MOSCOW — The United States effectively rejected a Russian criminal complaint against a prominent critic of the Kremlin on Monday and decided to allow him into the country, reversing an initial decision to bar his entry in response to the complaint ...
“William Browder is strong advocate for anti-corruption efforts around the world and we relied on his expertise and support as we led the effort to pass the Magnitsky Act,” they said, adding: “It would be unfortunate if the U.S. decided to bar him based on a decision by those same Russian officials who have been targeted by this important legislation.”
Russian prosecutors have opened investigations into whether Mr. Browder himself murdered Mr. Magnitsky by conspiring with Russian prison doctors who withheld medical care. In the interview, Mr. Browder said he believed that the latest Interpol notice related to the original tax case, not the murder investigation.
Mr. Browder championed legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2012 imposing sanctions on Russians responsible for the death of Mr. Magnitsky, who died in custody after investigating corruption allegations involving Russian authorities.
The law named for Mr. Magnitsky also singled out other Russians deemed to be violators of human rights. The Magnitsky Act has been a major point of friction between Washington and Moscow for years and led President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to cut off American adoptions of Russian children in retaliation. Mr. Putin raised the issue with President Trump in a meeting over the summer and it was said to have been the subject of a meeting that a Russian lawyer held with Donald J. Trump Jr., Mr. Trump’s son, during the height of last year’s campaign.
In an interview on Monday, Mr. Browder linked his latest appearance on an Interpol notice — his fifth so far — with the recent adoption by the Canadian Parliament of its own version of the Magnitsky Act.
As his advocacy has notched up successes, he said, the Russian government has retaliated by declaring him wanted as an international fugitive. Mostly, police forces have ignored the notices, but the listings identifying Mr. Browder, a the hedge fund manager, as a dangerous criminal have for years posed an enormous headache for travel. They can trigger automated alerts at airports and in computer systems that issue visas.
Although born in the United States, Mr. Browder renounced his United States citizenship and is now a citizen of Britain. He has traveled to the United States under an expedited visa available to British citizens known as an ESTA, the status that was canceled after Russia posted the latest Interpol notice.
“I’m giving the U.S. government the benefit of the doubt,” that it was a bureaucratic or technical matter, Mr. Browder said before his ESTA visa was restored. “It’s still pretty horrible that Vladimir Putin puts out an abusive Interpol arrest warrant, and it has the consequence of banning me from traveling to America.”
On the defensive, Russia has repeatedly sought to turn the tables on Mr. Browder by blaming him and Mr. Magnitsky for the drama that unfolded. A court pursued a rare legal action against Mr. Magnitsky posthumously, convicting the dead man of tax evasion and with him Mr. Browder, who was living in London at the time.
Mr. Browder was sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison, while Mr. Magnitsky’s punishment was deemed a moot matter. The case was seen as a means for the Russian government to reinforce the narrative that Mr. Browder and Mr. Magnitsky, and not Russian officials, had carried out the tax fraud – and as a justification for repeatedly posting Mr. Browder’s name on Interpol wanted lists.
Russia,United States,Magnitsky Sergei L,Browder William F.,Embargoes and Sanctions,Human Rights and Human Rights Violations