April 29, 2022

Red Notice

I made 40 highlights while reading Red Notice by Bill Browder. The book will give you insights into seeking justice against Putin's Russia.
  • Going after information in Russia is like hurtling down a rabbit hole. Ask a question, get a riddle. Track a lead, hit a wall. Nothing is self-evident or clear.

  • In prison, all you have is your reputation. Your position is hard-earned, and it is not relinquished easily. This is the calculus that every oligarch and politician lives by.

  • If the tide goes out in one place, it goes out everywhere.

  • Losing love is a lot harder than losing money.

  • The feeling of finding a ‘ten-bagger’ must be the financial equivalent of cocaine.

  • Exploit any avenue that can help you establish yourself as an expert in your niche.

  • In any major crisis, what you do in the first few hours defines it forever.

  • The best way to answer difficult questions is to find the people who know the answers and interview them about it.

  • During privatisation the valuation of the entire Russian economy was only $10 billion. Yet, Russia had 24% of the world’s natural gas, 9% of the world’s oil and produced 6.6% of the world’s steel, among many other things.

  • Instead of 150 million Russians sharing the spoils of privatisation, Russia wound up with 22 oligarchs owning 39% of the economy.

  • Russia is still a sovereign state that most Western governments cooperate with.

  • The FSB (infamously known as the KGB during Soviet times) doesn’t just issue arrest warrants. It dispatches assassins.

  • The Russian Interior Ministry was not a reputable police organisation, but rather a collection of officials abusing their positions to perpetrate massive financial frauds.

  • A strategy out of the FSB playbook is to create a character with a believable story. Then have this person pass valuable information to his target, wait for the target to disclose this information publicly, then show how the information is false.

  • Russia is such a decentralised country. The power of an influential businessman in some areas rivals that of the Moscow Interior Ministry.

  • The Russian government couldn’t have cared less about a couple of paragraphs in a US-government human rights report.

  • When the mass graves of Katyn Forest were discovered in 1943, the Soviets claimed that Germany was responsible for the murder of 7,000 Polish prisoners.

  • Interpol has a reputation for cooperating with authoritarian regimes to chase down enemies.

  • You can be untouchable by law enforcement, but not by the court of public opinion.

  • Sergei was a religious man, and he would not violate God’s ninth commandment; ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness’.

  • Every prisoner has his own way of dealing with the adversity of being in jail, and Sergei’s had been to write everything down.

  • Visa sanctions and asset freezes are how you fight authoritarian regimes today.

  • While there is nothing wrong with pursuing a life in commerce, that world now feels like watching TV in black and white for me.

  • There is no feeling as satisfying as getting some justice in a highly unjust world.

  • No matter how scared you are at any particular moment, the feeling subsides. Your body can’t feel fear for an extended period.

  • They say there are five stages of grief. Recognising the pain is the vital one.

  • Nobody knows how much hardship one can endure until one is forced to handle it.

  • The Soviets severely penalised independent thinkers, hence over the 70 year period of communism the work ethic of Russians was destroyed.

  • In Soviet times, the wealthiest person in Russia was x6~ richer than the poorest. By the year 2000, the wealthiest person had become x250,000~ richer than the poorest.

  • Russians are familiar with hardship and suffering – not with success and justice.

  • Russian stories never have happy endings.

  • I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest. (Winston Churchill)

  • When Putin became president in 2000, the actual power of the presidency lay with the oligarchs, regional governors and organised-crime groups.

  • Putin’s golden rule: stay out of politics, and you’ll keep your ill-gotten gains.

  • Putin now has the oligarchs in his pocket, he has consolidated his power and, by many estimates, he has become the richest man in the world.

  • Putin never mentions his enemies by name.

  • Unpredictability is Putin’s modus operandi.

  • Putin put a dead man on trial (Sergei Magnitsky), not even Stalin, a man responsible for the death of 20~ million Russians stooped to that level.

  • When Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, instead of dismantling the machine of lying and fabrication, he modified it and made it all the more powerful.

  • No man, no problem. (Stalin)