Russia is furious. That means the sanctions are working

Anne Applebaum writes: In yet another display of spitting fury, the Russian state this week put Bill Browder on the Interpol list, an international register of “most wanted” criminals. This was the fifth time Russia had issued an international arrest warrant for Browder, a businessman who once worked in the country. Wearily, Interpol lifted the warrant on Thursday. But the gesture once again confirmed something few have yet acknowledged: The sanctions on Russia are working.

Browder’s real “crime”? He persuaded another government, this time the Canadians, to pass a “Magnitsky Act,” a bill applying sanctions on Russian tax officials and police involved in a vast scam, one that involved changing the names of companies, hijacking their bank accounts and using them to steal money from the Russian state. Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, discovered the scam. He was investigated and imprisoned, beaten and deprived of medical care until he died. Ever since, Browder has crusaded to punish those responsible by depriving them of access to Western banks, Western vacation homes and Western educations for their children.

As I’ve argued before, the Russian government really, really hates the Magnitsky sanctions, and it hates them with disproportionate fury. Recently, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, jeered at Browder during a news conference. The Russian lawyer who met with Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016 — the one whose fixer dangled the tantalizing offer of “official documents and information that would incriminate” Hillary Clinton — was seeking to have the Magnitsky sanctions lifted, too. [Continue reading…]

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