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Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton bans Lucy Komisar from Wm Browder speech

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William Browder, at Columbia University Nov 2013, photo by Lucy Komisar.

William Browder, at Columbia University Nov 2013, photo by Lucy Komisar.

By Lucy Komisar
Dec 2, 2016

Today, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton banned me from attending a talk by William Browder, a controversial American-born investor whose undocumented stories about the theft of several of his Russian companies and the death of his accountant Sergei Magnitsky have led to a ban in the U.S. (2012) against people he has accused, without evidence, of human rights abuses and the theft of those companies.

About a half hour before I was to leave for Penn Station to take the train from New York City to Princeton, Chris Ferrara, the media director for the Institute for Advanced Studies, called to say I had been banned from the event. I had previously gotten confirmation of my attendance.

This decision by the Institute [no connection to Princeton University] is an egregious violation of its commitment to open discourse. If it is now to ban people who might raise challenging questions from attending campus meetings open to the public, that is a terrible black mark on its reputation. It should apologize for this action and pledge not to repeat it. [I’ll let you know if that ever happens. Don’t hold your breath.]

Here is the confirmation I got several days ago:

Subject: Form submission from: World Disorder Lecture – Bill Browder
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2016 16:30:45 +0000
From: Institute for Advanced Study <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Thank you for registering to attend the World Disorder Lecture Series
featuring Bill Browder on Friday, December 2 at 5:30 p.m. in Wolfensohn Hall.

Should you have questions or need to change your registration, please email
[email protected]

Today I called to get more details and indicated I was a reporter. Then I got this message:

Subject: William Browder Event
Date: Fri, 2 Dec 2016 14:03:59 -0500 (EST)
From: Christine Ferrara <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]

Dear Ms. Komisar,

Thank you for calling us earlier about the lecture by William Browder this evening. Unfortunately, we cannot grant you access to the lecture nor the reception that follows. This event is not open to the general press, and in any case, all press must be vetted and approved by Mr. Browders London office. I understand from the office that you have not sought approval to attend, so we cannot permit you to attend. Please note that your name has been removed from the registration list.

As I mentioned earlier, the talk will be live streamed via the Institute website at, so you are welcome to view it live and also view it afterward on our site. The video should be uploaded within a few days.

Thanks in advance for your cooperation and understanding. I will also follow-up with a phone call to ensure that you received this message.

Best regards,

Chris Ferrara

Christine Ferrara
Director of Communications
Institute for Advanced Study
1 Einstein Drive
Princeton, NJ  08540
[email protected]

Browder was obviously not happy at the idea I would attend, as I had exposed him as an offshore tax evader in this story for 100Reporters.

In the same story on my own website I included many links to documents.

Russian Sanctions Highlight Role of Western Enablers

The matter is important beyond Browder’s personal interests as it has damaged relations between Russia and the U.S. The willingness and ability of conservative Arizona Senator John McCain and liberal Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern to lead their colleagues into drinking Browder’s Kool-Aid is another story.

I suspect cold warrior politics in the first and “believe any human rights claims” naïveté  in the second. No surprise from McCain, but too bad for McGovern, who was a congressional staffer working against Ronald Reagan’s Central American wars.

Look to my future story about how Magnitsky helped Browder organize multi-million-dollar tax evasion schemes in Russia and how, when Magnitsky was arrested, Browder threw him under the bus. And snookered mainstream western politicians and media.

Some tweets:

Katrina VandenHeuvel, editor of The Nation

William Browder a Censor? Princeton’s Inst. for Advanced Studies/ designed for free inquiry/bans indpt journalist Lucy Komisar from lecture

and Mark Ames, who co-edited The Exile in Moscow in the late 1990s-2000s:

Mark Ames Retweeted Lucy Komisar

Bill Browder, the billionaire hedge funder who asset-stripped Russia & pays hacks to PR him as a modern-day Sakharov



5 Responses for “Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton bans Lucy Komisar from Wm Browder speech”

  1. John Clark says:

    Good for you, Lucy. Keep fighting for transparency. It’s the only way. The PTB (Powers That Be) should watch their backs. Interesting story in this weekend’s NYTimes Magazine, which details the ways money is hidden offshore, never to be found. Trillions of stateless dollars controlled by hundreds of trolling financiers protected by ethicless lawyers.
    You have many followers, be assured.

  2. Athanasios Pascal says:

    Just for the record, the Institute for Advanced Study and Princeton University are two independent institutions. I would have expected this from the University and am disappointed but perhaps not surprised to see it from the Institute.

  3. Marshalldoc says:


    I’m unfamiliar with your reporting or this issue in particular. But, I am dismayed that an institution of ‘higher learning’ is participating in the ever-spreading trend of censorship (e.g.; Trump banning reporters from his rallys), and an increasing number of similar incidents; more so because of the general public’s failure to protest it (silence = complicity).

    Best of luck and keep reporting what you find.

  4. Keep up the pressure, Lucy. Most of us are unaware of the extent of offshore shenanigans.

  5. […] Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton bans Lucy Komisar from Wm Browder speech […]

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