Bill Browder’s world bestseller Freezing Order, entitled Freezing Order – Defeating Evil, was presented in Belgrade. It speaks about the author’s fight against the regime of Vladimir Putin while leading the action for the adoption of the Magnitsky Act, first in the United States, and then around the world. This book has been at the top of the New York Times bestseller list since its publication in English at the end of April, and it was published in Serbian by the Belgrade International Security Institute. Author Bill Browder has been described by Russia’s major media as “Putin’s enemy number one” for his fight against the crimes of Russian regime. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion against Ukraine, and on the occasion of the publication of his book, he is a frequent interlocutor of the world’s largest media, where he talks about the long-standing corrupt nature of the Kremlin, involving political and economic elites in the West. His fight for the Magnitsky Act and the danger to which he was exposed by the Kremlin are the subject of this exciting, true story, for which London’s The Times wrote “reads as an international spy thriller” and the Financial Times “amazing read”.
„I lived in worked in Serbia and in Russia. As much as you share a Slavic heritage, I can tell you that the two cultures are very different. Russia under Vladimir Putin is a much darker place“ – said at the promotion in Belgrade City Assembly John Sipher, who worked for the CIA for 28 years, and now he is a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He lived in Belgrade during the 1990s and since 2000.
“The Ukrainians were once told they were brothers. But, when they failed to kneel to the Kremlin, they became Nazis to be destroyed. They pay their enablers well while privately despising their weakness and addiction to Russian money or oil. Like their prostitutes, they treat them well until they are no longer of use. And those who rebuff or threaten their desires are hounded or killed. Putin’s narrative of grievance against the west has also allowed him to appeal to brotherhood and friendship with traditional allies and Slavic peoples. He’s lying to you!”, said at the promotion of the book John Sipher, one of the authors of the foreword for the Serbian edition.
“By talking about his life in Russia and the Russian state’s hounding of him and his associates, Browder is not just painting a vivid and depressing picture of a state apparatus out of control, he is also telling us a story of the failure of a human project, a project to reshape Russia as a state governed for the people
and by the people”, said at the promotion George Busby, who worked for 30 years for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in charge of intelligence and the fight against terrorism, and in the early 1990s he was stationed in Belgrade.
“At that time, thirty years ago, in Belgrade I had a friend who was a diplomat in the Russian Embassy. This man was no Gromyko. He combined great charm with obvious intelligence and thoughtfulness. My Russian friend is still a diplomat and is actually currently working in the Embassy in Belgrade. I send greetings and best wishes to him and his wife. I am sure that he is continuing to do his job diligently as a representative of the Russian state, seeking to justify the unjustifiable; explain the inexplicable and defend the indefensible. However, unless something remarkable has changed in him then I doubt that he does so with any joy or conviction. I cannot imagine that this is the Russia that his wife so passionately hoped for back in 1992 and in the story that Browder tells the Russian people also pay a heavy price for the failures of their leadership”, said Busby.
“From my pretty long experience of living in and studying Serbia I have no doubt where the vast majority of Serbs will make their stand. A passionate belief in justice and fair play and a determination to resist external pressure are the foundation stones of the Serbia character. Just as they did in 1914, just as they did in 1941 and, indeed, just as they did in 1999, the Serbian people will stand up for the rights of the small state against the threats of a larger and more powerful state. They will stand for the rule of law and for the rights of mankind and this is why, in due course, when Serbia joins the EU, she will strengthen, not dilute, the values of the European Union”, said George Busby, one of the authors of the foreword to the Serbian edition of Bill Browder’s book.
Dr Zoran Dragišić, Full Professor at Belgrade’s Faculty of Security Studies and editor of the book, said that Bill Browder “went through the arduous journey on which many of his associates were killed in order to show and prove the evil and danger Vladimir Putin and his criminal regime represent to all human values“.
“Today, that is clear to the entire civilized humanity. This book can also be read as a warning that Bill Browder sent to humanity long before it became clear to most what evil modern civilization is facing. In addition, this book presents a brilliant analysis of the ways in which the Putinist ochlocracy works, which can be a fantastic methodological guide for all those who study dictatorships. In his book, Bill Browder shows in a very thorough and systematic way how a kleptocratic regime works, how state institutions, the media are abused, how foreign politicians and institutions are corrupted… until February 24 this year, many thought he was exaggerating, and now it is clear to everyone what evil can evolve into if you do not get in its way in time. This has happened to humanity several times in history”, said Professor Dragišić.
On this occasion, Professor at the Belgrade Faculty of Law, Dr Stevan Lilić, presented the model of the Serbian “Magnitsky Act”, which he drafted as the head of the legal team of the International Security Institute under the title “Law on Restrictive Measures for Serious Human Rights Violations”.
“Just as the technical inventions of Rudolf Diesel, Karl Benz and William Boeing forever changed the way we travel today, so the great legal inventions of people like Hans Kelsen, Walter Gellhorn and Bill Browder have irrevocably set new standards for the protection of democratic values and human rights. In this context, the Constitutional Court, the Ombudsman and the Magnitsky legislation are monumental institutions of modern legal civilization that curb political omnipotence, limit bureaucratic arbitrariness and effectively prevent global corruption”, said Professor Lilić.
Stating that this legislation has already been adopted in more than 30 countries and at the level of international organizations, including the United States, Great Britain, the Baltic states and the EU and the Council of Europe, Professor Lilić pointed out that unlike traditional political sanctions against a country that in a non-selective way affect the entire population, legal acts on restrictive measures and targeted sanctions for human rights violations (and corruption), today known as Magnitsky Act, aim to impose personal and/or property sanctions on foreign nationals who are directly or indirectly responsible for the most serious human rights violations and corruption (which is related to the violation of these rights).
“Having in mind the political and other aspects of the possibility of imposing targeted sanctions on foreign persons by Serbia, it seems very opportune for Serbia to have a legal instrument based on the model of European Magnitsky legislation. Thus, Serbia, as a candidate for membership in the European Union, could legitimately and legally impose sanctions on foreign countries by calling for a valid legal framework, however, not as political penalties for the whole country, but as “fair” individual sanctions against perpetrators of corruptive activities related to serious human rights violations committed against a member state of the United Nations”, said Professor Lilić.
The author of the book, Bill Browder, also took part in the promotion via video link, thanking the Belgrade audience for their interest in the book, and especially the publisher International Security Institute and its director, Dr. Orhan Dragaš. “The murder of Sergei Magnitsky changed my life; I invested all my time and energy to punish all those who participated in that murder. And I succeeded in that”, said Browder at the Belgrade promotion of his bestseller. He reminded that Putin’s regime sentenced him to 18 years in prison and that he was arrested in Madrid, where he was supposed to meet with the chief Spanish prosecutor, due to a Russian warrant, but was immediately released. He told the audience in Serbia – “Serbia is at a crossroads, it should make a decision about Putin and Russia, and I believe that Serbia will make a decision to join the civilized world, where democracy rules and human rights are respected. The best proof of that will be when it adopts the Magnitsky Act”.
About the book Freezing Order – Defeating Evil
The book, entitled Freezing Order – Defeating Evil, was published in Serbian by
our International Security Institute in record time – only 40 days after the original was published. Freezing Order is at the top of all bestseller lists, including The New York Times, where it reached number one in the first week of May, right after it was published. Author Bill Browder is a frequent interlocutor of the world’s largest media on the occasion of the book’s release, but also because of his great knowledge of Putin’s Russia, where he talks about the long-standing corrupt nature of the Kremlin, involving political and economic elites in the West. His fight for the Magnitsky Act and the danger to which he was exposed by the Kremlin are the subject of this exciting, true story, for which London’s The Times wrote “reads as an international spy thriller” and the Financial Times “amazing read”.
About Magnitsky Act
The Magnitsky Act was passed in the United States in 2012 with the aim of punishing Russian officials who were involved in the arrest and subsequent murder in prison of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009. Since the first Magnitsky Act, adopted in the USA, such a law has been passed in 34 countries so far,
including Canada, Great Britain and the Baltic countries, as well as at the EU level. Since its enforcement in those countries, personal sanctions have been imposed on hundreds of people around the world who have committed serious human rights violations motivated by corruption. The Magnitsky Act forbids them from entering the countries where the law is applied and their property in those countries is frozen. Personal sanctions based on this Law have been imposed on a large number of officials and businessmen from Russia since the beginning of the aggression against Ukraine.