David Calling

Russian Informer Alexander Perepilichny Found Dead

Alexander Perepilichny had been a Russian exile in Britain for the past three years. Aged 44, and in good health, he was rich enough to be paying a huge five-figure monthly rent for a house in Weybridge, a spot in Surrey where nouveau-riche people cluster. A couple of weeks ago, he went out jogging, and was found dead by the side of the road. Tests have failed to reveal the cause of death. Toxology tests are due in case he was poisoned by radiation like Alexander Litvinenko in an earlier and somewhat similar case. There may be an innocent explanation, but more probably here is another of the crimes that give frightening insight into today’s Russia.

According to press reports, Perepilichny was an associate of the Klyuev Group, who were tax officials in Russia skimming off public funds. They framed Hermitage Capital, an investment company whose chief executive officer was, and is, William Browder. (He is the grandson of Earl Browder, once general secretary of the American Communist party. “The smiling moustaches of Earl Browder,” runs a line in a poem by Roy Fuller that exemplifies the fellow-travelling absurdity of the Thirties.)

When I met Bill Browder, he told me how these tax officials had set him up and run him out of Russia. He engaged Sergei Magnitsky, a well-known young human-rights lawyer, to defend him. The day after Magnitsky named names, he was arrested. Then he was found dead in the Lubyianka, the old Soviet hell-hole in Moscow. But there was a paper trail of hundreds of millions of stolen dollars leading through banks to Switzerland and the purchase of property abroad. Perepilichny apparently could document the whole vast scam, and he handed the information to the Swiss authorities. One can only guess at his motives, but the reports describe him as a “supergrass,” an activity that may have cost him his life. In Soviet times, the top officials took steps to kill whoever gave secrets away, and this case might prove they haven’t changed.

David Pryce-Jones is a British author and commentator and a senior editor of National Review.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Replacing Ginsburg

While we did not agree with many of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s views about the Constitution or the judicial function, we never doubted her industry, dedication, gumption, civility, or patriotism. We send our condolences to all who mourn her passing. Justice Ginsburg almost certainly had more fans than any ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Replacing Ginsburg

While we did not agree with many of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s views about the Constitution or the judicial function, we never doubted her industry, dedication, gumption, civility, or patriotism. We send our condolences to all who mourn her passing. Justice Ginsburg almost certainly had more fans than any ... Read More

Snobs or Mobs?

A   lot of us were feeling pretty good about the future of the media in late September of 2004. Dan Rather and the CBS news division had just tried to derail George W. Bush’s reelection campaign with some genuine fake news — based on fake documents — and, in spite of the manful attempts of ... Read More

Snobs or Mobs?

A   lot of us were feeling pretty good about the future of the media in late September of 2004. Dan Rather and the CBS news division had just tried to derail George W. Bush’s reelection campaign with some genuine fake news — based on fake documents — and, in spite of the manful attempts of ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Barr Is Right About the Prosecution Power

Attorney General Bill Barr gave a speech at Hillsdale College on Wednesday that attracted a lot of attention. Much of that attention was for his ill-considered remark (in a question-and-answer session following the speech) that "Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, [the pandemic lockdowns ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Barr Is Right About the Prosecution Power

Attorney General Bill Barr gave a speech at Hillsdale College on Wednesday that attracted a lot of attention. Much of that attention was for his ill-considered remark (in a question-and-answer session following the speech) that "Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, [the pandemic lockdowns ... Read More
World

Jared Kushner Was Right

Over the past several years, a new certainty was added to death and taxes: Jared Kushner would fail in his role as the administration’s Middle East point man. It caused considerable merriment among President Donald Trump’s critics (and even some of his well-wishers) when he put his son-in-law in charge of ... Read More
World

Jared Kushner Was Right

Over the past several years, a new certainty was added to death and taxes: Jared Kushner would fail in his role as the administration’s Middle East point man. It caused considerable merriment among President Donald Trump’s critics (and even some of his well-wishers) when he put his son-in-law in charge of ... Read More

The Mystery of Robert E. Lee

No one who ever met Robert Edward Lee -- whatever the circumstances of the meeting -- failed to be impressed by the man. From his earliest days as a cadet at West Point, through 25 years as an officer in the U.S. Army’s Corps of Engineers and six more as a senior cavalry officer, and then as the supreme ... Read More

The Mystery of Robert E. Lee

No one who ever met Robert Edward Lee -- whatever the circumstances of the meeting -- failed to be impressed by the man. From his earliest days as a cadet at West Point, through 25 years as an officer in the U.S. Army’s Corps of Engineers and six more as a senior cavalry officer, and then as the supreme ... Read More
U.S.

Zoomers and the Constitution

A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center compared generational views on key social and political issues, focusing on the similarities between Millennials and Generation Z. The topics probed include race relations, diversity, climate change, capitalism, socialism, and the role of government. This last item, ... Read More
U.S.

Zoomers and the Constitution

A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center compared generational views on key social and political issues, focusing on the similarities between Millennials and Generation Z. The topics probed include race relations, diversity, climate change, capitalism, socialism, and the role of government. This last item, ... Read More