TRUMP SAYS KREMLIN LAWYER’S OUTING AS INFORMANT PUTIN’S REVENGE
CNN reports, “President Donald Trump suggested Saturday night that Russian President Vladimir Putin might have directed a Russian lawyer who met with Trump campaign associates in 2016 to disclose ties to Moscow recently in order to sow chaos for him in retaliation for aggressive actions he has taken against Russia.” That is probably something he should not have said allowed, but hey now, let it bleed. CNN adds, “The Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, said in an NBC News interview that aired Friday that she is both a lawyer and ‘an informant’ after newly surfaced emails indicated she once worked with Russia’s chief legal office in an attempt to thwart a request from the Justice Department.” CNN notes, “At a rally in Michigan on Saturday, Trump said, ‘I guarantee you, I’m tougher on Russia. Nobody ever thought. In fact, have you heard about the lawyer? For a year, a woman lawyer, she was like, “Oh, I know nothing.” … Now all of a sudden she supposedly is involved with government. You know why? If she did that, because Putin and the groups said, “you know this Trump is killing us. Why don’t you say that you’re involved with government so that we could go and make their life in the United States even more chaotic.” Look at what’s happened. Look at how these politicians have fallen for this junk. Russian collusion. Give me a break.’” What is also hilarious here is that the sanctions and missiles are the story of the triumph of the rank and file over our fake Russian bullshit president but here he is casting his own powerlessness in front of our agencies as his strength.
TRUMP CLAPS AT CLAPPER, BRENNAN CLAPS BACK
Mediaite reports, “Early Saturday morning, President Donald Trump took a swing at ‘lying machine’ [former Director of National Intelligence] James Clapper by tweeting out accusations he heard on Fox & Friends.” Former CIA Director John Brennan accused Trump of hypocrisy as he lies all the time and responded on Twitter, “Jim Clapper served his country for over a half century, including in Vietnam. You did not. By your words & behavior, you diminish the Office of the Presidency.” Everyone is a liar but our pure fake Russian bullshit president who would never tell a lie, or lie that he would never tell a lie.
UDAY + EMIN BFFS IN TOUCH THROUGHOUT THE TRANSITION
BuzzFeed News reports, “The ‘first of a series’ of text messages was sent between Emin Agalarov and Donald Trump Jr. two days after the 2016 election”. BuzzFeed adds, “The communications continued through at least mid-December 2016, according to information made public Friday.” BuzzFeed notes, “It is not clear how many messages were sent, whether Trump Jr. sent any of them, or how many were sent by either party — although BuzzFeed News confirmed that multiple messages were sent.” Well we have read Manafort’s daughters texts and those of the FBI Secret Society of two people just having a goddamn old fashioned extra marital affair, so why the hell not these yet? BuzzFeed adds, “Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee revealed one of the text messages, from Dec. 13, 2016, in their ‘minority views’ report on Friday — one of several new pieces of information that suggest that the Trumps’ relationship with the Agalarovs was much closer than the president and his family have said.” BuzzFeed notes, “In the Democrats’ report, it notes one message sent by Emin to Trump Jr. on Dec. 13, 2016, posing a ‘quick question’ for Trump Jr. According to the footnotes in the report, the text message was found among documents turned over to the committee by Trump Jr. labeled, ‘Text Messages from Emin Agalarov to Donald Trump Jr., November 10, 2016.’”
From BuzzFeed News.
TRUMP GRATEFUL TO DARKNESS AT NUNES FOR INTERFERENCE
POLITICO reports, “The House Intelligence Committee has released a 253-page report on its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The GOP report signals the committee found no evidence of collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russia but affirms evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Though its findings were previewed in a summary a month earlier, President Donald Trump hailed the Republican report as vindication of his claim that there was ‘no collusion’ between him or his team and the Russian government.” Put another way, the death cult GOP headed by committee chairman DARKNESS AT NUNES ran successful interference on their committee’s effort at an honest investigation and failed to protect the American people. Our fake Russian bullshit president tweeted, “Just Out: House Intelligence Committee Report released. ‘No evidence’ that the Trump Campaign ‘colluded, coordinated or conspired with Russia,” adding, “Clinton Campaign paid for Opposition Research obtained from Russia — Wow! A total Witch Hunt! MUST END NOW!” None of that tweetering of course does a goddamn thing to change Robert Mueller’s investigation except maybe add to the body of evidence against our fake Russian bullshit president. The death cult GOP did throw it to Mueller, as POLITICO notes, “it did emphasize that other ongoing investigations — such as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe — might be privy to facts the committee could not obtain.”
CONGRATS TRAITOR DARKNESS AT NUNES ON SUCCESSFUL INTERFERENCE!
The New York Times reports, “Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee declared in a 250-page report on Friday that their yearlong investigation uncovered no evidence that the Trump campaign had aided Russia’s election meddling, only ill-advised contacts between campaign aides and Russian officials or their intermediaries.” The New York Times notes, “In a nearly 100-page dissenting document, Democrats on the Intelligence Committee described the Republicans’ report as little more than a whitewash. The eagerness of Trump campaign aides to accept offers of Russian assistance, they said, suggests ‘a consciousness of wrongfulness, if not illegality.’ The Democrats complained that the committee failed to pursue obvious leads, interview important witnesses or investigate crucial lines of inquiry.” The New York Times adds, “The opposing conclusions closed a tumultuous chapter for a congressional committee that is charged with oversight of American spy agencies, but fractured into warring camps whose primary mission often seemed to be advancing their own political agendas.” The New York Times notes, “The Republicans criticized the Obama administration for a ‘slow and inconsistent’ response to Russia’s covert interference. They faulted the F.B.I. for failing to properly notify victims of Russian hacking and for obtaining a warrant to eavesdrop on a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page. They also said that American officials should have warned the Trump campaign about Mr. Page’s ties to Russia, even though Mr. Page was under investigation by the F.B.I. at the time and such a disclosure would have been highly unusual. Even the Republicans, however, raised questions about Mr. Page’s Russia trip in July 2016.” Good for them to swipe at the lowest hanging fruit and forget no guts, no glory. Most horrifyingly treasonous, “The Republicans accused the intelligence agencies of failing to use ‘proper analytic tradecraft’ as they crafted a key conclusion of a January 2017 assessment of the Russian campaign,” when on planet actual shared reality the intelligence community was way woke before the rest of us. Most naturally. “they admonished Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee for hiring Fusion GPS”. Death cult gonna death cult.
From The New York Times.
WHAT’S NEW IN THE HOUSE INTEL COMMITTEE’S DEEPLY FLAWED REPORT
– Flynn had advance notice of stolen emails: The New York Times reports, “In a newly disclosed June 2016 email, Mr. Flynn also seemed to give a Trump campaign aide a preview of the release of stolen emails that would prove highly damaging to the Clinton campaign. ‘There are a number of things happening (and will happen) this election via cyber operations (by both hacktivists, nation states and the DNC),’ he wrote to an unnamed communications adviser.” Of course, “the committee never interviewed Mr. Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador during the transition”. Concerning such obvious tells, the death cult GOP wrote, “While the committee found that several of the contacts between Trump associates and Russians — or their proxies, including WikiLeaks — were ill advised, the committee did not determine that Trump or anyone associated with him assisted Russia’s active-measures campaign”.
– Flynn and Flynn Jr. met with Kislyak before the RT Gala: The Daily Beast reports, “The Daily Beast reports, “Before traveling to Russia in 2015 for a dinner hosted by a propaganda network, retired Gen. Michael Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., went to the home of Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak for a private meeting.”
– Agalarovs reached out after Trump’s victorious coup: CNN adds, “The Russian oligarch and Russian lawyer who were key players in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting reached out to Trump’s team after Donald Trump was elected President to try to lobby on the Russian sanctions they sought to overturn, according to Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.” CNN adds, “In addition, another effort to reach out to Trump’s team after the election came from Aras Agalarov, the Azerbaijani-Russian oligarch who also has ties to the Trump Tower meeting. Agalarov, along with his pop-star son, Emin Agalarov, also worked with Trump to bring the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant to Moscow.” CNN notes, “In the dissent, Democrats cite a November 28, 2016, email from publicist Rob Goldstone to Trump’s assistant, Rhona Graff, which said that ‘Aras Agalarov has asked me to pass on this document in the hope it can be passed on to the appropriate team.’ Later that day, Graff forwarded to Steve Bannon the email with Agalarov’s document regarding the Magnitsky Act as an attachment, explaining, ‘The PE [President Elect] knows Aras well. Rob is his rep in the US and sent this on. Not sure how to proceed, if at all.’”
– Slate has a list of the greatest questions that the death cult never bothered to follow up on and it’s damning.
DEMOCRATS + INTEL COMMUNITY RESPOND TO DEATH CULT GOP REPORT
POLITICO reports, “In a 98-page rebuttal, Democrats highlighted what they described as ‘gaps’ in the GOP report and areas of investigation left unexplored. For example, Democrats noted that when Donald Trump Jr. arranged the now-famous June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Kremlin-connected Russians and top Trump campaign brass, he placed a phone call to a blocked number in between two calls to a prominent Russian oligarch’s son, Emin Agalarov. Schiff indicated that Republicans declined to press for the elder Trump’s phone records to determine whether the blocked call was to him.” POLITICO adds, “The Democratic report also laid out in detail former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe’s testimony corroborating former FBI director James Comey’s account of feeling pressured by Trump to back off the bureau’s Russia investigation in early 2017. Schiff said issues of potential obstruction of justice generated little interest from Republicans.” POLITICO notes, “The Democrats also fleshed out the relationship between Trump and the Agalarov family, with whom he grew close in 2013, when he brought the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow. The Democratic report indicates that a day after the Trump Tower meeting arranged between Trump Jr. and the younger Agalarov, the elder Trump received a painting as a gift from Aras Agalarov, Emin’s father and a prominent ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.” Firing back, “intelligence community allies who have bristled at the House GOP’s claims of bias or misconduct said House Republicans wouldn’t have the last word. ‘A highly partisan, incomplete, and deeply flawed report by a broken House Committee means nothing,’ tweeted former Obama CIA director John Brennan, who testified before the panel last year. ‘The Special Counsel’s work is being carried out by professional investigators—not political staffers. SC’s findings will be comprehensive & authoritative. Stay tuned, Mr. Trump….’”
JUDGE POSTPONES STORMY CASE; LIKELIHOOD OF COHEN INDICTMENT
The Washington Post reports, “A federal judge on Friday granted Michael Cohen’s request for a delay in a lawsuit brought against him by porn star Stormy Daniels, saying it appeared likely Cohen will be indicted in a related criminal investigation.” The Washington Post adds, “Judge S. James Otero’s order for a 90-day stay comes two days after Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, said he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself in the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California. Cohen’s declaration cited the investigation by federal prosecutors in New York, who are examining his role in quashing embarrassing stories about Trump during the 2016 campaign.” The Washington Post notes, “Daniels’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, said he planned to file an appeal early next week.”
From The Washington Post.
MICHAEL COHEN’S UNREALITY: HE WANTED TO BE TRUMP’S CHIEF OF STAFF
The Hill reports our fake Russian bullshit president’s “longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen reportedly told friends during the 2016 presidential race that he expected to be chosen as Trump’s White House chief of staff, a position that eventually went to Reince Priebus. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Cohen also believed he would be tapped to be Trump’s campaign chief, but the role was instead handed to Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon.”
From The Hill.
POMPEO AT NATO HQ TAKES TOUGH STANCE ON RUSSIAN AGGRESSION
CNN reports, “At a meeting of NATO Foreign ministers in Brussels on Friday, Pompeo agreed with diplomatic counterparts to combat Russia’s behavior, a senior State Department official traveling with him said. Russia’s actions in Syria, its suspected use of a nerve agent against a former Russian spy and his daughter in the UK and its cyber activities were all discussed, the official said.”
STATE DEPARTMENT WANTS TALKS WITH RUSSIA ABOUT OVERFLIGHTS
Bloomberg reports, “The State Department wants new talks with Russia by the end of May on agreements for U.S. airlines to cross Russian airspace, with officials in Moscow holding out on at least one key route used by cargo carriers.” Bloomberg adds, “Russia this month agreed to renew three of four overflight routes as a deadline was about to expire. The fourth route, which runs across southern Russia, wasn’t renewed, and cargo carriers have had to use a costlier flight path as a result, said Manisha Singh, the assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs.”
THE NRA IS EITHER PREPARING FOR AN INVESTIGATION OR A BONFIRE
CNN reports, “The National Rifle Association is setting aside years of documents related to its interactions with a Kremlin-linked banker, as the gun-rights group appears to be bracing for a possible investigation”. CNN adds, “The NRA has faced fresh scrutiny from congressional investigators about its finances and ties to Alexander Torshin, one of the 17 prominent Russian government officials the US Treasury Department recently slapped with sanctions. The gun-rights group has said it is reexamining its relationship with Torshin, who is a lifetime NRA member, in the wake of the sanctions. The renewed attention has highlighted the close-knit if sometimes uneasy alliance between top NRA officials and Torshin — a relationship that ensnared members of Trump’s team during the presidential campaign, inviting further congressional scrutiny.” CNN notes, “Some employees have been tasked with preserving years of documents mentioning Torshin or his associate, Maria Butina, who runs a pro-guns group in Russia, a source familiar with the situation said. Privately, some officials have expressed anxiety about a potential investigation and the group’s Russian ties.”
MMA FIGHTER WITH LINKS TO TRUMP + COHEN QUESTIONED BY THE FBI
The AP reports, “A Russian mixed martial arts fighter who has connections with President Donald Trump, the president’s personal attorney Michael Cohen and Russian President Vladimir Putin was questioned this week by the FBI, his manager confirmed Saturday. Fedor Emelianenko was questioned by agents who met him in his hotel room on Tuesday, manager Jerry Millen said before Emelianenko’s Bellator MMA heavyweight fight against Frank Mir. Millen declined to detail his client’s conversations with the agents.” The AP adds, “The agents were in attendance at Saturday’s fight, Millen said.” The AP notes, “Putin has attended Emelianenko’s fights, and the 41-year-old fighter has been photographed with the Russian president. His connection with Trump dates back to 2008, when he was signed by Affliction Entertainment, a fight league in which Trump had an ownership stake. Trump announced a joint venture involving MMA and Emelianenko at a news conference on June 5, 2008.” The AP notes, “Affliction ended up folding for financial reasons after two events, both headlined by Emelianenko.”
From the AP.
CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA WHISTLEBLOWER REVEALS LINKS TO WIKILEAKS
BuzzFeed News reports, “Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie revealed new and potentially significant ties between his former company and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to House Democrats who interviewed Wylie this week. ‘It’s a significant connection,’ Rep. Eric Swalwell told BuzzFeed News, adding that Wylie plans to give Democrats additional documents. ‘We’re trying to verify it right now.’” BuzzFeed adds, “[Adam] Schiff said in a statement that Wylie had disclosed ‘several previously unknown connections’ between Cambridge Analytica, Assange, and WikiLeaks.” Of note the death cult GOP on the House Intelligence Committee wrote, “Cambridge contacted Assange in June 2016 ‘to confirm whether WikiLeaks possessed the ‘missing’ emails deleted from Clinton’s private server.’” They did not join Democrats in interviewing Wylie because they do not care about American sovereignty and do not want to hear what Wylie has to say, thereby making them complicit in the crimes they deliberately close their ear to.
From BuzzFeed News.
TWITTER ALSO SOLD DATA TO CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA
Bloomberg reports, “Twitter Inc. sold data access to the Cambridge University academic,” Aleksandr Kogan, “who also obtained millions of Facebook Inc. users’ information that was later passed to a political consulting firm without the users’ consent.”
UK FOREIGN OFFICE MET WITH CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA OVER TRUMP WIN
The Guardian reports, “Foreign Office officials met Cambridge Analytica executives to ‘better understand’ the secrets behind Donald Trump’s presidential victory,” which raises “new questions over the extent of links between the government and the controversial data firm. Officials from London, Washington and New York met Cambridge Analytica representatives in a series of meetings aimed at acquiring insights into the ‘political environment’ that followed Trump’s shock win.” The Guardian adds, “Details of the meetings, revealed in response to a freedom of information request, show the government hoped it would help ‘build relationships with the Trump campaign and transition team’, and they took place as the Conservative party was desperately seeking contacts within the incoming US administration.” Ironically, “The FoI response also shows the relationship between the Foreign Office (FCO) and the data firm extended to government contracts, with the FCO, under a Labour government, paying more than £400,000 to Strategic Communications Laboratories, the former name of SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, for a project to help tackle extremism. The contract, worth £402,501, was signed in 2008 to provide research and surveys into public opinion as part of an initiative to help Pakistan deal with extremism and radicalisation issues that could affect the UK.” The Guardian notes, “So far it has been established that SCL was granted provisional ‘List X’ status by the Ministry of Defence until 2013, giving it access to secret documents. The MoD praised SCL for the training it provided to a psychological operations warfare group with an official stating it would ‘have no hesitation in inviting SCL to tender for further contracts of this nature’.” The Guardian adds, “The revelations also follow recent details of a previously undisclosed meeting in December 2016 between Boris Johnson and Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica’s suspended chief executive. Reports documenting the meeting suggest Johnson was not hoping to gain details of the algorithm that helped Trump to victory but improve links with the president.”
From The Guardian.
REALITY WINNER’S LAWYERS OFFER COMEY MEMOS AS PROOF OF PRESSURE
POLITICO report, “Lawyers for a National Security Agency contractor charged with leaking a highly classified document say newly released memos show the ‘extraordinary pressure’ the FBI was under from President Donald Trump and then-FBI Director James Comey to prevent her from leaving her Augusta, Georgia, home during her interrogation there last June.” POLITICO adds, “Reality Winner was ultimately arrested on June 3 and indicted on one count of unauthorized disclosure of classified information under the Espionage Act, but her defense is asking a federal magistrate judge to order her statements that day suppressed because she was not free to leave and had not yet been read her Miranda rights.” POLITICO notes, “The filing refers to passages in the memos Comey wrote after meetings with Trump in early 2017. The then-FBI director recounts that Trump repeatedly complained about leaks and that Comey replied that he considered them ‘terrible.’” POLITICO recalls, “Winner is accused of leaking a top-secret NSA report on Russia’s alleged use of hacking techniques called ‘spearfishing’ to gain access to election-related websites and voter-registration databases. The document was published in June, a couple of days after Winner’s arrest.”
EMAILS SHOW KREMLIN LAWYER IN CONTACT WITH THE KREMLIN – SHOCK!
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Newly released e-mails from a Russian lawyer involved in a U.S. money-laundering case showed the lawyer had close contact with officials from the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office, even as she portrayed herself as a private citizen.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “e-mails, which were provided to RFE/RL, show her communicating with Sergei Bochkaryov, a top official in the office of Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika, about an official government response to a U.S. legal request. ‘Dear Sergei Aleksandrovich! I am sending you the edits to the response, in accordance with instructions. I am ready to answer any questions that may arise at any time that is convenient for you. Respectfully, NV,’ one message, dated August 2, 2014, read.” Irony of ironies, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “Veseltnitskaya could not immediately be reached for comment, but in remarks to the Interfax news agency, she said that her e-mail accounts had been hacked in February. The documents were obtained by an organization called Dossier, which is funded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oil baron who was imprisoned for years and his oil company assets sold off. Now living outside of Russia, he is a vocal critic of the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin.”
RUSSIA’S BEYOND DERANGEMENT: THEATER OF LIES AT THE HAGUE
The AP report, “Russia ratcheted up its efforts Thursday to try to disprove that a Syrian town was hit by a poison gas attack, bringing a group of Syrians, including an 11-year-old boy, to the global chemical weapons watchdog’s headquarters to denounce the reports as fake. The U.S., Britain, France and their allies boycotted the event at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, branding it as ‘nothing more than a crude propaganda exercise’ and an ‘obscene masquerade.’” The AP adds, “The Syrians were flown to Europe to tell their stories at the OPCW and then ushered into a roomful of reporters at a nearby hotel where they all repeated nearly identical accounts: There was no chemical attack in Douma, near Damascus, on April 7. Patients who visited the hospital suffering from asphyxiation had inhaled only smoke and dust. There were no chemical traces or smells. Panic was sparked when first responders entered the hospital and began yelling that chemical weapons had been used.” Adding further cruel insanity to this whole episode, “One of them told reporters that the Syrians were in The Hague of their own free will and had not been put under any pressure. The insistence by Russia and Syria that the chemical weapons attack was staged runs counter to witnesses and survivors interviewed by The Associated Press, some of them in Douma, who described being overwhelmed by a strong smell of chlorine.” The AP notes, “Russia has never before gone to the lengths it did Thursday, including bringing Syrians to Europe to back its claims. The youngest participant was 11-year-old Hassan Diab, who was seen on video after the Douma attack being doused with water in a hospital.” The AP continues, “‘We were in the basement; we heard cries on the street that we should go to the hospital. We got scared. We went to the hospital through the tunnel,’ he said, largely echoing what his father had said before him. ‘They started pouring water on me at the hospital. I don’t know why. After that they took me to a different place. Thank you.’ Russian Ambassador Alexander Shulgin defended bringing the child to The Hague.”
From the AP.
BP CHIEF EXECUTIVE POISONED IN RUSSIAN PLOT
The Sydney Morning Herald reports, “The chief executive of BP was poisoned in a plot believed to have been orchestrated by the Russian security services, a former employee has disclosed. Bob Dudley, the US head of the British oil giant, had to flee Moscow after blood test results indicated he was being poisoned slowly, the former employee claimed.” The Sydney Morning Herald notes, “Rumours that Dudley was poisoned began to circulate in 2014, six years after he left Russia in August 2008. At the time, Dudley was a senior executive in BP, running a highly profitable joint venture called TNK-BP. Ilya Zaslavskiy, who worked for TNK-BP for 4½ years, has claimed that the Russian authorities wanted to oust Dudley, so put in place a plan to poison him slowly.” The Sydney Morning Herald adds, “Zaslavskiy believes only the FSB, the Russian intelligence agency, had the expertise to administer a toxin slowly enough to harm Dudley but stop far short of killing him.” The Sydney Morning Herald notes, “Five years after Dudley left Moscow, TNK-BP was sold to the state-owned Rosneft. In return, BP, by then being run by Dudley, was paid a £12 billion lump sum and given a 12.5 per cent stake in Rosneft. Dudley shook hands on the deal at a ceremony in Russia, attended by Vladimir Putin, the Russian President.” Zaslavskiy said, “The harassment of Western staff took place on many levels. They followed people; they broke into their apartments. One was warned it wasn’t safe to return to Russia.”
NOT SAFE ON ANY SEA: RUSSIA LAUNCHES ITS “FLOATING CHERNOBYL”
The AP reports, “A floating nuclear power plant built in Russia has embarked on its first sea voyage so its reactors can be loaded with fuel. The floating plant, the Akademik Lomonosov, was towed on Saturday out of the St. Petersburg shipyard where it was constructed. It is to be pulled through the Baltic Sea and around the northern tip of Norway to Murmansk in northwest Russia, where the nuclear reactors are to be fueled.” The AP notes, “Greenpeace has dubbed it a ‘floating Chernobyl.’”
From the AP.
RUSSIA WANTS TO CRIMINALIZE RUSSIANS OBSERVING US SANCTIONS
Reuters reports, “Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev backs the idea of making it a criminal offense for Russians to observe sanctions imposed by the United States, Medvedev said in an interview broadcast on Saturday on state TV channel Rossiya 1.” Reuters notes, “Medvedev also said that the government should support sanctions-hit Russian companies to ensure that jobs are not lost,” or oligarchs do not seek revenge through their proxies in the mafia state security forces and guns for hire.
SCIENTIST WHO DEVELOPED NOVICHOK HIT BY CAR SPEAKS OUT
The Independent reports, “Vladimir Uglev was run over by a car and left with serious injuries days after saying that he may have helped develop the novichok used in the Salisbury attack. But, although bruised and battered, the Russian scientist insists it was just an accident, and is adamant that he will continue to speak out despite fearing that he may be targeted. Speaking after he returned from hospital treatment, Mr Uglev said Moscow’s denial of culpability over the attempted assassinations of Sergei and Yulia Skripal do not withstand scrutiny.” The Independent adds, “Mr Uglev showed the bruises left on his head and arm from the crash which, he says, he believes was just an accident. However, asked if he felt that he may be targeted over his disclosures, he responded: ‘Everyone is afraid, but you have to control your fear. There is a song I keep thinking of: “I am free, I forget what fear means; but I always look around for danger”.’”
From The Independent.
OLEG DERIPASKA TO REDUCE EN+ STAKE
The Telegraph reports, “Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska is poised to sell down his stake in EN+ as the aluminium and power company seeks to escape crippling US sanctions. Mr Deripaska has agreed a deal in principle with EN+’s board that would see him reduce his stake from 70pc to below 50pc in a desperate bid to free the London-listed company from sanctions that threaten its ability to trade in US dollars.” The Telegraph adds, “Greg Barker, the former Tory minister who serves as EN+’s chair, has been involved in frantic ‘shuttle diplomacy’ between the London and Moscow since news of the shock sanctions broke earlier this month.” The Telegraph notes, “EN+ has lodged a desperate appeal with the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (Ofac) to allow it more time to comply with its demands to end Mr Derispaka’s control of the company or face being frozen out of international markets altogether. The sanctions are due to begin on May 7, but it is understood that EN+ is seeking an extension until the end of October to allow Lord Barker time to restructure the company’s ownership.” The Telegraph adds, “EN+ is hopeful it will be granted the same leeway given to Rusal earlier this week, when the US Treasury Department gave American companies until October to wind down their business with the aluminium supplier.”
From The Telegraph.
RUSSIAN STATE BANK VEB DOES NOT PLAN TO BAIL RUSAL OUT
Reuters reports, “Russian state development bank VEB does not currently plan to restructure Rusal’s debt, the bank’s first deputy chairman, Nikolai Tsekhomsky, said on Friday.” Reuters notes, “Washington this month imposed sanctions on billionaire Oleg Deripaska and several companies in which he is a large shareholder, including Rusal”.
DEVIL IN THE DETAILS: LOCATION DISPUTE OVER MAY 5 PROTEST
Russian state-run Tass reports, “Moscow City Hall has given the green light to opposition representatives – supporters of blogger Alexei Navalny – to hold a rally on May 5 in downtown Moscow, a senior city official said on Friday.” But the devil is likely in the details as, “‘We propose that our counterparts stage the May 5 event on Academic Sakharov Avenue,’ said Vladimir Chernikov, head of the regional security and anti-corruption department. ‘We think this is a very good compromise solution but the opposition has so far said nothing,’ he added.” Russian state-run Tass notes, “The opposition earlier wanted to hold a rally near the Russian State Duma headquarters but that request was denied.” Classic.
From Russian state-run Tass.
US WARNS TURKEY OVER RUSSIAN MISSILE DEFENSE PURCHASE
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels on April 27 told his Turkish counterpart that the United States was ‘seriously concerned’ over Ankara’s decision to buy Russian weapons that are not compatible with NATO’s defense systems, U.S. officials said.” However, “Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu shortly afterward told Turkish broadcasters that the $2.5 billion purchase of S-400s was signed in December and was ‘a done deal,’” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds.
WITHIN NATO, GERMANY SET TO BAN WEAPONS SALES TO TURKEY
The Independent reports, “Germany is set to ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) amid fears they are being used to carry out human rights abuses.” The Independent adds, “The draft bill, proposed by the opposition social democratic party Die Linke, will also make it illegal to sell arms, expertise and related goods to any other government suspected of using the equipment to abuse human rights.” The Independent notes, “If approved, the law would not only prevent future transactions from being made with these countries, but also retroactively recall previously agreed deals.”
From The Independent.
TRUMP BAKU ON FIRE
The Independent reports, “The Azadliq newspaper reported that the blaze broke out on the middle floors of the 33-storey building, which is locally known as Trump Tower, and spread. Etibar Mirzoev, deputy head of the Emergency Situations Ministry, said there were no injuries and authorities were working to establish the cause of the of the fire.” The Independent notes, “It came after an apartment fire at Trump Tower in New York left a prominent art dealer dead and six firefighters injured earlier this month,” and adds, “Development was started on the tower in Baku a decade ago but it has never opened.” Naturally, “There was controversy over affiliation between the company that owned the project, Baku XXI Century, and a local family associated with corruption,” the Mammadovs.
From The Independent.
NATO TEAM WINS CYBER DEFENSE EXERCISE IN ESTONIA
Estonian Public Broadcasting reports, “Locked Shields, the largest and most advanced international live-fire cyberdefense exercise in the world organized by the Tallinn-based NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE), was won this year by NATO’s own team, followed by France and the Czech Republic.” Estonian Public Broadcasting adds, “this was the first time NATO participated in the exercise with a team of its own, which consisted of representatives of the alliance’s various agencies.”
“OPERATION HAMMERED” REPORT: DRUNK BRITISH OFFICERS + RIGA POLICE
The Times of London reports, “Three British army officers drunkenly clashed with the Latvian police on a night out in Riga despite warnings about the threat of Russian stings planned to make UK troops look like thugs. One of the junior officers was detained for a couple of hours while another was repelled with pepper spray during the ‘altercation’ on a boozy outing in the Latvian capital on Tuesday evening, according to defence sources.” Public broadcasting of Latvia cheekily notes, “They had been participating in a training exercise called ‘Furious Hammer’ and appear to have taken the name to heart on a night out,” adding, “The three were returned to base by Latvian and Canadian military police, the newspaper said.”
NA NA HEY HEY KISS HIM GOODBYE
CNBC reports, “A federal judge in Washington has thrown out a civil lawsuit brought by President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman that sought to challenge the authority of the special counsel in the Russia investigation.” Sad! CNBC notes, “The decision was a blow to Paul Manafort’s defense against special counsel Robert Mueller. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued the ruling.”
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
MICHAEL COHEN + FATHER-IN-LAW LENT $26M TO LEGAL POT PUSHER
The AP reports, “President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, whose business dealings are being investigated by the FBI, and his father-in-law have lent $26 million in recent years to a taxi mogul who is shifting into the legalized marijuana industry”. The AP adds, “Semyon ‘Sam’ Shtayner, a longtime business associate of Michael Cohen’s father-in-law, created Nevada-based Cannaboss LLC the day before the 2016 election. A few months later, he took a majority position in a company that is provisionally licensed to cultivate medicinal marijuana and produce edibles, the records show.” The AP notes, “It’s not clear whether Sthtayner used any of the loans — $6 million of which have come directly from Cohen since 2014 — to finance his grow operation.” The AP adds, “Public records show the Ukraine-born Shtayner, 63, his wife and companies they control have used their properties in Chicago and Sunny Isles, Florida, as collateral for the loans from Cohen and his father-in-law, Fima Shusterman.” The AP notes, “Last August, Shusterman lent at least $12 million against properties owned by Shtayner, his wife or their companies, Chicago real estate records show. In a second series of four transactions in March, Shusterman lent the Shtayners or their companies an additional $8 million.”
From the AP.
PUTINISM WILL END LIKE OLD SOVIET ORDER: WITH A BANG + A WHIMPER
Euromaidan Press carries a column by analyst Paul Goble who writes, “One of the many debates that riled Western studies of the Soviet Union concerned whether that system could ever be reformed or would have to be destroyed and then replaced with something else. Some political analysts insisted that of course it could be reformed, while those who came out of the totalitarian school generally said that it couldn’t be. Now, a similar debate has almost certainly been triggered about the Putin system, with US-based Russian economist Vladislav Inozemtsev arguing in an interview with Ekho Rossiya this week that ‘reforming the [Putin] system will be just as impossible as it was to reform the Soviet one.’” Goble adds, “When the economy begins to decline and the standard of living along with it, the Kremlin will undertake ‘a hopeless attempt to revive this system…’” Inozemstev believes “the Russian Federation is far more cut off ‘economically, socio-culturally and mentally’ than was the Soviet Union at the end.” This is due to the fact that “under Putin, Russia is mired in Orthodoxy and imperialist values, at precisely the time ‘when the entire world is becoming tolerant and open.’ Inozemtsev says that he has “only one basis for optimism: Putin isn’t eternal. Personalist regimes have a common feature: they do not survive their founders.”
From Euromaidan Press.
WAGNER MERCENARIES KNOWN TO OPERATE IN THREE COUNTRIES
Business Insider looks at the three countries where “Wagner Group, or Vagner Group, a private mercenary company reportedly contracted by the Syrian government to capture and secure oil and gas fields from ISIS,” is known to work. Business Insider notes, “little is still known about the shadowy mercenary group,” but adds, “they are believed to be operating in at least the following three countries:”
– Syria: “There are currently about 2,500 Wagner mercenaries in Syria, according to the BBC, but the figures have varied. In 2015-2016, Wagner mercenaries moved from Ukraine to Syria, Sergey Sukhankin, an associate expert at the International Centre for Policy Studies in Kyiv, told Business Insider in an email. The mercenary group was contracted by Syria’s state-owned General Petroleum Corp to capture and secure gas and oil fields by ISIS, reportedly being given 25% of the proceeds, according to the Associated Press.”
– Sudan: “Wagner mercenaries were sent to Sudan in early January, according to Stratfor. The Wagner mercenaries were sent to Sudan ‘in a conflict against the South Sudan’ to back up Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s government ‘militarily and hammer out beneficial conditions for the Russian companies,’ Sukhankin said. The mercenaries are also protecting gold, uranium and diamond mines”.
– Central Africa Republic: “In early January, Stratfor reported that Wagner mercenaries might soon be sent to CAR, and Sukhankin said that there are now about 370 mercenaries in CAR and Sudan. Sukhankin said that Wagner mercenaries have the same general mission in CAR — protecting lucrative mines and propping up the government regime.”
Other countries on the radar where Wagner may be coming soon: the Balkans and Libya, Business Insider reports.
From Business Insider.
FSB FASCINATED BY BLOCKCHAIN + CRYPTOCURRENCIES
The New York Times reports, “Last year, representatives of 25 countries met in Tokyo to work on setting international standards for the blockchain, the technology that was introduced by the virtual currency Bitcoin and has ignited intense interest in corporate and government circles. Some of the technologists at the meeting of the International Standards Organization were surprised when they learned that the head of the Russian delegation, Grigory Marshalko, worked for the F.S.B., the intelligence agency that is the successor to the K.G.B.” The New York Times continues, “They were even more surprised when they asked the F.S.B. agent why the Russians were devoting such resources to the blockchain standards. ‘Look, the internet belongs to the Americans — but blockchain will belong to us,’ he said, according to one delegate who was there.” The New York Times notes, “The Russian interest in the normally wonky technical sessions has caused concern among other delegations, who worry that individual countries could push standards that would make the security of the blockchain technology vulnerable to surveillance and attack.” The New York Times notes, “Few countries have made their interest in the blockchain as clear as Russia. President Vladimir V. Putin met briefly last year with Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, the second most widely used blockchain-based virtual currency platform after Bitcoin. Mr. Putin also put the blockchain at the center of his ‘Digital Economy’ program for Russia, and his government has talked about creating a crypto-ruble, similar to Bitcoin.” The New York Times adds, “Another member of the Russian delegation, Alexey Urivskiy, told the Russian newspaper Vedomosti last year that the delegation at the I.S.O. committee was supposed to get Russian cryptographic algorithms into the standard. The Vedomosti article said that the head of the Russian I.S.O. delegation, Mr. Marshalko, was affiliated with the F.S.B.”
From The New York Times.
DOJ DELETES A FREE PRESS FROM MANUAL
BuzzFeed News reports, “Since the fall, the US Department of Justice has been overhauling its manual for federal prosecutors. In: Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ tough-on-crime policies. Out: A section titled ‘Need for Free Press and Public Trial.’ References to the department’s work on racial gerrymandering are gone. Language about limits on prosecutorial power has been edited down.” And, “there is new language admonishing prosecutors not to share classified information and directing them to report contacts with the media.” BuzzFeed notes, “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — the DOJ’s number two official and a veteran federal prosecutor — ordered the top-to-bottom review, according to department spokesperson Ian Prior.” BuzzFeed adds, “The part of the manual addressing the Justice Department’s civil rights work was revised in March. In a section discussing enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, the new version removes previous references to redistricting and racial gerrymandering.”
From BuzzFeed News.
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS + OURS—–
RUSSIA’S BEYOND DERANGEMENT: MARKETING THE NOVICHOK BRAND
The Mirror reports, “Stores in Russia are selling vodka – named after the deadly nerve agent used to poison former double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter. he brand is called ‘Novichok’ and it is thought the spirit is hitting the shelves as a jibe at the UK who accused Russia of being behind the attack.” Additionally, Russian state-run RT reports, “The mayor of the Russian town of Shikhany says his administration plans to copyright a ‘Novichok’ brand of household cleaning products, and thanked UK journalists for promoting it.” How long before Russians are too broke to afford the former and resort to drinking the latter? In Ulyanovsk there is already a brand of sunflower oil by the name.
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