Thursday, July 16, 2015


Every so often you come across a book that you find impossible to put down. Bill Browder's 'Red Notice' published by Random House earlier this year is one of those.

Its sub title is 'How I became Putin's No.1 Enemy'.    Lee Child describes it as "Reads like a classic thriller .... but it's all true, and a story that needs to be told".

Students of history and politics may recognize the Browder's name.   His family were steeped in left-wing politics.   His grandfather was the (in)famous Earl Browder, General Secretary of the Communist Party USA during the 1930s and 1940s and twice their candidate in the 1936 and 1940 Presidential elections.   His father, Felix, was a renowned mathematician who became chair of the University of Chicago mathematics department and was later awarded the US National Medal of Science.

Browder rebelled against his upbringing and in his own words "Then, towards the end of high school, it hit me, I would put on a suit and tie and become a capitalist.   Nothing would piss my family off more than that".

Fast Forward two decades and by 2005 he was a multi millionaire, the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, the largest foreign investor in Russia.    He made money (huge money) by beating the Russians at their own game when the country was privatized under Yeltsin but, in doing so, ran foul of a corrupt bureaucracy and trod on the toes of a number of oligarchs allied with President Putin.    He was expelled from Russia with the Putin government continuing to pursue a vendetta against HCR and their associated companies.  

His lawyer, Sergei Magnitski, was murdered in Russian Police custody and Browder embarked on a campaign to see justice done.   Against all the odds he persevered with and eventually succeeded in having the United States enact the 'Sergei Magnitski Rule of Law Accountability Act' which placed travel restrictions and froze the bank accounts of a number of high ranking Russians involved in Magnitski's killing.   In 2014 he was successful in having the European Parliament enact similar legislation.

Browder remains a target.   His words again "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 countermeasures I take, but I will mention one, this book.  If I am killed, you will know who did it ......"

Read the book and understand.


Anonymous said...

It sounds a ripping yarn Vet and I will endeavor to get a copy and read it.

I have no dog in the fight that is the Russian political and economic bear-pit, so this counterview to Browder's made interesting reading.


The Veteran said...

Mick ... there are of course two sides to every story. 'Your' article argues an alternative view. Read both and make your mind up.