Bryce Klehm is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying History.
Tags: Russia, International Relations, Lobbying, Trump
The Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, passed into law in 2012, has proven to be one of the United States’ most effective tools for fighting human rights abusers. The story behind the act began when the largest foreign investor in Russia, William Browder, hired Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky to investigate possible corruption and extortion in various Russian companies in 2007. When Magnitsky uncovered a $230 million corruption scandal directly linked to the Kremlin, he was harassed, arrested in front of his family, imprisoned, and beaten to death.  His death was a blatant example of corrupt policing within Russia. A July 2011 report by the Human Rights Council also found a conflict of interest because Magnitsky’s captors were the same police officers he had exposed for corruption. 
William Browder vowed to avenge Magnitsky’s death and expose deep-rooted corruption within the Kremlin. The story of the Kremlin’s endemic corruption begins in 2003, when President Vladimir Putin began to control Russia’s oligarchs. Putin dramatically imprisoned the richest oligarch in Russia, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and then demanded payments from the rest of Russia’s richest men. Since then, the wealthy in Russia have been unwaveringly linked to the Kremlin, creating a massive corruption system.  Though Browder’s efforts to expose corruption within Russia were effective, he felt he needed to do more to punish Sergei Magnitsky’s murderers.