Putin critic arrested in Spain, then released

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Madrid, May 30 (IANS) A prominent financial manager and vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin was arrested in Spain on a Russian arrest warrant on Wednesday but was released shortly after it was found that there were technical difficulties with the paperwork.

Bill Browder, an investment fund magnate with dual British and American nationality, was arrested in Madrid as the financier himself acknowledged on his Twitter account.

“Urgent: Just was arrested by Spanish police in Madrid on a Russian Interpol arrest warrant,” Browder tweeted. “Going to the police station right now.”

According to Spanish police, Browder was arrested but authorities later realised the warrant was not in force, for reasons they did not specify, and he was released, CNN reported.

Chicago-born Browder is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, an international investment fund. He was once the largest investor in Russia’s stock market and a supporter of the Russian President. But that all changed in 2005 when he was expelled from the country after being deemed a threat to national security.

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Browder claims his expulsion was because of his criticism of Russian corporate governance.

In the years since, Browder has become a UK citizen and a fierce critic of corruption. He has been one of the main proponents of the Russia sanctions law in the US known as the Magnitsky Act — named for his former lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in suspicious circumstances in 2009.

The Magnitsky Act, passed in 2012, provides US lawmakers with sweeping powers to freeze assets and place travel restrictions on foreign government officials involved in human rights abuses.

After leaving the police station, Browder tweeted: “Good news. Spanish National Police just released me after Interpol General Secretary in Lyon advised them not to honour the new Russian Interpol Red Notice. This is the 6th time that Russia has abused Interpol in my case.”

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Browder has previously claimed that Putin has tried multiple times to use Interpol, the multinational police organisation, to target him abroad.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted he was “very glad” that Browder had been released.

–IANS

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