia's losses due to 29 transactions concluded by Browder's firms have been tentatively estimated at 3 billion rubles (over US$97 million), it added.

http://www.lenta.ru/news/2013/04/17/brauder/

[Apr 17, 2013] Magnitsky boss accused of Gazprom stock theft

March 05, 2013 | RT News

Russia is to probe the head of UK-based Hermitage Capital, William Browder, over alleged misappropriation of stock in Russian gas giant Gazprom, which inflicted at least 3 billion rubles ($US 98 million) in damages.

Browder will be put on the international wanted list immediately after criminal charges are officially brought against him, said Russian Interior Ministry official Mikhail Aleksandrov.

The US-born businessman who holds British citizenship is the former boss of Sergey Magnitsky – who died in a Moscow prison in 2009. The Russian lawyer worked for Browder's Hermitage Capital, once a minority shareholder in Gazprom.

Russian investigators are probing circumstances in which companies employing mainly foreign nationals and "managed by William Browder" had "illegally" bought shares in the state-owned Gazprom.

It is alleged that the Hermitage Capital CEO was using a complicated scheme: foreign companies - on behalf of Russian firms registered in tax havens - were purchasing "most lucrative assets."

At the same time, under a Russian law which was in force between 1999 and 2004, foreigners were allowed to purchase Gazprom shares only if they had permission from the country's federal commission on stocks. Alternatively, they could do so through foreign securities depositories, but that was much more expensive.

To get around the law, Browder allegedly used several such subsidiaries, the Interior Ministry's representative said on Tuesday. As a result of around 30 illegal deals by just one such company, Russia lost "at least 3 billion rubles."

In 2006, after the ban on assets' purchases for foreigners was lifted, Browder sold "illegally bought shares." Russian law enforcers are now working to find out the details of what happened to those shares afterwards.

It is also suspected that William Browder was attempting to gain access to financial reports of Russian strategically important gas monopoly.

"We're talking about not only personal enrichment with the violation of Russian laws…, but it's about attempts to impose their own rules on the company," the official stated. Between 2001 and 2004, Browder demanded that Gazprom change its charter, as well as its board of directors and the composition of the board, Aleksandrov noted.

The Russian side hopes for cooperation on the case with the law enforcement agencies in the UK, EU and the US, the official added.

Accusations 'absurd' – Hermitage Capital

Meanwhile, Hermitage Capital states that Gazprom shares were purchased legally and that the legality of the procedure was confirmed by the Russian Commission on Stocks. All accusations that those deals caused any damages to Gazprom "are absurd," said the investment fund's press service.

The Interior Ministry, in response, noted that the Hermitage Capital representatives' denial is a misunderstanding, "or they deliberately conceal information."

"If the deal to buy Gazprom shares is to be legal, the government's permission was needed to buy them, which was not officially given," the ministry's press center told Interfax. "If there had been permission, no criminal case would have been started," they added.

The group's representative also stated that the latest charges are an attempt "by Russian officials to hamper the adoption of a Magnitsky bill in Europe."

Last year, the US introduced the so-called Magnitsky list – a law imposing asset freeze and entry ban on Russian officials implicated in the lawyer's death. Russia slammed the move as an attempt to interfere into its internal affairs and fired back with a blacklist of Americans who allegedly violated human rights.

Bill Browder has been charged in absentia of alleged tax evasion as part of a separate criminal case opened back in 2008 against himself and lawyer Magnitsky. The next hearing into the case is to be held in a Moscow court later this month.

Hermitage Capital Management was founded by William Browder in partnership with the late Edmond Safra back in 1996. By 2004 it became one of the biggest foreign investors in Russia, managing over $US 3.5 billion. The company was making a fortune, bringing Browder millions in revenue, but in 2006 it sold its Russian shares. Browder later explained the move was due to concerns about the fate of the fund and its employees. He stated that he did not want them to follow the footsteps of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. In 2005, the former Yukos CEO was sentenced to time in prison for fraud and tax evasion. However, he has been depicted as "a political prisoner" by many outside Russia.

[Apr 14, 2013] AFP Russia hits 18 US officials with tit-for-tat entry ban

Russia blacklisted 18 Americans on Saturday, some linked to Guantanamo detention practices, in retaliation for a US ban on Russians allegedly linked to the death of a jailed whistleblower.

Already-strained relations between the two countries chilled further as Russia hit back at what it called Washington's "unfriendly" move that would hurt mutual trust.

Among the officials sanctioned by Russia were John Yoo, a legal aide under former president George W. Bush and author of the so-called torture memo in 2002 -- that provided legal backing for harsh interrogation methods -- and David Addington, who was a top adviser to ex-vice president Dick Cheney.

The list also includes two former Guantanamo prison chiefs and officials who prosecuted convicted arms smuggler Viktor Bout.

"The war of lists is not our choice, but we cannot ignore outright blackmail," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

On Friday, the US Treasury released a list barring 16 Russians allegedly linked to the death of jailed lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, as well as two Chechens tied to other alleged rights abuses, from travelling to the US or holding assets there under the 2012 Sergei Magnitsky Act.

The measure infuriated Moscow, with the foreign ministry calling the Magnitsky Act an "absurd" law that "intervenes in our domestic affairs" and "delivers a strong blow to bilateral relations."

While the US list mostly targeted mid- and low-level interior ministry officials involved in the case against Magnitsky, Russia chose several names already known internationally due to accusations of torture.

"Unlike the American list, which is formed arbitrarily, our list primarily includes those who are implicated in legalisation of torture and perpetual detentions in Guantanamo prison, to the arrests and kidnapping of Russian citizens," the ministry said.

"Politicians in Washington should finally realise that it is futile to build a relationship with a country like Russia in the spirit of mentoring and undisguised dictating."

A US State Department official said "the right response by Russia to the international outcry over Sergei Magnitsky's death would be to conduct a proper investigation and hold those responsible for his death accountable, rather than engage in tit-for-tat retaliation."

The list names four people allegedly implicated in the use of harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, including Addington, Yoo, and former Guantanamo heads retired major general Geoffrey Miller and Rear Admiral Jeffrey Harbeson.

Another 14 people are named as having violated the rights of Russian citizens abroad.

Most of the Americans in the ministry's "stop-list" had been involved in US cases against Bout, the arms smuggler, and drug trafficker Konstantin Yaroshenko, both of which were hotly contested by Moscow.

Senior lawmaker Alexei Pushkov, who chairs the Russian Duma lower house foreign affairs committee, announced a "visa war" on his Twitter blog.

"The reset is dead," he wrote minutes after the ministry announcement, referring to the US-Russia policy of resetting relations launched in 2009.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Itar-TASS news agency that the Russian blacklist also includes a secret section that has more names, similar to a US list of more highly placed Russian officials.

"The list... also has a closed section," Ryabkov said. "The Americans know about its existence."

Magnitsky died in pre-trial detention in 2009 at the age of 37 after being arrested and charged by the very same officials he had accused of organising a $230 million (175-million euro) fraud scheme.

The case has come to symbolise the Kremlin's failure to crack down on corruption and has prompted a crisis in US-Russia ties.

Moscow reacted with anger when the Magnitsky Act was passed last year, as scores of Russians -- whose names have not been released publicly -- were hit with sanctions and blacklisted from receiving a visa to the United States.

In retaliation, Russia passed a law that punishes alleged US rights abusers but also includes a clause banning adoption of Russian children by Americans.

President Vladimir Putin had justified the legislation by the need to respond to a "purely political, unfriendly act" that has "sacrificed Russian-American relations."

The law, and the adoption ban, went into effect on January 1 despite massive protests in Russia and international criticism.

Dead souls in Moscow by Eugene

March 19, 2013 | Russia Beyond the Headlines

The news about the posthumous trial of Sergei Magnitsky, a tax auditor who died in a Moscow pre-trial detention facility in 2009, has sent a tsunami wave of excitement, almost exhilaration, through the Western media community. "A medieval show trial," "an absurd," "a travesty"-are just a few of the most popular definitions used by Western journalists to describe the Magnitsky tax evasion case being heard at the Tverskoy District Court in Moscow. Allusions to the literary masterpieces by Nicolai Gogol, Franz Kafka and Mikhail Bulgakov were abundantly invoked.

Completely lost in this cacophony of condemnations was the fact that the late Magnitsky had a co-defender who is perfectly alive and apparently quite well: William Browder. Browder, in addition to being Magnitsky's former boss, is the driving force behind the notorious Magnitsky Act adopted by U.S. Congress at the end of last year. In the case, Russian law enforcement officials allege that Hermitage Capital, an investment fund owned by Browder, used illegal schemes designed by Magnitsky to evade $16.8 million in taxes. Curiously, one of the tax evasion tools seemed to involve the creation of sham investment subsidiaries of the Hermitage Capital, making the reference to Gogol's "dead souls" particularly relevant.

In the years following Magnitsky's death, Browder has been insisting that his primary goal was to reveal "the truth" about what happened to his former subordinate. Yet, when the opportunity to tell his side of the story presented, Browder turned out to be much less forthcoming. Last year, a former Moscow police officer, one Pavel Karpov, whom Browder had repeatedly implicated in Magnitsky's death, launched libel and defamation proceeding against him in the High Court in London. Instead of using the podium of the High Court to tell "the truth," Browder instructed his legal team to fight for case dismissal.

There is absolutely no indication that Browder would be available to testify in the Moscow trial, either. True, he's been barred from entering Russia since 2005; however, he has enough financial resources to send a team of lawyers to Moscow to clear his name and the name of Magnitsky, whom Browder would often call a friend. But so far, all signs are that Browder would rather play the part of another "dead soul." Apparently, he prefers "telling the truth" exclusively to a friendly audience of professional Russophobes at the both sides of the Atlantic, without being forced to answer tough questions.

One can understand that putting Magnitsky on trial, however bizarre trying a dead man would appear to be, serves an important purpose for Russia: to prove that the man after whom the anti-Russian Magnitsky Act was named was in fact someone who had committed serious financial crimes. The only problem with this logic is that the trial comes too late. Instead of carelessly watching Browder's relentless lobbying of the Act in U.S. Congress, Russia should have become equally relentless in publicizing evidence of Magnitsky's-and Browder's-illegal acts. Now, unfortunately, the Magnitsky trial looks more like a desperate attempt at revenge, a sequel of sorts to the scandalous Dima Yakovlev law hastily adopted by the Russian parliament in response to the Magnitsly Act.

And yet, there is still a lot at stake for Russia in this "dead souls" game. Attempts are underway in Europe to enact anti-Russian laws modeled after the Magnitsky Act. Regardless of the outcome of these efforts, Russia must finally learn how to use soft power instruments to protect its vital interests in Europe, the United States and elsewhere in the world. Otherwise, unfriendly–or even openly hostile–legislations will keep popping up one after another.

In the meantime, the trial has been postponed until March 22 to give the state-appointed defense attorney more time to prepare for the process. We all thus have enough time to re-read Gogol's immortal creation.

Patrick Armstrong

March 25, 2013 at 5:37 pm

As far as I know, the Russian term for the Magnitskiy thing is as in "В Москве началось рассмотрение дела против Сергея Магнитского". "Pассмотрение дела" would seem to me to translate better as "investigative process" or "judicial inquiry" or something like that rather than as "trial" as in "barbaric trial of a dead man". Am I right? Is that the phrase they're using?
If so, we have the usual propagandistic worst case interpretation and the usual feeble concession of the subject by Moscow.

As far as British "trials of dead people" ie "judicial inquiry" here's one (thanks to Alexander Mercourisfor example ) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hutton_Inquiry

Eugene

In Russia, the order of events in handling criminal cases is as follows: first, the investigative organs (e.g. police) "investigate" the crime, then the GA office (прокуратура) evaluates the findings and sends (or doesn't) the case to the court, then the court begins the hearing of the case. The Magnitsky case is actually in the third, court trial, stage, when the judge is to decide on the merits of the police accusations.

Regardless of which Russian words are being used in the media, the point is that Magnitsky was put on TRIAL before judge. And some headlines reflect that; see, for example: http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2153491. Here, the term "судебный процесс" is correctly used.

From this perspective, this seems to be different from the Kelly case because Kelly himself wasn't put on trial before the judge.

That is, of course, not to argue that the trial is being used in the West in the worst case interpretation. As usual.

George A. Marquart says:

The article states, "One can understand that putting Magnitsky on trial, however bizarre trying a dead man would appear to be, serves an important purpose for Russia: to prove that the man after whom the anti-Russian Magnitsky Act was named was in fact someone who had committed serious financial crimes."

No, that is not the reason. The real reason is that as most people in Russia know, and some people in the West are beginning to suspect, there is a mechanism in Russia by means of which portions of large sums of money generated through graft and larceny float to the top. In other words, both the President and the Premier got a piece of what was stolen from the Hermitage Fund and eventually from the Russian government.

I don't mean to imply that either the President or the Premier solicit these funds. No, there are simply people in the upper echelons of government who are given a percentage of these ill gotten gains and everyone knows where the money is going. It's a form of protection. Neither the President nor the Premier know precisely what comes from where – it just appears. I know this from personal experience, having once been invited by the KGB to explain why Shamil Tarpishchev and his Committee of the Organization of the Friendship Games needed to import 300 Japanese cars. I told them to be careful, because obviously the President was getting a piece of this activity. The KGB were simply unaware of how a profit oriented system works, and they did not know where all the money was going. They never bothered me again.

So the reason for the trial is to prove to the West that neither the President nor the Premier could possibly have gotten a piece of this money. In Russia nobody will believe it – as they were sure that when Medvedev said, "Мы разберемся" (We'll clear it up) the furthest from his mind was to tell everyone the truth.

George A. Marquart

The Kremlin Stooge

    kirill
    April 6, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Since AK can't be accused of being a rabid Putin supporter, I would say that his assessment of Adomanis is correct. Adomanis got co-opted. In the present climate you cannot go against the prevailing wisdom. I can see the usual set of tropes paraded in articles, not just by Adomanis, that are supposed to be pro-Russian. It's a very coercive environment in the western media, at least the anglophone one. From what I can tell, the same is true for France and Germany as well. There may be real independent voices in "new Europe". There recent BS about Romania being steered by Voice of Russia propaganda indicates that a high degree of non-conformance. I suspect the same is true in Hungary.

Трусы Браудера или крестик Ходора?

Четверг, 28 Марта 2013 г. 17:04 (ссылка)
Процитировано 1 раз + в цитатник Понравилось: 1 пользователю
Уильям Браудер, в последнее время известный как человек, развернувший международную кампанию в защиту чести и достоинства погибшего в СИЗО Сергея Магнитского, между тем человек с неоднозначной репутаций.

Живущий в Лондоне главный юрист ЮКОС Дмитрий Гололобов в частности сказал

"Я пересекался с Браудером в конце 1990-х - начале нулевых, когда вокруг ЮКОСа сгущались тучи.

В то время он смотрелся как типичный хищник, который хотел проглотить Ходорковского с помощью миноритарных акционеров и получить активы ЮКОСа.

Он очень радовался, когда Ходорковского посадили"

И как у российской оппозиционной "тусовки" не случается короткого замыкания, когда они одновременно защищают Ходора и Браудера, который мечтал Ходора разорить? ;)

The Game is Afoot: Follow Your Spirit, and Upon This Charge, Cry "God for Browder, King and Saint George!!"

January 6, 2013 | The Kremlin Stooge

Probably everyone is now aware of an unusual blip on the British legal radar : the visiting of charges of libel upon William Browder – naturalised British citizen who still swings enough weight with American lawmakers that he sweet-talked them into fielding the Magnitsky Act, even though he has renounced his American citizenship – by Major Pavel Karpov, a police officer whom Browder has frequently accused of corruption, graft and various gross misuses of his office.

And Nick Cohen, of The Guardian, (actually, The Observer, but same outfit) wants you to know that just isn't right. He splutters in red-faced apoplexy from the vantage point of the popular tabloid, "Are Our Lawyers Being Used by the Kremlin Kleptocracy??" Kremlin kleptocracy, that's good, I love alliteration. Mr. Cohen apparently fired off that punchy headline without putting too much thought into it beyond dreaming up something katchy to go with "Kremlin", because to me it sounds as if he believes British lawyers could – and would – help a criminal pin a bad rap on an innocent man. Is that how Britain's law courts work, Nicky? That's certainly not the way they advertise themselves, with such pomp and majesty that you almost sneeze from the wig powder. The way they tell it, British justice is a bulldog that will run the truth to earth no matter how many obstacles are placed in its path, and that justice will be served, by God, wherever it may lead, God save The Kween (like that one, Nick? Maybe you can use it, if a woman is ever elected President of Russia. Kween of the Kremlin, what do you think?) Mr. Cohen's faith in British justice seems, if you'll forgive me, a little anemic.

I vastly enjoyed his article, because it is wall-to-wall low-hanging fruit; packed with every Russophobic trope you could reasonably expect. He didn't manage to get anything in there about diminished life expectancy (although he did insinuate near the end that such might apply to certain among Britain's lawyers, the man appears to imagine he is invincible) or a catastrophically shrinking population, but perhaps his editor took those out. They are, after all, a little off-topic, although some do seem to find them comforting.

Before we start examining the story to see if it is up to the usual standard of journalists The Guardian hires – apparently motivated by pity – let's get a feel for what libel is and what we might expect from the exercise of due process. According to the good folks at Oxford Dictionaries, libel is, in law, "a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation". There, see; I learned something already. I though libel included something defamatory you said. According to this, it appears you have to publish it, although perhaps it might qualify if you said it on television. I'm sure someone who knows more about law than I do will enlighten us. Well, look here; never mind, "A Quick Guide to Libel Laws in England and Wales" informs us that libel can indeed be "…on a TV or radio programme, a website, a blog, a drawing, or even a letter sent from one individual to another." Both libel and slander are descended from the English laws on defamation, and the same reference informs us 90% of libel cases in Britain, according to solicitors, are won by the claimant, who does not have to prove the defamatory statement harmed him or her (although that might figure in damages); instead, the burden of proof rests with the defendant – Browder – to prove the defamatory statements he made are true. According to Justice Jackson's 2010 review of costs in civil litigation, number of libel cases won by the defendant? Zero. In fact, bringing of defamation charges in England by foreigners, because of England's idiosyncratic legal reasoning on the matter, is quite popular: Lance Armstrong, who is to the best of my knowledge not a British citizen, brought a libel case against The Sunday Times through English law firm Schillings, for referencing the doping scandal book "LA Confidentiel". Curious that they would do that, since the book was only ever published in French. But the truly juicy part of that little legal guide, for me, was this: "Damages awarded in libel cases are capped at £200,000. However costs incurred in a libel trial can be extremely high and the losing party is required to pay the winner's costs as well as their own. This means that individuals and organizations can face bankruptcy if they take on and lose a libel action".

This, beyond a doubt, is what has set the cat amongst the pigeons in London, and provoked the bawling defenses of Browder the Fifth Musketeer, fearless crusader for justice. Because speculation is that Karpov's legal action is being backed by the Russian government. If true, it is a master-stroke that could never have come about if Bill Browder did not have a mouth like a mine shaft. The Russian government can outspend Browder's puny fortune without even breaking a sweat, and Browder is faced with choice of settling out of court – which would be a tacit admission of guilt for such a wealthy man, or conceivably facing bankruptcy if the trial drags on. But, the really beautiful part? All he has to do is prove that what he said is true. And therein lies the best chance to get the entire stinking Magnitsky mess read into the public record, and poked and prodded and turned over.

All right. Let's take a look at what Angry Nick wants to tell the world.

Okay; first line. One of the main aims of Russian foreign policy is to stop Bill Browder. What, pray, is the substantiation for that loopy assertion? Is The Guardian on the distribution list for Russian foreign policy memorandums? In fact, Browder was denied entry to Russia on arrival at a Moscow airport in 2005, and spent a considerable period trying to quietly sort it all out with the Russian government, so as not to alarm his investors, rather than trumpeting his righteous outrage to the world. In fact, he spent that time lobbying international heavyweights like former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Tony Blair and George W. Bush to intervene in his behalf, and persuade Russia to let him back into the country. None of these extremely important individuals was able to do so. Yet on this issue, Browder is very vague; he has no idea why, he claims. "The answer is, we just don't know. You can take five highly placed, well-connected individuals in Russia, who know everything and everyone, and you'll get five different emphatic answers about who was responsible for my visa being taken away. It could be that they all got together in a room and said that "Let's just take Browder's visa away so he can't come to Russia any more", I don't know", he says.

I'm puzzled. Why would they do that, Bill? Because at one time, Browder was not only making tons of money in Russia and singing its praises, he was one of the loudest defenders of its President, Vlladimir Putin.

A good example of Browder-then-and-now is his positions on the issue of Russia's jailed oligarch, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Browder then (January 2004, almost 2 years before he was declared persona non grata in Russia) –

"…he may have become the poster child for corporate cleanups in the last two years, but his activities in the mid-1990s became synonymous with corporate governance abuse…Perhaps his most infamous deal, and the one that made him fantastically rich, was his acquisition of the oil company Yukos from the state. In a series of transactions with the government, Khodorkovsky successfully took control of a 78 percent stake in Yukos for a $310 million immediate cash payment, plus the promise of investing $200 million in the future. Eight months after he secured control, the same stake was worth $12.6 billion. Currently, it is worth $23.3 billion…If that were his only questionable deal, perhaps one could make the argument that we should look beyond what he had done because he turned Yukos around. Unfortunately, there were too many other questionable deals to ignore his behavior."

Browder now –

"They take out Khodorkovsky and how many oligarchs want to politically challenge the President? They kick Bill Browder out of the country and how many people want to start complaining about corruption and shareholder rights in Russian companies?"

In his own mind, at least, Browder with his alleged $120 Million fortune was on an influential par with Khodorkovsky, multibillionaire, and once Browder was gone from Russia, the fight against corruption withered on the vine. "Khodorkovsky – he got involved in politics, that's why it happened to him." Oops; I kind of thought from what you said earlier that it was because he was a compulsive criminal.

"What I misread was the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. I thought that this was part of Putin's "dictatorship of the law" and this was all part of the national interest. Before that I had had business conflicts with Khodorkovsky in the late 1990s, so I had an emotional reaction to the arrest of someone I had been struggling with. It's only after his arrest that it has become obvious that the Khodorkovsky trial wasn't about justice at all. It was pure expropriation and complete persecution of someone who was a threat to the administration and its surroundings."

Isn't it possible you're just "having an emotional reaction to someone you've been struggling with" now, too, Bill? Because this is kind of the exact opposite of your matter-of-fact dissection of Khodorkovsky's crimes earlier. Want a refresher?

"Khodorkovsky collected an enormous pile of cheap assets from the government and minority shareholders, and then embarked on an impressive charm and lobbying offensive to legitimize himself and his wealth. He has been very successful in getting people to forget his not-so-distant past."

Including yourself, apparently.

Although Mr. Browder claims this is a go-to technique for the Russian authorities – to

"[pick] up a pattern of governance of taking the biggest man or woman in any particular field and doing something, which has a profound demonstration effect for everybody else."

You might know where that's going when he cites Anna Politkovskaya as an example of muzzling the press, by singling out and murdering the most important reporter in Russia. Anna Politkovskaya, who worked for Novaya Gazeta, which has a circulation of about 185,000 copies in a country of 142 million, and was about half that when she was killed. Yes, that had a profound effect. Anyway, he wants you to know that whenever you start to get too successful, Russia kicks you out of the country, to make an example of you. Uhhh…who else has that happened to? Of the big hedge funds and capital management firms in Russia that are foreign-owned, who else got kicked out? Prosperity Capital is still there, and their flagship funds have appreciated 48% and 49% over the last 3 years – the exile of Browder doesn't seem to have had much of a chilling effect there. Renaissance Capital is still there, and has been longer than Browder, it was founded in 1995, and was his biggest rival. Unsurprisingly, he accused them of colluding with the Russian government to defraud him; he doesn't seem to have had many friends in Russia. All these firms are still there, and I don't know of any of them having their CEO booted out of the country. Just Browder.

In fact, Browder complains in several of the references cited that GAZPROM was inefficient and undervalued, and that the potential for huge moneymaking was going unexploited. In his I-know-you're-corrupt-Daddy-but-I-love-you rhapsody to Putin in 2004, he specifically mentioned "lifting the discriminatory ring-fence on ownership of GAZPROM" as one of the things Putin needed to get on with. Foreigners were prohibited from trading in GAZPROM stock on the RTS, although they could buy it as an ADR (American Depositary Receipt) on the London Exchange. But the difference in quotes was more than 300%. You certainly don't have to be a stockbroker to see the potential for easy money there. Hermitage formed two shell companies, Saturn Investments and Dalnya Steppe, in the special offshore zone of Kalmykia, with the apparent aim of getting around the ban on trading in GAZPROM stock. If Browder is truly confused as to why he got kicked out of Russia, he probably needn't look too much further than that.

Something else that nagged at me, from Bowder's REP appearance at Chatham House, cited earlier, was his contention that the testimony of Olga Yegorova – Chair of the Moscow City Court – that Magnitsky had been detained because he was about to skip the country and had applied for a Visa, is all a lie. The UK Embassy, in a unified statement that no doubt restored Mr. Cohen's faith in the best of British pluck, denied this, and Browder says contemptuously that before his arrest, Magnitsky's internal and international passports were taken from him, so that he could not have gone anywhere. However, Browder frequently – including in this same document – says that he advised all Hermitage's lawyers, including Sergei (who was not actually a Hermitage employee or a lawyer, he was an accountant employed by British firm Firestone Duncan), to leave the country as of June 2008, when Magnitsky testified. Magnitsky allegedly resisted and announced steadfastly that he would stay, because he had done nothing wrong. Well done, old chap. Except he had no passports, according to Browder, and could not have gone anywhere. Oddly, only Magnitsky had his passport confiscated: all the other Hermitage personnel left. Perhaps they were not Russians. If they were, why did they not also have their passports confiscated? Firestone Duncan also fled, but only Magnitsky did not – ostensibly because he "believed Russia had changed" and foolishly placed his trust in the rule of law, but you could pretty much say anything you wanted about why, because he hadn't any passport. And then the police left him alone for 4 months, and then fell upon him and arrested him, only to put him in pre-trial detention because they hadn't even assembled the case against him yet and had not, in point of fact, when he died (because he would have had to be released in 8 days after the date he died) – when they could have arrested him at any time because he had no passport and couldn't have gone anywhere. That sound right, to you?

Anyway, back to the article we started with, before we get distracted with the whole Magnitsky thing again. According to Nick, the Kremlin gang fears revolution – maybe there will be a democratic uprising! Yes, probably; everyone knows the opposition and its demonstrators have made tremendous gains this year, the Kremlin must be trembling in its bottinki. That the prospects for revolution seem to have gone from what was never really much of a bang to what is decidedly a whimper appear to have escaped him.

So, Karpov is going to do what all dirty crooks do – seek the protection of "outwardly respectable people", namely members of the British bar. I'm not sure how they should react to that, as it seems those who are defending Browder are fine, upstanding members of the legal community. Presumably there is an underclass of British barristers, which defends only crooks. Yes, we learn, the honesty and cleanness of English law will be as much on trial when this case comes to court as the reputation of Bill Browder. Bill Browder wins, huzzah!!! British justice triumphant, argued brilliantly by as fine lawyers as ever trod the sod of Merrie England!! Browder fails to make his case because he cannot prove that the allegations he made are factual, fie and despair!! British justice revealed for a shoddy sham, the refuge of third-world scoundrels. Overlooked is that a judge will have to make a decision based on what the lawyers present, and that everything must be done in accordance with British law. Which seemed quite adequate, I might point out, until Berezovsky's recent humiliation, at which point the British judicial system became a bunch of Commies interested only in exonerating criminals, according to several in The Guardian's stable.

Cohen offhandedly throws in that Magnitsky was "probably tortured", because that's just what Russians do – especially the star witness in the case, over the theft of $230 million, for which Magnitsky might get a maximum of 6 years if convicted. You can't really blame him, because Browder has often said darkly that the same fate awaits him if he ever sets foot in Russia again, although there was no evidence Magnitsky was tortured and his lawyers never complained he was being tortured although he met regularly with them.

Why should a Russian policeman enjoy the privileges of British law, wonders Cohen. Why, indeed? Probably because the mouthpiece making the libelous allegations is a British citizen, who will not set foot in Russia despite extradition requests. But that raises an interesting point of international law – why should American lawmakers be allowed to add Russians to a blacklist for censure and sanction without a trial that finds them guilty? They were simply given the list of names…by Browder.

Karpov's lawyer says there is not a shred of evidence against him – although that's what you'd expect a lawyer to say, I'd regard that with foreboding, if I were somebody who had spent that better part of the last few years throwing around unsubstantiated accusations against him. Not to mention Cohen, who covers that possibility by suggesting " If it is true that Karpov is an unfairly maligned man, no one will object", although he has just spent most of an article pre-objecting. Then he's off again, threatening to observe a permanent pout of non-forgiveness "if it transpires that Karpov has been exploiting the English legal system to protect the Putin kleptocracy". He plainly likes that non-word. As if a Russian police Major is so clever that he can bedazzle and bewilder some of the Realm's most experienced libel lawyers (clang, clang, warning, Nick Cohen, warning) into fabricating a winning case. Either Browder and his lawyers can prove the allegations Browder made are true, or he cannot. If he cannot, he might well be liable not only for damages, but for the legal costs of both parties.

It promises to be interesting.

Robert:

January 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Not a fan of Merry England's libel laws and I actually agree with Comrade Cohen's calls for libel reform however if Browder is stung and the Magnitsky law loses all credibilty I won't be shedding any tears.

marknesop:

January 6, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Nor will I, especially if he loses and the judgment wipes him out, like it did Berezovsky. Although in general I loathe the courts and their power to completely disinherit ordinary people or order this one to give his entire life's savings to that one, when it is a villain like either of those two it is sweet indeed. The shriek of agony from The Guardian's Russophobes will be like chocolate sprinkles to my enjoyment, if that's the way it turns out.

I have a deep conviction that all is not as it seems in Browder-Magnitsky land, and even though Russia does have its problems with corruption, it staggers the imagination that the state would press on with its investigations and accusations against Magnitsky if there was nothing there; it would lick its wounds and sulk, and hope for the fuss to die down rather than deliberately keeping it in the forefront of the news. They have something, and it will be interesting to see what it is considering there is no common ground between the state's case and Browder's story except the name, Sergei Magnitsky. I would love to see the Magnitsky Law shown up as Browder's duping U.S. lawmakers, although for their part they were eager for something to replace Jackson-Vanik.

NASHI" Chicago-style (updated) by

July 20, 2010 | Zed244's Blog

(click on the image to view a larger version)

A disclaimer.

A picture worth a thousand words – or so they say. Ok, you have just saw one. I hope you did not miss the fine print there, not only because it was there for a reason, but also because I am going to try to sell you something, and you all know how important it is to read the fine print before you agree to buy anything. Especially if it is somebody's opinion. So – I trust you will read the fine print – and then think.

Now, with one picture – a thousand, how many words the 24 pictures per second for 10 minutes are worth? Multiplied by the flood of words spoken? All of them by a brilliant presenter, whose grand father, we are told, was a Chairman of the Communist Party of USA? Hey, this might get close to the size of K. Marx's "Capital" -- May even produce similar effect on masses – if the masses just listen and watch, but do not hear and see.

--- excerpts from W. Browder's talk at Stanford University ----

"Let's make a list of all the people who know about stealing at Gazprom and just ask them to breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea, coffee, and see what we can learn from interviewing them"

"So we set up about 40 of these meals" "..and so the people in these meetings were spilling these guts out to us about all the different scams they knew about. We were filling up notebooks with all these different allegations of scams."

"we filled up a whole notebook with these allegations but how do you know any of the stuff is true?" "and so one of my guys ,..my head of research, started going around to different ministries picking up databases on different things and we were able to take these databases ..and cross reference them with the stuff we learned in these breakfasts, lunches and dinners, and we learned exactly how much had been stolen from Gazprom, by who, in what way"

"we learned that nine individuals from management of Gazprom had stolen an oil company the size of Exxon… but..only 9% of Gazprom reserves. 91% was still there ..and we made Gazprom our single largest investment and [decided to] share this information [about stealing] with the world"

"..about 7 months later ,..Putin ..stepped in, fired the head of Gazprom.."

"we got so excited by this that we started doing it elsewhere" "the fund went up something like 40 times"

O'right, o'right – now we heard and, probably, even saw something the presenter did not intend for us to hear and see.

Browder's "business model"

1. Find a potentially undervalued stock. Use what essentially is an industrial espionage to find why the stock is undeperforming and who is stealing what – and I am sure we were not told how Browder's "research department" got access to at least some databases and how much they paid or promised to pay for the access or even for an opportunity to invest.

2. Buy the stock – while it is cheap – and then by organizing a public campaign, effectively force the state and police to clean up all the mess in the companies you have just bought

3. Bingo! The sight of your stock flying up so high starts to generate in your body those precious cocaine-like chemicals you are addicted to. Your personal wealth does not need to be mentioned – it is linked to the chemicals by a magic formula..

Is anything wrong there? After all, the public got what they wanted – a proof to the gut feeling that there is something (or everything) deeply wrong with the Russian model of "capitalism", the capitalists" themselves and, especially – with the idea that the government offices, where everyone employed strictly follows The Moral Code of The Builder of Capitalism, can think about and do anything other than the enrichment of the tenants of these same offices. The Russian MVD … well, was not it their job in the first place? Surely, they must be thankful. The government? ..Should not they be happy that someone helped them to fight corruption, to make the population happy and to make Russian business to look more attractive for overseas investors? None of Browder's voluntary or otherwise "assistants" was paid from the billions Hermitage & Co made in Russia, but why should have they been paid? They were asked to do what was their job anyway, right?

Or something is not quite right? Could it be that at a certain point in time his activities started to look like it was Browder who was running the whole country instead of the Russian Government? By effectively forcing the Russian Government structures to do what he wanted them to do?Besides, those precious "chemicals" were, probably, generated not only in Browder's stomach, but in the far emptier stomachs of the people in the government structures, who had to observe the astronomical growth of Browder's wealth largely due to their own personal efforts? What would the grand-father-Communist say about all this, I wonder…

There is another interesting aspect to this whole story, though. Let's call it "psychological". Do you remember the recent campaign by "Nashi" against illegal parking? It was like thisand sometimes, like this. A group of well-intentioned people approached individuals who were clearly wrong – they parked their cars at the places where parking was not permitted. The "Nashi" then politely reminded the offenders about the parking rules. When the offenders resisted – and for some reasons, they almost always did – "Nashi" tried to attach a sticker to the windshield – just a sign "I don't care about the others – I park where I want".

So what's wrong with the "Nashi" campaign? Why did not the offenders want to say "thank you" to the "good" guys? There are many possible answers, but some may be like that: I bet no one likes to be told by others how to behave, even when he/she knows that they are wrong. People don't like to be pushed around. Publicly. Even less they want to feel that they are being used by others. Do you see some similarity with Browder's "business model"? And Browder did not just pushed the officials around – publicly - he used them. And while "Nashi" at least were just lecturing others for the sake of their abstract idea of the "common good", Browder manipulated the Russian Government structures for his own, very far from altruistic purposes.

So, I hope you read the fine print by now – still under 1,000 words.

We still have a question about the allegedly corrupt MVD officials, the ones with millions in assets and the life style worthy of a Russian oligarch in Britain. This is important because it is not hard to imagine how a totally corrupt office is "fighting " corruption elsewhere. For one thing – this must be investigated, thoroughly, openly and quickly. And honestly, if there are still some people left in appropriate Russian ministries who can recognize this word. Honesty.(update – thanks to Mark for the inspiration:)
Now that we know how Browder's investment model works and observing that he is currently engaged in another PR campaign against corruption eg. here and here while at the same time fighting seemingly meaningless court case, what do you think is the stock he most likely had invested in this time? That's right – it must be the entire Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) – or even more. Or.. can it be?….even more?.. (ref – Orlov's words in Mikheev's testimony here). If so, I am glad – these stock options are also my own last hope.The Russian Prime-Minister said recently "What should be done to eradicate corruption? Probably hang them, but this is not our method," I have to agree with him. It has never been our method – corrupt officials in MVD and KGB structures were shot, not hanged. And I know a good place to do it – it is the square where the monument of F. Dzerzinsky had been. Perhaps, when the monument was removed, something more important was taken with it – something which should have never been even touched – honor of the Russian officer.

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