Russian prosecutors last week released a list of Americans they want to question in connection with their bogus criminal case against Hermitage Capital founder William Browder.
I was one of a number of current and former U.S. officials on that list, which has become known as “Putin’s enemies list.”
Browder, American born but a British citizen, used to be the largest portfolio investor in Russia until he crossed wires with the Kremlin. His visa was revoked in 2005 and his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was arrested in 2008 after uncovering a $230 million fraud by Russian authorities. Nearly a year later, Magnitsky was murdered while in prison after being denied medical treatment and beaten.
Browder launched a campaign seeking justice for Magnitsky, pushing legislation in the U.S. Congress that would deny visas and freeze the assets of Russian officials involved in gross human rights abuses, including Magnitsky’s murder.
In 2011 and 2012, I was president of Freedom House, the oldest human rights organization in the United States. I had served previously in the State Department in the George W. Bush administration in senior positions dealing with human rights and Russia. I was very familiar with the Magnitsky case and the deteriorating human rights situation in Russia.
Browder asked me to help him in pushing for the legislation to be passed, and I proudly did so. In late 2012, both the House and Senate passed the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law and Accountability Act by huge bipartisan majorities.
My support for that legislation is presumably why my name appeared last week on Putin’s list. It took the White House four days to reject the notion of allowing Americans to be interrogated by Russian authorities, even though President Donald Trump had initially dubbed Putin’s idea “an incredible offer.” [Continue reading…]