Putin critic Bill Browder tells MPs the Kremlin wants him dead
‘I am at risk, at high risk’ financier who exposed Russian corruption tells Commons committee
A leading critic of Vladimir Putin’s regime has told MPs that the Russian government wants to have him killed.
Bill Browder, a financier who sought to expose high-level corruption in Russia, said he had received repeated death threats as a result of his campaigning.
Giving evidence to the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee – which is investigating fake news – he said he was at “high risk”, although the Russians had yet to work out a way to kill him and “get away with it”.
“I am at risk, at high risk. I don’t spend my life living in fear but I am definitely at risk,” he said.
“I believe that they want to kill me. They want to kill me and get away with it and if they kill me in a very brazen way and they don’t get away with it then there would be big repercussions.
“They haven’t figured out a way yet to kill me and get away with it.”
Mr Browder, a US-born British national, has been a thorn in the side of the Russian authorities for more than a decade after he tried to expose the “looting” of his investments in the country by corrupt officials.
In 2009, Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer he hired to investigate what had happened to his money, died in Russian custody.
Mr Browder told the committee the threats against him had come from the highest level, with a number of attempts by the Russian authorities to have him brought back to the country.
“I have been threatened on a number of occasions with death, including (from) Dmitri Medvedev, the prime minister of Russia,” he said.
“At the World Economic Forum in Davos, when a group of journalists asked him about Sergei Magnitsky, he said ‘It is a shame Sergei Magnitsky is dead and Bill Browder is still alive and running around.’
“On the official side, what the Russians would like to do with me more than anything is to arrest me, get me back to Russia and then kill me within the control of their own system.”
Ahead of the hearing, Mr Browder told the Press Association the collapse of the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury should be treated as a “Kremlin assassination plot”.
“We know that he was considered a traitor by Russia. The operating assumption when an enemy of the Kremlin mysteriously collapses is that foul play was involved,” he said.