Kremlin critic Bill Browder has claimed his NatWest bank account was closed because of the ‘Black PR’ campaign started against him by Russian actors. Browder, in a report by a UK-based think tank, has accused Russia of carrying out a negative publicity campaign against him in order to target and ruin his reputation.
As per reports, Browder was expelled from Russia in 2005 for taking on big Russian companies through his investment company, but officially he was blacklisted for allegedly evading taxes.
According to The Guardian, the think tank report titled ‘Russian ‘Black PR’: Examining the Practice of Ruining Reputations’ is often used against critics and dissenters to discredit them by publishing false reports in the media. Browder, who apparently had an account in NatWest for 25 years, claimed that he was informed by the bank in 2015 that his account is being shut because of Russian press reports.
As per reports, Browder has been targetted by Russian actors since his expulsion from the country, which included accusing him of stealing IMF money and killing Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer hired by the financier to investigate the purpose of raids at his Moscow offices. Magnitsky was arrested and later died in pretrial detention in Russia.
Andrew Foxhall, the author of the report, has said that the significance of ‘Black PR’ is worth noting because of the effect it has had outside Russia. Foxhall said that some of the “false accusations” made against Browder had also appeared in British media and UK courtrooms, which proves that the effect is global and not just confined to the country from where they originally originated.
The report called for an act in the UK, similar to that of the United States’ foreign agents registration act, which requires lobbyists and PR agents to disclose on which country’s behalf they are working.
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