Reading List on Browder vs. Russia

A few months ago Ron Unz, suggested I write an article about Bill Browder and the Magnitsky Act. I said I would think about it, but that I was not the most qualified person for the job. I have never investigated this affair deeply myself, so unless I was to spend a few days if not weeks researching it, it would essentially just be a repetition/rephrasing of what other people have already written on the matter. Why have I never deeply delved into an affair so central to Russian-American relations? Because at a fundamental level it just doesn’t interest me that much. 

So here’s the thing. Based on the material I have read over the years, I am pretty certain that Browder is a crook, has a strong vindictive streak, and has played a central role in constructing anti-Russian sanctions and feeding the Russiagate conspiracy theory. OTOH, I am also pretty sure that the people on the other side are no angels either. As the guest writer “kovane” convincingly argued, in what remains one of the best intros to the subject despite having been written in 2011, the two police investigators – Karpov and Kuznetsov – are almost certainly corrupt themselves (even though they were innocent of the tax rebate that lay at the root of Browder’s allegations). And frankly, I think having the Russian elites “squeezed” by the West is a good thing for Russia, regardless of individual guilt or innocence. American bans on Russian chinovniki having property in Florida is a pretty minor human rights violation in the grand scheme of things, and is obviously not something I feel compelled to campaign against. This is actually even more true today than it had been before 2014, when at least the prospect of adequate Russian-Western relations did not yet seem entirely otherworldly. The sum of these considerations means that I can’t make myself care about this issue to the extent of writing a longread about it, and/or personally involving myself with campaigning as I did wrt the egregious US abuses against Maria Butina.

That said, the least that I could do is provide a sort of reading list to existing “counter-narrative” material on the Magnitsky Affair.

kovane (2011) – Sergei Magnitsky, Bill Browder, Hermitage Capital Management and Wondrous Metamorphoses (Kremlin Stooge).

Andrey Nekrasov (2016) – The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes.

This movie is almost always removed as soon as it appears anywhere on the Internet. That said, you can usually find an English language version on a torrent.

Israel Shamir (2016) – The Untouchable Mr. Browder?

Philip Giraldi (2016) – The Magnitsky Hoax? Who stole all the money?

Lucy Komisar (2017) – The Man Behind the Magnitsky Act Did Bill Browder’s Tax Troubles in Russia Color Push for Sanctions?

Lucy Komisar (2018) – I’ve Been Browder’s Number One Journalist Critic for Two Decades. Here’s What President Trump Should Know About Handling Him

Philip Giraldi (2018) – Is Bill Browder the Most Dangerous Man in the World?

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. There was a New Yorker article about this, and my readings it is indeed a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other, but also of any stick being good enough t0 beat a dog.

    But Browder welcomed the prosecution of Khodorkovsky, with whom he had clashed in the past. In 2004, he told the Times, “We want an authoritarian—one who is exercising authority over mafia and oligarchs.” He added that Putin “has turned out to be my biggest ally in Russia.”[…] Magnitsky Act might have languished had it not been for the fact that, in 2012, Russia was about to become a member of the World Trade Organization. In order to grant Russia what the group calls “permanent normal trade relations” status, Congress would have to repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment, a 1975 measure aimed at the Soviet Union that penalized trade with countries that had restrictive emigration policies. Legislators did not want to rescind the law without sending the Kremlin a message about American toughness on human rights. Stephen Sestanovich, who worked on Russia policy in the Reagan and Clinton Administrations, explained to me that, more than the legislation’s particular merits, “the real question was whether Congress and the White House could find any substitute for Jackson-Vanik other than Magnitsky. The answer turned out to be no, they couldn’t.”

  2. “And frankly, I think having the Russian elites “squeezed” by the West is a good thing for Russia, regardless of individual guilt or innocence.”

    So Bill Browder is a deep Russian agent, but gets to enjoy the comforts of the West while he’s at it. 4D chess, or whatever, from the Kremlin at its best.

  3. Philip Owen says

    A question i have not been able to answer: Do Russian tax officials gt a cut of monies recovered? Either as a matter of course or as a reward for superior performance?

    Browder was engaged in tax avoidance on a colossal scale. Russian tax collectors may not have shared Browder’s interpretation of the niceties between avoidance and evasion. I sure Putin wouldn’t.

    My own tiny firm had no trouble with tax collectors apart from the entirely legal burden of reporting requirements.

  4. The way Browder flipped from being pro-Putin/pro-Russia to the opposite, is something that’s very hushed up in US mass media.

    Now he spins much like this BS:

    Another recent example being the 1/18 Chris Hayes-Julia Ioffe segment on MSNBC:

    Utilizing a put mildly dubious source, Julia Ioffe lied when she said that the entire Russian Olympic team doped at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, which isn’t true – nor has ever been claimed by the International Olympic Committee and World Anti-Doping Agency. (Offhand, I don’t believe that the source cited by Ioffe made that claim as well. Specifically, that the entire Russian Winter Olympic team had doped at Sochi.) Of course host Chris Hayes didn’t call Ioffe out on her blatant lie.

    Not too long ago, Ioffe misinformed when writing that Russia was stripped of its first place finish at the 2014 Winter Olympics. In point of fact, Russia (before a panel of non-Russian sports observers) successfully appealed the attempt to deny its first place standing at issue. Notwithstanding, that appeal process saw a few Russians to have doped – not the entire Russian Winter Olympic team as falsely stated by Ioffe on MSNBC.

    It’s no small wonder why many have a low opinion of the mass media.


  5. Khodorkovsky acquiesed in several murders including the mayor who started camping outside Khodorkovsky’s company offices to embarrass him into paying back taxes and was shot dead a month later; the chauffeur for a man who sued him for a 100 million and who was promptly blown up in the limo;, a couple who used to work for Khodorkovsky and who were kidnapped never to be heard of again ect ect. You could say he was unaware at first but the sheer number means he was OKing it. Browder is a great deal less worse than many Russian businessmen who made their fortune back in those days, and who have hands dripping with blood.