NPR

Businessman Paints A Terrifying And Complex Picture Of Putin's Russia

Allegations of murder, blackmail and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of corruption. William Browder's story has it all — and he shared it Thursday with a Senate panel investigating Russia.
William Browder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday about Russian President Vladimir Putin's government including allegations of vast and systematic corruption. / Drew Angerer / Getty Images

William Browder knows Vladimir Putin's Russia all too well.

Browder made a fortune in Russia, in the process uncovering, he says, incredible amounts of fraud and corruption. When he tried to report it to authorities, the government kicked him out of the country and, he alleges, tortured and killed the lawyer he was working with.

In what one senator called one of the Senate Judiciary Committee's "most important" hearings, Browder, a wealthy businessman-turned activist-turned Putin adversary shed a chilling new light on a Russian system of government that operates ruthlessly in the shadows — as Browder described it for lawmakers: a "kleptocracy" sustained by corruption, blackmail, torture and murder with Putin at its center.

"Effectively the moment that you enter into their world," Browder told senators investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, "you become theirs."

"No good guys"

Browder's story —

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR3 min read
Want To Know What's In Your Sweat? There's A Patch For That
Scientists are getting closer to developing a wearable patch that can measure hydration and other health markers — in sweat. The hope is it could give athletes more data to boost their performance.
NPR3 min read
'This Way Up' Deserves A Spot On Your Crowded Viewing List
It can be hard not to miss lower-profile streaming shows. But This Way Up, a comedy created by Irish actress Aisling Bea and streaming on Hulu, has a sweet and funny story to tell.
NPR4 min read
Unanswered Questions Leave Californians Worried About Fire Season
Warm temperatures have Californians again bracing for wildfires. But to better prepare, the residents of Ventura say they need a clearer picture of what went wrong in the destructive 2017 Thomas Fire.