The Corner


Meet the Capitol Hill Staffer Who’s in Putin’s Craw

Kyle Parker (Courtesy of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe)

When Robert Mueller indicted twelve GRU agents, Vladimir Putin proposed a deal to President Trump. Trump was enthusiastic about it, calling it “an incredible offer,” twice. His press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said that Putin’s proposal was “made in sincerity.” But the president has turned it down, apparently.

Which is fortunate.

Putin wanted to allow the U.S. to question the GRU agents if the U.S. allowed the Kremlin to question certain others — including Michael McFaul, the Russia scholar who was the U.S. ambassador to Moscow. And Bill Browder, who is not a U.S. citizen in any case. (He is a U.K. citizen.) Browder is the financier who campaigns for Magnitsky acts, named after his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who was tortured to death by Russian authorities in 2009. These acts place sanctions on Russian human-right abusers.

Another person on the list — Putin’s list, this roll of honor? Kyle Parker. Who? Exactly. Yet this man is deep under Putin’s skin, as well he might be. I had thought Browder more responsible than anyone else for the passage of the U.S. Magnitsky Act. Yet Browder says that Kyle Parker is.

There was a movie, says Browder, called “Charlie Wilson’s War.” It was about the Texas congressman who worked to aid the Afghan mujahideen in their war against the Soviets. In the same way, says Browder, the Magnitsky Act might be known as “Kyle Parker’s War.”

Incidentally, Boris Nemtsov, the Russian democracy leader who was murdered in 2015 (within sight of the Kremlin), called the Magnitsky Act “the most pro-Russian law ever enacted by a foreign government.” Putin and his network of cronies aggress against innocent Russians every day. The Magnitsky acts cramp those men’s style.

Bill Browder was my guest on Q&A last week. Kyle Parker is my guest this week, here. He is the chief of staff at the U.S. Helsinki Commission in Washington. I spoke with him in his office today. How did this modest and amiable fellow from small-town Maine grow up to be on the Most Wanted list of Putin’s Kremlin? It is an interesting tale, and he tells us all about it.

Can a D.C. staffer really have done a heroic thing? You’re damn right. It is heartening to know that people such as Kyle Parker work for the U.S. government.