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US, UK Intel Services Prepare Fakes About Putin’s Inner Circle Via Soros, Browder Entites – Source

Sputnik – July 13, 2019

According to a military diplomatic source, the defamation campaign repeats the Panamagate scenario in 2015 when Western media published dossiers about tax havens implicating various political leaders.

UK and US intelligence services are currently in an active phase of the anti-Russian campaign aiming to discredit individuals from the inner circle of the Russian president, as well as the leadership of the Defence Ministry.

“As part of the undisguised provocative actions, specialists from the American and British intelligence agencies fabricate fakes about the Russian leadership”, the source stated.

The source noted that aggressive actions could be seen in the information space, and provocations were no longer being concealed.

The fake information will wind up in the media controlled by foundations established by influential financiers such as George Soros and William Browder, according to the report. The source added the defamation campaign will also engage news agencies openly funded by US authorities, naming Radio Freedom and Current Time among others.

According to the report, the campaign follows the Panamagate template by disseminating biased information through non-commercial organisations affiliated with the State Department.

The source underlined that the fakes about the Russian leadership constitute direct interference in Russia’s internal affairs.

“As in the case with the Panama dossier, despite the absurdity of the accusations, the White House predictably uses fakes to justify sanctions. Such actions are direct interference in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation aimed to destabilise the country, weaken the economic potential of Russia and form the levers of political influence on its leadership”, the source added.

Millions of documents known collectively as the Panama Papers were leaked in 2016 from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. The leaked data exposed a large number of offshore operations and shell companies, and implicated multiple highly-placed individuals from across the world.

July 13, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Concord Management and the End of Russiagate?

By Daniel Lazare | Consortium News | July 12, 2019

Don’t look now, but a federal judge in Washington, D.C., has just shut down half of Robert Mueller’s Russian-interference case.

In February 2018, the special prosecutor indicted a St. Petersburg troll farm called the Internet Research Agency along with two other companies, their owner, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, and 12 employees. The charge: fraud, traveling to the United States under false pretenses, and using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to “sow discord” and “interfere in US political and electoral processes without detection of their Russian affiliation.”

The charge was both legally dubious and heavy-handed, a case of using a sledge hammer to swat a fly.  But Mueller went even further in his report, an expurgated version of which was made public in April. No longer just a Russian company, the IRA was now an arm of the Russian government. “[T]he Special Counsel’s investigation,” it declared on page one, “established that Russia interfered in the 2016 election principally through two operations. First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working in the Clinton campaign and then released stolen documents.”

“Prigozhin,” the report added, referring to the IRA owner, “is widely reported to have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.”  A few pages later, it said that the IRA’s efforts “constituted ‘active measures’ … a term that typically refers to operations conducted by Russian security services aimed at influencing the course of international affairs.”

Thus, the IRA played a major role in the vast Kremlin conspiracy to alter the outcome of the 2016 election and install Donald Trump in office. But now Judge Dabney Friedrich has ordered Mueller to stop pushing such stories because they’re unfair to Concord Management and Consulting, another Prigozhin company, which astonished the legal world in May 2018 by hiring an expensive Washington law firm and demanding its day in court.

Silent on IRA-Kremlin Connection

Judge Dabney Friedrich. (Twitter)

Contrary to internet chatter, Friedrich did not offer an opinion as to whether the IRA-Kremlin connection is true or false. Rather, she told the special prosecutor to keep quiet because such statements go beyond the scope of the original indictment and are therefore prejudicial to the defendant. But it may be a distinction without a difference since the only evidence that Mueller puts forth in the public version of his report is a New York Times article from February 2018 entitled “Yevgeny Prigozhin, Russian Oligarch Indicted by US, Is Known as ‘Putin’s Cook.’”

It’s a case of trial by press clip that should have been laughed out of court – and now, more or less, it is. Without the IRA, the only argument left in Mueller’s brief is that Russia stole some 28,000 emails and other electronic documents from Democratic National Committee computers and then passed them along to WikiLeaks, which published them to great fanfare in July 2016.

But as Consortium Newspointed out the day the Mueller report came out, that’s dubious as well. [See “The ‘Guccifer 2.0’ Gaps in Mueller’s Full Report,” April 18.]  The reason: it rests on a timeline that doesn’t make sense:

  • June 12, 2016: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announces that “leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton” were on the way.
  • June 15: Guccifer 2.0, allegedly a stand-in for Russian military intelligence, goes on line to claim credit for the hack.
  • June 22: Guccifer and WikiLeaks establish contact.
  • July 14: Guccifer sends WikiLeaks an encrypted file.
  • July 18: WikiLeaks confirms that it’s opened it up.
  • July 22: The group releases a giant email cache indicating that the DNC rigged the nominating process in favor of Hillary Clinton and against Bernie Sanders.

But why would Assange announce the leaked emails on June 12 before hearing from the source on June 22?  Was he clairvoyant? Why would he release a massive file just eight days after receiving it and as a little as four days after opening it up?  How could that be enough time to review the contents and ensure they were genuine? “If a single one of those emails had been shown to be maliciously altered,” blogger Mark F. McCarty points out, “WikiLeaks’s reputation would have been in tatters.” Quite right. So if Mueller’s chronology doesn’t hold up, then Assange’s original statement that “our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party” still stands – which it plainly does.

Going Up in Smoke 

Bottom line: Russiagate is going up in smoke. The claim that Russian military intelligence fed thousands of emails to WikiLeaks doesn’t stand up to scrutiny while Mueller is not only unable to a prove a connection between the Internet Research Agency and the Kremlin but is barred from even discussing it, according to Friedrich’s ruling, without risking a charge of contempt. After 22 months of investigating the ins and outs of Russian interference, Mueller seems to have finally come up dry.

Reed Smith’s Pittsburgh office. (Wikimedia Commons)

“Revenge of the oligarchs” might be a good headline for this story. The IRA indictment initially seemed to be a no-lose proposition for  Mueller. He got to look good in the press, the media got to indulge in yet another round of Russia-bashing, while, best of all, no one had to prove a thing. “Mueller’s allegations will never be tested in court,” noted Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor turned pundit for the rightwing National Review. “That makes his indictment more a political statement than a charging instrument.”

Then came the unexpected. Concord Management hired Reed Smith, a top-flight law firm with offices around the world, and demanded to be heard. The move was “a real head-scratcher,” one Washington attorney told Buzzfeed, because Concord was beyond the reach of U.S. law and therefore had nothing to fear from an indictment and nothing to gain, apparently, from going to court. But then the firm demanded to exercise its right of discovery, meaning that it wanted access to Mueller’s immense investigative file. Blindsided, Mueller’s requested a delay “on the astonishing ground,” according to McCarthy, “that the defendant has not been properly served – notwithstanding that the defendant has shown up in court and asked to be arraigned.”

Prigozhin: Forced Mueller to show his hand. (YouTube)

Prigozhin was forcing the special prosecutor to show what he’s got, McCarthy went on, at zero risk to himself since he was not on U.S. soil.  What was once a no-lose proposition for Mueller was suddenly a no-lose proposition for Putin’s unexpectedly clever cook.

Now Mueller is in an even worse pickle because he’s barred from mentioning a major chunk of his report.  What will he discuss if Democrats succeed in getting him to testify before the House intelligence and judiciary committees next week – the weather? If his team goes forward with the Concord prosecution, he’ll risk having to turn over sensitive information while involving himself in a legal tangle that could go on for years, all without any conceivable payoff. If he drops it, the upshot will be a public-relations disaster of the first order.

As skeptics have pointed out, the IRA’s social-media campaign was both more modest and more ineffectual than the Mueller report’s over-the-top language about a “sweeping and systematic” conspiracy would suggest. Yet after Facebook Vice President Rob Goldman tweeted that “the majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election,” he was forced to beg for forgiveness like a defendant in a Moscow show trial for daring to play down the magnitude of the crime.

But it wasn’t Goldman who shaved the truth. Rather, it was Mueller. Thanks to the unexpected appearance of Concord Management, he’s now paying the price.

Daniel Lazare is the author of “The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy” (Harcourt Brace, 1996) and other books about American politics.

July 12, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Two Think Tanks Claim Sputnik Meddled in 2017 French Election, Present No Proof… Again

Sputnik – July 11, 2019

Russian media outlets last year faced accusations of interfering in France’s internal politics, but a recent probe by French intelligence has reportedly found no signs of such activities.

The French Institute of Strategic Research of the Military School (IRSEM) and American think-tank the Atlantic Council have in a recent collaborative project produced a report, the latest in a row of similar ones, claiming that Russia meddled in the internal affairs of a foreign government. This time, the researchers accused Moscow of trying to prevent the victory of Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 French presidential election.

The researchers try to prove that by using state-funded media outlets, namely Sputnik, as an “information weapon”, the Kremlin allegedly organised a coordinated “disinformation campaign” against then presidential hopeful Macron. However, like many similar papers on alleged “Russian meddling”, this research also fails to present solid facts that substantiate the claims and stumbles into certain problems when trying to prove that such a targeted “campaign” actually existed in the first place.

Notably, the report’s key author and head of the IRSEM, Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer, who also serves on the Academic Advisory Board of the NATO Defence College, took most of his points of evidence from the works of Ben Nimmo, a researcher at the Atlantic Council. The latter, like many other Western think tanks, regularly publishes research devoted to proving the existence of Russian attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of Western countries and proposing ways in which they can counter this alleged “threat”.

“Anti-Macron Campaign” or Factual Reporting?

The IRSEM study recalls that back in February 2017, Macron’s digital manager accused Sputnik of publishing “fake news” about his employer from the “very beginning of [the election] campaign”. The author of the paper, Vilmer, claims that this “disinformation campaign” began when the French edition of Sputnik published a report about statements by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, in which he revealed that he possessed “interesting information” about Macron, albeit without specifying whether it was compromising in any way.

Referring to the Sputnik article as “menacing”, the IRSEM report draws parallels to the 2016 US presidential election and WikiLeaks’ publication of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. At the same time, the paper didn’t elaborate any further on how exactly reporting on an interview with a famous whistle-blower, in which no compromising information about Macron was published, was able to affect the outcome of the election. It also failed to mention that WikiLeaks’ threats, covered by Sputnik, were not limited to Macron, but also touched his main opponent in the second round, Marine Le Pen.

“Hand-Picked” Speakers vs Hand-Picked Examples

The IRSEM head admits in the report that Sputnik didn’t publish any “fake news” during the election campaign in France, but instead accused it of “information manipulation”. Vilmer claims that the Russian media outlet had expressed “a strong bias” by allegedly leaving out important information and by “hiding behind the quotations” of the “right people”.

While failing to present any proof that Sputnik had omitted any important facts in its articles, the researcher instead tried to substantiate his claim by indicating that Sputnik had interviewed only two persons, who happen to be members of the French Parliament – Thierry Mariani and Nicolas Dhuicq – in regards to the upcoming election. However, a simple search on the news outlet’s website reveals that in reality Sputnik had interviewed far more contributors on the topic, such as Jacques Lamblin, another member of the country’s parliament, as well as various European lawmakers and pundits.

Alleged “Focus” on “Macron Affair”

The paper proceeds to claim that Sputnik covered the election in France with “a distinct bias against Macron”. According to Vilmer, this was expressed in a strategy of giving a deaf ear to scandals involving other contenders for the presidency, such as “the Kremlin’s favoured candidate”, Marine Le Pen, and instead focusing on “rumours” about Macron’s alleged offshore accounts.

The IRSEM research insisted that most of Sputnik’s articles were devoted to the “invented Macron affair” involving offshore accounts while it “defended Le Pen and amplified her party”. However, the paper does not include any factual proof of a discrepancy in the coverage of Macron-related scandals and controversies involving his rivals. It also fully omits the actual fact that Sputnik covered the latter.

“Blame Russia” Trend

France was the second Western country to try to blame Russia for interfering in its domestic affairs. This was preceded by an attempt by the US Democratic Party, and specifically its candidate Hillary Clinton, to shift the blame for the defeat in the 2016 presidential election on to supposed meddling by Moscow.

This blame-game later became a trend among Western governments and political parties in countries such as the UK, Germany, and Spain, to name only a few. But just as in the case of the US, none of these states managed to provide any credible evidence to substantiate the claims, at best referring to obscure “intelligence reports”. Moscow has repeatedly pointed out this lack of underlying proof when rejecting these groundless accusations

Notably, following Macron’s victory in the elections his team abandoned the narrative for a while, only to return to it in February 2019, accusing Moscow of “orchestrating” the Yellow Vest rallies, which demanded Macron’s resignation, and pointing to Sputnik and RT for this purpose. However, earlier reports by local news outlets said that the French intelligence services’ investigation had failed to find any signs indicating that the Russian media was able to impact French domestic affairs.

July 11, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Another nail in Russiagate coffin? Federal judge destroys key Mueller report claim

RT | July 11, 2019

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s claim of “sweeping and systematic” Russian meddling in the 2016 US election just took another body blow, as a federal judge ruled that his indictment of a ‘troll farm’ is not actual proof of it.

Mueller’s charges against Concord Management & Consulting, the Russian company accused of running a “troll farm” and “sowing discord” on US social media in 2016, do not establish a link between that private company and the Russian government, US District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich pointed out.

Yet the special counsel’s much-publicized final report claims to have “established” and “confirmed” Russian government activities based in part on the indictment against Concord, which is a breach of prosecutorial rules, Friedrich said.

For example, Mueller’s report says that Concord CEO Yevgeny Prigozhin “is widely reported to have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.” That’s an assertion, not evidence.

Judge Friedrich’s ruling was issued on May 28, but only unsealed on July 1, and went largely unnoticed by the media until this week. That’s not surprising, given the commitment of the US political establishment to the ‘Russiagate’ narrative, journalist and author Daniel Lazare told RT.

“It’s quite a dramatic ruling,” Lazare said. “Essentially what it says is that half of Mueller’s case doesn’t make any sense, it has no evidence to back it up.”

The special counsel’s report argued that Moscow sought to meddle in the election by Concord’s “sowing discord” on social media while Russian intelligence stole Democrat emails and released them through WikiLeaks, but neither of those assertions is backed by actual evidence, and now the insinuated link between Concord and the Kremlin has been rejected, Lazare pointed out.

“Americans assume that Russians and Russia are the same thing. But they’re not, any more than an individual American and the Trump administration are the same thing,” he told RT.

The ruling is “a major blow to the entire ‘Russian Active Measures’ talking point,” journalist Aaron Maté argued on Twitter. The Internet Research Agency put out “juvenile clickbait mostly unrelated to the election,” and is a private entity whose connection with the Kremlin Mueller never established, he added.

“If Mueller was disingenuous in falsely trying to link it to Russian government, what else was he disingenuous about?”

In an investigative article published last week, Maté pointed out that the Mueller report used “qualified and vague language to describe key events,” indicating that the investigators have not established for certain if DNC emails were stolen by Russia or leaked by an insider, or how they made it into the hands of WikiLeaks.

He also noted that the federal authorities have based their investigation into the DNC emails and President Donald Trump’s alleged connections with the Kremlin entirely on claims of two entities contracted by the Democrats – cybersecurity company CrowdStrike, which actually redacted the evidence it gave to the feds – and British spy Christopher Steele, author of the infamous “dossier” used to spy on Trump campaign officials.

“The idea that this was a meddling operation by a foreign government, I think is just absurd,” former US diplomat Jim Jatras told RT, commenting on Mate’s revelations and Judge Friedrich’s ruling.

This should be the final nail in the coffin of ‘Russiagate,’ but it won’t be, Jatras added. Too many people in Washington have invested too much in Russiagate to admit they were ever wrong.

July 11, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Salvini Refutes Claims About Receiving Russian Financial Support for Lega Party

Sputnik – July 10, 2019

ROME – Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini once again refuted claims on Wednesday about receiving financial support from Russia for his Lega party.

“I have already filed a lawsuit [concerning this issue] earlier and I will do it today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. I took no ruble, no euro, no dollar, no litre of vodka of financing from Russia”, Salvini said in a statement released by his press office.

The statement may be triggered by an article that appeared on the BuzzFeed News portal earlier in the day and included a transcript of a conversation between Salvini’s representatives and alleged Russians discussing financing Salvini’s Lega party through the supply of Russian oil. The conversation took place on October 18, 2018, according to the media outlet.

This is not the first time Salvini is suspected of gaining financial support from Russia. Late February, Italian weekly L’Espresso also published an investigation claiming that Salvini and his representatives had visited Moscow in secret on October 18. 2018, to discuss financing of the Lega party with Russians ahead of European election. The party has allegedly gained 3 million euros ($3.3 million) under cover of Russian diesel exports. Moscow, as well as Salvini, has repeatedly refuted such allegations.

July 10, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | Leave a comment

Hack, Now Ex-Bellingcat, Gets Climategate Timezones Backwards

By Stephen McIntyre | Climate Audit | Jul 4, 2019

Bellingcat’s Iggy Ostanin, [update: who Eliot Higgins says is now ex-Bellingcat ]  recently claimed to have discovered that the nomenclature of Climategate-1 emails was based on Unix timestamps and that the nomenclature proved that Russians hacked CRU from timezone +05:00. Amidst much uninformed hyperventilating. Ostanin’s assertions were swiftly retweeted by Andy Revkin, Roger Harrabin, Ken Rice and many others. However, his claims are backwards – or perhaps, in true Mannian style, upside down.

The connection of CG email nomenclature to Unix timestamps was observed as early as Dec 7, 2009 (see WUWT commenter crosspatch here)m who similarly noticed discrepancies between nomenclature and email times, but concluded that they showed that hacker used a computer set to Eastern North American time (-05:00 Standard).

I pointed the error out on Twitter with technical analysis. I also linked Ostanin to the original WUWT comment making similar point.

Ostanin  responded by claiming that my (correct) replication of CG1 nomenclature was “needlessly complicated” and doubled down with his incorrect assertion that “time seen in hacked email headers is 5 hours behind – to the second – of the time in the decoded email file names”:

Ostanin challenged everyone “to try to see for themselves” – pointing to a internet utility:

After I re-iterated my technical criticism, Iggy stated that he wasn’t “sure if either of [me or Charles Wood] ever came across a Kremlin narrative they didn’t endorse”. Then, in true Mannian (and Eliot Higgins) style, Ostanin blocked me on Twitter.

While it’s a bit absurd to waste time on this trivia, Iggy’s falsehoods remain in circulation. He hasn’t conceded anything. Nor have Revkin, Harrabin, Rice or other re-tweeters conceded that Iggy’s analysis was nonsensical.

In my tweets, I observed that Iggy’s analysis was based on an email sent from GMT timezone and that the 5-hour difference between nomenclature and email time only held for emails from that time zone.  What any competent analyst (and we may safely exclude Iggy from that category) would have done is to compare email timestamp to nomenclature across multiple timezones and Daylight/Standard times. I’ve done so in the table below.

Nomenclature for GMT timezone emails in winter are 5 hours ahead, but only 4 hours ahead in summer. This should have caused Iggy to pause.  Nomenclature for emails sent from Eastern timezone exactly matched the email time – both in Standard (winter) and Daylight (summer) time. Nomenclature for emails sent from Mountain time (two hours behind Eastern) were – 2 hours in both winter and summer.

Ironically, the very first email in the Climategate dossier was sent from Iggy’s Ekaterinaburg (+05:00). But instead of the nomenclature exactly matching the email time, the nomenclature was 10 hours ahead.

In other words, Ostanin got everything pretty much backwards and upside down. It’s about as bad a bit of analysis as it is possible to imagine. And, instead of simply conceding that he’d made a mistake (which is easy enough to do), Ostanin got belligerent and shut his ears. Unfortunately, Ostanin’s falsehoods are now in circulation and, like Mann’s, will probably fester forever.

July 8, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

German Intelligence Claims Regarding Russian Media ‘Baseless’, ‘Unacceptable’ – Russian FM

Sputnik – July 4, 2019

The German intelligence agency is blaming Russian media for spreading disinformation but has refused to provide examples. The allegation is another attempt to foment a hostile atmosphere around Russian news outlets, which runs against media freedom principles, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

“We have seen the published report written by Germany’s counterintelligence that contains a number of accusations against Russia and, apart from the allegations that Russian intelligence services have been actively conducting espionage on German soil, has a particularly big section dedicated to influence of Russian media on German public opinion. For example, the Sputnik news agency and the RT Deutsch TV channel are accused — I quote — ‘of disseminating propaganda and disinformation’”.

“The statements were made in the report without any evidence or facts provided … The conclusions made in the report are however unambiguous”, Zakharova said at a briefing.

The diplomat called such policies toward Russian media “unacceptable and violating the basic principles of media freedom and freedom of expression”, and urged relevant international organizations, including the OSCE media freedom representative office, to take note.

Zakharova also mentioned that the report claimed that Russian media outlets “are disguised as independent media to hide the fact that they belong to the Russian state” and “exert subtle influence” on the German public, although neither RT nor Sputnik have made any attempt to conceal the source of their funding.

According to the spokeswoman, the report is “full of such peremptory accusations” and fully coincides with the opinion of the German Federation of Journalists, which in January urged national regulators supervising media activities to not issue a license for RT Deutsch.

The Russian Foreign Ministry therefore views the report as “another stage of inciting the atmosphere of hostility and toxicity around Russian media”, Zakharova stated, stressing that this “aggressive attitude” was being fomented with the direct participation of German intelligence services.

Last week, the German Interior Ministry and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution issued its annual report for 2018. The report accused Moscow of spying activities and “disseminating pro-Russian propaganda and disinformation” through its state-run media.

Russia media in Germany took a negative turn in January when the German Federation of Journalists claimed that RT Deutsch was a “tool for Kremlin propaganda” and called for denying a broadcaster license to the outlet.

The secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists, Timur Shafir, denounced his German colleagues’ statements as “a blatant and unprincipled violation of the basic principles of the profession”

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | | 1 Comment

Mueller Report Gets the Trump Tower Meeting Wrong; Promotes Browder Hoax

By Lucy Komisar – Consortium News – July 3, 2019

A “key event” described in the Mueller Report is the Trump Tower meeting where a Russian lawyer met with the president’s son Donald Trump Jr, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Russiagaters have been obsessed with the meeting saying it was the smoking gun to prove collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to steal the 2016 election. Months after Mueller concluded that there was no collusion at all, the obsession has switched to “obstruction of justice,” which is like someone being apprehended for resisting arrest without committing any other crime.

The Mueller report thus focuses instead on “efforts to prevent disclosure of information about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russians and senior campaign officials.”

But the report on this topic is deceptive. Ironically, as it attacks Donald Trump and top campaign officials for lying, the report itself lies about the issue the meeting addressed.

It wasn’t to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton, which the Russian lawyer did not have and never produced. That was a ploy by Robert Goldstone, a British music publicist whose job is to get what his clients want, in this case, a meeting. So, recklessly, he invented the idea of Clinton dirt as a bait-and-switch to get Trump’s people to come to it. He got the lawyer the meeting for her to lobby a potentially incoming administration against the Magnitsky Act, which is why she was in the United States in the first place.

The Magnitsky Act is a 2012 U.S. law that was promoted by William Browder, an American-born British citizen and hedge fund investor, who claimed his “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky had been imprisoned and murdered because he uncovered a scheme by Russian officials to steal $230 million from the Russian Treasury. It sanctioned Russians he said were involved or benefitted from Magnitsky’s death. It has since been used by the U.S. to put sanctions on other Russians and nationals from other countries.

The lawyer lobbying against the act, Natalia Veselnitskaya, told Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort that Browder’s story was fake, a smokescreen to block the Russians from going after him for multi-millions in tax evasion. She argued the Magnitsky Act was built on this fraud. Manafort’s notes, included in the Mueller Report, trace what she said.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Trump team members in Trump Tower, and her interpreter, in background. (Lucy Komisar)

Nothing Illegal

The Trump people did nothing illegal to meet with her. Their problem was the exaggerating communications Goldstone sent them about Veselnitskaya having “dirt” on Clinton. (While U.S. election laws says it’s illegal for a campaign to receive “a thing of value” from a foreign source, it’s never been established by a court that opposition research fits that description, the Mueller Report admits.) Veselnitskaya testified to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in November 2017 that Browder’s major American client, the Ziff brothers, had cheated on American and Russian taxes and contributed the “dirty money” to the Democrats.

The Mueller investigators appear not to have looked into her charges. The report promotes Browder’s fabrications, citing “the Magnitsky Act, which imposed financial sanctions and travel restrictions on Russian officials and which was named for a Russian tax specialist who exposed a fraud and later died in a Russian prison.”

But instead of his “lawyer” Magnitsky exposing Russian fraud, for which he was jailed and killed in prison, Magnitsky was actually Browder’s accountant who was detained under investigation for his part in Browder’s tax evasion and died of natural causes in prison, as Magnitsky’s own mother admits to filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov in the film “The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes.”

Magnitsky’s mother in Nekrasov film.

Mueller’s investigators might have started with documents filed in U.S. federal court in the case of Veselnitskaya’s client, Prevezon, a Russian holding company that settled a civil-forfeiture claim by the U.S. government that linked it, without proof, to the tax fraud.

The documents include a deposition where Browder admits that the alleged “lawyer” Magnitsky did not go to law school nor have a law degree. Magnitsky’s own testimony file identifies him as an “auditor.”

Why does that matter? Because it was Browder’s red herring. Magnitsky had worked as Browder’s accountant since 1997, fiddling on Browder’s taxes on profits from sales of shares held by Russian shell companies run by his Hermitage Fund. He was not an attorney hired in 2007 to investigate and then expose a tax fraud against the Russian Treasury.

That fraud was exposed by Rimma Starova, the Russian nominee director of a British Virgin Islands shell company that held Hermitage’s reregistered companies and who gave testimony to Russian police on April 9 and July 10, 2008. It was reported by the New York Times and Vedomosti on July 24, 2008, months before Magnitsky mentioned it in an Oct. 7 interrogation.

Kremlin-connected?

The Mueller Report says Veselnitskaya promised dirt on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government support for Trump.” Two days before the meeting, Goldstone emailed Trump Jr. and said “the Russian government attorney” was flying in from Moscow. She had not been a government attorney since 2001, 15 years earlier.

I interviewed Veselnitskaya in New York in November 2016. She explained what she later told the Trump group, that Browder’s clients the Ziff Brothers had invested in Russian shares in a way that routed the money through loans so that they could evade U.S. taxes. [“Not invest – loans” in Manafort’s notes.]

The report says, “Natalia Veselnitskaya had previously worked for the Russian government and maintained a relationship with that government throughout this period of time.” Later it says that from 1998 to 2001, she had worked as a prosecutor for the “Central Administrative District” of the Russian Prosecutor’s office. “And continued to perform government-related work and maintain ties to the Russian government following her departure.” We are meant to presume, with no evidence, as the media does – that means “a Kremlin-connected lawyer.”

When Trump Jr asked for evidence, how the payments could be tied to the Clinton campaign, she said she couldn’t trace them, according to the Mueller Report.

Then she turned to the Magnitsky Act. The report repeats earlier fakery: “She lobbied and testified about the Magnitsky Act, which imposed financial sanctions and travel restrictions on Russian officials and which was named for a Russian tax specialist who exposed a fraud and later died in a Russian prison.” Magnitsky did not expose a fraud. Rimma Starova did.

A footnote in the report said: “Browder hired Magnitsky to investigate tax fraud by Russian officials, and Magnitsky was charged with helping Browder embezzle money.” Browder did not hire Magnitsky to investigate the fraud. Magnitsky had been the accountant in charge of Hermitage since 1997, 10 years before the fraud. Embezzlement refers to Browder shifting assets out of Russia without paying taxes.

But the investigation’s focus was not on Browder’s fakery — the substance of the Trump Tower meeting — but on the communications organizing the event. The section on obstruction says Trump became aware of “emails setting up the June 9, 2016 meeting between senior campaign officials and Russians who offered derogatory information on Hillary Clinton as ‘part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.’”

That would have been inflating Goldstone’s promises.

The report says “at the meeting the Russian attorney claimed that funds derived from illegal activities in Russia were provided to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.” Trump Jr. told a White House press officer that “they started with some Hillary thing, which as bs and some other nonsense, which we shot down fast.”

As Veselnitskaya told me, she knew the Ziffs made contributions to Democrats. She probably started with that. Manafort’s notes don’t report a “Hillary thing,” but are about Browder and the Ziffs.

On the issue of Browder, the Magnitsky story and the essence of the Trump Tower meeting, the Mueller Report is a deception intended to keep the myth of collusion in the air while dismissing that any collusion took place.

Lucy Komisar is an investigative reporter who writes about financial corruption and won a Gerald Loeb award, the most important prize in financial journalism, for breaking the story about how Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford got the Florida Banking Dept to allow him to move money offshore with no regulation. Her stories about William Browder focus on tax evasion.  Find out more on The Komisar Scoop.

July 3, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | | 2 Comments

Claim: Russia will be Ruined by the Clean Energy Transition

World Energy Consumption. By Con-structBP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
By Eric Worrall | Watts Up With That? | June 29, 2019

According to Forbes, when renewable energy programmes like Germany’s Energiewende mature, demand for Russian fossil fuel will collapse.

Will Russia Survive The Coming Energy Transition?

June 27, 2019
Ariel Cohen Contributor

A new global energy reality is emerging. The era of the hydrocarbon – which propelled mankind through the second stage of the industrial revolution, beyond coal and into outer space – is drawing to a close. The stone age ended not because we ran out of stones. The same with oil and gas.

We have now entered the era of the renewable energy resource, whereby zero-emission electricity is generated via near unlimited inputs (solar radiation, wind, tides, hydrogen, and eventually, deuterium). Cutting-edge, smart electric grids, utility-scale storage, and electric self-driving vehicles – powered by everything from lithium-ion batteries to hydrogen fuel cells – are critical elements of this historic energy transition.

Each of these technological trends will displace demand for Russia’s primary source of budget revenues: fossil fuels.

The transition will have major consequences for the status-quo leaders of the hydrocarbon age: from Moscow to Caracas, and from Teheran to Riyadh. The Russian Federation, which today is the world’s largest gas exporter and second most prolific oil producer, is one such player which must ‘adapt or die’ over the next 15-20 years. Indeed, Russia derives 40% of its revenue from oil and gas sales, making it a de-facto petro-state. It, and other hydrocarbon revenue dependent nations, must accept their new reality, and react decisively, if they hope to survive in the age of renewables. […]

Even Germany, which is on the receiving end of Russia’s controversial Nord Stream II gas mega-project, has already declared that the purchases of Russian gas will start declining after 10 year’s time per its national Energy Transformation agenda. The so-called Energiewende policy aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) some 40% by 2020, by 55% by 2030, and up to 95% in 2050, compared to 1990 levels. This does not jive with increased imports of Russian fossil fuels. […]

As we have already seen in Europe, hydrocarbon demand will be driven by declining renewable energy costs, government policies, new technologies, and companies’ shifts in strategies to prepare for the new energy age.  Structural changes in fossil fuel supply, demand, energy mix, and prices will follow accordingly. […]

Back in the real world post nuclear Germany, home of Energiewende, is so desperate for real energy they are preparing to tear down ancient forests in Hambach to get at the coal beneath the trees, and are using hardline police tactics to clear protesters from domestic brown coal mine sites.

The German government can declare whatever it wants, greens can celebrate their fantasy 15 year transition plans, but in the real world people do not tolerate being cold in Winter. Fossil fuel demand is rising, and demand for coal is strong.

June 29, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Globalism has failed US middle class, Trump saw it – Putin on MAGA

RT | June 27, 2019

US President Donald Trump’s election victory should be attributed not to some foreign influence but to the fact that many Americans were left behind by globalization and Trump saw it, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said.

“The middle class in the US has not benefited from globalisation; it was left out when this pie was divided up,” Putin told the Financial Times ahead of the G20 summit when asked to comment on the US president’s policies.

“Trump looked into his opponents’ attitude to him and saw changes in American society, and he took advantage of this,” he explained, while calling the perceived Russian influence on the US 2016 election “mythical.”

Putin also assumed that globalization could have divided US society – at least in an economic sense. “In the US, the leading US companies — the companies, their managers, shareholders and partners — made use of these benefits. The middle class hardly benefited from globalization.”

“The Trump team sensed this very keenly and clearly, and they used this in the election campaign. It is where you should look for reasons behind Trump’s victory, rather than in any alleged foreign interference,” Putin said. Trump’s “extravagant” policies might be a sign of the US president’s attempts to right some wrongs in accordance with his own “distinct world outlook.”

“He seems to believe that the results of globalization could have been much better for the US than they are. These globalization results are not producing the desired effect for the US, and he is beginning this campaign against certain elements of globalization.”

Putin argued, one of the major problems in the US, but in Europe as well, is that the “ruling elites have broken away from the people.” The elites continue to entertain so-called liberal ideas and seem to be quite happy with the ongoing developments while people are increasingly concerned by such issues as mass immigration, the Russian president believes.

“The liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.”

June 27, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

In daring to assert Russian interference in Brexit is a myth, Nick Clegg is excommunicated

By John Wight | RT | June 26, 2019

We live in a post-truth world, one in which daring to speak truth in defiance of establishment orthodoxies is to be guilty of heresy.

Ask Nick Clegg if you don’t believe me. Britain’s former deputy prime minister, and erstwhile leader of the country’s Liberal Democrats, is now a top executive with Facebook in the US. In this capacity, working within the belly of the beast of the hegemonic social media platform, Clegg is in a position to know if the shrill claims of Russian interference in the EU referendum of 2016, using Facebook to spread disinformation, are borne of any real substance.

Well, guess what: They don’t have any substance to them, nor indeed have they ever. “There’s absolutely no evidence that it [Russian interference] happened in the Brexit referendum,” Clegg said in a recent interview on the flagship BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ morning show.

His assertion, predictably enough, met not with a mea culpa from the bastions of Western liberalism responsible for peddling the myth of Russian interference, but with a tsunami of outrage and a torrent of invective. In the process of which, Nick Clegg, one time darling of the liberal left, experienced his own figurative excommunication from the high church of liberal centrism. Because in daring to confirm that a key pillar of Western liberal thought in our time is predicated on hot air, he declared himself an apostate.

Consider, for example, the response of Labour MP and arch centrist David Lammy to Clegg’s assertion. Tweeting in response, he proclaimed: “Horse manure. What about the disinformation spread by Russian state media, RT and Sputnik, on Facebook? Hope Zuckerberg paid you a high price for any integrity you had leaving office.”

Aside from the towering example of parliamentary language Mr. Lammy deploys here, it’s impossible to properly fathom the desperation to seek the cause of Brexit anywhere other than where it actually resides – namely within the very liberal centrist ideology which Mr. Lammy and his ilk champion.

In the interests of context, David Lammy was already a study in liberal meltdown prior to Clegg’s interview. For the likes of him, the 17.4 million people in Britain who cast a vote to leave the EU in 2016 did so in the manner of unthinking drones, directed on this day by Moscow to vote leave rather than remain – as they should have were they behaving according to the dictates of the high church.

Since then, Mr. Lammy has been on a one-man crusade to locate Russians under the bed.

In the same interview with the BBC, Clegg, who for some unconscionable reason received a knighthood from the Queen in 2017, expands on how he arrived at his conclusion that Russian interference in the EU referendum is a myth.

To wit:

“We ran two full analyses of all the data we have in the run-up to the Brexit referendum, we’ve shared all of this information with the select committee in Westminster and elsewhere – we have found no evidence of a significant attempt by outside forces.”

Times columnist Hugh Rifkind also piled on against Clegg for daring to commit blasphemy in questioning the holy cow of Russian interference in the Brexit referendum. In a piece he wrote in response, he opines: “What was it about going to work for the fifth richest man in the world that changed his mind, I wonder?”

Here Rifkind is referencing the fact that prior to starting work at Facebook for Mark Zuckerberg, Clegg, as befitted his position within the liberal establishment, was a devoted adherent of the ‘Russia is behind everything that goes wrong and always will be’ school of liberal mania.

The crucial difference perhaps is that in his capacity as Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications, he’s had the opportunity to examine the evidence, or lack thereof, and changed his view accordingly.

What Lammy, Rifkind, and every other disciple of the high church fail to appreciate – or are in denial of – is the fact that the world changed forever with the 2008 global financial crash and ensuing economic recession.

It was no mere blip this crash. Instead it was the result of the insurmountable contradictions that exist within a neoliberal economic model that has only ever existed as tyrant in the lives of the majority, and faithful servant of the needs of a small minority.

It is from within this minority of stakeholders in the now rotting corpse of neoliberalism that these unhinged claims of Russian interference and influence emanate. Its peddlers are people for whom austerity and recession are and will only ever be words in the dictionary. For them and theirs, life prior to Brexit was gravy.

Not for them foodbanks, low wages, insecure employment, zero hours contracts, benefit sanctions, and a crushing daily struggle to survive. Not for them any reason to question the mantra, the big bright shining lie that this world is the best of all possible worlds. Because for such people, those struggling to ‘make it’ in this world are victims of their own personal failings and not any failure of the status quo.

Brexit was a scream from the bowels of austerity Britain. It was in large swathes of deindustrialised Britain the voice of the dispossessed, discarded, and disdained unleashed against the aforementioned status quo, characterised by hot yoga classes, chai lattes, and sushi bars.

It is neoliberalism, not Russia, that is the question. And the normalisation of economic injustice and suffering the former cultivates had by 2016 reached the point of critical mass, producing both Brexit and Trump. Brexit, I have never believed, is the solution to that suffering, but the fear it has instilled within the dark heart of the high church of liberal centrism is all that it deserves.

With this in mind, Nick Clegg’s excommunication is small price to pay.

June 26, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | | Leave a comment

The Economic Entrails at the Heart of the ‘Deal of the Century’

By Alastair Crooke | Strategic Culture Foundation | June 25, 2019

It is nothing new to say that the ‘Deal of the Century’ is – and always was – in essence an economic project. Indeed, it seems that its political ramifications are viewed by the White House as little more than the ineluctable consequences to an a priori economic architecture, already in the process of being unfolded.

In other words, it is the economic facts on the ground that are intended shape the political outcome — an attenuated political landscape that anyway has been minimised by Trump’s pre-emptive removal of key pieces of any Palestinian negotiating leverage.

The financial squeeze on the Palestinians is well attested. On the one hand, the Palestinian Authority (historically dependent on Saudi subvention) is gently slipping into bankruptcy; whilst Gaza is held in virtual abject dependency through the drip-feed of subventions channelled into Gaza by Qatar, with Israeli permission — the size of this latter monthly ‘lifeline’ subvention being carefully adjusted by Israel according to what it judges to be the norms of (generally Hamas) ‘good conduct’.

So, on the one hand there is the financial siege that is intended to make the Palestinians pliant to the ‘quality of life package’ which the ‘deal’ is supposed to bring — the Bahrain summit later this month being its shopfront. But there is another less well recognised side to the Deal which is summarised in the title to a McClatchy article entitled, White House sees Egyptian energy forum as a ‘roadmap to Middle East peace’.

In a later piece, McClatchy publishes the newly declassified map of the US East Mediterranean energy ‘roadmap’. And here the fuller picture becomes clear: the US sponsored ‘gas forum’, “according to three senior administration officials, that map [the] declassified one, obtained by McClatchy – has motivated members of the [US] National Security Council to prioritize the formation of a gas forum in the Eastern Mediterranean that would simultaneously boost and entangle the economies of several countries that have been at odds for decades”.

Well, let’s translate that little euphemism: ‘boost and entangle’. What that formula translates into is — the means to integrate Israel into the economic regional sphere is firstly, through energy. Yet, it is not intended to integrate Israel alone into this Egyptian economic sphere, but also to make Jordan, the PA (and maybe even Lebanon), too, partially dependent on Israeli energy – alongside putative partners, Italy, Greece, and (the Greek-linked part) of Cyprus — with the US offering to help flesh out the structure of the ‘gas forum’ with U.S. expertise.

This is the heart of ‘the deal’. Not just political normalisation for Israel into the region, but the making of economic dependency of the Egyptians, Palestinians, Jordanians (and possibly – but not so likely – Lebanon) on the US East-Med gas ‘hub’.

Source: McClatchy

And, inevitably there is a sub-plot to all this, (as McClatchy notes):

“On this front, the administration enjoys support from unlikely allies. Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee … said the Mediterranean gas forum project was a strategic opportunity for the U.S. to stymie Russian influence efforts over local energy resources. “I think that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and Russia can’t and should not be able to control the situation,” Engel stated”.

So, the US Administration is pursuing two bipartisan congressional efforts to ‘stymie’ Russia in the region: One is a bill promoting energy partnerships in the Eastern Mediterranean; and a parallel bill which threatens to sanction European firms supporting the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline taking Russian gas into Germany.

There are however, two obvious big ‘catches’ to this notion of both ‘stymying’ Russia, whilst simultaneously normalising Israel economically into the region. The first, as Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute notes, [is the notion that] the area’s underlying geology could help Europe offset, or even replace, its dependence on Russian gas “seems farfetched at the present level of discoveries. Several more giant fields like Leviathan or Egypt’s Zohr would have to be found before this reality changes”:

“The idea that East Mediterranean energy could impact on the European energy balance in such a way as to dent Russian market share is a fantasy – Europe’s thirst for gas is so huge, and Russia’s ability to provide that gas is so great, that it’s a wild dream to even hope we can achieve it given the limited reserves discovered thus far,” Henderson said. “Hoping you can find gas is not the same as finding gas”.

In short, an Egyptian ‘hub’ serving exports, might only ‘work’, as matters stand, through patching some of the smaller East-Med discoveries – together with a large Israeli contribution – through pipelines into the two Egyptian gas liquefying plants near Port Said and Alexandria. But LNG availability globally is high, prices are hugely competitive, and it is by no means certain that ‘the hub’ can be commercially viable.

And here is the main catch: Geo-politics. Anything aimed at integrating Israel into the region is bound to be sensitive. So, whilst US officials are optimistic about Egypt’s leadership of their ‘gas forum’ in the wake of President Sisi’s April meeting with Trump – Egypt – a mainstay to the separate US Iran confrontation plan – shortly afterward the visit, rather notably withdrew from the strategic military alliance the Trump administration was trying to build to confront Iran: The Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), to the consternation of US officials.

When it comes to energy deals, however, even having a treaty with Israel does not put an end to public sensitivities about rapprochement with Israel, Henderson notes. Notwithstanding any ‘peace treaty’, many Jordanians still oppose the prospect of using (Israeli) Leviathan gas to provide for large-scale electricity generation, beginning early next year. Amman has tried to deflect such anger by calling the supplies “northern gas” or “American gas”, emphasizing Noble’s role in producing it.

But here is the other side to the issue: Clearly, Egypt does not want to be a part of any anti-Iranian US-led alliance (MESA). But equally, why should Egypt – or Jordan, or for that matter, or any other member of the ‘gas forum’ – wish to be tightly aligned with an US anti-Russian strategy for the region? Egypt may have signed up to the US ‘gas hub’ project. But at the very same time, Egypt also was signing a $2 billion contract to buy more than twenty Russian Sukhoi SU-35 fighter aircraft. Do ‘hub’ members really judge an Egyptian ‘hub’ to be a rival to Russian gas in Europe?

Probably not: For ultimately, the idea that a putative energy hub can ‘stymie Russia’ indeed is fantasy. The EU shows, for example, no particular interest in the US supported $7 billion mooted pipeline linking the eastern Mediterranean through Cyprus, to Greece. The undersea terrain is too problematic, and the cost too high.

Israel too, hopes to find more gas (of course). But the deadline for bids on nineteen of its offshore blocks has been pushed back to mid-August – seemingly reflecting a lack of investor interest. For now, the oil majors seem more tempted by the Cypriot blocks – up for bid.

But politics again: being a part of America’s ‘gas forum’ in which the Nicosia (i.e. the Greek-linked) government is a key member, explicitly places the forum and its members on a potential collision course with Turkey, who will not readily yield on its ambitious claims on the East Med basin (it has just announced that it will establish naval and air bases in Northern Cyprus). Nor will Lebanon, either. Sisi and Erdogan share a mutual, personal dislike, but will the others wish to be drawn into that quarrel?

Russia anyway, seems not greatly interested in the production possibilities of the Mediterranean Middle East. Rather it is focused on a pipeline corridor stretching from Iran and Iraq to Europe via Turkey or (eventually) Syria.

In sum then, the Kushner – Trump ‘Deal’, in respect to the integration of Israel into the regional energy economy seems destined to draw the same skepticism and distrust, as does the ‘Deal’s’ other parts.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Russophobia | , , , , | 2 Comments