PETERSBURG METRO BLASTS
The BBC and Russian state-run TASS report at least 10 are dead following twin blasts on a metro in St. Petersburg. More likely to come tomorrow, as this is breaking as TRUMPISTAN WATCH goes to press. Recall, Putin rose to power and consolidated his power around fear of Chechen terrorists through a series of Moscow apartment bombings, so it is not outside the realm of the FSB to create such incidents. There have also been numerous incidents of terrorism that could be attributed to individuals from the North Caucasus over the years within Russia, so stay tuned.
FLYNN IS A VIRUS FOR WHICH THERE IS NO IMMUNITY
NBC News reports the Senate intelligence committee rejected ousted National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s request for immunity, condemning him to his fate, whatever that fate may be. ABC News adds the House intelligence committee has as well. According to NBC, “A senior congressional official with direct knowledge said Flynn’s lawyer was told it was ‘wildly preliminary’ and that immunity was ‘not on the table’ at the moment.” Another source told the network that the committee is “not receptive” to Flynn’s request for immunity “at this time”. A “senior congressional official” also noted Flynn’s lawyer had made a similar request for immunity from the Department of Justice. Curiously, that lawyer, Robert Kelner, is a #NeverTrump Republican who voted for former CIA agent turned presidential candidate Evan McMullin, according to The New Yorker. Trump tweeted at 7:04am Friday that Flynn was right to ask for immunity. His tweet can easily be converted from fake news to reality if you replace “witch hunt” with “mafia front” and “media & Dems” with “my family and the Russian mafia state”. But later in the day Friday, Trump was so spooked he walked out of a ceremony signing an Executive Order without signing anything when a reporter shot a question about Flynn at him – very, very odd video worth watching courtesy of CBS News. Curiously, Flynn also updated his paperwork concerning financial disclosures after failing to disclose 2015 income earned from entities closely linked to the Russian state, according to The Washington Post.
SHIT DMITRY PESKOV SAYS: TV TROLLS YOU IN SOVIET AMERICA
For his part, Kremlin spokeman Dmitry Peskov told American morning breakfast time talk show “Good Morning America” (as if there is such a thing in Trump’s America anymore, each day is terrible in its own way) everything Trump says plus sanctions were not discussed. Lyin’ Peskov calls it “fake news” because first the Kremlin bombards us with racist hateful propaganda which earns the label “fake news,” then it misappropriates the term. For the record, I’ve been to the hinterlands of my nation and back, America has mad issues, especially at the moment, but the overwhelming majority of people, including Trump voters, are not as hateful, racist and bigoted as the Kremlin’s propaganda, echoed with a drum in our mainstream media would have you believe so let’s get real about fake news. Also, normally SHIT DMITRY PESKOV SAYS is a subsection in DISINFO WARS, as such TRUMPISTAN WATCH regrets elevating his speech to anything higher in any way, it is really, truly unworthy. Shame on ABC News for billing this as an “exclusive” with George Stephanopoulos, giving a Kremlin flak air time these days is anything but. In any case the new definition of “fake news” when used by organs of the state is, hereto going forward, “factual information that is inconvenient to the executive of the state”. Peskov also whined that relations with the U.S. are “maybe even worse” than the Cold War. Listen, Dmitry, your boss woke us from a deep sleep when we were content playing whack-a-mole with the terrorists. Would you be pleased if America started banging the gongs of freedom across the Russian lands? Because that’s what we all need to do: let the Kremlin and the Russian people know that the people of Russia have our support, unlike whatever shit Dmitry Peskov says. Also critical is something POLITICO points out which is namely that “The reports that Peskov chalked up to propaganda have largely been sourced to the intelligence community”. Why who else hates the intelligence community for introducing fact into the equation of governance in America? Trump! Recall: he called our intelligence community “Nazis”. Never forget that.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acted like it as opposed to a Russian Order of Friendship medal recipient, which he also is, Friday in Brussels. CNN reports, “that US sanctions against Russia will remain in place until Moscow ‘reverses the actions’ it has taken in Ukraine.” CNN notes, “The comments are notable given President Donald Trump’s at-times reluctance to criticize Russia over its actions in Crimea,” although once last month Trump said Crimea “was ‘taken’ by Russia.” At the NATO meeting at Brussels headquarters, Tillerson said, “American and NATO support for Ukraine remains steadfast. As we have repeated at every ministerial and summit since Russia launched its campaign of aggression against Ukraine, NATO allies stand firm in our support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis also appeared in London with the U.K. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon where he said in a joint appearance, “Russia is choosing to be a strategic competitor”. Mattis also noted that a response on Russia’s violations to the intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) treaty would come soon as well, according to The Hill. None of this pleases Moscow but Washington remains none too pleased the Russians meddled in our elections. For it’s part Agence France Presse reported Moscow is “’perplexed’ by Tillerson’s talk of ‘aggression.’” Remember Russia never does anything bad, just ask the Russian state which, unlike Germany or the United States, cannot and never has had beyond Khrushchev’s Secret Speech and Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika any sort of real, honest reckoning of its past crimes.
VERBOTEN: GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS DON’T MILITARIZE MY PEOPLE
The biggest pushback against Tillerson’s ask that NATO nations raise their defense spending to 2 percent of GDP is coming from Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel who noted that, “Two percent would mean military expenses of some 70 billion euros. I don’t know any German politician who would claim that is reachable nor desirable,” according to Reuters. For his part, “Tillerson said allies will need to pay up or outline plans for meeting that target when NATO leaders meet on May 25 for the first top-level summit of the alliance to be attended by U.S. President Donald Trump,” because the only debts that matter to Trump are not his own. Because Germany has experienced war and the postwar aftermath on its territory, they are acutely aware in ways that evade the U.S. that a militarized population creates problems for civil society and democracy and that defense is more than weapons and hardware. Gabriel said, “that humanitarian, development and economic aid to stabilize countries and regions should also count.” Where is the toxic masculinity in that?
PUTIN WANTS TO MEET HIS PUPPET
The head of the Russian mafia state, Vladimir Putin, wants to meet his puppet, American president Donald Trump, in Helsinki in May, the BBC reports. Putin also took the opportunity to deny again his nation’s ever clearer meddling in our elections and assert the also false claim that sanctions against his criminal state are hurting the U.S. and Europe, when maybe that would be true for only a handful of Eastern European countries. BBC notes, “Mr Trump had voiced hopes for improved relations with Moscow, but he has been dogged by claims of links between his election campaign and Russia.” All that hubris Vlad, all that criminal activity, all those psyops, was it worth it if the only thing truly breaking if not broken already is the Russian state and economy? For his part, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said, “he would be honoured to host such a meeting.”
MANAFORT UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
Dirty Paul Manafort is under the microscope by a range of Feds for all the wonderful things he did in Ukraine to advance democracy. Just kidding! Only the executive is truly corrupted in that way of hating on democracy and Manafort is one of the people that helped put Trump there. Manafort is in fact under the microscope for the “millions of dollars in consulting income from pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians and oligarchs” which “were laundered from corrupt sources, whether he properly disclosed all his foreign bank accounts each year to the U.S. government and whether he paid taxes on all foreign income, two sources familiar with the inquiry said” to McClatchy. Well, now Manafort is really, truly free because freedom is just a word for nothing left to lose. Like another Trumpworld terror Flynn, “Also at issue is whether Manafort needed to register as a foreign agent on behalf of Ukraine or Russia and failed to do so”. For his defense, “Manafort has hired a crisis public relations firm and a prominent criminal defense lawyer, Reginald Brown” and “Manafort also has offered to make himself available to the House of Representatives and Senate Intelligence committees for interviews – but not sworn testimony.” What’s the point then if he can give fake statements not under oath? You think he won’t lie anyways and you want to guarantee he will really tell some whoppers? After all, one of Manafort’s business partners over his decade in Ukraine was Dmytro Firtash who U.S. officials are now eager to extradite from his Vienna home “on unrelated corruptions charges,” is such a bright bulb that “Firtash once acknowledged to the U.S. ambassador in Kiev that early in his career he had gotten a helping hand from Semyon Mogilevich, a powerful mob boss,” according to McClatchy. Leave no trail gentlemen! Only the scent of death and money! Luckily there is plenty of that as “Belize records obtained by McClatchy show that the offshore company allegedly was used to bill Yanukoyich’s party. Neocom Systems Limited was registered in the Central American nation on Feb. 11, 2005, and ceased operating on March 1, 2011 – dates corresponding with several of the years Manafort worked for Ukrainian clients.”
EVERY LITTLE GRAIN OF RUSSIA’S HAND
The Financial Times reports the FBI is creating a special unit in its Washington headquarters dedicated to investigating “Russian activities designed to influence the 2016 presidential election.” The move is designed to give FBI Director James Comey “greater visibility into the investigation’s granular details.” The temporary unit has antecedents in investigations into WikiLeaks and Hillary’s e-mails. Most devastating about this news is the unstated: namely, why has this not happened until now, if the reporting is accurate?
From The Financial Times.
THE FIRST RULE OF GOVERNMENT: COVER YOUR ASS
NBC News reports that Obama administration officials were keenly aware of the first rule of government, namely cover you ass, so “they created a list of document serial numbers” of “key classified documents related to the Russia probe” so that they could have it to “give to senior members of the Senate Intelligence Committee”. Naturally the pizza-gate sphere will turn up the unrelated undated statement of some woman who served in the Obama administration and make her serve as the Soros of the moment, the one who must bear the burden for all mankind as to why the red cap-wearing hairy wanksters cannot get laid. In any event, returning to the main show, the Trump-Russia corruption and collusion probe, the list was “created in early January” and “hand-carried” to committee members. The same official noted, “The numbers themselves were not classified.” The purpose is clear: “to make it ‘harder to bury’ the information”.
From NBC News.
WASHINGTON POST’S FIELD GUIDE TO A SCANDAL
Trust the ol’ Watergate crowd who live in a town accustomed to mapping terrorist networks to produce a five-star guide to all of the Trump traitor crowds’ Russia ties. It can be searched by official and for each official a helpful timeline of the devolution from so-called political disrupter to potential quisling. Five stars! You can see how the lives of Trump, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Carter Page, Jeff Sessions, official son-in-law Jared Kushner, Donald Jr., T Rex, Wilbur “Treasure Island” Ross, Roger Stone, J.D. Gordon and Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen intersect with Kremlinworld icons such as Putin, the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Rosneft chairman Igor Sechin, and assorted alleged accessory accomplices Felix Sater, Sergei Millian and Andrii Artemenko. Surely something of the sort exists in a Lubyanka file. You can fool half of America some of the time, you can fool some of America all the time, but you can’t fool all of America all of the time. I think Abraham Lincoln said that.
From The Washington Post.
EVERYONE IS A KGB AGENT JUST DON’T ASK THEM, THEY WON’T TELL YOU
Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, wrote a letter to acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente. (Recall Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to recuse himself after revelations of undisclosed meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.) In the letter, Grassley seeks answers as to “whether the Justice Department is looking into the firm, Fusion GPS, for alleged violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA.” POLITICO reports the letter cites its reporting “connecting Fusion GPS to a mysterious lobbying effort last year that tried to derail a human rights sanctions bill that irked the Kremlin.” Curiously, Fusion GPS’s lobbying campaign occurred just as the firm was “hired a former British spy to gather intelligence on Russia’s efforts to tamper with the 2016 presidential election and develop contacts with then-candidate Donald Trump and his associates.” Grassley wrote, ““The issue is of particular concern to the Committee given that when Fusion GPS reportedly was acting as an unregistered agent of Russian interests, it appears to have been simultaneously overseeing the creation of the unsubstantiated dossier of allegations of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians”. According to POLITICO, former MI6 agent Christopher “Steele was hired by Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who co-founded Fusion GPS”. As Steele was at work on his dossier, “Simpson was at the same time working for the U.S. law firm representing the Cyprus-based Russian holding company Perezov, which federal prosecutors in New York accused of laundering money in a massive tax fraud. The company is controlled by Denis Katsyv, the son of a former Russian transport minister.” Katsyv “hired a lobbyist named Rinat Akhmetshin to oppose the human rights sanctions bill called the Global Magnitsky Act.” Grassley’s letter expresses its “concern” over “Akhmetshin’s background in Russian intelligence. Akhmetshin previously told POLITICO he was drafted as a Soviet counterintelligence officer but denied any ongoing affiliation with the Russian state.”
WILBUR ROSS DENIES
It’s like he has been around Russians and knows you just deny the obvious! CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Wilbur Ross about his Bank of Cyprus ties. Cyprus is a “Treasure Island” of sorts for Russian money, both dirty and that of normal Russians who sensed their country is in trouble and wanted out. Nonetheless, as Tapper pointed out early in his interview, “six senators sent you a letter posing a series of questions. They say they haven’t received answers from you.” Unfortunately, he did not really give Tapper answers either. Wilbur Ross succeeded Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, a former KGB agent and head of Soviet era tourism agency InTourist tasked with gathered compromising material on foreign visitors to the Soviet Union, as Vice-Chair at the Bank of Cyprus. Reporting elsewhere, namely in The Guardian a little over a week ago has shown Ross was around and oversaw a very lucrative sale of Sberbank branches inside Russia for far less than its worth. What gives, Wilbur? Why not disclose it to Tapper? And why didn’t Tapper do his homework and really press Wilbur? If you know Tapper, tell him to sign up for TRUMPISTAN WATCH! We are doing his homework for him.
From Real Clear Politics.
THE RAIN IN SPAIN…
Spanish daily El Pais in English has a lengthy piece about how a former member of parliament Alexander Torshin, who made nice with the NRA and now serves as the Deputy to Russia’s Central Bank both penetrated Trump’s inner circle, is well known as a mafia boss to Spanish police. Much of it rehashes previous reporting but adds the dimensions of his activities in Spain. It seems many of the scams we have grown used to on this side of the Atlantic from Russian criminal interests are very transnational in character.
From El Pais in English.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
RUSSIAN FOR THE MONEY
Forbes reports that Oleg Deripaska, an “international aluminum tycoon,” e.g. an Oligarch who looted Russian state wealth, is among a small club of “five dozen Russian billionaires whose net worth has risen since Donald Trump’s election.” According to Forbes, Deripaska, the former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s former business partner on a bunch of shady deals in Ukraine “has benefited tremendously from a global rebound in aluminum prices and a surge in the ruble’s value; his fortune has jumped $1.6 billion since November 8.” “The 49-year-old Muscovite” who married into the family of former Russian leader Boris Yeltsin is “now worth an estimated $5.3 billion”. Deripaska “made headlines last week after the Associated Press reported that he paid former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort millions of dollars as a consultant beginning in 2006 with the intention of influencing global politics on behalf of the Russian state.” Guess who denies that allegation? Does TRUMPISTAN WATCH need even repeat the boilerplate denials of all the Kremlin’s thieves when they make them? Just assume the crooks don’t like to be called crooks, they prefer “philanthropist” or “patron of the arts” or “clever soul”. Forbes reports “the bulk of his fortune in shares of United Company Rusal”. Curiously, “Rusal’s stock has climbed 41% higher since the general election, including a more-than 4% gain on Thursday.” More curious yet, “Rusal’s stock has undoubtedly also benefited, at least in the short term, from President Trump’s ascendance. Its stock rose 16% the day after his victory alone.” Forbes notes, “Russian billionaires have added $27 billion to their fortunes since November 8” and “in the last year, the group’s combined net worth has risen $104 billion.” That’s like money out of thin air, except it is comprised of the blood, sweat and tears of the real American and Russian people, not a cabal of mafiosi Oligarchs who wish to deprive us all of our brains, our dignity, our humanity.
FUELED BY MADNESS, COURTING DISASTER
Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA is on an ever-tightening leash, so is Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. TRUMPISTAN WATCH has been following Venezuela closely because Rosneft pumped a lot of money into PDVSA last December in what at first glance seems like a losing deal. On Thursday, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly Julio Borges ripped up a Supreme Court ruling, which served as a warning of sorts for “foreign firms against making deals with the leftist government” that “will no doubt resonate in international boardrooms.” In essence, “Under the Venezuelan constitution, Congress must approve contracts of “national public interest” with foreign companies. But the Supreme Court just ruled Congress does not have a say over joint ventures anymore, while lawmakers retort the top court is illegitimate, creating a legal maze.” Why other than Rosneft is this relevant to the U.S. and Trump? PDVSA owns a majority stake in Citgo-owned refineries in the U.S., which if it defaults could fall into Rosneft’s hands. Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey flagged the issue last month as one of grave concern, so it’s not just TRUMPISTAN WATCH watching this! Be vigilant, America!
RUSSIA REMINDS US AMERICA ISN’T THE MOST DYSTOPIAN PLACE
A much smaller crowd of protesters gathered in Moscow leading to dozens of arrests following last Sunday’s massive protests all across Russia, the largest in five years. Unlike last weekend, Alexei Navalny did not encourage, promote or affiliate himself with these protests – it is unclear who did, but it seems there were some shenanigans. As the web editor of the English-language Moscow Times noted in a tweet, “Outside Kremlin, police detain ‘protester’ & discover copy of Russia’s Constitution & a wad of cash. Today’s protest stinks to high heaven.” I bet it was U.S. dollars with a CIA money band around it! Soros! Soros! The Washington Post digs a bit deeper into the uncertain provenance of the calls for protests but notes some enthusiastic Stalinist-Leninists who gathered for the occasion had zero trouble with the authorities. For its part, Amnesty International is lending a spotlight to the cause of those detained in last Sundays real and very much unsanctioned protests, according to Newsweek.
KNOWN KNOWNS CONCERNING THE KREMLIN’S “FIREHOSE OF FALSEHOOD”
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has a long piece on Russian disinformation, aka propaganda. For some reason we are still referring to the phenomena inflicted on us by the Russian state in the media as “fake news” despite that term having been misappropriated by both the Kremlin and the White House and dictators and kleptocrats the world over, according to Reporters Without Borders, to describe real news based on real facts that is inconvenient to their so-called leadership. In any event, within the EU, the numbers are staggering and should raise alarm bells on this side of the pond as well. According to NATO’s EU StratCom Task Force in a report published last July of 2016, the Task Force detected 1,649 bogus stories in 18 different languages over just 10 months. There are likely more than that. “The Ukraine-based Stop Fake website has exposed more than 1,000 fake stories and allegations in the last 2 1/2 years.” The RAND Corporation calls it a “firehose of falsehood,” which is a very accurate descriptor of the problem and the White House these days. Worth the read as it reviews what we know we know now.
FOR RUSSIA, CHAOS IS A METRIC OF SUCCESS
Senator John McCain told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz on “This Week” Sunday that Russia is influencing and interfering in elections around the world and is largely “succeeding”. McCain’s assessment was characteristically blunt. “They’re succeeding in their dismemberment of Ukraine. They’re succeeding in exerting an enormous influence in the Middle East, which they never had before. They have succeeded in interfering with our election, and we know that they continue that in the French elections, and in other elections,” he said. He also noted, “so far, they have paid little or no penalty for all of this misbehavior,” which is a statement of fact. He called again for a select committee in the Senate since “Every time we turn around another shoe drops from this centipede, and we need to examine all of the aspects of it,” he said. The select committee is ever more important since “Congressman Nunes killed” the independence of the House intelligence committee which was looking into Russian election interference.
From ABC News.
APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY HOWITZERS?
No wonder the Russians drink so much, this is what their idea of sober fun is. The Russians changed their Washington embassy switchboard for April fools! TIME reports, “’To arrange a call from a Russian diplomat to your political opponent, press 1,’ the recording begins, in Russian and English. Press 2 ‘to use the services of Russian hackers,’ and 3 ‘to request election interference.’” May I suggest Press 4 to open up your family’s KGB file and learn the truth about your relatives who disappeared into the abyss of gulags, thereby dividing your family permanently? That would not ever happen because Russia is so pure — just ask the Kremlin spokesman, he would deny everything! Isn’t Russia so pure and wonderful, ready to lead the great brotherhood of white nations into a frenzy of mass atrocities that send rivers of blood to baptize the future generations with the stain of collective guilt? Just remember, the humorless are unable to face time and memory or anything else, really, and this Russian Embassy switchboard April Fools is not very funny.
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
THE END IS NEAR
On Friday, Russia’s Prosecutor General moved “to block calls on social networks for more street protests in Moscow and other Russian cities following a wave of rallies that have cast a new challenge to the Kremlin,” reports the AP. “The Prosecutor General’s office confirmed Friday it has requested the state communications watchdog to block pages on social networks calling for more protests in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia coming Sunday.” The leader of last weekend’s protests, Alexey Navalny, was sentenced to 15 days in jail for ruffling the Kremlin’s meticulously arranged feathers. The great progressive Putin “denounced those protest organizers who try to use anti-corruption slogans in ‘narrow selfish political goals.’” Yes, how dare they interfere with the selfless theft and wealth accumulation of the Russian mafia state! Those resources belonging to the state are being usurped to make Russia great again, silly Alexey, Russians are drinking bath lotion and are poor and desperate in a bottomed out economy because they are selfish. Better luck blaming Soros or the Illuminati or the U.S. deep state or paid protesters. Just because you raped the nation Vlad, does not mean your people wanted it. Putin also said something about acting “in accordance with the law,” as if there are laws and not simply thuggery in Russia. Why do Russian oligarchs use Western courts to settle their disputes then?
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