Crain’s Chicago Business reports, “American democracy is fragile, and unless care is taken it could follow the path of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Mixed in with many softer comments, that was the somewhat jaw-dropping bottom line of Barack Obama last night as, in a Q&A session before the Economic Club of Chicago, the Chicagoan who used to be president dropped a bit of red meat to a hometown crowd that likely is a lot closer to him than the man whose name never was mentioned: President Donald Trump.”

From Crain’s Chicago Business.



The New York Times reports, “F.B.I. officials warned one of President Trump’s top advisers, Hope Hicks, earlier this year about repeated attempts by Russian operatives to make contact with her during the presidential transition”. The New York Times notes, “even after American intelligence agencies publicly accused Moscow of trying to influence the outcome of last year’s presidential election, Russian operatives were undaunted in their efforts to establish contacts with Mr. Trump’s advisers.” The New York Times adds, “senior F.B.I. counterintelligence agents met with Ms. Hicks in the White House Situation Room at least twice, gave her the names of the Russians who had contacted her, and said that they were not who they claimed to be. The F.B.I. was concerned that the emails to Ms. Hicks may have been part of a Russian intelligence operation, and they urged Ms. Hicks to be cautious.” Wait until we find out they became regulars at the White House. Chekhov said a gun that appears in the first act should go off in the third act.

From The New York Times.



CNN reports, “Candidate Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and others in the Trump Organization received an email in September 2016 offering a decryption key and website address for hacked WikiLeaks documents,” citing, “an email provided to congressional investigators”. By their own omission, “CNN originally reported the email was released September 4 — 10 days earlier — based on accounts from two sources who had seen the email. The new details appear to show that the sender was relying on publicly available information. The new information indicates that the communication is less significant than CNN initially reported.” Nonetheless, “After this story was published, The Washington Post obtained a copy of the email Friday afternoon and reported that the email urged Trump and his campaign to download archives that WikiLeaks had made public a day earlier. The story suggested that the individual may simply have been trying to flag the campaign to already public documents.” CNN notes, “The email came two months after the hacked emails of the Democratic National Committee were made public and one month before WikiLeaks began leaking the contents of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s hacked emails. It arrived about a week before WikiLeaks itself messaged Trump Jr. and began an exchange of direct messages on Twitter.” It was sent by Michael J. Erickson, who identifies himself as “President, Aviation Management Inc., LLC (AMI),” and “President, Drone Co-Habitation Services, LLC (DCS)”. CNN added, “Congressional investigators are uncertain who the sender is, and CNN was unable to make contact with the individual. It’s not clear whether the email was a legitimate effort to provide the hacked documents to the Trump campaign.” The Washington Post adds Twitler pounced as, “Trump called the mistake ‘vicious and purposeful’ and said CNN’s slogan should be ‘THE LEAST TRUSTED NAME IN NEWS!’ in a series of tweets Saturday morning.”

From CNN, The Washington Post and The Washington Post.



The New York Times reports, “Russian fighter jets have flown dangerously close to American warplanes in eastern Syria over the past month — including one near-collision — in what American officials say is a pattern of daily Russian violations of an agreement to separate rival forces converging on the last main pocket of Islamic State militants in the country.” The New York Times adds, “In one instance, two Air Force A-10 attack planes flying east of the Euphrates River nearly collided head-on with a Russian Su-24 Fencer just 300 feet away — a knife’s edge when all the planes were streaking at more than 350 miles per hour. The A-10s swerved to avoid the Russian aircraft, which was supposed to fly only west of the Euphrates. Other Russian planes have flown within striking distance or directly over allied ground forces for up to 30 minutes, escalating tensions and the risk of a shootdown”. The New York Times notes, “Since American and Russian commanders agreed last month to fly on opposite sides of a 45-mile stretch of the Euphrates to prevent accidents in eastern Syria’s increasingly congested skies, Russian warplanes have violated that deal half a dozen times a day, according to American commanders.”

From The New York Times.



BuzzFeed News reports, “The Trump administration has rejected a sweeping Russian proposal seeking a mutual ban on foreign political interference”. BuzzFeed News adds, “Russia first broached the subject in July, when one of Vladimir Putin’s top diplomats arrived in Washington with a sheet of proposals aimed at addressing a top concern of the US government: A resurgence of Russian meddling in the 2018 elections.” According to BuzzFeed News, “Putin dispatched Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov to Washington for a July 17 meeting with Under Secretary Tom Shannon, the No. 3 official at the State Department.” During the meeting, “Ryabkov handed over a document containing a bold proposal: A sweeping noninterference agreement between Moscow and Washington that would prohibit both governments from meddling in the other’s domestic politics. After examining the proposal, which has not previously been reported, US officials told Moscow there would be no deal.”

From BuzzFeed News.



POLITICO reports, “Former Goldman Sachs partner Dina Powell, who joined Donald Trump’s administration last January as an adviser on women’s issues to Ivanka Trump and rose quickly to become deputy national security adviser with a heavy hand in Middle East issues, will be departing the administration early next year.” POLITICO adds, “Dr. Nadia Schadlow, a deputy assistant to the president who works on the National Security Council, is seen as Powell’s likely successor, the White House official said. Schadlow has been deeply involved with Trump’s forthcoming national security strategy plan.” Powell was one of the non-crazies, which presumably involved a level of spinelessness, but in an asylum, you look for a Nurse Ratched anywhere you can find one.



Foreign Policy
reports, “An award-winning U.S. diplomat who was seen as a rising star at the State Department has issued a scathing resignation letter, accusing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Donald Trump administration of undercutting the State Department and damaging America’s influence in the world. Elizabeth Shackelford, who most recently served as a political officer based in Nairobi for the U.S. mission to Somalia, wrote to Tillerson that she reluctantly had decided to quit because the administration had abandoned human rights as a priority and shown disdain for the State Department’s diplomatic work”. TRUMPISTAN WATCH has made the same accusations! We must both be fake news. Foreign Policy notes, “Her former colleagues said her departure — and the sentiments expressed in her letter — reflect a wider exodus of midcareer diplomats who have lost confidence in Tillerson’s management and the Trump administration’s approach toward diplomacy.” They must all be fake news too, along with the CIA and the FBI and everyone but Moscow – fake, fake and real in Trumpistan!

From Foreign Policy.



BuzzFeed News reports, “Newly released police files expose significant holes in the investigation into the death of Vladimir Putin’s media czar two years ago in Washington, DC, casting doubt on the official finding of how he died.” BuzzFeed News notes, “After Mikhail Lesin’s corpse was found in a Dupont Circle hotel room on the morning of Nov. 5, 2015, the coroner determined that he had died from blunt force injuries to the head, and had also sustained blunt force injuries to his neck, torso, upper extremities, and lower extremities. A federal prosecutor closed the case last year, announcing that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls ‘after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.’” BuzzFeed News reports, “Now, the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department has released 58 pages of its case file on Lesin’s death. While many parts are blacked out, what was released raises sharp questions.” BuzzFeed News notes, “Nothing is said about the blunt force injuries that killed Lesin — or even about him falling down, which is how he is supposed to have died,” and “A disc of hotel security camera footage from the hallway outside Lesin’s room — including three critical hours during the period between when Lesin was last seen alive and when his dead body was found — was defective. Questioned by BuzzFeed News, the police department has repeatedly refused to say if it ever managed to review that footage, raising questions about whether Lesin truly died alone in his room.” BuzzFeed News notes the outlet, “has previously reported that three FBI agents and an intelligence officer said Lesin had in fact been bludgeoned to death, directly contradicting the official finding,” adding, “The case file shows that Lesin, a known alcoholic, had been drinking heavily.” The Washington Post notes, “The report says Lesin had been drinking in excess from nearly the time he checked in to the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown on Nov. 2, 2015, until he was found dead three days later in a ninth-floor penthouse room at the Dupont Circle Hotel. Extensive timelines from both hotels show that Lesin was confronted numerous times by security staff as he wandered drunk through the halls, sometimes wearing only a blue shirt and black underwear. Hotel officials once called the Secret Service, who advised a guard be posted at his door. He twice walked behind a hotel bar and grabbed bottles of liquor after he was cut off”.

From BuzzFeed News and The Washington Post.



The Guardian reports, “Ukrainian police have recaptured the former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, who was freed from police custody by his supporters in dramatic scenes earlier this week. The development is the latest twist in a long feud between the Ukrainian authorities and Saakashvili, who has turned on his one-time patron President Petro Poroshenko, accusing him of corruption and calling for his removal from office.” The Guardian adds, “It was not immediately clear how his supporters would respond to his recapture on Friday, but a statement posted on his official Facebook page called for a protest at the detention centre.” The Washington Post reports Saturday, “From his jail cell in Ukraine’s capital, opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili is calling on supporters to rally for the impeachment of the president and has declared a hunger strike.” The Washington Post adds, “Saakashvili must be brought to court for arraignment within 72 hours of arrest. No day for that has been announced. A spokesman for the prosecutor-general’s office, Andrei Lysenko, said Saturday that officials will likely ask for him to be held under house arrest after his court appearance.”

From The Guardian and The Washington Post.



Unian Information Agency reports, “Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says he thinks the United States proposes deploying a ‘UN administration’ to the occupied areas in Donbas. Speaking after talks with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of the OSCE Ministerial Council Meeting in Vienna on December 7, Lavrov stressed that the United States and Russia had ‘even fewer matching approaches’ on Ukraine than on the settlement in Syria.” The Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin challenged Lavrov’s words on Twitter, “FM Lavrov calls the initiative to deploy the UN peacekeeping mission in Donbas ‘an intention to create an occupation administration’ there. I believe that the occupation administration is already there. That’s #Russian occupation administration,” Unian Information Agency notes.

From Unian Information Agency.



Reuters reports, “Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday it was ready for talks with the United States to try to keep a landmark arms control treaty that helped end the Cold War alive and that Moscow would comply with its obligations if the U.S. did.” Of course the Russian Foreign Ministry is referring to “the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which was signed in 1987 and banned all Soviet and American short and intermediate-range land-based nuclear and conventional missiles.” Because this is Russia and such pronouncements cannot be taken at face value, cynically, “Its statement was published to mark the 30th anniversary of the treaty, which was signed with the Soviet Union,” Reuters notes.

From Reuters.



Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny says he will not recognize Russia’s upcoming presidential election if election officials continue to refuse to register him as a presidential candidate. Speaking in the city of Kaliningrad on December 10, Navalny called on his supporters to back his nomination as a candidate. He also said he would not call on his supporters to vote for any other candidate.”

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.





POLITICO reports, “President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, will face a different judge to be sentenced than the one who took Flynn’s guilty plea to a felony false statement charge last week, court records show. Judge Emmet Sullivan was randomly assigned to take over the case after Judge Rudolph Contreras recused himself.” POLITICO confirms a court spokewoman said, “the reassignment was due to Contreras’ recusal, but said the court generally does not disclose the reason that a judge begged off the case.” POLITICO notes, “Sullivan is an appointee of President Bill Clinton, and Contreras was appointed by President Barack Obama.”




Bloomberg reports, “Paul Manafort, the onetime campaign chairman of President Donald Trump, suggested dozens of editing changes to an opinion piece that ran this week in an English-language Ukrainian newspaper, prosecutors for Special Counsel Robert Mueller said in a filing Friday.” Bloomberg adds, “Prosecutors presented recent emails and a Microsoft Word document they said showed comments Manafort added to the editorial draft on Nov. 29 using a ‘track changes’ feature.” (Plug: the TRUMPISTAN WATCH merch shop now sells Paul Manfort Tracks Changes women’s sweatshirts and tote bags as part of the Active Measures Active Wear collection.)

From Bloomberg.



USA Today reports, “Special counsel Robert Mueller issued 15 search and seizure warrants and gathered more than hundreds of thousands of documents in the course of investigating President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business and campaign aide Rick Gates, according to new court filings.” USA Today notes, “In a status report on the case released by Mueller’s team on Friday, federal prosecutors said the government obtained more than 400,000 documents, including financial records, email communications, and corporate records. The prosecutor’s team also possesses imaged copies of 36 electronic devices such as laptops and phones.” USA Today adds, “The government prioritized foreign bank account records from Cyprus, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in its search. More than 116,000 domestic financial records are considered ‘particularly relevant,’ according to court documents. Separately, the government identified 2,000 other ‘hot’ documents that could contain crucial information for the case. Those include the defendants’ statements to law enforcement and copies of the search warrants.”

From USA Today.



ABC News George Stephanopoulos had a totally bizarre interview with “The Italian fiancee of George Papadopoulos,” Simona Mangiante, who does not sound very Italian. She is confirmed as the daughter of Angelo Mangiante, a respected Sky Sports broadcaster one colleague offered, by the Italian media. In her interview with Stephanopoulos, Mangiante “offered the first public defense of the embattled former Trump campaign adviser, who in October was revealed as the first campaign adviser to plead guilty and cooperate with the special counsel’s Russia probe.” This is so odd for so many reasons: there is nothing compelling her to come forward now, we have not even heard from George’s family, and why isn’t she leaving him? Most troubling about her story, Mangiante said, “Both she and Papadopoulos had worked at different times for Professor Joseph Mifsud, then the director of the London Academy of Diplomacy.” She also told Stephanopoulos they met through LinkedIn in September 2016. Imagine how high this kid was flying, miles above his league. Recall, “Papadopoulos was arrested by the FBI when he arrived at Dulles International Airport on July 27 and charged under seal. Since that time, she said, he has been cooperating with investigators,” ABC News notes. Insanely and most suspect at the end, between giggles, Mangiante, said she believes he will now have a firm place in history as “the first domino in the Russia investigation.” Mangiante also denied she spoke Russian or is Russian and then looked to the side when Stephanopoulos asked. It would be helpful to know who the mother is, but TRUMPISTAN WATCH’s best educated guess based on Mangiante’s online trails is she is Bulgarian.
From ABC News.





Esquire reports, “”It has been a terrific week for what used to be called contempt of Congress, back when we had a Congress run by people less worthy of contempt.” Esquire adds, “It was the considered opinion that Prince possibly was the most arrogant jackass ever to appear before a congressional committee.” As Esquire reminds us, “Of course, Prince’s sister, Betsy DeVos, is presently the Secretary of Education, where she has been tasked to do to the public schools what her brother did for the country’s image in Iraq.” So recall, “Of interest to the House Intelligence Committee, of course, was Prince’s role as an alleged go-between, a bridge between the Trump campaign and Russian bankers, particularly a meeting with the chief executive of a state-run Russian investment bank over dinner in the Seychelles Islands, a meeting arranged by Prince’s influential friends in the United Arab Emirates. Prince met with Steve Bannon prior to this meeting, something that Democrats on the committee found piquant as well,” Esquire notes, adding, “When Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro asked Prince about whether or not he had any moles in the New York Police Department who might have leaked to him what the New York FBI office was doing regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails, Prince reacted as though Castro had asked him for the nuclear launch codes.” The hearing ended under questioning from Rep. Adam Schiff when Prince said, “Now, listen, it’s 5:30. I haven’t been home in a week. I flew in this morning from Africa and I’ve had about enough of this. So, thank you.” Esquire concludes, “the hearing left it that Prince flew halfway around the world to meet some people from the UAE and, lo and behold, there was this influential Russian banker there, too.”

From Esquire.



CNN reports, “Democratic lawmakers are asking the Treasury Department to turn over any intelligence data it has about President Donald Trump and his associates, citing two recent reports of financial dealings with Russians. Rep. Maxine Waters of California, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, and four other Democrats renewed their request for suspicious activity reports and other financial intelligence data tracked by the agency’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.” CNN notes, “Their request comes after reports highlighting one of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ investments that has ties to Russia and separate reports alleging money-laundering through a Trump-licensed property in Panama.”

From CNN.





The Independent reports, “Donald Trump is the least popular US President in nearly 40 years, a new poll,” from the Pew Research Institute shows, indicating, “Mr Trump’s job approval rating has hit 32 per cent – lower than any US President dating back to Ronald Reagan,” who is the GOP death cult’s premiere lord and savior after the debacles of Nixon and of course Bush II. However, according to The Independent, “About three-quarters of Republicans, and voters who lean Republican, approve of how Mr Trump is handling his job today. Nearly 85 per cent approved of it in February.” The Independent notes, “His approval rating among Democrats remains strikingly low – 7 per cent now, compared to 8 per cent in February.” We are so divided! Russia must be so happy!

From The Independent.



CNN reports on the days at Mar-a-Lago that unfolded into Flynn making a series of now contentious phone calls to then Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. On December 28, 2016, CNN reports that “as the President basked in the comfort of his retreat,” he also, “received a flurry of visitors to his Palm Beach, Florida, club as he neared his Inauguration Day. Top aides — including Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Stephen Miller and Hope Hicks — were seen at the club coming and going from sessions with the incoming president.” CNN reports that “In between meetings,” at Mar-a-Lago, “Trump took a call from sitting President Barack Obama, who was on vacation in Hawaii. The two men had spoken on the phone periodically since Trump was elected, but their relationship was beginning to fray after Trump tweeted about ‘roadblocks’ to a successful transition.” Meanwhile on planet not white nationalist conspiracy nutter, “Obama advisers were being extraordinarily careful about what they were sharing with Team Trump. The skepticism was rooted in the fact that Trump had not only brushed off the President’s warning about Flynn, aides say, but he and his advisers were openly downplaying and outright dismissing the fact that Russia had interfered in the election. Hours later, Obama signed the package of sanctions on Russia, which wouldn’t be made public until the next day.” It is alleged the two men did not speak about Russia in their conversation. CNN adds, “On vacation in the Dominican Republic, Flynn received contact from Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, according to the court filing that was made public last week. He would later consult by phone with KT McFarland, a Trump national security aide who was in Palm Beach, about what he would say to the Russian ambassador about the sanctions.” That evening, Trump “spent the evening ensconced at a reception with 300 of Mar-a-Lago’s wealthy patrons,” among them Don King who appeared with in a press event where, “Trump told reporters that it was time to look past Russia’s election meddling.” The next day, CNN reports, “Right after speaking with McFarland, Flynn spoke by phone to Kislyak, encouraging a muted response that didn’t escalate the matter. And then he called McFarland back, relaying the details of his conversation, according to court filings.”

From CNN.



Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports, “Looking nervous and somber, the FBI’s star witness entered from the lockup and shuffled across the New York federal courtroom in a beige prison smock. The Turkish-Iranian gold trader took a seat at the witness stand for the hearing on Nov. 29, the second day of testimony in a money laundering and sanctions-evasion case brought by the U.S. government. Asked to state his name, he said he was Reza Zarrab. Not long ago, Zarrab’s life might have fit the description of a James Bond villain’s—he glided around Istanbul with his pop-star wife in Aston Martins and Range Rovers, flew on private planes, and sported around the Aegean with his own jetpack and submarine. He liked to carry a gold-plated pistol and kept an office at Trump Towers Istanbul.” Of course, “That all came to an end in March 2016, when Zarrab was arrested by FBI agents as he arrived in Miami for a vacation at Disney World. Over the next 18 months, Zarrab, 34, was the chief defendant in a prosecution accusing him and others of a conspiracy to launder almost $1 billion through banks in the U.S. to help Iran evade sanctions over its nuclear program,” Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports staring in late November, “Over more than a week on the witness stand, Zarrab spun a stunning tale of corruption and double-dealing that reached the highest levels of the Turkish government, all the way up to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.” Bloomberg BusinessWeek adds, “The case has further soured Washington and Ankara’s already strained relationship, revealing how America’s longtime ally may have helped Iran undermine sanctions even as Turkey received millions of dollars in U.S. aid.” The U.S. has offered Zarrab and his family protection. His father, “was part of a team assembled by Iran’s newly elected president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to help work around U.S. sanctions”.

From Bloomberg BusinessWeek.





The Washington Post reports, “President Trump on Saturday evening issued a call for a reporter with The Washington Post to be fired because of a quickly deleted tweet that presented a misleading impression of Trump’s rally crowd in Florida.” That is what got under his skin. Among the buffet of inhumanity and horrors he is responsible for, this is what displeases him – remember this as the world burns. The Washigton Post adds, “The Post reporter, David Weigel, had earlier tweeted a photo of the crowd gathered at Pensacola Bay Center for Trump’s speech there Friday evening, showing numerous empty seats. He removed the tweet after being told by others that the photo was taken before the venue filled up and apologized in a later Twitter exchange with the president.” But Trump unloaded all the same because he has no gentlemanly social graces, after all in lieu of normal courtship from consenting women, this is a man who likes to “grab them by the pussy,” so why not extend this philosophy to all walks of life? No one has stopped him yet.

From The Washington Post.



Forbes reports, “As investigators continue to probe the 2016 presidential election, one of Donald Trump’s primary partners—data company Cambridge Analytica—says it has shifted its focus away from U.S. politics. The company, which entered the U.S. political market in 2014, mining and analyzing data to target voters, says it is expanding its work in international elections, while boosting its business with American corporations.” Here is CEO Alexander Nix’s categorical denial that Trump’s data firm worked with Russia: “We have no involvement with Russians. We don’t have any Russian clients. I don’t think we have any Russian employees. We certainly haven’t spoken or engaged with any Russians in terms of U.S. political elections, and nor would we.” Similar to Trump’s denials, let’s see how long this one holds for or watch as it breaks down in parts and pieces. Recall, “The company helped the campaign collect data, target voters, and mostly place ads, according to a Trump campaign official. Cambridge got paid $5.9 million in 2016 by the Trump campaign, according to public filings. It got about another $1.8 million from a different campaign vendor. An offshoot of the British data company SCL Group, Cambridge began working in U.S. politics in 2014 and was funded by Republican mega donors Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah. A company spokesman declines to comment on whether Cambridge’s involvement in U.S. politics was ever encouraged by the Mercer family.”

From Forbes.


Russian state-run TASS
reports, “Among the accredited journalists,” for Putin’s annual press conference, “is Russian socialite Ksenia Sobchak, who will stand in the country’s presidential election in 2018.” So less you had any lingering doubts the Kremlin approves, put them to rest now. After all, after Hillary, a woman is such a good foil, isn’t she?

From Russian state-run TASS.





Foreign Policy reports, “The destruction of humankind is one ‘impulsive tantrum away’, the Australian-founded winner of the Nobel peace prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, warned overnight on Sunday as the United States and North Korea exchange threats over Pyongyang’s nuclear testing regime.” “‘Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us?’ the Ican head, Beatrice Fihn, said in Oslo after receiving the peace prize on behalf of the anti-nuclear group.” Fihn added, “The only rational course of action is to cease living under the conditions where our mutual destruction is only one impulsive tantrum away”. Who might she be referring to? The Guardian notes, in case it is not obvious, that she is referring to the fact that, “Tensions on the Korean peninsula have escalated as Pyongyang has ramped up its missile and nuclear tests, and the accompanying political rhetoric has grown increasingly bombastic: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un taunted Donald Trump as a ‘dotard’, while the US president dubbed his rival ‘Little Rocket Man’ and a ‘sick puppy’.” Everyone wins when the hard rain starts to fall because then there will be peace on earth and purity of essence!

From The Guardian.




Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
reports, “A highly anticipated Bolshoi Theater ballet about the life of Russian dance legend Rudolf Nureyev has premiered while its acclaimed director, Kirill Serebrennikov, remains under house arrest on fraud charges that have stunned the Russian artistic world and elicited support internationally. The premiere of Nureyev, which stirred controversy when it was abruptly canceled earlier this year, drew a standing ovation from the audience in Moscow on December 9.” Of note, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, attended the premiere and told the state-run TASS news agency that it is a ‘global event.’ He added that he did not see ‘anything provocative’ in the show.”

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.



The New York Times reports, “Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, acting through a friend and distant cousin, was the true buyer behind the purchase of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ for a record-breaking $450.3 million, American officials and an Arab familiar with the arrangement said Thursday.” Love that “an Arab” is a source. The New York Times notes the inconvenient timing as, “Making a record-breaking art purchase in his own name might be awkward for the crown prince because he is leading a sweeping crackdown on corruption and self-enrichment by the elite of the kingdom — including some of his royal cousins.” The New York Times adds, “Less than two weeks before the auction for the painting took place, on Nov. 15, Prince Mohammed ordered the extrajudicial detention of at least 200 of the kingdom’s richest businessmen, officials and princes in a Ritz-Carlton hotel. He has been pressuring them to sign over hundreds of billions of dollars in assets in deals to avoid prosecution and secure their freedom.” So they have been kidnapped and are being held hostage for ransom in other words. The New York Times adds, “the newly opened branch of the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, announced that it expected to receive the painting.”

From The New York Times.



The Independent reports, “Arsenal’s billionaire shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, has written a passionate letter to the International Olympic Committee to plead for the Russian flag and national anthem to be allowed at the Winter Olympics next year.” Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner Alexey Navalny has targeted Usmanov in the past. Usmanov sued Navalny earlier this year over the video produced by Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation.

From The Independent.


reports that among Chechen society, the “reluctance to talk openly about physical love is what makes Grozny’s new erotic boutique so remarkable, but it wouldn’t be half as astonishing were it not for the woman who’s apparently behind the effort: Aishat Kadyrova, Ramzan’s 18-year-old daughter.” According to a report by the BBC’s Russian-language service, “‘Lady A’ offers erotic lingerie and intimate accessories, and unsurprisingly it only advertises among a select group of people in Chechnya. The store reportedly sells well-known European and American lingerie brands, as well as edible massage creams, vaginal gels, whips, and more. On a private Instagram account (@Ladya_boutique), the store describes itself as ‘a boudoir of your secrets and lacy splendor,’ and promotes the motto is ‘Be bold. It’ll be just between us.’” TRUMPISTAN WATCH has a request pending to follow the account. Meduza notes, “Representatives from Firdaws, which owns the shopping mall that houses Lady A, refused to speak to the BBC. Aishat Kadyrova is the head of the Firdaws fashion house, which was founded by her mother, Medni Kadyrova (Kadyrov’s wife). In an interview, her mother once described Muslim fashion as ‘traditions, grace, and modesty.’”

From Meduza.



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