How Russia Abuses Western Judiciaries
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How Russia Abuses Western Judiciaries
30 April @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
A report published last year by the Atlantic Council, a leading US think tank, highlighted Russia’s extensive manipulation of the US justice system. This is a little-known, but important, channel through which the Kremlin undermines Western democracies by using these democracies own institutions against themselves. Issuing Interpol Red Notices to critics, mounting libel actions, and launching lawsuits, are just some of the ways in which the Kremlin abuses the rule of law in the West to further its goals.
By kind invitation of Chris Bryant MP, the Henry Jackson Society is delighted to welcome you to a a fascinating panel discussion on how Russia abuses Western Judiciaries.
Bill Browder was the largest foreign investor in Russia until 2005, when he was denied entry to the country and declared “a threat to national security” for exposing corruption in Russian state-owned companies. In 2008, Mr. Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, uncovered a massive fraud committed by Russian government officials that involved the theft of US $230 million of state taxes. Sergei testified against state officials involved in this fraud and was subsequently arrested, imprisoned without trial and systematically tortured. He spent a year in prison under horrific detention conditions, was repeatedly denied medical treatment, and died in prison on November 16, 2009, leaving behind a wife and two children. Since then, Mr. Browder has sought justice outside of Russia and started a global campaign for governments around the world to impose targeted visa bans and asset freezes on human rights abusers and highly corrupt officials.
Anders Aslund is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. He is also a chairman of the International Advisory Council at the Center for Social and Economic Research (CASE). His work focuses on economic transition from centrally planned to market economies. Aslund served as an economic adviser to the governments of Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Ukraine and from 2003 was director of the Russian and Eurasian Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Ben Emmerson QC is Appeals Chamber Judge at the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals. He has 30 years’ experience representing individual and corporate clients before international courts and tribunals. He is a versatile litigator and has appeared at the highest appellate levels, in numerous leading cases, across a range of disciplines including public international law, public and administrative law, commercial litigation, arbitration and human rights law. He is also a recognised expert in domestic and international criminal law. In this country, Ben is a deputy High Court Judge, a Master of the Bench of Middle Temple, a Visiting Professor of International Law and Security at the University of Oxford, and an Honorary Fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford. He also holds an honorary PhD from the University of Bristol. Ben is a former editor of the European Human Rights Law Review, and co-author of the leading text Human Rights and Criminal Justice (3rd Edition).
Christopher Bryant MP is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Rhondda since the 2001 general election and most recently the Shadow Leader of the House of Commons until resigning on 26 June 2016. He is currently a chair of APPG for Russia at the Parliament. He was previously the Shadow Minister for the Arts, Minister of State for Europe, Deputy Leader of the House of Commons and Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. He was re-elected in June 2017.
On the 30th of April the Henry Jackson Society hosted a panel discussion with Chris Bryant MP entitled: ‘How Russia Abuses Western Judiciaries’. The panel consisted of Bill Browder, Anders Aslund and Ben Emerson QC. Chris Bryant opened the proceedings by introducing the event and giving a few remarks on Russia’s pursuit of ‘hybrid warfare’ and its exploitation of our ‘soft underbelly’: the rule of law, freedom of speech and expression, before turning over to Anders Aslund.
Mr. Aslund began his remarks by asserting that Putin has completely destroyed Russia’s economic and political systems, and that Russia today was an authoritarian kleptocracy. He went on to describe how after taking control of state companies, Putin had directed funds from them to himself and his five closest ‘cronies’, arguing that these people make their money through privileged state procurement, particularly from Gazprom. Aslund went on to describe how from 2004-2007, Putin’s four closest friends in the commercial area took $60 billion from Gazprom, and how this sort of behaviour has continued. He then described how this money is kept abroad, laundered mainly to two locations, London and Wilmington, Delaware. Aslund concluded by advocating transparency and the prohibition of anonymous property ownership as a matter of national security, arguing the key to stopping Russian aggression lies in exposing this money and establishing Putin’s personal wealth.
The next speaker was Bill Browder, who opened by agreeing with Aslund’s assessment of Putin as being money obsessed, and discussing how in response to his efforts get Magnitsky Acts passed around the world, Putin had weaponised Interpol, using them to issue red notices against him. Browder went on to describe how despite these notices being repeatedly ruled as illegitimate, Russia continues to request them. He also discussed how the Russian government had filed extradition requests to the UK, used proxies to sue him for libel and even accused him of the murder of a Russian Orthodox priest (who would later emerge to announce that he had not in fact been murdered). Browder’s core message was that Western judges needed to be more sceptical of warrants and judgements from the Russian Federation, arguing that the Russians had repeatedly abused Western judiciaries and could not be trusted to use the existing system honestly.
Finally Ben Emerson QC rose to speak, beginning by arguing that the death of Alexander Litvinenko was a turning point in terms of Putin’s Russia being regarded, in the UK at least, as a mafia state. We have for the first time, Emerson argued, a major superpower with access to all of the institutions that the international legal order makes available to states, being controlled and weaponised by an authoritarian kleptocracy. Emerson also expressed concern over the influence of Russian money within Parliament, arguing that this penetration of Russian money into politics, as well as the willingness of the Russians to abuse the West’s judicial systems, posed a grave threat to our democracies.
The event then closed with a round of questions and answers.
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