(Bill Browder, Simon & Schuster, 2015)
Bill Browder is the grandson of the first leader of the American communist party. In order to rebel against his family history after a somewhat turbulent childhood he decided to pursue business and investment. Inspired by his grandfather’s ties to eastern Europe, Browder did his best to make a name for himself in the newly capitalist economies in the former Soviet bloc. This was the first step in his roller-coaster ride of high finance and politics that will eventually lead to the Russian government filing an InterPol Red Notice (the closest thing to an international arrest warrant) for Browder and the death of one of his closest associates.
The Red Notice grants the reader peculiar insight into the world of oligarchs and high finance in Putin’s Russia. It explores the some of the finesses and difficulties of doing business in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It grants a snapshot into the lives of some ordinary Russians and the workings of the Russian government leading up to the murder of Sergei Magnitsky at the hands of the Russian prison system. It especially underlines how the Russian government will use any means necessary: financial, political, diplomatic and even criminal to achieve its goals. It is the story of how one man began a career in finance and found himself at the forefront of a activism campaign to fight high level corruption.
Browder’s work shone a light on a aspect of recent Russian and American history that I had only tangentially been aware of previously. I find that with all of the politics, sanctions and military involvement surrounding the Russian Government one could easily lose sight of that “by any means necessary” includes the world of economics and international business. I feel that the Red Notice should be essential reading for anyone looking to better understand the government of Vladimir Putin. Furthermore, the legacy of Sergei Magnitsky, and the Magnitsky Act make this book a must for readers interested in the present state of affairs between the Russian and American Governments. The book remains a timely reminder of one aspect of the Russian government and its devices as the Russian government filed a 7th Red Notice request for Bill Browder with Interpol in April 2019.