Sergei Magnitsky and the Decade-long Campaign for Justice

EVENT TRANSCRIPT: Sergei Magnitsky and the Decade-long Campaign for Justice

DATE: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm, 14 November 2019

VENUE: Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, Westminster, SW1P 4RS, United Kingdom

SPEAKER: Oleg Sentsov, Meghan McCain, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Bill Browder

EVENT CHAIR: Dr. Andrew Foxall


DR ANDREW FOXALL: Good afternoon everybody, welcome to the Henry Jackson Society. My name is Andrew Foxall and I oversee the Russia and Eurasia Programme here. I’m delighted that so many of you have decided to join us, chosen to join us indeed, for today’s talk, which is entitled Sergei Magnitsky and the Decade-long Campaign for Justice. There are very few people, I think, who are as qualified to speak to this topic as our four speakers today. Now, you would have noticed there are currently actually only three speakers, Oleg Sentsov is currently making his way here from West London and will be with us shortly. But he will, I can assure you, be here. So there’s three speakers that we have here at the moment.

On my far right is Vladimir Kara-Murza, who many of you will know. Chairman of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom, Vice President of the Free Russia Foundation and contributing writer to The Washington Post.

Next to Vladimir is, of course, Bill Browder, a man who needs no introduction to any of you. But like most people who need no introduction, I’ll give a brief one anyway. CEO of Hermitage Capital. Leader, founder, and inspired leader of the global Magnitsky Campaign and author, of course, of Red Notice as well.

And then to my immediate right is Meghan McCain, notable for a number of things, obviously daughter of the late U.S. Senator John McCain. In her own right, a bestselling New York Times bestselling author and also co-host of the ABC Emmy-award winning daytime talk show The View.

As I said, Oleg will be with us shortly, but he is not currently with us. When he arrives, he’ll join us immediately. Without any further a due, though, let’s get to today’s [inaudible]. Yes, a note from my boss: The event is being livestreamed, so please, tweet, retweet, hashtag and so on and so forth, what we discuss. I should just note, obviously the reason why we’re holding the event here and not in parliament, as usual, is because there’s the general election going on. Because it’s, perde, we as an organisation do not take any political position. The Charity Commission regulate that, and rightly so. So anything that is said is not the position of HJS or any of its representatives. You’ll have to forgive me for that caveat but it’s an important one. The speakers will speak for about three to five minutes in the first instance and thereby leave plenty of time for Q&A. Bill, I suppose it’s

[Bill: do you want me to start?]

likely most appropriate for you to begin.

BILL BROWDER: I’m delighted to see all of you and Andrew and the rest of the Henry Jackson people here, thank you for hosting us and thank you for hosting us every year on this occasion. I can’t think of an organisation that had been more stalwart in support of the Magnitsky justice campaign than the Henry Jackson Society. And I’m honoured to be here and I will always be here every year as we carry on with this mission which doesn’t end. I’m glad to have pressed the right number on the elevator coming up here because as I understand if I had pressed 16 instead of 26 I would have arrived at Russia Today. And I might have gotten a different level of warmth in my reception.

[audience laughs]

The day we’re, today is the 14th of November, which is two days before the 16th of November, which is the day on which Sergei Magnitsky was murdered ten years ago. And I made a decision, when I learned about Sergei’s murder, that I was going to put aside all of my other activities and devote all of my time, all of my resources and all of my energies, to getting justice for Sergei Magnitsky. And I spend the last ten years doing that and I started out alone, but in the process I’ve gathered a lot of allies, as I mentioned, Henry Jackson Society. Vladimir Kara-Murza.

And alone with Vladimir Kara-Murza, Boris Nemtsov was one of our chief allies, and as you all know, Boris Nemtsov was brutally murdered in February 2015 and, I believe, part of the reason that he was murdered was his vocal, energetic, and stalwart support for the Magnitsky sanctions campaign that we had put on and I’m sure Vladimir will talk about that.

Another one of my allies was John McCain. John McCain, when I took the story of Sergei Magnitsky to Washington, I was looking for somebody who I thought, in their heart, could empathize with what Sergei had gone through. And of all the people in Washington, John McCain had spent five, more than five years, as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and then tortured in a Vietnamese prison camp. If anyone could understand what Sergei had been through, it was John McCain. And indeed, he did understand what Sergei had been through. And he became a friend, an ally, and one of the most effective people in Washington in making sure the Magnitsky Act passed in 2012. And when Vladimir Putin responded to the Magnitsky Act by making, by getting so angry with it, by banning adoption of Russian orphans by American families. From doing all these crazy things in trying to stop it, John McCain realized that we were onto something really big here. That if Putin got so upset, that maybe other dictators would equally get upset and he was the, he was the brainchild behind the Global Magnitsky Act and the Global Magnitsky Act applies to bad guys all over the world.

And I’m very fortunate to have become friends with Meghan McCain and, I believe that, she has taken up the mantle from her father on this issue and a number of other issues and has, is here for the second year in a row to support our campaign and to support in a lot of other ways in America. So we really have a good group.

And then our final speaker is not here yet, Oleg Sentsov. We all know who Oleg Sentsov is, he is an incredible individual who stood up to the evil of the Putin regime after the invasion of Crimea. And was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his public stance and went on various hunger strikes and other things to keep the issue of the illegal invasion of Crimea in people’s minds. And last year we awarded Oleg Sentsov the Magnitsky price, which is a human rights price we give to people who have made great sacrifices in the, in the spirit of Sergei Magnitsky. And he wrote us a very, sort of short scrawled, hand-written, scrawled note from prison of appreciation for being recognized. And then we all had this unbelievable bonanza of him being released in the prisoner swap and the fact that he’s here today in person and he will be here tonight to accept his award in person is something that really touches me profoundly. I’m going to leave my thoughts at that and hand over to whoever you want me to hand it over to.

DR ANDREW FOXALL: Vladimir, please.

VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA: Thank you. Thank you so much and I want to thank the Henry Jackson Society for hosting us here this afternoon. And thank you to Bill for bringing us all here for the annual Magnitsky awards. I don’t think there’s a better legacy to somebody who fought for justice and the rule of law than to create a global, lasting, and universal mechanism to keep human rights’ abusers accountable and that is exactly what the Magnitsky Justice campaign has done. And it’s been an honour to be a part of it, for the last, almost a decade now. And thank you so much for everything you’re doing and continue to do, Bill.

Seven years ago this week, on the 16th of November 2012, Boris Nemtsov and I were sitting in the visitor’s gallery in the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives, watching members of Congress vote on this bill that would soon become the Magnitsky Act. And when it became clear that the law would pass, and they have this kind of table on the wall where you can see votes coming in in real time, so you know the exact moment when there’s more than half. And Boris turned to me and said two things. I will come back to the second one in a minute, but the first thing he said to me was this: The law they’re just about to pass is the most pro-Russia law ever passed in a foreign country. And I’ll often go back to those words and often use them, because it’s absolutely true. Because it’s a law that targets those individuals who abuse the rights of Russian citizens and who plunder the resources of Russian [Inaudible] space. And the reason that it’s so powerful and so effective, as Bill was just saying, is that apart from many other things that characterize the Putin regime: the election fraud, the media censorship, the political prisoners, the authoritarianism, the abuse of power, and I can go on and on. One other big characteristic of that system is the astonishing hypocrisy. The astonishing double standard that exists, at the very heart of it. And that is that the same people who abuse and attack and undermine and violate the most basic norms of democracy and the rule of law, in our country, in Russia, then go to the West and enjoy the privileges and the benefits and the opportunities, that the same principles of democracy and rule of law offer in the West. Because it’s in the West where they keep their money, where they park their families, where they buy their real estate, their yards, their vineyards, and so on and so forth. These people steal in Russia, but want to spend that money in the West. And the Magnitsky Act is the first huge step to counter that hypocrisy and to counter that double standard. I have to say that one of the things I’m most grateful for, after almost a decade of being involved in the global Magnitsky Justice campaign, is the opportunity to meet so many, actually let me rephrase that, not so many, but an opportunity to meet people, political leaders. And speaker Oleg Sentsov has just joined us, let’s welcome him in. Oleg.

[audience claps]

I must say, Oleg, quick a side, we had, a coalition of Russian international NGOs came together a few months ago to produce this report on Russian political prisoners and, you see Oleg’s face here on the title of it. And I must say there are a few things as gratifying in my line of work as to see somebody, you know, whom so many people have spent years campaigning for their release, and frankly, not hoping that that would be possible so soon to be joined by him on the panel. I was on a conference in Berlin recently, sitting on a panel, and in the front row, there were two people, Oleg and [Inaudible], and I was sure both of them would stay in prison while Putin stays in the Kremlin and it’s sometimes so good to be wrong.

So I was just saying that one of the things that I’m probably most grateful for, after being involved for almost a decade in the global Magnitsky Justice campaign, is to have met, not so many, but a few remarkable, principled, and strong political leaders, who contradict all the stereotypes we have about modern-day politics. Always put principle above expedience. And one of those people was the late Senator John McCain, who will always be my privilege to have known and to have worked with. I met him for the first time, together with Boris Nemtsov in 2010, as we were beginning work on the Magnitsky Bill. And without him this law would not exist today and for that we are eternally grateful.

But I must also say that I’ve met some very different political leaders in the West over this past decade. You know, some of us, living in countries with authoritarian regimes, have this naïve notion that, you know, it’s a black-and-white situation: that you have dictatorial regimes on the one side and then you have the collective West, all of which is very enthusiastically, you know, standing up for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Boy, were some of us wrong to think that. You know, it is being said that the biggest export from Putin’s regime to the West has been corruption and I totally agree with that. Except, of course, it’s a two-way street. For someone to be able to export corruption abroad, someone else abroad needs to be willing to import it. And, as I’ve witnessed personally over these last few years, there’s never been a shortage of those enablers. I’ll never forget, a few years ago, there was a British parliamentary delegation on a visit to Moscow. This was early in 2016. And I got a call from the British Ambassador, asking if I would come in to give them, kind of a briefing, a breakfast briefing, because they were meeting with officials in the Foreign Ministry, [Inaudible], other government institutions, and there were people here from the opposition as well. And so I said, of course, I’d be very happy to do that. So I came in, we had the breakfast, and I was talking about all things happening in Russia. And then we came to talk about the Magnitsky Act and the importance of passing one here in Britain. And at that moment, the conversation, and until then, it was very polite and you know a very British style, turned very different. And one of the Members of Parliament present, and unfortunately it was Chatham House rule, so I’m not allowed to disclose a name. But one of the members of British parliament present literally broke me off, his face turned all red, like my tie here, and he started shouting across the table, something to the tune of: How dare you, you know, why should we follow your advice, why should we do this, why should we deprive the City of London of millions of pounds in profits over some human rights hearsay. That was the phrase he used. And this was, as I mentioned, early in 2016, and so this was just a few months after I survived an assassination attempt in Moscow by poisoning. And I was still in the recovery mode, walking with a stick, hardly being able to sit. And we were sitting in the British Ambassador’s residence, which is just across, for those of you who have been in Moscow, you know, it’s just across the river from the Kremlin. So just a few hundred yards from the spot where, just months before then, Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down on Moskovoretsky Bridge. And where people, then and to this day, continue to bring flowers and light candles. And it’s kind of an unofficial memorial to him. So we were sitting very close to that spot and I have to tell you that I had nothing to respond to that British Member of Parliament that was talking about profits for the City of London. But I’m very happy to say that that point of view did not prevail and now we have the Magnitsky Act here in Britain as we do in five other countries: The U.S., Canada and the three Baltic states. And like continuing this work and I’m hoping, and we’re in fact actively working to take this campaign to other countries. Bill and I, a couple of weeks ago, were in Sweden, to testify to kind of a joint Scandinavian parliamentary meeting about the Magnitsky law. Earlier in France, earlier in Germany. This work certainly continues and that I look forward to being a part of it in the next months and years.

And finishing now, I just want to come back to the second thing Boris Nemtsov said to me back then in November of 2012, when we were sitting in the House Chamber in the U.S. watching them vote on the Magnitsky Act. So the first thing I already mentioned he said was that this was the most pro-Russia law ever passed in the history of any foreign country. The second thing he said, that when we have democracy and rule of law in Russia, I will be the first one, he was referring to himself, I’ll be the first one to come back here to U.S. Congress, thank them for their support, and ask them to repeal that law because we’ll no longer need it because we’ll have our own justice and law enforcement system that we’ll be able to take care of our own crooks and our own criminals. Now we know that Boris won’t be here to go anywhere and say anything, but I certainly hope that if I’m around in that day, when we do have democracy and rule of law in Russia, I will go back to those parliaments around the world and thank them for their support at a difficult time and ask them to repeal that legislation, at least as it refers specifically to Russia. But unfortunately we are not in that moment yet and I look forward to the next few months of continuing to be a part of the global Magnitsky Justice campaign and campaigning for accountability for those who are complicit in human rights abuse. Thank you so much.

[audience claps]

MEGHAN MCCAIN: Well first of all, thank you so much for having me, Bill and Vladimir, everyone. I’m American, so it’s a little, you know, it’s a little strange for me in a foreign country talking about American politics, but here we go. My father spoke about the Magnitsky Act often, in his personal life, over dinner. At the end of his life, he spoke about it a lot to me. And I knew what the Magnitsky Act was, but it obviously became much more important towards the end of his life. And he specifically asked me and Bill and Vladimir to connect on this very specific issue, I think, sort of reading the tea leafs of what’s happening in the, the normalisation of Putin in my own country. My father was always against Putin, his entire life, as long as I can remember. I remember when he was running against President Bush in 2000. President Bush said “When I look and I, at Vladimir Putin in his eyes, I see a soul” and my dad said I see a K, a G and a B.

[audience laughs]

And he had always- which is still a funny joke. He was always, always, always vehemently against his tyrannist regime and all the human rights violations that continue to go on and always on the side of freedom. So much so that Vladimir was actually a pallbearer at my dad’s funeral, which is still an honour for me and my family. And I think symbolic of his relationship with Vladimir and his stance on the Magnitsky Act. I’m so glad of all the work you guys are continuing to do.

I’m so happy that there are people in America that agree with the Magnitsky Act and how important it is. I’m so glad that, I think the average person in America probably knows now who Boris Nemtsov is. It’s disheartening to see, as you have said, so many people in so many different places who don’t see this as a black-and-white issue when I think any rational person should. I’m very honoured to be here with Oleg, giving the award to you tonight and, I too, am so pleased and heartened and inspired that you are here with us. And I work in media, I work in a daytime talk show and it is not nearly as important or as serious as what everybody else in this room is doing. But I do think media is important and I think the average woman, which is, tends to be our audience, or average man, knowing what the Magnitsky Act is and knowing just how dangerous Putin’s propaganda machine is especially, I think Americans are waking up on its impact on our election and our politicians. But especially right now, going forward, I believe in the power of the media and I believe in how important it is to continue the Magnitsky Act globally and any small part. I will- Bill Browder could call me in the middle of the night at any point and I will be wherever you want to be at any time. And I know it’s small and nothing compared to what my father used to do, but my commitment will be forever and I look forward to the day, also, that the Magnitsky Act is in every single country and we no longer have to do this. And thank you so much for having me, it really is such a privilege to be here.

[audience claps]

DR ANDREW FOXALL: Thank you. Meghan, thank you. Bill, thank you. Vladimir as well. Our final speaker has arrived, many of you will have noticed. Oleg Sentsov, just by way of introduction, is of course a Ukrainian film maker, writer, activist, broadcaster. Crimean of course, by origin. He was arrested there in 2014, following Russia’s illegal annexation on trumped up – no pun intended –  charges. Sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment in a Russian jail by Russian clout. And was released, as has been mentioned already, as part of the prisoner swap in September. It is both humbling and inspiring to have you with us today, so thank you for joining us.

[audience claps]

OLEG SENTSOV: Thank you very much. I must apologize because my English is not so good. I need a translator, Sasha [Inaudible].

TRANSLATOR: Hello, my name is Alexandra Mantsova. I’m from [Inaudible], organisation working various cases of political prisoners, like from 2014. So and now I will just translate for Oleg.

[some confusion about correct working of the microphone]

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: First of all, I want to say great, thankful for all the people who are taking part in different actions with the result of this all was me and other political prisoners was released.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: But after that, even, Russian aggression not stop against Ukraine and still they’re occupied our territories and still more than 100 person stay in the jails (?) of Russia Federation and more 200 hostages we have in [Inaudible].

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: Great Britain always have their own position which support Ukraine and against Russian aggression against us.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: How the Russian regime can act you saw in Salisbury when in the territory of other countries they can try to kill men and after that they try to say “no, no, we don’t do that”.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: Same Russia demonstrate in our territory when they act aggressive on our country and kill more than 14.000 person and still say we don’t have nothing with this.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: So Ukraine continue the fighting against Russia and for their own independence and with life of their citizens and still waiting for supporting of whole international community.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: Sure, Ukrainian army can’t just win with Russian army, because it’s too big. And not only sanctions can help us to stop Russia in such aggressive.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: Change, all this situation change, the regime can only change by Russian citizens, because only they can change, by their own action, can change the situation inside the Russia and change the political regime and change the politics which is promoted inside Russia.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: So I hope that we take success and Ukraine start to be a civilized country and we stop say Russian and aggression in one sentence or Russia and killing and Russia and some other abusing other freedoms and rights.

OLEG SENTSOV: Thank you very much.

[audience claps]

DR ANDREW FOXALL: Thank you Oleg. And Sasha as well. So we now have half an hour or so for questions. If you do have a question, simply raise your hand and say who you are and if you represent a particular organization. I can already see a number of hands. They’re all male hands, there’s not a lot of females in this job. In which case, please.

CAROL SHAW: [Inaudible]

DR ANDREW FOXALL: The question was what is to be done in Ukraine. Sorry if you could just say your name please.

CAROL SHAW: Carol Shaw.

DR ANDREW FOXALL: So what is to be done in Ukraine? And that is question for Oleg presumably?


OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: Okay it’s often question for me. And I always answer that for five years he’s been in the jail. But he would say something after they give him some new information.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: Full country, full population can make a decision what happen, what doing in this country. And I’m just spending this time in the jail and I can’t just in one moment decide what we need to do.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: We have two big problem in Ukraine. First, it’s our problem, it’s aggression from Russia Federation. But second it’s our inside problem, it’s corruption.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: And Ukraine population and Crimea nation, they fight against two of these problems and I think we will win.

[audience claps]

DR ANDREW FOXALL: Thank you. So there were a couple of hands going up over here. Steve first please.

STEVE [unknown]: Thank you. Steve, life-long Russia watcher. Vladimir, I was appalled. First of all, can I apologize on behalf of our MP. [Inaudible]

[audience claps]

STEVE [unknown]: It’s really for you and for Bill. Okay, we have passed the Magnitsky Act, but not enough is being done, here. And I think the fact that they introduced, they just started last year or the year before, the unexplained wealth orders of which one has been issued to the wife of a [Inaudible] businessman. What is it that is actually holding us back? Is it the attitude of this unmentioned, unnamed politician? Is it the fact that our politicians are so far obsessed with a certain word beginning with P? Or is it that they don’t care? And if they don’t care, what can we do to try and persuade them that actually this is a really serious issue.

VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA: Thank you. Okay, thanks a lot for the question, great to see you. Please don’t feel the need to apologize for the politician. If I were to apologize for every Russian politician, we would be here until the evening, so. I just want to see that it was, you’re absolutely right and you’re very diplomatic about it, that not a lot is being done on the Magnitsky Act in the UK. In fact, to say just how much, no that’s not the word, is not being done. The Act was passed into UK law in June of 2018. We are now in November of 2019 and the total number of people sanctioned under the UK Magnitsky Act is zero. It’s the worst implementation of all the countries that have the Magnitsky Act. The official excuse from the British government is that they can’t do it before Brexit. Frankly, I don’t think that has anything to do with reality, because the Baltic states, all three of them, are members of the European Union; it didn’t stop them from implementing the national Magnitsky legislation. EU Member States can still have a national sanctions regime, as the Baltic states have shown. And of the three Baltic states, Lithuania has really led in terms of sanctioning these individuals. They were the first country to sanction, for example, all of those known to have been involved in the assassination of Boris Nemtsov, people who are under full protection from the Russian government back home as we can imagine. But Lithuania was the first and The U.S. is now doing it too. You may have seen The U.S. government sanctioned Major [Inaudible], he’s in office in the Russian Interior Ministry, a very close confidant of Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-appointed leader of Chechnya, who is one of the lower level organisers of the Nemtsov assassination. He is now publicly and officially sanctioned under the U.S. Magnitsky Act. Such a tragic full circle: Boris Nemtsov played a key role in helping to pass the Magnitsky Act in The U.S. and the Magnitsky Act was then used to sanction one of the people responsible for his assassination. But it’s absolutely that not enough is being done here. And I certainly hope it changes and I think the one thing that can change it is public opinion, just as we found working with, you know, these countries and these parliaments over these years, on the Magnitsky Act. As soon as this- you know, there’s a good reason, you know, what I quoted from this British MP was said in a Chatham House rules meeting. They would never say it out in public obviously and nobody does. And so we found that we would always prevail once this issue is out in the public. And in The U.S., the Obama administration, tried to stop the Magnitsky Act as well, behind the scenes. And it only was passed once it got out into the public. Because there’s no public argument for allowing torturers, murderers, and thieves into your country and letting them use your, you know, buy your homes and use your banks. So once it’s out in the public then we win and they lose. And I think that’s the only thing that can make this Act not only being, you know, passed on paper, but work in reality here in Britain. And I certainly hope it happens soon, because frankly it’s important to have the Magnitsky Act everywhere. But if I were pressed for what’s the single most important country, and to have it working, it will be this one for reasons I don’t need to explain to you.

BILL BROWDER: Let me just say one thing. Your question is, what’s going on here, why is this happening. And there’s something rotten in this country, there’s something rotten in the United Kingdom in relation to dealing with Russian criminal behaviour. Vladimir had a little view of that at the British Embassy in Moscow and I think we all have a view of that today as the Intelligence and Security Committee has a 50-page report that goes into details, naming names of people in the British establishment who are taking money from Russians and acting on the interests of Russians in the political, in the British political process. And I have seen that every step of the way. As Vladimir mentioned, of the six countries that have Magnitsky Acts, five of them have multiple people on the Magnitsky list and this country has zero. My bid in the International Crime Agency to provide evidence about tens of millions of dollars of elicit Russian money coming to the country in connection with the Magnitsky murder. And the International Crime Agency refused to investigate and the person who was in charge of the decision came to me a year later and said, apologized to me, and said “I’m sorry I was instructed not to investigate. We thought that there was a case there”. The fact that we have this, this report, sitting there, suppressed, is just one more system of a deep, entrenched problem in this country, which needs to be fleshed out and solved soon.

DR ANDREW FOXALL: If you can keep that. So the next question of Akhmed Zakayev, please.

AKHMED ZAKAYEV: [Inaudible]. My question is for all of you. Because it’s what happened in Russia now and what’s going on in Russia now. It’s that everything started with what Putin started to do in Chechnya in 2000- 1999 when he became a President. Why I’m asking you, all of you. Ukraine, Georgia, it’s all consequences of what Putin had done in Chechnya. Why I’m asking you, Meghan, because when started, when he decided to start first Chechen War, American President said “and this little blab”. Well this little blab, its consequences is 250.000 Chechen civilians had been killed, 40.000 of them children. And we know what’s going on in Russia, we have a lot of opposition movements in Russia. My question’s- we have two positions. We have the Peace Treaty which is signed by Russian President and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. And we have Ramzan Kadyrov who was created by Putin. What, your opinion, all of you, what do you think, which way will we go to ahead, forward? Military- Peace Treaty or what’s going on now in Chechnya is occupation region by Russians. My question, what we should do with Chechnya, what we think? If we started, if Putin started to become a Putin in Chechnya, then we should stop him, this way, this point, when he’s starting. My question all of you. Sorry, maybe it’s not clear, I don’t know. Thank you.

DR ANDREW FOXALL: No, no, it’s perfectly clear Akhmed, thank you.

BILL BROWDER: Let me say something. So Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine, Syria. You have assassinations, Litvinenko, Skripal, Magnitsky, Nemtsov. Basically if there is no consequence to crimes then criminals continue to commit them. And everybody, there’s even now talk about reset- French President Macron is talking about resetting relations with Russia. There’s no, it’s not our fault, that he killed 250.000 people in Chechnya, it’s not our fault that he created 5 million refugees in Syria, it’s not our fault that he took over Crimea. It’s his fault. And he should pay a price for that. And he’s a guy who only understands hard boundaries and consequences. And as long as we have a weak foreign policy towards Russia, he’s going to continue to do these things and they’ll be, they’ll be the equivalent of an Akhmed Zakayev from another country standing up, talking about the atrocities that he’s committed until he stops, he needs to be stopped, he needs to be contained. And the containment strategy. We used to have a containment strategy around the Cold War, we didn’t want Russia, or the Soviet Union, to export totalitarianism, communism to the rest of the world. We now have to have a containment strategy over Putin, criminality of the Putin regimes, we can’t spread his crimes around the rest of the world. And until we wake up to that, we’re going to see more of these terrible, horrible atrocities.

VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA: Thank you so much for the question. And of course now we are in the 20th anniversary of all these events, just the autumn of 1999. The Putin coming to power and the apartment bombings and [Inaudible] and everything that happened since. I think it’s, you asked the question, you contrasted the Peace Treaty ’97 with Kadyrov’s regime today. I already mentioned Kadyrov’s name in the context of the Nemtsov assassination and I think it’ll be fair to say that the Kadyrov’s regime, created and supported by Putin and financed by Putin, Chechnya is the ugliest form of Putinism in Russia today, even by the general standards of what’s going on in our country, which are not high to say the least. What’s happening under Kadyrov’s watch is just beyond belief, with the tortures, with killings, with disappearances, with his enemies ending up dead, in not just in Chechnya, but in Moscow, in Vienna, in Dubai, most recently in Berlin. And, of course, we know that the main attack dogs, as it were, against political opponents of Putin are Kadyrov’s people as well. And would know that the assassination of Boris Nemtsov in 2015 was organized through their hands, not by them, but through their hands and was carried out through their hands. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Akhmed, for providing public testimony to the OSC in their ongoing inquiry and rapport in the Nemtsov assassination. And it’s very important to remember those origins and where Putin began and how he came to power. And Meghan mentioned a few minutes ago, that debate between Senator McCain and then-Governor George Bush. This was in South Carolina in February of 2000. When your father said, that “I’m afraid that Putin is one of those men that would want to make the trains run on time”. That’s a very clear reference to Mussolini. This is not 2003, 2010, 2015, this is 2000. This is when most of Western leaders, including the Prime Minister here, Tony Blair, were enamoured with this new, young, energetic Russian leader, you know, who would be a good partner in international affairs. And Senator McCain said this in February of 2000. And foresight is not valued enough in politics and he had it. And so, yes, I think it’s important to always remember the origins. And I’m very grateful to Oleg Sentsov for saying just a few minutes ago that “it’s important to remember that the crimes of the Putin regime are being committed not only against Ukraine, Georgia, Syria, Chechnya, and other nations and other peoples, but above all and primarily against the Russian people themselves, that’s very important to remember.

DR ANDREW FOXALL: Thank you, Vladimir. So Latika, please.

LATIKA BOURKE: Thank you. I’m Latika Bourke, from the Sydney Herald Newspaper. Bill, you touched on it earlier about the suppression of the Intelligence Committee report. Vladimir, I was wondering if you had any reasons or if you could shed any thoughts on why you think that report’s being suppressed. And also if I could ask the panel what they think about the, the new evidence that has just come out linking MH17 to the Kremlin.

[audience member: Could you repeat the question?]

VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA: The question was, two things. The second part was about MH17, the plane downing in 2014. The first one was a question to me, what I think the reasons are for the suppressing of this report that Bill was referring to. I obviously don’t have any inside knowledge or specific information, but I will just state the very obvious. If someone hides something, then that means there is something to hide and I just think that means. It certainly doesn’t look very good that four weeks before a very important general election in this country, the government would suppress a report of a major issue that has, not only political, but national security implications for this country too. And I just hope that, you know, a country that’s always valued its openness and its approach to the freedom of information, you know, will actually go and practices what it preaches.

BILL BROWDER: I already commented on the security- Intelligence and Security Committee report, but I just want to say on MH17 that, for any rational person looking at the evidence, it was obvious from the moment that it happened that Russia shot down that airplane and the decision by the politicians to not come to the rational conclusion and to wait so long has really denied justice to the victims of MH17 and I think that there’s really a grave political error by the Dutch government and other governments who wanted to participate in this charade which has left us now, I guess we’re talking about five years later, and we finally are coming to the conclusion that was come to by any reasonable person looking at the evidence within days of the downing of the aircraft.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: I usually not comment or some action or some evidence what not connects with me personally, because I am not expert on all of these questions.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: But in the question of MH17, it’s all understandable.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: Russian forces, Russian official forces, military, with connection to paramilitary groups which control the Russian Federation, shoot the airplane from the territory of occupied [Inaudible].

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: I read the materials per the investigation which was published and it’s all clear there and I hope that next year in the March it will be caught so it will be like [Inaudible] in this question in this case.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: That, so, big example of the political, political way of Putin, who does not care any of their own citizens, citizens of European countries, citizens of Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine, no one. He just have goals and just to have his own motivations so he not will stop only because of the life of this person.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: He is dictator, so he is making cruel and really bad things and after this, lying for the whole of the world in the face.

DR ANDREW FOXALL: Thank you. Any other questions, please do keep raising your hands. What I’ll do, exactly, is take questions in two, just conscious of the time. So the gentleman here in the yellow tie, please, on the front row, and then Anna.

ANDRE HAERMEYER: Andre Harmeyer is my name, I’m a former Government Minister for the government of Victoria, Australia. Australia has always seen itself as sort of being one of the cornerstones of the alliance between Western democracies. I think many people are very, are now very disturbed to see the extent of Russian influence and Russian disruption through Russian oligarchs both in America and in the United Kingdom. And it’s, it really, it really does, sort of, break down a lot of the, the understandings of the, I guess, the social consensus that is necessary for a democracy to exist. We have a similar problem in Australia, not so much with Russian oligarchs, but with Chinese oligarchs, who are playing in the same way. And I took about Vladimir’s comment earlier about the comment he heard of the British politician, I dare say I don’t think that is a rare situation at all. I think it’s sort of, probably, the way many, if not, most think. For the same reasons that, at the end of the day, these people are donating to their political parties, they’re donating to their campaigns, they’re donating to the [Inaudible] brokers within their political structures and also they’re actually creating jobs for people that vote for them. And that makes the whole business- so my question’s really around sort of creating that sort of, you know, bringing that public opinion around, when the people who have to, you know, people who really have to be the leaders in that, are actually finding that, that these oligarchs are the ones funding the campaign and, to a large extent, influencing the people that vote for them.

DR ANDREW FOXALL: Thank you. Anna, please.

ANNA [UNKNOWN]: Question for Oleg Santsov. One of the interviews you gave after leaving prison, you talked about having made friends with Russian dissidents and activists in prison. And you said these people are our brothers and we ought to be working together. Do you- can you see how that might work forward, how you think Ukrainian, Ukraine can help the liberalization of Russia and how Russia can help Ukraine and what are your own plans?

DR ANDREW FOXALL: So just for those of you who couldn’t hear, the second question was specifically for Oleg and was about how Russia and, in a sense so, Ukraine, provide a [Inaudible] possibility for the liberalization and democratization of Russia itself. And the first question really about political funding, the role oligarchs play into that based on the Australian experience with China and working off of it the UK experience with Russia. So perhaps the three of you might want to offer thoughts on the first question.

MEGHAN MCCAIN: I can speak to the media’s impact. And first I want to say it’s not just President Bush that didn’t take Putin seriously, President Obama famously had that comment where he was talking about a reset with his relationships with Putin and then obviously Trump and Helsinki speaks for itself. So it’s been a normalizing for generations, I mean, in 20- I think it was 11. So it’s disconcerting to see how effective and impactful, I believe, is the propaganda machine, specifically from Russia, has been so effective in American politics and in American pop culture. There are many people, I was telling Bell, that I work on a day time talk show and a few months ago we had a, I don’t know if you guys know who she is, but Pamela Anderson on, who I would expect to come on to talk about the things Pamela Anderson would want to talk about and all she wanted to talk about was Julian Assange. And if you look at the clip, I basically have a meltdown and say “you’re not going to spew propaganda from a cyberterrorist on my show”. But it showed, which we talked about afterwards, I thought she was coming on to talk about her boyfriend and it came, it showed, that he is brilliant. He is using proxies, not only in media and in the government, but also in pop culture, which I find particularly dangerous and disconcerting, because I’m sure she has a bunch of fans who were like, you know “Well, what’s wrong, what’s wrong with Julian Assange?” and I believe there’s a singer here, M.I.A., who is now also now a woman who is visiting him and spouting his propaganda across media as well. So my, the fear is, it’s not just that it’s the President that is extremely, I don’t even know the right words to describe it, scary on several different levels. But it’s also infiltrating generations, there’s young millennials who now think “What’s the problem? Why can’t we do business with him?” and I think it is, I can’t even explain. Had my father lived to see this and the moment that we’re in right now, I think he would be screaming “Bloody murderer” at the top of his lungs on the Senate floor like he was before. But I think is what is specifically fearful to me is that it’s infiltrating areas of pop culture, especially in America, that is the only specialty I have, that I never thought would happen. But the reverse of it is, a lot of people saw what happened with the election and see Putin’s influence and are equally fearful and have awakened to the fact that President Obama, in my opinion, was wrong. President Bush was wrong. My father was right. It, he is much more powerful and he is committed to spreading propaganda across the West and completely gas lighting Americans and I think that there are a lot of people that see that now which brings me joy. But I had hoped it wouldn’t be as partisan as it has become and I worry specifically within the Republican party how normalized it has become. And I see, I used to work at FOX News, I have a lot of friends that still work there, but when I see some of the things that are being said about Vladimir Putin on a major news network, it is petrifying. And it happens everywhere, but I think that, for me, it is why the Magnitsky Act is so paramount and so important at this specific moment in time. It always has been, but we have to bring awareness to everyone everywhere just how dangerous this is and just how impactful he can continue to be, especially when it comes to influencing our elections and our voters, not to bring up Pamela Anderson and that situation.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: About the people who sitting in the jail because they are fighting against the regime of Putin, it’s our true friends, because they are fighting for the one [Inaudible].

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: Any person who know that the Crimea is Ukraine and that Putin is a criminal, it’s my friends and my company.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: About the supporting of them, all what we can do, how we can support them, it’s, we can just speak about the falseness cases. It’s not true cases, it’s not true justice, it’s just false cases. And so we just can help only in activist ways.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: Because people have just three years of jail only because they come to the street with plaque(t).

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: Give four years of the jail only because they have like four lines in their Twitter.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: Nobody do something bad from this person, it’s just because they’re against the Russian regime and regime does not like that.

OLEG SENTSOV: Speaks in Russian.

TRANSLATOR: And so we need to speak about it anywhere in the world, because only, only citizens of Russia can just change the situation and change the regime, from inside.

DR ANDREW FOXALL: Thank you, Oleg. We have reached to a clock, unfortunately. The time has flown by. Oleg, I suppose your last sentiment, the last point that you made, that it’s actually the, sort of the people of Russia that can ultimately bring about change there, seems to me, at least, like a sensible point to finish. As Bill mentioned at the very start, it’s ten years on Saturday, since Sergei died slash was murdered slash was killed due to your own descriptor. But it’s important, obviously, that we hosted this event today, to mark everything that he stood for. And it is, as I said earlier, very humbling to have been involved in Bill’s campaign, albeit in a very small way, from the very start. Bill, together with Meghan, Vladimir, and Oleg, we will obviously help you and everything that you’re fine tuning anyway in any way that we can. So I suppose that just leaves me to ask you to thank our guests.


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