Bill Browder, a British citizen and prominent critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin is in effect confined to Britain after Russian authorities placed him on an Interpol wanted list last week.
He is also unable to travel to the United States after the State Department automatically revoked his U.S. visa as a result of the Interpol notice. Browder found out about the Russian move when the U.S. e-mailed him an automated notice.
“While the Interpol notice is still in existence, I can’t travel anywhere,” he told Global News on Monday.
“Putin has effectively succeeded in grounding me. I can’t travel anywhere, really, because I would be arrested at any border crossing.”
Browder was denied check-in on a United Airlines flight from London to the U.S. due to the Interpol issue, he said.
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The Russian move came shortly after Canada passed a version of the Magnitsky Act, a law that empowers the federal government to forbid the Canadian business dealings, or dealings with Canadians abroad, of foreign nationals who are “responsible for, or complicit in, extrajudicial killings, torture or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”
“I am one hundred per cent sure that this action was a direct result of my advocating for seven years for the Canadian Magnitsky Act and having it finally succeed,” he said.
“Putin has personally made it clear that he despises the Canadian Magnitsky Act, he holds me responsible, and he considers me to be a criminal.”
Last week, Russian prosecutors issued a warrant for Browder’s arrest in Magnitsky’s death, claiming he had caused it by persuading Russian prison doctors to withhold medical care as part of a plot involving MI6.
The warrant was issued on the same day that Putin denounced the new Canadian law, calling it “very unconstructive political games.”
The new Canadian law is modelled on a similar U.S. Magnitsky Act. That law was named for Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in prison under mysterious circumstances after investigating a tax fraud. Browder, who was a business associate of Magnitsky, has been a prominent campaigner for these kinds of laws in Western countries.
On Monday, Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov promised that retaliation against Canada would follow any publication of names of people on a sanctions list “very quickly.”
Browder says that this is the fifth time the Russian government has targeted him through Interpol. The only solution is to send a letter to Interpol’s headquarters in France and wait: “Sometimes it takes weeks, and sometimes it happens overnight.”
Earlier this year, the Council of Europe, an EU body, denounced what it called the “abusive” use of Interpol “by oppressive regimes in order to persecute their opponents even beyond their borders.” A report singled out Iran, Russia and China.
China has been criticized for using Interpol arrest warrants to retaliate against critics abroad.
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