VENUE: Committee Room 21, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
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Russia and the West have not been this far apart since the end of the Cold War. Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and continued destabilisation of eastern Ukraine, Western capitals entered into a dialogue on how to hold the Kremlin responsible for its actions. Despite three rounds of targeted sanctions against Russia and pressure for Western leaders to boycott last month’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, it is “business as usual” for many Western companies operating in Russia.
Proponents of the “business as usual” approach argue that Western companies need to maximise their profits and protect their long-term interests in Russia. Critics, meanwhile, posit that by investing in Russia Western companies are supporting a corrupt regime that flouts international law. Furthermore, with Russia’s track record of treating foreign investors, there is no guarantee that the investments will be safe in the long run.
Whatever the case, now is an apt moment to be asking whether the West should continue to invest in Russia.
By kind invitation of Dominic Raab MP,The Russia Studies Centre at The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to invite you to a discussion with William Browder, Founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management and Sir Andrew Wood GCMG, Associate Fellow in the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House and Former British Ambassador to Russia. The speakers will offer their views on the impact of Western sanctions on Russia and on whether the continued investment in Russia is justified.
William Browder is the Founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management. Mr Browder was a leading global shareholder rights activist and was the largest foreign investor in Russia until November 2005, when he was suddenly denied entry to the country and declared “a threat to national security” by the Russian government for exposing corruption at large Russian companies.
In 2008 Mr Browder’s lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, uncovered a massive fraud committed by Russian government officials that involved the theft of US$230 million of state taxes which Hermitage had already paid in 2006. After testifying against the officials involved, Mr Magnitsky was arrested and imprisoned without trial by those very same government officials. He spent a year in prison under horrific detention conditions, was repeatedly denied medical treatment, and died in prison after being beaten by riot guards on November 16, 2009, leaving behind a wife and two children.
Since the death of Sergei Magnitsky, Mr Browder has been leading a global campaign to expose the corruption and human rights abuses endemic in Russia, and in doing so has become one of the most important and successful campaigners against corruption in Russia.
The global Magnitsky campaign for justice is one of the most well-known human rights campaigns in the world, and in just four years has seen a law passed in the US entitled the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act”, as well as many other resolutions and political initiatives around the world condemning the impunity in Russia for Sergei Magnitsky’s death.
Sir Andrew Wood GCMG was in the British Diplomatic Service from 1961 to 2000, and was Ambassador to Yugoslavia 1985-1989, and Moldova and Russia 1995-2000. He is currently Associate Fellow in the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House.
He has acted as advisor to a number of Western companies since then, including ITE, and been a member of a number of Boards.
He is an Associate Fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and co-author with Lilia Shevtsova of a recent book, Change or Decay – Russia’s Dilemma and the West’s Response.
About the Russia Studies Centre
The Russia Studies Centre is a research and advocacy unit operating within The Henry Jackson Society dedicated to analysing contemporary political developments and promoting human rights and political liberty in the Russian Federation. The Centre is headed by Dr Andrew Foxall.