The way to think about Russia, Bill Browder told me in Moscow in 2004, using a comparison he recycles in Red Notice, is as a giant prison yard. Vladimir Putin, he argued then, had no choice but to destroy Mikhail
Khodorkovsky, the yard’s top dog and country’s richest man. One of a tribe of Western financiers who traversed a hermetic circuit of offices, guarded apartments, upscale restaurants and the airport, Browder would berate reporters for banging on about human rights abuses or atrocities in Chechnya. Putin was already Putin, for anyone who cared to notice — autocratic, corrupt, nationalistic — but, for Browder, Russia was an oil-powered success story, and Putin was a seer.
Understandably, Red Notice glosses over its author’s past as a devout Putinista (‘I naively thought that Putin was acting in the national interest’).