Once again, Bill Browder has foiled Vladimir Putin, and it will probably not be the last time the British businessman and the Russian president square off.
The Department of Homeland Security has restored Browder’s ability to enter the United States without a visa after temporarily blocking him when Russia placed his name on an Interpol list seeking his arrest. The Kremlin apparently was retaliating for Browder’s long-running international campaign against Russia and Putin over the killing of Browder’s Moscow tax attorney, friend and whistleblower, Sergei Magnitsky, who died from untreated illnesses and beatings while being held in a Russian prison. He was arrested after accusing officials of a $230 million tax fraud.
Last week, Canada passed its own version of a Magnitsky Act targeting corrupt officials and human rights abusers. Putin has branded Magnitsky legislation already in place in three countries as “anti-Russia hysteria.”
This marks the fifth time since Browder has started tangling with Putin that Russia has asked Interpol to pick him up for “illegal activity.”
Browder said in a phone interview that on Monday evening, he was able to buy a plane ticket and get a boarding pass for a flight from London to the United States without being turned away, as he was last week.
“The boarding pass was as good as being on the plane, as far as I’m concerned,” said Browder, who gave his ticket back and got a refund before returning home.
Though he has not been officially notified that his ability to enter the United States has been restored, Browder’s successful test came as several members of Congress expressed outrage over his being stopped from flying to Newark last week because of the Interpol listing.
“Putin is seriously rattled about everything I’m doing around the world,” Browder said. “It affects his personal interests. He’s worried his money will be frozen some day. He sees me as his top enemy in the world, because I found his Achilles’ heel.”
Browder, a hedge fund manager who had hired Magnitsky to represent his interests in Russia, has become a tireless Kremlin critic in the eight years since Magnitsky was killed. He has lobbied governments around the world to punish those believed responsible for his friend’s death.
Three countries have passed Magnitsky legislation, including the United States. The 2012 law bans numerous Russians from traveling to the United States or using the U.S. financial system. In response, Russia convicted Magnitsky posthumously of tax evasion and prohibited U.S. adoptions of Russian children.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Carol Morello