World

Vladimir Putin’s Consolation Prize

Bill Browder has been in the news lately. As you know, he is the CEO of Hermitage Capital, whose lawyer was Sergei Magnitsky. Magnitsky was taken prisoner by the Russian state and tortured to death by its agents.

Browder, with others, has pushed for “Magnitsky laws” — which penalize Russian human-rights abusers. These laws freeze their assets and deny them visas. This puts a crimp in the style of Putin & Co.

After Canada passed a Magnitsky law last week, Vlad was pretty hot. He denounced Browder, personally, and placed his name on Interpol’s wanted list. This was the fifth time he had done that.

For good measure, the Kremlin charged Browder with Magnitsky’s murder. You may have to read that sentence twice. In other words, the murderers have charged the champion of the victim with the murder itself.

I can see Stalin, looking up from below, grinning with admiration.

As soon as Putin put Browder on the Interpol list, the United States revoked Browder’s visa. We also revoked his “global entry.” (This is the card that facilitates your entry into the United States. It means that you don’t have to wait in long lines.)

I wrote about all these matters in two blogposts, here and here. And I’d like to supply an update.

Within a few hours, the United States restored Browder’s visa. This was thanks, Browder tells me, to Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.), Senator Ben Cardin (D., Md.), Representative Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), Michael McFaul (an ex–U.S. ambassador to Russia), and Preet Bharara (an ex–U.S. attorney in New York). They pulled the right levers, apparently.

In further good news, Interpol has taken Browder off the wanted list. This is the fifth time Interpol has told Vlad, “Sorry, no way.” Moreover, Interpol has warned its member states: Russia will not be allowed to use us against Bill Browder.

So, what’s left? The global-entry card. It is still revoked. So, that is Putin’s consolation prize. Browder is off the Interpol wanted list and his U.S. visa has been restored. But should Browder land at Dulles Airport or elsewhere in America, he will have to wait in a long line — maybe a very long one.

Congrats, Vlad.

And here is an image of the prize. Here is Putin’s trophy: the global-entry card of William Browder, canceled:

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