Saturday, April 27, 2019

Black Mirror Episode?

Magnitsky died in a Russian prison being held on charges relating to working for this UK oligarch who was originally Putin's fan but later claims to be his greatest enemy. We all heard a lot about Magnitsky when that famous Trump Tower meeting with the Russian lobbyist occurred. She was not there to talk dirt on Hillary and everyone got super bored, as oligarch squabbles over big money and reputation backstabbing are too ordinary in those circles, where syndicates demonize one another incessantly (Hollywood is more friendly? Maybe all that Scientology is working for some?).

Browder says his lawyer was clubbed to death while chained to his death bed in prison, by the very people Magnitsky was accusing of financial fraud, as Browder's legal representative, or lawyer. But then there's a counter-narrative which is what makes this a rabbit hole, somewhat by definition (a vortex of contesting stories converging towards the same truths).

We heard about Browder again when Putin and Trump met in privacy in Helsinki and Putin offered to help out with the Mueller indictment of the GRU guys, in exchange for some interviews with Browder. No one would be in custody or under immediate threat of extradition. Maybe I'm wrong about the details of Putin's statesman-like offer (there's a treaty about nations giving each other mutual support in criminal investigations), as I was not privy to the meeting and back then had not yet connected the dots between Browder and Magnitsky. Trump comes out of the meeting saying this could work, probably knowing less about Browder (or Magnitsky) than I do at this point. Too boring. But he's soon told that Browder is Putin's number one foe and it all clicks into place. Who knows.

Anyway, fascinating stuff. The Magnitsky Act sails through Congress on the basis of this compelling testimony from Browder, and becomes the convenient hammer, the justification needed, to turn the screws everywhere on the Axis of Evil, always shifting (remember BRIC?), based on whatever the public will believe. The public is infinitely gullible and has rarely applied the brakes. Now that more of the public is being coerced into homelessness and unforgiving debt, the political model is to drop them from the unemployment roles and make counting their votes harder, as your tent on the sidewalk is not a registered voter address, by definition. Problem solved re that democracy business, a pipe dream. Back to the oligarch infighting channel, the one we most love to sponsor.