In Act 1, Scene iv of Hamlet, the appearance of King Hamlet’s ghost prompts an officer of the watch, Marcellus, to say “something is rotten at the heart of Denmark”, if you replace Denmark with Russia, then the book I am posting on now, will tell you why.
Red Notice by Bill Browder reads like a typical Russian thriller, the difference is that this is non-fiction. For what he did and why he did it, and lastly for the reasons for this book, Bill Browder takes full responsibility, and because this led to the death of a good man, and led to Bill becoming Number 1 enemy of Russia, this book above all, in one that you should read.
It is not often that I put a large chunk of quoted text at the beginning of a blog…
I have to assume that there is a very real chance that Putin or members of his regime will have me killed some day. Like anyone else, I have no death wish and I have no intention of letting them kill me. I can’t mention most of the counter-measures I take, but I will mention one: this book. If I’m killed, you will know who did it. When my enemies read this book, they will know that you know. So if you sympathize with this search for justice, or with Sergei’s tragic fate, please share this story with as many people as you can. That simple act will keep the spirit of Sergei Magnitsky alive and go further that any army of bodyguards in keeping me safe.
With today’s internet reach, you will be able to follow the steps that led to Sergei Magnitsky’s torture and death by the simple act of clicking on Google; you can look at YouTube videos of some of the perpetrators if you click on Pavel Karpov or Artem Kuznetsov; I think you could even click on the name Alexander Perepilichnyy and something will come up.
But to link all these names together with Bill Browder, you need to read the book.
Bill Browder started life as a man with a mission: to make money, as much and as fast as he could, and he looked to Eastern Europe as a place where that ambition could be realised. Naively, though, what he did not realise is that sometimes making huge amounts of money in Eastern Europe, especially in Russia, does not always go according to plan.
What happened to Hermitage Capital Management, then to his investors but tragically to the lawyers who helped him, is the stuff of nightmares and turned Bill Browder from a capitalist super-rich hedge fund manager into a human rights activist.
Once his lawyers were being targeted, Bill Browder did everything he could to persuade them to leave Russia, two of them made it out safely, but Sergei Magnitsky determined to fight on as “he had done nothing wrong”. But doing nothing wrong is not enough to keep you out of the hands of those who wish to do you harm: Sergei was arrested, subjected to unlimited cruelty and medical neglect and finally beaten to death.
From this black and terrible seed there has arisen a mighty tree. The United States of America have passed The Magnitsky Act, this act prevents anyone on The Cardin List (the Senator who proposed the Bill) from travelling to America and was signed by President Obama.
Sergei Magnitsky had a young family, as has Bill Browder, if reading their story does anything at all, it will serve as a monument to the appalling situation in Russia, for Putin’s riposte to America’s passing of The Magnitsky Act went beyond even the bounds of cruelty – he passed an act that prevents any American family from adopting a Russian orphan…thereby condemning millions of innocent children to a life that will be short, brutal and miserable.