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Monday
Apr222013

Moscow steps up battle against Browder

The Anti-Terrorist Department (Department 'T') of the Russian Interior Ministry is trying to arrest the American-born head of Hermitage Capital, William Browder, who has conducted a successful global campaign to sanction those involved with the jailing and death of his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky.

Browder, left, a U.K. citizen, was named in an arrest warrant in absentia, Hermitage Capital said Monday.
 
'Court records indicate that Lt. Colonel A.K. Gubanov of the Department “T” of the Russian Interior Ministry visited the second secretary of the British embassy in Moscow in March 2013 "searching" for Mr. Browder, who lives in London,' Hermitage said.

The British Home Office rejected prior Russian requests for mutual legal assistance in relation to Browder, Hermitage said.

Browder is behind a global campaign to punish the Russians implicated in Magnitsky's jailing and death.

The 39-year-old lawyer died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after uncovering a massive tax fraud. There was evidence he was tortured during his year-long detention and denied medical attention.

The U.S. adopted the Magnitsky Act last year. It imposes visa sanctions and asset freezes on those responsible for Magnitsky's detention and death or anyone who benefited from the tax fraud he uncovered.

Browder appeared in Holland earlier this month, just days ahead of a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin. He pushed for national and EU-wide sanctions on the Russian officials and others involved.

Earlier this month, the United States released a list of 18 Russians subject to visa bans and asset freezes under the Magnitsky Act.

In its statement Monday, Hermitage said Russia asked a British diplomat to sign 'a Russian Interior Ministry protocol, which the British diplomat declined to do.'
 
Hermitage said:

The misuse of the anti terrorist police in pursuing a politcal vendetta in relation to the Magnitsky Act shows how desperate the Russian authorities have become to try to protect their bank accounts and travel privileges. By the Russian government diverting their most important anti terrorist personnel at this sensitive time for private corrupt purposes is a clear sign of a complete breakdown in the law enforcement system in Russia.

Moscow has alleged Browder's involvement in the 'theft' of Gazprom shares and 'interference' in its policies dating back to the late 1990’s.

At one time, Browder's Hermitage Capital was the biggest Western investor in Russia.

Hermitage said Monday that in the early 2000s, Browder wrote to Gazprom seeking information, campaigned for seat on the company's board, and called for an end to 'theft and corruption' that were allegedly draining billions of dollars from the state-linked giant.

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