The Must-Hear Story Of Putin's No 1 Enemy

12 February 2015, 13:49 | Updated: 13 July 2017, 10:14

The man dubbed Vladimir Putin's number one enemy has told LBC that the Russian leader is a criminal who is more of a danger to the UK than IS.

The man dubbed Vladimir Putin's number one enemy has told LBC that the Russian leader is a criminal who is more of a danger to the UK than IS.

Bill Browder is a former businessman who tried to blow the whistle on corruption in business with the Russian state - and that put him on a collision course with Putin.

He told the remarkable story of how he went to an ally of Vladimir Putin to one of his biggest enemies.

Speaking to LBC as a ceasefire with Ukraine was announced, he told James O'Brien: "They [Merkel and Hollande] are just trying to do their best in a situation where they are used to dealing with normal heads of state.

"What they are dealing with in Putin is not a normal head of state.

"They are dealing with a man who is effectively a criminal. He is a mafia boss with all the powers of a state on his side."

He insisted that the situation in Ukraine represents more of a danger to the UK than IS in Syria, adding: "The Russian-Ukrainian crisis should be ranked higher than any other issue for one simple reason.

"Because you have a guy - I wouldn't call him a madman because he's very rational - but he's rational based on a different set of principles than we are.

"We have a guy, Vladimir Putin, who is doing this war to distract his people from his own failings and his corruption. 

"Unlike other situations, this guy has his finger on the nuclear button.

"Now I'm not predicting a nuclear war. But if it came to it, if he came to his own survival and pressing that button, he would press that button.

"If he thought it would keep him in power and warn off the attacks or the possible extradition or whatever will happen to him, he'll press that button.

"He will take the world down with him. He's already taken Russia down with him in terms of launching this battle against Ukraine for no reason. There is absolutely no reason why Russia should have invaded Ukraine."

His whole story is a remarkable listen - and you can watch it below in full - but the moment he realised he was on his own against Russia was chilling.

Having been landed with a £230million tax bill based on forged documents, he decided to report it. Mr Browder takes up the story: "We were sure that Putin might be totally comfortable ripping me off, but to allow the State to be ripped off? It didn't make any sense.

"We thought if we just get the information out into the open, we file a bunch of criminal complaints, get into the newspapers, then the good guys would get the bad guys and that would be the end of the story.

"It turned out, there were no good guys. Just bad guys.

"Instead of opening up a criminal case against the people who did this, the authorities opened criminal cases against all of our lawyers, including Sergei Magnitsky."

Back in the US, he managed to get a law passed in the US covering a list of Russian officials who are, in essence, too dirty to deal with. But he is struggling to get a similar deal passed in the UK. And the reason for that is shocking.

"The British government is more interested in Russian money. It's ok to have Russian torturers and murderers coming into the UK because they don't want to do anything that might upset the flow of money.

"This I find to be truly upsetting."

Bill Browder On Fighting Corruption In Russia: His Full Remarkable Story