William Browder Testifies to the U.S. Congress that Russian Government Now Functions as a Criminal Enterprise

March 21, 2012

William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, testified today at the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, stating that Russia no longer functions as a normal state, but is operating akin to a criminal enterprise. At the committee hearing entitled “Russia 2012: Increased Repression, Rampant Corruption, Assisting Rogue Regimes” Mr. Browder spoke about the story of his Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who had uncovered and exposed a $230 million government corruption scheme, and was arrested and tortured to death in police custody by the same Russian officials he had exposed.
“The story I’m going to share with you will leave you in no doubt that the Russian state no longer functions as a normal state as we know it, but something more akin to a criminal enterprise,” said Mr Browder to the U.S. congressmen.

“Sergei Magnitsky’s case has become the most well-documented and emblematic case of the torture, corruption and state-sanctioned murder in modern Russia,” said Mr Browder.

“While every facet of his story is appalling, what makes this case truly significant on an international scale is the high-level government cover-up that followed,” said Mr Browder.

On the day after Sergei Magnitsky was murdered, the Russian Interior Ministry announced that he never complained about his health, and died of natural causes. Every single one of the police officers, prosecutors, judges, and members of the security service involved in his case have been formally exonerated. Some have even been promoted and granted state honors. Furthermore, in an attempt to protect these officials from any legal liability, Russian authorities have launched posthumous prosecution of Mr Magnitsky himself, two years after his death, and are now summoning his grieving mother as a witness in the case against her dead son.
Mr Browder said:

“This story is a heartbreaking story for Sergei’s family, and me but it is the tip of an enormous iceberg in Russia. This story lays bare the face of Russia today.”

In response to the impunity of Russian officials in this case, there are now 11 parliaments around the world, including the US Congress that are considering legislation on visa sanctions and asset freezes on the Russian officials responsible for the arrest and torture of Sergei Magnitsky and the massive corruption he had uncovered.

These measures are stipulated in ‘Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Act’ introduced by Representative Jim McGovern, Co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, in the U.S. House of Representatives, and ‘Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act’ introduced by Senator Benjamin Cardin in the U.S. Senate. This draft legislation in the U.S. Congress has become the focus of the debate over the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment and granting normal trade relations status to Russia, as part of its WTO accession.

Link to the notice of the hearing U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee site:


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