MOSCOW — Three years after his death, a soft-spoken Russian tax adviser has become a powerful presence in world affairs, roiling relations between his country and the West, especially the United States.
Sergei Magnitsky’s name was virtually unknown in Washington when he died in November 2009. This week, the U.S. Senate overwhelming passed a law in his honor, the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. The law serves as a reprimand to Russia over its human rights record, imposing penalties on abusers.
By the time the Senate voted Thursday — the House had given its enthusiastic approval in November — the 37-year-old Magnitsky had come to represent the intense conflict between Russia and the West over democracy and the rule of law.
Magnitsky’s story has been told in Washington, repeatedly, by William F. Browder, chief executive and founder of Britain-based Hermitage Capital Management, once the largest foreign investor in Russia. At first, he had trouble getting people to listen to the tangled, hard-to-believe details, but he kept telling it.