Patterico's Pontifications


The Magnitsky Act and the Woman Who Met with Trump Jr.: Part Four of a Six-Part Series

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

This is Part Four of a six-part series on the death of Sergei Magnitsky, what he uncovered before his death, and how it all relates to Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian woman who met with Trump Jr., Manafort, and Jared Kushner in June 2016. The springboard for the series of posts is this Michael Weiss article about Veselnitskaya and how she is connected to the Magnitsky case.

In Part One, I introduced the series and Weiss’s conclusions.

In Part Two, I began setting forth the background of the aggressive tax fraud scheme that Sergei Magnitsky discovered, as set out in Browder’s book Red Notice.

In Part Three, I discussed what Magnitsky did when he uncovered the scheme — and the terrible price he paid as a result.

Today, in Part Four, I discuss the reaction of the Russian government to the Magnitsky Act, and why they hate it so much.


The Magnitsky Act has very much upset the top echelons of Russian government. Browder and Magnitsky were tried in absentia for various crimes even after Magnitsky was killed — resulting in laughable convictions that nobody takes seriously. Putin has repeatedly tried to have Browder arrested by seeking a “red notice” from Interpol authorizing him to be arrested and extradited (hence the title of Browder’s book). Interpol, which usually honors such requests, has refused to do so in Browder’s case. In 2013, Putin puppet Dmitry Medvedev was quoted as saying at Davos: “It’s too bad that Sergei Magnitsky is dead and Bill Browder is still alive and free.” That is a chilling statement from someone who had recently been the president of a country known for assassinating its enemies, both at home and abroad.

Most significantly, Vladimir Putin retaliated against the United States’s passage of the Magnitsky Act by banning adoptions of Russian children by citizens of the United States. This was a heartless act, because the children that Americans adopt from Russia are at significant risk. As Browder explains in his book:

Putin’s proposed ban was significant because over the last decade Americans had adopted over sixty thousand Russian orphans. In recent years Russia had restricted most American adoptions to sick children — those with HIV, Down syndrome, and spina bifida, among many other disorders. Some of these children wouldn’t survive without the medical care they would receive from their new American families.

This meant that in addition to punishing American families who were waiting for Russian children to join them, Putin was also punishing, and potentially killing, defenseless orphans in his own country. To say that this was a heartless proposal doesn’t even qualify as an understatement. It was evil, pure and simple.

So when you hear Putin and other top Russian officials now talk about the issue of “adoptions” you should understand that they mean “repeal of the Magnitsky Act.” As Julia Ioffe explained in The Atlantic:

Let’s get something straight: The Magnitsky Act is not, nor has it ever been, about adoptions.

The Magnitsky Act, rather, is about money. It freezes certain Russian officials’ access to the stashes they were keeping in Western banks and real estate and bans their entry to the United States. The reason Russian (and now, American) officials keep talking about adoption in the same breath is because of how the Russian side retaliated to the Magnitsky Act in 2012, namely by banning American adoptions of Russian children.

Ioffe is 100% correct. Bill Browder explained to Jacob Weisberg why this is so important to Putin:

BROWDER: Vladimir Putin has made it his single largest foreign policy priority to get rid of the Magnitsky Act. It is not a surprise at all given how much money has been spent and how many lobbyists and intermediaries are involved that they somehow found their way to Donald Trump, who at the time was the Republican nominee.

WEISBERG: Why is this bill such a priority for Putin?

BROWDER: Putin has amassed an enormous fortune over the 17 years that he’s been at the top of the heap in Russia, and the Magnitsky Act very specifically would target him. We have been able to track down information and evidence that shows that some of the proceeds from the crime—the $230 million fraud that Sergei Magnitsky uncovered, exposed, and was killed over—went to a man named Sergei Roldugin. (For those of you who remember the Panama Papers, he was the famous $2 billion cellist from Russia who got all this largesse from various oligarchs in Russian companies.)

Roldugin received some of the money from the Magnitsky crime, and it’s well-known that he is a nominee trustee for Putin. When Putin reacts to the Magnitsky Act with such personal venom, he’s reacting because he feels like the entire purpose in life, which was to steal money from the Russian state and keep it offshore, is at risk. That’s why they’re ready to ruin relations with America over the Magnitsky Act by banning adoptions and doing other things, and that’s why so much money has been spent fighting the act and fighting me, the person behind the campaign to get Magnitsky Act in the United States and around the world.

When you hear Vladimir Putin talk about adoption of Russian children, he is talking about getting the Magnitsky Act reversed. When you hear that Natalia Veselnitskaya was talking to Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner about adoption of Russian children, she was talking about getting the Magnitsky Act reversed. As Ioffe explains, the Magnitsky Act is a big deal for Russian kleptocrats because they can’t protect their money:

What made Russian officialdom so mad about the Magnitsky Act is that it was the first time that there was some kind of roadblock to getting stolen money to safety. In Russia, after all, officers and bureaucrats could steal it again, the same way they had stolen it in the first place: a raid, an extortion racket, a crooked court case with forged documents—the possibilities are endless. Protecting the money meant getting it out of Russia. But what happens if you get it out of Russia and it’s frozen by Western authorities? What’s the point of stealing all that money if you can’t enjoy the Miami condo it bought you? What’s the point if you can’t use it to travel to the Côte d’Azur in luxury?

Worse, it looked for a while like the Europeans were going to pass a similar law—because Russians stash far more money in Europe than in the United States.

By the way, when Ioffe says that Russians often keep their money in “Europe” — remember that one country that Russians love to use to stash illegal proceeds is Cyprus — the place Artem Kuznetsov and Pavel Karpov visited, as described in Part Two. Keep that in mind as you read tomorrow’s post, Part Five, in which I discuss Natalia Veselnitskaya, and her connections to the thieves who stole $230 million from the Russian government.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

47 Responses to “The Magnitsky Act and the Woman Who Met with Trump Jr.: Part Four of a Six-Part Series”

  1. This is a very good explanation for why “Russian adoptions” is connected to the Magnitsky Act. Who could object to “talking about adoption”? It’s the same kind of misleading label our media uses here–who could object, for example, to “refugee* women* and children*”?

    *Most of whom seem to be young men of military age looking for work in Europe.

    Browder’s logic does trouble me in one aspect:

    “…In recent years Russia had restricted most American adoptions to sick children — those with HIV, Down syndrome, and spina bifida, among many other disorders. Some of these children wouldn’t survive without the medical care they would receive from their new American families.

    This meant that in addition to punishing American families who were waiting for Russian children to join them, Putin was also punishing, and potentially killing, defenseless orphans in his own country…”

    First, it doesn’t sound like Russia had any good motive in allowing only sick children to be adopted, sounds like they preferred to be rid of the expense. Secondly if we apply that logic across the board, that any sick child who isn’t allowed to go to America is being “punished” or “killed”, then does the US now have some kind of moral (and financial) obligation to all the sick children of the world, and if so why the US particularly? There are any number of other Western nations with the ability to provide care to these orphans, which have nothing to do with the Magnitsky Act.

    None of that of course impeaches anything Browder is saying about Putin’s evil deeds, or evil motives; he’s speaking the language a lot of people nowadays speak, either because he believes it or because he thinks he’s more likely to get a hearing if he adopts it.

    Frederick (53c627)

  2. All across Europe, the only children foreigners can adopt are the sick ones. The healthy ones are adopted in their own country. Same reason Americans could adopt only Chinese girls and not boys. Although the infant girls were healthy, the Chinese wanted only boys.

    Like the post says, adoptions are a red herring. The foreign home Putin wants is one for his loot.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. this magnitsky act’s no good

    it’s same same as our sleazy fascist Justice Department’s penchant for civil asset forfeiture (letting the popo steal stuff from people who haven’t been convicted of a crime)

    taking people’s monies without them being convicted is fundamentally unamerican

    this magnitsky act’s no good

    it kills Russian children who could otherwise be adopted

    this magnitsky act’s no good

    it only applies to Russia as if the Saudi royal perverts and the filthy Chinesers were clean like whistle and squeaky

    this magnitsky act’s no good

    it only targets individuals and creates no impetus among the long-suffering Russian peoples to demand change

    this magnitsky act’s no good

    it creates an incentive for the Russian government to interfere in American politics

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  4. Was Rohrabacher your neighbor or something?

    nk (dbc370)

  5. Frederick,

    It’s not whether America or other nations can provide care for sick Russian orphans. Its about whether there are enough adoptive parents willing and able to take them. There aren’t near as many foreigners as Americans willing to adopt Russian children.

    DRJ (15874d)

  6. But on this adoption thingie, when haven’t tinpot dictators, big or small, in banana republics or borsht republics, used their own people as hostages?

    nk (dbc370)

  7. This is incredibly interesting. I am fortunate I read

    DRJ (15874d)

  8. And what is end point of magnitsky, we know about Jackson vanik, which this resembles

    narciso (d1f714)

  9. @DRJ: There aren’t near as many foreigners as Americans willing to adopt Russian children.

    A lot of things seem to work that way. Foreigners aren’t as willing to bear the cost of NATO and other collective security agreements, not as willing to bear the costs of pharmaceutical development, not as willing to bear the cost even of English-language textbooks*, and then we get blamed for not shouldering enough of the load.

    *For those who don’t know how this works: American college students have to buy very expensive, hardcover, glossy, color-illustrated textbooks, typically $100 – $300 apiece. The identical edition, printed much more cheaply, is only available in foreign markets.

    Frederick (53c627)

  10. Get back to me when we stop killing a million of our babies every year.

    nk (dbc370)

  11. Oh, what the … I’ll go further. I’ll reconsider the alleged saintliness of American adoptive parents when they look to adopt kids that don’t match the color scheme of their living rooms.

    nk (dbc370)

  12. Not seeing much of a problem with Russians caring for their own children as they should.

    SarahW (3164f0)

  13. I think as the number of persons terribly concerned about Russian adoption is fairly circumscribed it’s just a handy euphemism to label the real agenda so people can write letters with a humanitarian sheepskin. Few would prefer kids be adopted out rather than cared for in their homeland as they should be.

    SarahW (3164f0)

  14. Thats a million more youngsters for republican fodder wars, nk.

    Save that meat for better days.

    Ben burn (233f96)

  15. by the time those kiddos grow up most of the for reals fighting will be done by google battle robots

    heavily tattooed google battle robots

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  16. So what is the goal, of this legislation, as with Jackson vanik.

    narciso (d1f714)

  17. The only reason children and adoptions are involved at all is because Putin judges (probably accurately) that more Americans can be manipulated by threats to specific little children than by threats to, say, Ukraine.

    I’m reminded of the National Lampoon “If you don’t buy this magazine, we’ll kill this dog” cover from 1973. National Lampoon wasn’t a magazine about dogs. National Lampoon was just another magazine that wanted to sell more copies and more advertising based on its circulation, and its target market could be more easily manipulated by an admittedly satirical threat to blow the brains out of a cuddly-looking dog than by anything National Lampoon could say about its own merits.

    Why did Putin inject adoptee children into this international struggle between bandits and the Rule of Law, in other words? For no reason other than that Americans care a lot about helping adoptee children.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  18. Put another way: It’s hostage-taking. Those are the kids who happen already to be within the reach of Putin’s power. But he’d screw over American adoptee kids too if he had access to any of them, because that would be an even more effective set of hostages.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  19. @7. “It’s still the same old story; a fight for love and glory; a case of do or die…” – “As Time Goes By” ‘Casablanca’ 1942

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  20. millions of babies will continue to be killed in America as long as hacks like mccain love them some planned butcerhood

    mg (31009b)

  21. This is incredibly interesting. I am fortunate I read
    DRJ (15874d) — 9/21/2017 @ 10:13 am

    I second that.

    felipe (023cc9)

  22. butcher hood

    mg (31009b)

  23. perhaps mitch mcconnell care will stop the abortion business.

    mg (31009b)

  24. this magnitsky act’s no good

    it only applies to Russia as if the Saudi royal perverts and the filthy Chinesers were clean like whistle and squeaky

    If you had any intellectual curiosity or honesty you could easily learn that Browder fought for the act to be global in reach, but in 2012 had to settle for a law that targeted Russia only.

    Given your complaint, I’m sure you will applaud the fact that four years later, in 2016, a Global Magnitsky Act was signed by President Obama which targets similar activity throughout the world.

    Or not. Because you’re not a serious person. As everyone here can see.

    Maybe I can get actual applause from you if I tell you that Trump says he supports it. Of course, he says a lot of things. And many of them contradict each other.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  25. Thanks, DRJ and felipe.

    I wrote and scheduled this entire series of posts this past weekend, because I knew I would be very very very busy with work this week. Long-time readers know what that means.

    It just so happens to coincide with a lot of Manafort news, which is sort of interesting.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  26. And Beldar’s take on what Putin is doing here is spot-on.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  27. i didn’t know about the global magnitsky act

    nobody tells me anything

    but it seems then the original magnitsky act should be repealed and the global one should be the law

    but that’s probably asking too much of poop-lick paul and sleazy mitch

    but nonono

    i still don’t trust the corrupt and sleazy us government, driven by a sleazy corrupt intelligence community what has no respect for the law, to target people and deprive them of their monies and freedoms

    this is a bad idea

    instead of a shining city built on the rule of law

    failmerica are become the kleptocracy

    this is very shameful

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  28. Yes money laundering has been going on a long time, summers heist crew sold off a great deal of the assets and redistributed it to the nomenklatura. I’m guessing kluev was fmr konsomol, like perzovsky was who browder was very schadenfreude over his fate, and khododokorsky. However weiss leaves out that akhmetchin the naturalized Russian who was in the room, was the pass through for prevezon to steel, which is why we have the Mueller merrygoround, or how much of this money ended up through HSBC and renaissance capital in Clinton’s foundation.

    narciso (d1f714)

  29. i already looked Mr. nk but i didn’t see where it subsumed and replaced the original Magnitsky Act

    i find this very odd, but i don’t have time to figure out what it is (if anything) about the original Magnitsky Act what may have made this obvious bit of housekeeping somehow problematic

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  30. What difference does it make if these persons

    any foreign person the President determines, based on credible evidence—

    (1) is responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals in any foreign country who seek—

    (A) to expose illegal activity carried out by government officials; or

    (B) to obtain, exercise, defend, or promote internationally recognized human rights and freedoms, such as the freedoms of religion, expression, association, and assembly, and the rights to a fair trial and democratic elections;

    (2) acted as an agent of or on behalf of a foreign person in a matter relating to an activity described in paragraph (1);

    (3) is a government official, or a senior associate of such an official, that is responsible for, or complicit in, ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, acts of significant corruption, including the expropriation of private or public assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, bribery, or the facilitation or transfer of the proceeds of corruption to foreign jurisdictions; or

    (4) has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, an activity described in paragraph (3).

    are Russians in one law and any nationality in another?

    As a matter of fact, what obligation do we have to treat Russian gangsters the same as Andorran gangsters? Unspiek, Baron Bodissey, would label such contentions “hyper-didacticism” meaning the employment of abstractions half a dozen steps removed from reality to justify some pseudo-profound intellectualism. Granted, it got him excommunicated from the human race by the Assembly of Egalitarians, but I don’t think that bothered him very much. His response was, “The point is moot”.

    nk (dbc370)

  31. oh my goodness the original act is a much different duckling than the global one

    where did this go for example:

    (d) Removal From List.–A person may be removed from the list
    required by subsection (a) if the President determines and reports to
    the appropriate congressional committees not less than 15 days prior to
    the removal of the person from the list that–

    (1) credible information exists that the person did not
    engage in the activity for which the person was added to the

    (2) the person has been prosecuted appropriately for the
    activity in which the person engaged; or

    (3) the person has credibly demonstrated a significant
    change in behavior, has paid an appropriate consequence for the
    activities in which the person engaged, and has credibly
    committed to not engage in the types of activities specified in
    paragraphs (1) through (3) of subsection (a).

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  32. Because lawfare can be applied to us, consider jasta, which seems to be moving at a galapagos turtle pace, toward ratification, since certain folks in the kingdoms. Can’t be held responsible

    narciso (d1f714)

  33. It is obvious, to me anyway, that what teh Russkies hate the most in the original law is the preamble.

    nk (dbc370)

  34. JASTA does at least rely on courts Mr. narciso (and we’ll posit that the appeals process what will pertain is robust)

    this Magnitsky Act on the other hand can be used to target domestic political enemies by freezing the assets that foreign national move into the US for to remunerate an America business partner

    do you think vile fascist trash like Obama, Clapper, and McCain would be above using it this way?

    that failmerica’s sleazy and grossly anti-semitic Valerie P{lame Intelligence Community wouldn’t happily fabricate a pretext?

    this magnitsky act’s no good

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  35. assets that foreign *nationals* move into the US i mean

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  36. oopers i got a stray this thing { in there too

    oh. cause of i must have hit it when I went to capitalize my P

    that was clumsy I’m a go make another cup of coffee

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  37. The weakness in both laws is the reliance on the discretion of the President. Doubly so, when the President is Trump. All Boris, or Natasha for that matter, would have to do is tuck enough rubles in Ivanka’s g-string and Trump could take them off the list on a vital to the national interest determination.

    nk (dbc370)

  38. ivanka trump shake it for me girl

    shake it for me girl

    shake it for me

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  39. We started this last night, this fight
    Zero hour 9:00 am
    There’ll be another Magnitsky post then

    nk (dbc370)

  40. 1 2 3 4 5 6
    you are here

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  41. Anybody have any experience with painting over clear coat? Do you have to sand it all the way off is it enough to just rough it up for the new primer and paint?

    nk (dbc370)

  42. Rexy Tillerboobs seems to be eschewing “never” for “better late than”

    “But I think in particular, the agreement has this very concerning shortcoming that the president has mentioned as well, and that is the sunset clause, where one can almost set the countdown clock to when Iran can resume its nuclear weapons programs, its nuclear activities. And that’s something that the president simply finds unacceptable,” Tillerson said.

    this is interesting and somewhat hopeful

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  43. Maybe in this pair of boxers:

    narciso (d1f714)

  44. Pathetic participation in a series..evah?

    Ben burn (b3d5ab)

  45. Pathetic participation in a series..evah?

    Old info spot on..

    Ben burn (b3d5ab)

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