Whilst President Medvedev was doing his best to divert the WEF’s attention away from corruption, legal nihilism and security issues at his keynote address in Davos, tireless anti-corruption campaigner and badly-burned investor Hermitage founder Bill Browder was on another mission. Browder took first deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov to task in person on the failure of the Kremlin to oversee an adequate investigation into the murder of Hermitage lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. Some excerpts from Reuters:
“The president of the country called for an investigation into the people who killed my lawyer,” Browder told a panel chaired by Russia’s first deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and a hall packed with Western executives.
“One year after the investigation people who killed the lawyer have been promoted higher by state orders… My question to you, Igor, is what will prevent other investors to have the same experience after my experience in Russia,” he said at the discussion, entitled “Russia’s Next Steps to Modernisation.”
Shuvalov, who is seen as a liberal Russian politician took more than five minutes to answer Browder’s questions but his remarks seemed addressed more to the audience than to Browder himself.
“We know this case very well… Twenty people were fired immediately… It was not a case which was forgotten the next day,” he said in English.
“Unfortunately, I don’t know the results of the investigation and the end of the case… The past is always very important, although not always positive, but we need to concentrate on the future,” he added.
“You have to acknowledge the country is changing for the better. If every year we can say that the rule of law is becoming better, not perfect but better, then I think I’m doing my job,” he added. “We need to work together”.
Note that Medvedev also deflected corruption issues with the very same plea for non-specific solidarity, conveyed by this quote from the Independent: ‘These are realistic attempts to improve the investment climate in Russia, but what we do not need is lecturing – we should be working together’. The pair are obviously using the same crib sheet.