Kremlin critic Bill Browder has described his escape from a Russian plot against him

One of President Vladimir Putin’s leading critics says he was briefly spared a plot by Russian operatives at a previous summit of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Bill Browder, a U.S.-born financier and rights activist, told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore in Davos in January 2020, “I received a phone call from the UK Security Service where I live, and they said they had been informed by the Swiss Security Service that they were executing me in Davos.” Unveiled a Russian plot to do so. “

Browder was once Russia’s largest foreign investor, earning millions in the early 1990’s and early 2000’s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. After exposing large-scale government corruption in Russia, he was impersonated and later led the Global Magnitsky Act, which enables sanctions against officials involved in corruption and human rights abuses.

Putin has specifically called for Browder to be extradited to Russia, where he has been accused of a number of crimes in his absence, which he says are entirely composed of the Kremlin.

“The Swiss arrested two Russians before the Davos forum,” Browder continued. “When they asked for their ID, they showed their diplomatic passports, told them to leave and told them to flee the country. So I am very happy to be in Davos this time, there are no arrests, and there is no Russian here to do anything terrible. Was planning. “

William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, took his seat at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in July at the Hart Senate office building on Capitol Hill, entitled “Overseeing Foreign Agent Registration Act and Attempts to Influence US Elections.” 27, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Drew Anger | Getty Images

In August 2019, Swiss police spotted two Russians posing as plasters, who had been under suspicion for an unusually long time.

Zurich’s Tages-Anzeiger newspaper reported that Swiss officials and police had concluded that the couple were Russian spies hired by the Kremlin to tap into conversations between key figures at the summit. Police told the Financial Times that the men claimed they had diplomatic protection, although they did not register it with the official Swiss authorities. Swiss police found no indication of criminal activity and released the men, the newspaper reported. Browder commented that this example showed the reach of the Russian state internationally.

Browder was hit with several Russian-issued Interpol red notices during the trip, each time being detained only after he was released because the warrants were revoked – according to Interpol – “primarily of a political nature.”

Putin will not stop his war

Browder’s Magnitsky law, which made him one of Putin’s top enemies, is named after his former lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who exposed widespread fraud and corruption by Russian government officials and resulted in a Russian man with forensic evidence showing him battery symptoms.

The Kremlin has denied the allegations, claiming that Browder himself ordered the death of his lawyer, which investors and Western officials have dismissed as ridiculous.

The Russians, usually in high attendance at the glittering annual ceremony in Davos, have been hampered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine this year. This is a big relief for Browder, who warned that without tougher sanctions, including a power embargo on Russia, Putin would not stop expanding his military offensive.

“We have to do everything we can to stop the Ukrainians,” Browder said of Putin. “And they’ve done a wonderful job. They’ve got him stuck.” But the only way to ensure Ukraine’s survival is to increase military aid and “stop funding.” [Putin’s] War machine, seize his wealth, “he said.” Stop sending him a billion dollars a day to buy oil and gas. “

“And if he’s at war and he somehow gets Ukraine, the next stop is Estonia or Poland or something like that,” Browder added.

Three months into the war, Russian forces have failed to gain air superiority in Ukraine and retreated from major cities, including the area around Kiev, after failing to penetrate Ukraine’s defenses. Russia is carrying out massive bombings in eastern Ukraine aimed at seizing Donbass, which Ukrainian officials say has been almost completely destroyed. Western nations have pledged billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

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