Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Russian Oil Wealth, Kremlin and Oligarchs

by Oui Fri Dec 28th, 2018 at 11:08:22 PM EST

Music's Mystery Mogul: Len Blavatnik, Trump and Their Russian Friends | Hollywood Reporter - Oct. 2018 |

In May 2013, Martin Scorsese went to the Cannes Film Festival -- not to be feted but to pitch a project: Silence, his not-exactly-commercial saga of two priests in 17th century Japan. The director had dinner aboard billionaire Len Blavatnik's 164-foot yacht, Odessa, named for his birthplace in Ukraine. Scorsese and Blavatnik then headed to a lavish party hosted by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, owner of the English Premier League's Chelsea F.C., who, like Blavatnik, had made his fortune following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Abramovich was hosting director Baz Luhrmann, whose The Great Gatsby was having its premiere at the festival. One observer was struck by the scene: "Len got to arrive with his prestigious guest and Abramovich was there with his, so it was oligarchs showing their connections." Now, sources say, Blavatnik is negotiating a major multiplatform deal with Luhrmann, and Warner Bros. plans to make a long-gestating Elvis Presley film with the Australian director, presumably with Blavatnik's backing.

The use of the O-word would annoy Blavatnik, 61. The press-shy billionaire has long maintained that he's not an oligarch but a naturalized American citizen who emigrated from the Soviet Union [Ukraine] as a young man of 21 in 1978. Nonetheless, he has found himself on the radar of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, according to ABC News. Amid the drumbeat of the probe of Russian interference with the 2016 U.S. election, Blavatnik is on a quest to achieve his stated goal of building a "media platform for the 21st century."

Continued below the fold ...

Ignoring the Blavatnik origin story may become a little tougher, however, as he is one of several U.S. citizens with deep foreign ties who have attracted Mueller's attention by donating millions to GOP causes in the past few years. Foreigners are not permitted to make such donations, but as American citizens, billionaires like Blavatnik can.

Starting in the 2015-16 election season, Blavatnik's political contributions "soared and made a hard right turn," according to an analysis by business professor Ruth May in The Dallas Morning News. In that cycle, he contributed $6.35 million to Republican candidates and incumbent senators. The biggest beneficiary was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose Senate Leadership Fund received a $2.5 million donation followed by another $1 million in 2017. Blavatnik or Access gave generously to PACs associated with Sen. Lindsey Graham ($800,000) and to Sen. Marco Rubio ($1.5 million).


At a glance, Blavatnik not only is a wildly successful businessman but a philanthropist who has made huge donations to uni­versities, including $117 million to Oxford (the university's School of Government building, completed in 2015, bears his name). Oxford's press release announcing the gift obligingly described Blavatnik as an "American industrialist and philanthropist." That gift drew protests from a group of more than 20 critics, including academics and activists, who argued that Oxford should "stop selling its reputation and prestige to Putin's associates."


Perhaps it was through Blavatnik's visits to the Cannes Film Festival that he met other regulars, including Brett Ratner and future Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (who now wields considerable influence in determining which oligarchs will be subject to sanctions). Both Ratner and Mnuchin frequented Blavatnik's yacht. In 2013, Ratner founded RatPac Entertainment with Australian billionaireJames Packer. (A source says Blavatnik was an investor from the beginning.)

Sir Michael Pakenham

Since retiring from the Diplomatic Service, Pakenham has been chairman of Pakenvest International; senior adviser to Access Industries; non-executive director of the Westminster Group; a trustee of Chevening House; and a lay member of the governing Council of King's College London (and its Vice-Chairman since 2009).

Sir Michael Pakenham's 70th birthday {photo's attendees)

Access Industries

Len Blavatnik founded Access Industries in 1986 as an investment company. He attended Harvard Business School while running the company on the side, graduating with an MBA in 1989. Among its early investments, Access Industries helped form the large aluminum producer Siberian-Urals Aluminium Company (SUAL) in 1996, which later became part of UC RUSAL.

In 1997, Access acquired a 40% stake in the Russian oil company TNK. Half of TNK was sold to British Petroleum (BP) to form TNK-BP in 2003, in what was the largest-ever foreign investment in a Russian company. In 2013 Rosneft acquired TNK-BP for $55 billion, with Access Industries selling its stake and Blavatnik collecting US $7 billion for his share of the oil venture. The Alfa-Access-Renova (AAR) part of the deal will share the cash pot between Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, Viktor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik, all of whom emerged as tycoons after the Russian privatisations of the 1990s.

Khan, who effectively heads TNK-BP and is Fridman's partner in the Alfa Group consortium, sought advice and broached potential partnerships.

Rusal with Oleg Deripaska  settles dispute in London Arbitration Court with shareholders Glencore, Victor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik (2013/14)

Since 2013, Access Industries has owned Clal Industries Ltd. (CII), an Israeli industrial investment group. Among CII's main investments are Nesher Israel Cement Enterprises, Hadera Paper, Golf & Co., Clal Biotechnology, and the logistics group Taavura. Also since 2013, Access has owned a significant interest in EP Energy, a North American oil and natural gas producer with a portfolio of fields in the United States and Brazil. On August 18, 2017, Access Industries and a consortium of investors agreed to acquire the energy company Calpine Corporation for $5.6 billion.

Negotiations Underway to Sell Control of Channel 10 to Jewish Billionaire Len Blavatnik | Haaretz - Nov. 2013 |

Billionaire's testimony said to shore up Netanyahu bribery suspicions | Times of Israel - Sept. 2017 |

Leonard Blavatnik reportedly confirms tells police he only purchased shares in Channel 10 after PM intervened

The recent testimony of a British-American billionaire in a corruption investigation into Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly "significantly" strengthened suspicions the prime minister received bribes from an Israeli-born Hollywood mogul in exchange for advancing his interests.

During his testimony, which took place a few weeks ago in London, Leonard Blavatnik confirmed to police that a media company he partly owns only purchased a controlling share in Channel 10 after he was approached by Netanyahu, Channel 2 news reported.

Police are said to be investigating whether the prime minister intervened in the sale of the Channel 10 shares in order to financially benefit Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer and part-owner of Channel 10, who for years supplied Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, with cigars and champagne.

Monday's report said Blavatnik also told police that as part of Netanyahu's involvement in the deal, the prime minister requested he make an offer for the shares and sent his aide Ari Harow to meet with him.

Harow, who was then Netanyahu's chief of staff, turned state's witness in August in a that investigation, known as Case 1000, and a second probe, Case 2000.

In Case 1000, Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, most notably the cigars and champagne from Milchan.

Milchan, who was recently questioned under caution by Israeli police investigators in London, is reported to have said there was no basis for the bribery allegations against him and that the hundreds of thousands of shekels' worth of cigars and champagne he gave to the Netanyahus stemmed from his years-long friendship with the family, Channel 2 reported earlier this month.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara (C) and their son Yair seen with actress Kate Hudson at an event held at the home of producer Arnon Milchan (right), March 6, 2014. (Avi Ohayon/GPO/Flash90)

Confidential, The Life of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon Arnon Milchan
800 Nuclear Triggers Smuggled to Israel, Mastermind Untouchable - Secret FBI Files

Key words with link to stories/diaries @BooMan/EuroTrib ::

| Oleg Deripaska | Rusal | Victor Vekselberg | Chabad-Lubavitch | Leonard Blavatnik | TNK-BP | Glencore | Felix Sater | Rosneft | Steve Mnuchin  | Alan Dershowith | Binyamin Netanyahu | Unit 8200 | Arnan Milchan | Ukraine Poroshenko |

Perhaps I had a bad night of sleep, but ...

Wat will bring 2019?

Impeachment of Donald Trump or an Arab Peace Deal between Israel and Palestine. Is Trump frustrated by Israel's intransigence to move closer to negotiations for a solution. Trump has brought Israel many gifts fit for a King. However Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and  David Friedman have gotten nowhere with Netanyahu. By the Syrian pull-back is this Trump's warning shot to Israel: you can do it alone! Trump has made many promises to the wealthy Gulf entities and its religious leadership. Arabs and Israel got Trump where he is today. His friend Vladimir Putin holds all the cards in the Levant together with Turkey and Iran.

An Israeli evaluation of Trump's presidency | Ynet News Op-Ed |
Netanyahu Government Falls | Tikun Olam |

Someone must have convinced the prime minister that the elections should be held soon, before Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit publishes his decision on Netanyahu's corruption investigation--which could potentially influence the prime minister's electorate.

Mending Ties Between Assad and Arab League

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Dec 29th, 2018 at 07:04:34 AM EST
Jewish Oligarchs NY - Tel Aviv - Moscow

Jack Rosen, Jewish Oligarch and Friend of Kleptocrats | Tikun Olam - Jan. 2008 |

Rosenblatt notes the rather unsavory character and backgrounds of several of the other board members of the Council:

    According to the Council's public tax documents, its board is made up of 27 people, mostly American, but including the Bukharian Jewish billionaire, Lev Leviev, who lives in Israel [ed., he actually now lives in London]; Len Blavatnik, a Russian-born [born in Ukraine, emigrated to the US in 1978 - Oui] billionaire living in New York and London; and the Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman.

    (Rosen is on the advisory board of Fridman's Russian conglomerate, Alfa Group, whose subsidiary company, Altimo, does business with Iran. When asked about this, Rosen said that "as an adviser, I urged that they get out of that business and have been assured they are in the process of doing so".)

Readers of this blog will remember Lev Leviev's critical role in building Israeli settlement towns and cities in the West Bank and in Judaizing East Jerusalem through fraudulent sales of Palestinian land to settlers. Not to mention a putsch he helped organize which allowed Chabad to take control of the Russian national Jewish communal organization.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sat Dec 29th, 2018 at 09:17:32 PM EST
As an aside ...

Alfa Group - Telecom troubles

If banking is a means to an end, the business Fridman has been keenest on is telecoms; his main ambition was to build up a "Vodafone for the East" as he described it to me in an interview. And as a result Alfa Group went on a shopping spree via its telecoms holding vehicle Altimo. It bought a 25% stake in MegaFon and a 43.8% stake in Vimpelcom, Russia's two largest cellular telecoms; Altimo acquired all of the much smaller Reservspetsmet; and overseas Altimo owns 29.9% of Golden Telecom (United States), 43.5% of Kyivstar (Ukraine), 13% of Turkcell (Turkey), and all of Bakri Uzbekistan Telecom and Uzbek-Malaysian Communication (both Uzbekistan).

Russian oligarch selling nuclear technology to the Islamic Republic of Iran (June 2007)

Some of those technologies have been aided by Alfa's banking arm, which serves as the primary financial agent for the nuclear power project. A year ago, Alfa made a huge loan - on "privileged terms," according to Ukraine's government - to finance a state-owned Ukrainian company's ability to build and sell aircraft to countries that include Iran.

And those financial ties apparently extend further than Alfa wants the world to know.

FOX News has obtained documents that lay out a secret effort, codenamed "1979 Project", over the past nine months by Altimo, the $20 billion telecom arm of Alfa Group, to purchase a controlling share in an Iranian mobile phone company called Iraphone.

The paper trail shows that that the transaction was being funneled through a shell company called Amigo -- an entity owned by Sky Mobile of Kyrgyzstan, which was itself purchased by Altimo last June.

EU's New Neighbours: The Case of Ukraine [large pdf - Alfa Group - Alliance Group]

NY Jewish leader's biz partner has Iran ties | NY Post - April 2012 |

Developer and Jewish leader Jack Rosen discussing claims business partner Russian Mikhail Fridman and his Alfa Bank helped fund an Iranian nuclear plant in Bushehr.

A Russian bank chief with suspected ties to the funding for the construction of a nuclear-power plant in Iran has just inked a lucrative deal with a top real-estate firm led by a prominent Jewish leader in New York to snap up distressed properties along the East Coast -- including in the city, The Post has learned.

The partners are eyeing at least one property in the Financial District and another just over the river in New Jersey.

The odd partnership comes amid tension between Iran and Israel -- and by extension, the United States -- over Iran's refining of nuclear fuel.

Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman, 47 -- who runs Alfa Bank, his nation's largest private finance house -- teamed up with developer Jack Rosen of Rosen Partners in December to invest $1 billion in US real estate from New York to Miami.

The Israel Lobby in UK - Al Jazeera [via article in Tikun Olam]

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Dec 29th, 2018 at 09:19:39 PM EST
'I Am Not An Oligarch'

Reminded me of the infamous: "I am not a crook" exclamation by president Richard Nixon before his resignation.

Grapevine: In black and white | JPost Opinion - Oct. 2017 |

Journalists know of some of the people who read their material, but in general we are writing in a vacuum, and it sometimes comes as a surprise to get a reaction from a totally unexpected source. That happened last weekend, when an email from Drew Born, who is the Brunswick Group's account director for Len Blavatnik's global Access Industries industrial group sought a correction to an item that had appeared in a recent Grapevine column. The Brunswick Group is a global advisory firm specializing in business critical issues. Born's email requested a correction, because Blavatnik had been referred to as an oligarch. According to Born, "the term 'oligarch' as applied to Mr. Blavatnik is inaccurate. The term implies that an individual is both very rich and also one of a small group of people who exercises a great deal of political influence over a country's ruling circle. Mr. Blavatnik has been an American citizen since 1984, after being thrown out of Russia in 1978 [??] as a refusenik along with his family. He has had no contact with President Putin since 2000 - 17 years ago - and plays no role in Russian politics.

"Secondly, you point out in your piece that he is now an American citizen, but it's also worth noting that holds British citizenship as well.

"Given the above points, we request that your article reflect the fact that Mr. Blavatnik is not an oligarch, despite the contention of the signatories to the letter you reference. Perhaps you can make this distinction by noting that Mr. Blavatnik has been `accused of' or 'labeled as' an oligarch by detractors."

It is to be hoped that both Blavatnik and Born will be satisfied that their point has been made. Nevzlin never complains about being called an "oligarch."

A Man Of 3 Worlds: The Russian-American Billionaire Giving Millions To US and UK Universities | Forbes |

Chemical Giant LyondellBasell Mulls Bankruptcy | WSJ - Dec. 2008 |

Mr. Blavatnik, who immigrated to the U.S. from the Soviet Union in 1978 and became a U.S. citizen in 1984, largely made his fortune in his native land. He made money in real estate in the U.S., then returned to Russia in the early 1990s, joining a new class of entrepreneurs. Navigating the economic transformation of the country, they snapped up assets privatized by the state on the cheap.

Mr. Blavatnik became a major holder in the profitable aluminum business. He owned a chunk of Sual, an aluminum company that recently merged with two other companies to form United Co. Rusal, one of the largest producers of the metal in the world. He also invested in TNK, a big oil company cobbled together by him and two other tycoons. In 2003, they sold half of it to BPPLC in an $8 billion deal.

Mr. Blavatnik moved to London several years ago and works from an elegant office on Kensington Park Row, a favorite location for Russian billionaires. Access said he wasn't available for comment.

Skadden bankruptcy lawyer Jay Goffman said, "Access Industries has been fully supportive of the company during this difficult period and will continue doing everything we reasonably can to support it."

Mr. Blavatnik bought Basell, a Dutch joint-venture between German chemicals-maker BASF AG and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, for €4.4 billion, or $6.06 billion, in 2005, the largest leveraged-buyout deal in the chemical industry at that time.

Basell to buy Lyondell for almost $13 billion | Reuters - July 2007 |

How One Billionaire's Bet On LyondellBasell Turned Into The Greatest Deal In Wall St. History | Forbes |
Judge Dismisses LyondellBasell Creditors Clawback Lawsuit | US Bankruptcy Court - Sept. 2017 |

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Dec 29th, 2018 at 10:19:54 PM EST
The Rabbi and the Man in the Kremlin | Haaretz - Dec. 2004 |

One of the plaques dwarfs all the rest. It is emblazoned with the name - in Yiddish and Russian - of Roman Abramovich. Abramovich is the owner of the Sibneft oil company and the British Chelsea soccer club. On the 2004 Forbes magazine list of the wealthiest Russians, he appears in second place. His personal wealth is estimated at $10.6 billion. Not far from his plaque is that of Viktor Vekselberg, whose personal wealth is estimated at $5.9 billion. Between them is the plaque of aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska, with a personal fortune of $4.5 billion.

However, the most famous man of all, who until recently topped the list, is not there. "No. Mikhail Khodorkovsky hasn't contributed," says the guide, who is from Chabad.

Lazar sorts the donors to the federation into three categories: those who give in secret, those who did it for the sake of heaven, and those who don't. "It could very well be that there are people who want to donate to us, because they understand that Jews are a power and they want to be close to the Jewish community," he admits.

What does the Federation of Jewish Communities give in return for the generous support of the man who is called "the democratic czar of Russia?"

Comrades-In-Arms : Roman Abramovich vs. Boris Berezovsky | Vanity Fair - Nov. 2012 |

The lawsuits between Russian oligarchs keep the pockets of UK solicitors well filled ....

Oligarch v. oligarch: London's courts attract litigious tycoons | Daily Beast - July 2012 |
The unsavoury alliance between oligarchs and London's top lawyers | The Guardian Opinion - May 2018 |

Related reading ...

Chabad, Vekselberg, Putin and the Schneerson Library

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Dec 30th, 2018 at 11:00:42 AM EST
Police sources: Netanyahu falsely invoked billionaire's name | JPost - Aug. 2017 |

Police sources told Channel 2 that in a conversation Netanyahu taped, he offered to help Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon "Noni" Mozes sell the newspaper in an effort to ease its reports against him. He told Mozes that a potential buyer was Ukrainian-born American-British businessman and philanthropist Sir Leonard "Len" Blavatnik [knighted in 2017 - Oui].

The report said police want to question Blavatnik in their investigation of Case 2000, in which Netanyahu is accused of colluding with Mozes against the pro-Netanyahu newspaper Israel Hayom so he would receive positive coverage from both papers.

Multiple sources close to Blavatnik said on Sunday that the billionaire was not close to Netanyahu, did not have an opinion on Israeli politics, rarely comes to Israel and would not have been interested in purchasing Yediot Aharonot.

A source said that 10 years ago, Blavatnik was approached about purchasing the Maariv newspaper, which was later bought by Jerusalem Post owner Eli Azur, but Blavatnik decided against the purchase.  "He decided not to enter print journalism," the source said. "He realized that it wasn't a very good investment."

Two years ago, Blavatnik purchased Israeli Channel 10, which has a reputation of being anti-Netanyahu. Blavatnik, Aviv Giladi, and the Recanati family each own one-third of the RGE Group, which ultimately bought Channel 10 and Israel's sports channel.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Dec 30th, 2018 at 12:17:26 PM EST
Published as the Maidan Revolt in Kiev was happening [no relationship of course] ...

Mr. [and Mrs.] Blavatnik later turned from a Clinton donor to a Trump supporter, just to make a safe bet.

The Billionaire's Playlist | The New Yorker - Jan. 20, 2014 |

In September, 2010, Andrew Hamilton, the vice-chancellor of Oxford University, stood before a crowd of dignitaries and announced, "Leonard Blavatnik is a man who has truly lived the American Dream." Hamilton was presiding over a ceremony to launch the new Blavatnik School of Government, and to celebrate its namesake, who had pledged a hundred and seventeen million dollars to finance its construction.

Hamilton's speech gave the barest elements of an up-by-the-bootstraps story: Columbia University, Harvard Business School, the founding of a "highly successful industrial group." He didn't mention that Blavatnik, who was born in Ukraine, had made his fortune in the tumultuous privatization of aluminum and oil that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Blavatnik now lives mostly in London and New York, and his public-relations people strenuously object when he is called an oligarch. In a press release, Oxford described his gift as "one of the most generous in the University's 900-year history" and dutifully referred to him as an "American industrialist and philanthropist."  

As a major donor to the rightwing Hudson Institute, oligarch Blavatnik had gone unnoticed ...

Right-wing anti-Kleptocracy think tank turned over by revelation of oligarch donor | Salon - Dec. 7, 2018 |

The founder and executive director of the Hudson Institute's Kleptocracy Initiative has resigned after learning that it accepted a donation from a Ukrainian-born billionaire who he considers to be an oligarch.

"Russian kleptocracy has entered the donor pool of Hudson Institute," Charles Davidson said in an exclusive interview with The New York Post. "Blavatnik is precisely what the Kleptocracy Initiative is fighting against -- the influence of Putin's oligarchs on America's political system and society -- and the importation of corrupt Russian business practices and values."

Meeting the needs of our US/UK or Jewish State of Israel based friendly oligarchs ...

"The Russian-Jewish billionaire Oleg Deripaska is examining investment opportunities in Israel. Deripaska, 36, one of the youngest billionaires in the world, arrived in his private jet last Thursday [Haaretz - March 25, 2004] for a quick visit to Tel Aviv, accompanied by his friend Lord Nathaniel Rothschild of London."

It's in the family - my diary on Golan Heights Oil - Jacob Rothschild and Dick Cheney.

Experts Point to Longstanding Policy in EN+, Rusal Sanctions Removal Plan | WSJ - Dec. 21, 2018 |

The planned removal of sanctions on companies tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska follows longstanding policy and isn't reflective of a quid pro quo between the Trump administration and leaders in Moscow, analysts and observers say.

Sanctions on EN+ Group PLC, United Co. Rusal PLC and JSC EuroSibEnergo are set to be removed in mid-January after the companies implement a deal with the U.S. Treasury Department, announced Wednesday, that cuts Mr. Deripaska's stake in the companies, severs his control and prevents him from benefiting from future dividends the companies issue.

Critics seized on the announcement to suggest President Trump was seeking to curry favor with Russian elites close to the Kremlin. But sanctions experts say the removals show the opposite, and that wealthy oligarchs should be fearful of the U.S. sanctions program.

Mueller Team Stopped Russian Oligarch-Swiss Industrialist-Major Bank of Cyprus Shareholder For Questioning

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Dec 30th, 2018 at 12:38:14 PM EST
ooo, boy. Bank of Cyprus bankruptcy was one big winner in the Panic of '08.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Dec 30th, 2018 at 01:47:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow [October 17, 2018]

We continue to watch the situation with Russian citizen Maria Butina who was arrested in the US on fabricated charges of acting as "a foreign government agent." Russia qualifies her as a political prisoner.

On October 10, Russian Embassy diplomats in Washington made their regular visit to Butina in prison. After she was transferred to a general detention facility in late September, thanks to our efforts, the prison administration's attitude towards Butina improved, she is not being subjected to the humiliating procedures we spoke about and is well-treated. We note that. Maria is allowed to leave the cell more often, take walks outside, communicate with other inmates and read books in Russian. This has generally helped stabilise the moral condition of our compatriot.

At present, Butina's lawyers are preparing for the next court hearing, which is scheduled for November 13 of this year. We continue to insist on the absolute innocence of this Russian citizen.

Once again, we state our demand that Maria Butina be released and that she has become yet another victim of so-called "American justice" and is in fact a political prisoner due to the Russophobic hysteria reigning in Washington, D.C.

The next scheduled consular visit with Maria Butina in prison will take place today.

Maria Butina and the Criminalization of Citizen Diplomacy | The Nation - Dec. 26, 2018 |

30-year-old, flame-haired Maria "Red Sparrow" Butina plead guilty this month to one act count of conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent. The announcement came after the mainstream media's front-page stories announced her arrest in July as a suspected Russian spy. The details and political implications of these Russophobic headlines were well covered in Aaron Mate's recent article in The Nation. But further discussion is necessary to provide context and to clarify the significance of this latest precedent-setting, slippery slope where the unintended consequences may turn out to be far worse than whatever it is Russia may have been doing. In Butina's case, the potential consequences are even more mystifying since she was only doing what the US government and numerous western private foundations have spent millions of dollars promoting Russians to do: become active, create an NGO, and generate increased understanding between the two countries.

When Butina was born during the perestroika era there was no such thing as an independent, registered NGO in Russia. Small, informal groups were starting to appear, such as "Diplomacy Through Families" in Novosibirsk that organized citizen diplomacy exchanges, but NGOs as we now know them did not exist in the country. By the time she was a teenager, however, there was a whole infrastructure of legislation and funding in place to support NGOs, much of it established in partnership with western institutions and organizations. In Siberia this process began in 1995 when US AID gave almost $2 million to support the expansion of a small NGO resource center into the Siberian Center and create a network of NGO resource centers in 11 regions across Siberia, including Butina's home region of Altai.

Collusion Russia 'Spy' Butina with Top Israeli Banker
Another Huge Arrest in the Russia Investigation | Washington Monthly |
Inside the Decade-Long Russian Campaign to Infiltrate the NRA and Help Elect Trump | Rolling Stone |

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Dec 30th, 2018 at 08:22:52 PM EST
[Russian] Lawyer for American Held in Russia Alleges Unlawful Arrest
An unnamed source inside of a Russian security service, according to Rosbalt, also claims Whelan received the USB only after inviting a local Russian citizen to his room at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow.

Agents with the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, or FSB, promptly burst in after the handoff, Rosbalt reported.

Courthouse News Service was not able to independently verify these claims.

Fusion GPS is for hire
It could take more than a year for a trial to finally get underway, Zherebenkov said Thursday. If Whelan is found guilty, he could face 10 to 20 years in prison.

The former U.S. marine served two tours in Iraq and was discharged for bad conduct in 2008 after a military court found him guilty of attempted larceny.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Jan 4th, 2019 at 05:36:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Must be a key person as US Amb Jon Huntsman visites Whelan in person . 🙂

Latest news says Whelan is a dual US and ...
UK citizen. Interesting development fir the Russian FSB!

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Fri Jan 4th, 2019 at 06:36:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Latest info on Paul Whelan from the media, a great diversity in coverage ...

Russia's Arrest of Paul Whelan Is Payback for Maria Butina, CIA Veterans Say | Daily Beast |
Russia Charges American Marine With Espionage As Moscow's Relationship With the U.S. Deteriorates | Newsweek |
Paul Whelan latest: Ex-US marine accused of spying in Russia is British citizen

"Rosbalt reported that on the day of his arrest, Whelan met a Russian citizen, a person he had known for a long time and whom he had repeatedly tried to recruit as an agent to obtain information about the staff of Russian intelligence agencies, according to its source. Whelan received an electronic device with a list of employees of a classified department, Rosbalt reported, then Federal Security Service officers broke into his room at the Metropol Hotel five minutes later and detained him."

His position at Kelly Services put him in frequent contact with a variety of federal agencies.

"Kelly Services is a global company, and we work with federal agencies all the time, whether it is OSAC or the LEGATT at the foreign embassies, or we work with HUD or DEA, FBI, ATF, whomever in the United States. We work with federal agencies in Canada, and what have you, all over the place. So we come in contact with federal agencies and officers all the time."

Related reading ...

Maria Butina and the Criminalization of Citizen Diplomacy | The Nation - Dec. 26, 2018 |

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Fri Jan 4th, 2019 at 11:04:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jeremy Hunt reacts UK citizen spy case of Paul Whelan in Moscow

Britain worried about U.S./UK citizen detained for spying in Russia | Reuters - 12 min. ago |

Britain is extremely worried about Paul Whelan, a dual U.S./UK citizen who has been charged with espionage in Russia, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Friday.

"We are extremely worried about Paul Whelan, we have offered consular assistance. The U.S. are leading on this because he is a British and American citizen."

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Fri Jan 4th, 2019 at 11:29:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Gen. McChrystal Slams Trump

My comment ...

Past and future may divert ... McChrystal hired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi, UAE [its mercenaries in Yemen] ... "Mad Dog" Gen. Mattis removed from his job as head of CENTCOM by Obama. Speech at the Marine Corps University Foundation's 2014 Semper Fidelis Award Dinner. Obama made the right decision as commander-in-chief on both occasions.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Dec 30th, 2018 at 11:55:22 PM EST
Lindsey's wisdom, always aligned with pal John McCain, in a nutshell ...

Sen. Lindsey Graham seen in conversation with Len Blavatnik and Alan Dershowitz

Is Russian Money Behind Graham's Growing Defense of Trump?
Report with Evidence - The Democratic Coalition
GOP campaigns took $7.35 million from oligarch linked to Russia

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine's PAC "All About Florida" took over $200,000 in campaign donations from a Putin-linked oligarch. Levine's backer Len Blavatnik is the wealthiest man in Britain, and personally contributed over $7 million dollars to GOP causes in the 2016 election cycle, including President Trump's campaign, and to Florida Senator Marco Rubio as well as Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Dec 31st, 2018 at 10:09:16 AM EST
Just a hunch, but I'm guessing Graham is setting himself up for a presidential run when Trump finds being president is too much work, or the Party finally gets tired of the smell.  He wants to seem respectful the president, while distanced from the taint, so as to be attractive to both deplorables and traditionalists.
by Andhakari on Mon Dec 31st, 2018 at 06:46:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russian-US oligarch claimed to be 'actively involved' in Trump election strategy | Times of Israel - Sept. 28, 2018 |

A Russian-American businessman told a senior former Kremlin official that he was "actively involved" in Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign after he made a sizable donation to the election effort, the Guardian reported.

Jewish oligarch Simon Kukes told Vyacheslav Pavlovsky in an email that he was assisting then-candidate Trump with "strategy development," the newspaper reported, and shared a photo of his 29-year-old Russian then-girlfriend (now wife) with Trump and his running mate, vice president Mike Pence.

Russian-US tycoon boasted of 'active' involvement in Trump election campaign | The Guardian |

Kukes was born in Moscow in 1946. He left the USSR in 1977, while in his twenties. Kukes lived in Texas, Oklahoma and Illinois, became a US citizen in 1982, which allows him to make political donations, and worked for Phillips Petroleum and Amoco.

In 1996 he returned to Moscow. He spent the next two decades there and held a series of executive jobs in the Russian oil industry [became head of Yukos in 2003]. In 2011 he told a New York court he was not domiciled in the US and lived in Russia. By 2016 he had based himself in America again, moving from Switzerland.

Kukes's communications in summer 2016 are likely to be of interest to Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

They are revealed in a joint investigation by the Guardian, NBC News, and the London-based investigative unit Dossier. Dossier is funded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Kremlin critic and former head of the oil firm Yukos.

A complete guide to the Jewish machers in the Russia probe | Times of Israel |

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Dec 31st, 2018 at 10:46:22 AM EST
Beyond Brexit, Jonathan Powell linked through Kaplan's investments to the Malaysian 1MDB / Goldman Sachs case.

Northern Ireland and Brexit: The border that isn't--yet (2017)

The risk of a hard border is a concern not just for farmers, traders and migrants. It could also upset Northern Ireland's peace process. Jonathan Powell, who was closely involved  in  negotiating the  Good  Friday Agreement as chief of staff to Tony Blair, says that its success relied on exploiting the two countries'  EU membership to park the issue  of  Irish  or  British  identity.

Jho Low gave S$276m to charities: New York Post

Other recipients of Mr Low's largesse included Panthera [glossy-pdf], a wild cat foundation created in 2014 by New York-born mineral mining billionaire Thomas Kaplan, which got US$20 million. Mr Kaplan is one of the biggest investors in gold and silver and has close ties to the British political establishment.

Mr Low also invested US$150 million in Mr Kaplan's company, Electrum Group LLC and joined its board for a time.

While the government is seizing the US$150 million that Mr Low invested in Electrum, which is cooperating, it has not made a claim against the Panthera charity.

Goldman Sachs sued by Abu Dhabi fund over 1MDB scandal

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Dec 31st, 2018 at 09:30:29 PM EST
House Democrats demand briefing on Russia sanctions decision
In a letter to Mnuchin, the Democrats say the deal appears to allow [!] Deripaska to keep "significant ownership" of one of the companies.

"As the chairs of committees with oversight jurisdiction over the U.S. response to Russia's attempts to interfere in our elections and other hostile actions, we have a number of concerns about the agreement that the U.S. has reached with Mr. Deripaska," the Democrats wrote.
They asked Mnuchin to delay implementation of the sanctions termination until he has fully briefed members of Congress about "all aspects of the agreement, the sanctions termination, and the impact that these decisions would have on the U.S. effort to end Russia's malign activities aimed at our country."
The letter to Mnuchin was signed by House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass.; House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif.; House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.; House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md.; House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.; and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.

Dems block [Rubio Combatting BDS Act], citing shutdown [?!]
For now, the package has stalled on a vote of 56-44, not enough to clear the 60-vote hurdle needed to advance.
Sen. Ben Cardin [!], D-Md., tweeted that the Senate "should not take up any bills unrelated to reopening the government" until the shutdown is resolved.

archived proper sanction
S. 720
"This Act may be cited as the 'Israel Anti-Boycott Act' ", 16 of 58 co-sponsors: Nelson [D-FL], Menendez [D-NJ], Blumenthal [D-CT], Peters [D-MI], Cantwell [D-WA], Schumer [D-NY], Hassan [D-NH], Donnelly [D-IN], Manchin [D-WV], McCaskill [D-MO], Wyden [D-OR], Coons [D-DE],  Bennet [D-CO], Heitkamp [D-ND], Cardin [D-MD]"

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Jan 9th, 2019 at 01:55:01 AM EST
Don't Believe NY Times story about Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya

Let's start with the US v. Prevezon case which is what Kramer and LaFraniere were referring to when they wrote "worked hand in glove with Russia's chief legal office to thwart a Justice Department civil fraud case..."  First, this case was initiated by serial con artist Bill Browder.  He contacted the federal prosecutor's office in New York and told them that he had evidence showing Prevezon stole and laundered some of the missing money stemming from the Hermitage Capital/Magnitsky case.  Not only that, the evidence that former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara used to file the case against Prevezon came entirely from Browder.

Browder choked during his Prevezon deposition because it's kinda hard to keep up with your own lies and he probably blames Veselnitskaya for making him look like a chump.  Don't believe me?  Lee Stranahan was awesome enough to post Browder's deposition on Youtube.  In fact, Stranahan is one of the few independent journalists I know who has a large base and is covering the Bill Browder story.  

Related reading my earlier diaries ...

Bill Browder was one of the first Westerners to make a fortune in post-Communism Russia
Khodorkovsky, Browder and the Magnitsky Act
US/UK Point Man in Anti-Russia Campaign Speaks Up

From Jerome a Paris in 2006 ...

Kremlin bashes Russia [cryptic]

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Jan 15th, 2019 at 02:49:19 PM EST
There's this thing about liars ...

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Jan 15th, 2019 at 04:31:38 PM EST
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