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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 —

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