Magnitsky is not the first attorney to lay down his life struggling against the neo-Soviet Kremlin. In January of this year, Stanislav Markelov, who crusaded for justice in Chechnya, was shot down on the streets of Moscow. The Kremlin has been repeatedly tried and convicted for state-sponsored murder and torture in Chechnya by the European Court for Human Rights.
Which brings us back to William Browder, who has very successfully, in his own words, connected his past to his future. According to Wikipedia:
In March 1950, Earl Browder shared a platform with Max Schactman, the dissident Trotskyist, in which the pair debated socialism. Browder defended the Soviet Union while Shachtman acted as a prosecutor. It is reported that at one point in the debate Shachtman listed a series of leaders of various Communist Parties and noted that each had perished at the hands of Stalin; at the end of this speech, he remarked that Browder too had been a leader of a Communist Party and, pointing at him, announced: “There-there but for an accident of geography, stands a corpse!”
Earl’s grandson has been just as lucky; it could have been him in that jail cell instead of Magnitsky, writhing in agony as his body was eaten up by disease while his Kremlin jailers chuckled mirthfully.
And maybe it should have been. Seeking personal profit, for a full decade William Browder helped legitimize the Putin dictatorship, giving the KGB strongman welcome cover as he consolidated his malignant rule. To this day, Browder has never apologized for doing so. He lured billions of dollars in foreign investment into a sinkhole, and he has not apologized to his investors either.
In a very real sense, Browder is even worse than the likes of Bernard Madoff, whose activity was limited to graft. Madoff at least cannot be blamed for helping to undermine the institution of democracy and return a malignant force like the KGB to power.
But Browder can be. It’s a pity he didn’t realize sooner that Putin was a “shark” out to drink his own country’s blood, including that of Sergei Magnitsky. Had he, Magnitsky might still be alive today. Now, the only good that can come of William Browder is if, by his example, the world finally realizes the horror it confronts in neo-Soviet Russia.