Firestone Questions Medvedev’s True Colors

Jamison Firestone, a corporate lawyer at Firestone Duncan (the law firm of Sergei Magnitsky), has a new article in the Mercury News of Silicon Valley about the risks of investing in lawless Russia.  Firestone has been interviewed on this blog in the past, when he was forced to flee Russia after threats to his life as part of the ongoing Hermitage case.

Like many people, I find Medvedev confusing. He speaks about fighting corruption, building rule of law and fostering investment, but Russia’s level of corruption continues to increase. Silicon Valley may see him as the first Russian leader to surf the Web and use e-mail, but television news still is under state control, and independent journalists, human rights activists, businessmen and now their lawyers are arrested and killed with impunity.

I would like to believe that Medvedev is sincere. But he has done nothing to bring Sergei’s killers to justice, to find the stolen government money, to help my client recover its companies or to stop the attacks on lawyers.

What happened to my clientcanhappen to anyone doing business in Russia, and no law firm in the worldcan defend you in a land without law. Large companies that were surethey would have government support, like Shell, BP, Carrefour, Telenorand Ikea, were left to the wolves. In each case, the Kremlin eitherattacked or allowed corrupt officials to attack foreign investors thatbought into the same pitch you just heard.

Caveat emptor.