Would it be foolish to think that all this William Browder/Hermitage stuff would come to an end with just one murdered lawyer? Not quite. This latest story from Catherine Belton in the Financial Times is at once frightening, morally outrageous, and embarrassing – as lawyers in London have received death threats by text messages both before and after the Sergei Magnitsky murder.
It really does make me wonder who, if anyone, will step up and take control of the situation. There are clearly a few influential people within the Kremlin who are not crazy, are generally more rational (or at least decent enough to turn their nose up over such an ugly affair), but so far they have been putting up with this unacceptable behavior of the palace circles. Almost makes me long for the clan wars days back when at least the thieves would fight each other a little more.
A London-based Russian lawyer allegedly received death threats before and after the sudden death in a Moscow jail of Sergei Magnitsky, a colleague who had accused the police of involvement in a corruption case.
The man acts for William Browder, the fund manager barred from Russia, and his company, Hermitage Capital Management, which also employed Magnitsky.
Hermitage said it believed the death-threat text messages sent froma Russian mobile phone over the last month were a warning. They couldindicate Magnitsky was killed rather than dying of natural causes aftercomplaining for months he had been denied medical treatment for aserious stomach condition, it said.
A text message sent onNovember 8 said, “If history has taught us anything, it is that anyonecan be killed”, according to Hermitage. An earlier message sent onOctober 23 said: “What could be more frightening . . . I don’t know,death . . . or prison.”
Mr Browder said on Tuesday: “It allstarted to crystallise after we got the fifth message literallygloating about Magnitsky’s death . . . These messages combined withbruises [that were seen] on his hand . . . and the cover-up over hisautopsy lead us to believe there is a real possibility he didn’t die ofnatural causes.”