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Russia

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
Senate report finds Manafort passed campaign data to Russian intelligence officer

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released the fifth and final volume of its report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, which details "counterintelligence threats and vulnerabilities."

Why it matters: The Republican endorsed, 996-page report goes farther than the Mueller report in showing the extent of Russia's connections to members of the Trump campaign, and how the Kremlin was able to take advantage of the transition team's inexperience to gain access to sensitive information.

Highlights
Paul Manafort:
The report found that the former Trump campaign chairman began working on influence operations for the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and other pro-Russia Ukrainian oligarchs in 2004.

  • Manafort hired and worked closely with Russian national Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the committee definitively calls a "Russian intelligence officer" that served as a liaison between him and Deripaska.
  • On numerous occasions, Manafort sought to pass sensitive internal polling data and campaign strategy to Kilimnik. The committee was unable to determine why or what Kilimnik did with that information, in part due to the pair's use of encrypted messaging apps.
  • The committee did, however, obtain "some information" suggesting Kilimnik "may have been connected" to Russia's hacking and leaking of Democratic emails. The section detailing these findings is largely redacted.
  • The bottom line: "Taken as a whole, Manafort's high level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services, particularly Kilimnik and associates of Oleg Deripaska, represented a grave counterintelligence threat," the committee wrote.
Roger Stone/WikiLeaks: The committee found that then-candidate Trump and senior campaign officials attempted to obtain advance information about WikiLeaks' release of damaging emails from Roger Stone, who they believed had inside information.

  • It also assessed that Trump spoke with Stone about WikiLeaks on "multiple occasions," despite the fact that the president said he did not recall doing so in written answers to special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • In July 2016, Stone drafted tweets for Trump — at his request — that "attacked Clinton for her adversarial posture toward Russia and mentioned a new peace deal with Putin."
2016 Trump Tower meeting: The committee found that Donald Trump Jr. expected to receive "derogatory information" that would benefit the campaign from a person he knew was connected to the Russian government, but that no information was ultimately transmitted.

  • Two participants at the meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin, had far more "extensive and concerning" ties to the the Russian government, including to Russian intelligence, than publicly known.
Michael Cohen/Russia business deal: The report found that by the end of 2015, Trump’s former personal lawyer had “reached out to the Kremlin directly to solicit the Russian government's assistance” about building a Trump Tower in Moscow.

  • “Cohen kept Trump updated on the progress of the deal. While these negotiations were ongoing, Trump made positive public comments about Putin in connection with his presidential campaign.” The report found Cohen and Felix Sater, a longtime business associate of Trump, “sought to leverage Trump's comments, and subsequent comments about Trump by Putin, to advance the deal.”
  • Cohen made contact in January 2016 with a Russian aide to Putin spokesman Dmitri Peskov and reported to Trump that he had done so. Attempts to advance the deal stopped in the summer of 2016.
Trump transition: Russia "took advantage" of members of the Trump transition team’s "relative inexperience in government, opposition to Obama administration policies, and Trump’s desire to deepen ties with Russia to pursue unofficial channels through which Russia could conduct diplomacy," the committee determined.

  • The transition team "repeatedly took actions that had the potential, and sometimes the effect," of interfering with the Obama administration's diplomatic efforts, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn's conversations with the former Russian ambassador.
FBI investigation: The report concluded that "certain FBI procedures and actions in response to the Russian threat to the 2016 elections were flawed," specifically with respect to the bureau's interactions with the DNC about the email hacks and its treatment of the Steele Dossier.

Methodology: Together, the five volumes of the report represent "three years of investigative activity, hundreds of witness interviews and engagements, millions of pages of document review, and open and closed hearings."

  • The committee conducted "follow-up interviews" with Michael Cohen, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., John Podesta, and State Department official Jonathan Winer — which were necessary after the committee "developed additional information since the initial interview that required clarification from the witnesses."
What they're saying:

  • Senate Intelligence acting chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): “We can say, without any hesitation, that the Committee found absolutely no evidence that then-candidate Donald Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russian government to meddle in the 2016 election. ...
  • Senate Intelligence ranking member Mark Warner (D-Va.): “At nearly 1,000 pages, Volume 5 stands as the most comprehensive examination of ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign to date – a breathtaking level of contacts between Trump officials and Russian government operatives that is a very real counterintelligence threat to our elections. ... This cannot happen again."
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.
 

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
Rubio is such a bitch


Senate report finds Manafort passed campaign data to Russian intelligence officer

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released the fifth and final volume of its report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, which details "counterintelligence threats and vulnerabilities."

Why it matters: The Republican endorsed, 996-page report goes farther than the Mueller report in showing the extent of Russia's connections to members of the Trump campaign, and how the Kremlin was able to take advantage of the transition team's inexperience to gain access to sensitive information.

Highlights
Paul Manafort:
The report found that the former Trump campaign chairman began working on influence operations for the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and other pro-Russia Ukrainian oligarchs in 2004.

  • Manafort hired and worked closely with Russian national Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the committee definitively calls a "Russian intelligence officer" that served as a liaison between him and Deripaska.
  • On numerous occasions, Manafort sought to pass sensitive internal polling data and campaign strategy to Kilimnik. The committee was unable to determine why or what Kilimnik did with that information, in part due to the pair's use of encrypted messaging apps.
  • The committee did, however, obtain "some information" suggesting Kilimnik "may have been connected" to Russia's hacking and leaking of Democratic emails. The section detailing these findings is largely redacted.
  • The bottom line: "Taken as a whole, Manafort's high level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services, particularly Kilimnik and associates of Oleg Deripaska, represented a grave counterintelligence threat," the committee wrote.
Roger Stone/WikiLeaks: The committee found that then-candidate Trump and senior campaign officials attempted to obtain advance information about WikiLeaks' release of damaging emails from Roger Stone, who they believed had inside information.

  • It also assessed that Trump spoke with Stone about WikiLeaks on "multiple occasions," despite the fact that the president said he did not recall doing so in written answers to special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • In July 2016, Stone drafted tweets for Trump — at his request — that "attacked Clinton for her adversarial posture toward Russia and mentioned a new peace deal with Putin."
2016 Trump Tower meeting: The committee found that Donald Trump Jr. expected to receive "derogatory information" that would benefit the campaign from a person he knew was connected to the Russian government, but that no information was ultimately transmitted.

  • Two participants at the meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin, had far more "extensive and concerning" ties to the the Russian government, including to Russian intelligence, than publicly known.
Michael Cohen/Russia business deal: The report found that by the end of 2015, Trump’s former personal lawyer had “reached out to the Kremlin directly to solicit the Russian government's assistance” about building a Trump Tower in Moscow.

  • “Cohen kept Trump updated on the progress of the deal. While these negotiations were ongoing, Trump made positive public comments about Putin in connection with his presidential campaign.” The report found Cohen and Felix Sater, a longtime business associate of Trump, “sought to leverage Trump's comments, and subsequent comments about Trump by Putin, to advance the deal.”
  • Cohen made contact in January 2016 with a Russian aide to Putin spokesman Dmitri Peskov and reported to Trump that he had done so. Attempts to advance the deal stopped in the summer of 2016.
Trump transition: Russia "took advantage" of members of the Trump transition team’s "relative inexperience in government, opposition to Obama administration policies, and Trump’s desire to deepen ties with Russia to pursue unofficial channels through which Russia could conduct diplomacy," the committee determined.

  • The transition team "repeatedly took actions that had the potential, and sometimes the effect," of interfering with the Obama administration's diplomatic efforts, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn's conversations with the former Russian ambassador.
FBI investigation: The report concluded that "certain FBI procedures and actions in response to the Russian threat to the 2016 elections were flawed," specifically with respect to the bureau's interactions with the DNC about the email hacks and its treatment of the Steele Dossier.

Methodology: Together, the five volumes of the report represent "three years of investigative activity, hundreds of witness interviews and engagements, millions of pages of document review, and open and closed hearings."

  • The committee conducted "follow-up interviews" with Michael Cohen, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., John Podesta, and State Department official Jonathan Winer — which were necessary after the committee "developed additional information since the initial interview that required clarification from the witnesses."
What they're saying:

  • Senate Intelligence acting chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): “We can say, without any hesitation, that the Committee found absolutely no evidence that then-candidate Donald Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russian government to meddle in the 2016 election. ...
  • Senate Intelligence ranking member Mark Warner (D-Va.): “At nearly 1,000 pages, Volume 5 stands as the most comprehensive examination of ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign to date – a breathtaking level of contacts between Trump officials and Russian government operatives that is a very real counterintelligence threat to our elections. ... This cannot happen again."
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.
 
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Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
Amid a global assault on human rights stretching from Belarus to Hong Kong to Yemen, the European Union signaled yesterday that it may act to deter corrupt kleptocrats and state abusers by hitting them where it hurts: their assets.

  • Europe's chief executive Ursula von der Leyen revealed in her first-ever State of the Union speech that she will bring forth a European Magnitsky Act, a sanctions framework modeled after a U.S. law that restricts malign actors' access to travel and the global financial system.
Why it matters: For all the ridicule it’s earned as a bureaucracy-addled bloc with a penchant for "strongly worded" statements, the EU is still the world’s largest single market area and a leading promoter of democratic values.

The big picture: Getting the EU on board would be a major victory for Bill Browder, an investor and activist who has spent the past 10 years lobbying world governments to pass sanctions legislation in the name of his late tax adviser, Sergei Magnitsky.

  • Browder's Hermitage Capital was once the largest foreign investor in Russia, where his broadsides against corporate corruption made him a thorn in the side of the oligarchs.
  • His visa was revoked in 2005 and his offices were later raided by Russian authorities as part of an apparent tax fraud investigation. Browder commissioned Magnitsky, then a 35-year-old lawyer, to figure out what happened.
  • Magnitsky went on to uncover a massive fraud scheme allegedly involving Russian officials. His testimony against the Russian state resulted in his 11-month detention, torture and eventual death in prison in 2009.
Browder's decade-long anti-corruption campaign in the wake of Magnitsky's death yielded new sanctions frameworks in the U.S. (2012 and expanded in 2016), Canada (2015), the Baltic states (2016–2018), the U.K. (2018) and Kosovo (2020). He is likely the most wanted man in Russia.

What they're saying: Browder has called a European Magnitsky Act "probably the most devastating thing that could happen to the Putin regime" given the property and assets that key players own in Europe.

  • He told me the legislation "has been held up for almost a decade by various member states and politicians who wanted to either please or appease Putin."
  • But after the poisoning last month of fellow Putin critic Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent known to be a calling card of the Russian security services, Browder says those people have "disappeared into the woodwork."
  • Note: Navalny is awake in a German hospital and posting on Instagram after two weeks in a medically induced coma. He plans to return to Russia.
Yes, but: Some experts warn that money laundering loopholes in the international financial system render Magnitsky laws ineffective, especially in the U.K. And questions still remain about the EU's willingness to stand up to China, the world's second-largest economy and one of its worst human rights abusers.

Between the lines: If the EU does move forward with an assets-focused sanctions law, Browder tells me the first targets should be the people who killed Magnitsky — followed swiftly by the perpetrators of the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, the operators of mass detention camps in Xinjiang, and the authorities cracking down on protests in Hong Kong and Belarus.

What to watch: The EU's chief diplomat has called for the sanctions law to be named the "Navalny Act."
 
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Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
"If it Hadn't Been for the Prompt Work of the Medics": FSB Officer Inadvertently Confesses Murder Plot to Navalny

December 21, 2020
  • FSB
  • Navalny
  • Bellingcat and its partners reported that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) was implicated in the near-fatal nerve-agent poisoning of Alexey Navalny on 20 August 2020. The report identified eight clandestine operatives with medical and chemical/biological warfare expertise working under the guise of the FSB’s Criminalistics Institute who had tailed Alexey Navalny on more than 30 occasions since 2017. At least three of these operatives were in the close vicinity of Navalny near the time of his poisoning.
  • During his year-end press conference on Thursday of last week, Russian president Vladimir Putin did not deny Bellingcat’s findings, which detailed how these FSB operatives had been tailing Navalny, including on his trip to Tomsk. However, the Russian president claimed – without presenting evidence – that this was due to alleged cooperation between Navalny and “United States intelligence agencies”. Putin also denied that the FSB had any role in his poisoning, and stated that “if [the FSB] wanted to, they would have taken their job to the end”. He did not explain why a suspect would need to be surveilled by officers with chemical-warfare and medical backgrounds, nor why these agents communicated with leading Russian experts in nerve toxins in the days and hours before Navalny’s poisoning, as disclosed by Bellingcat.

Bellingcat can now disclose that it and its investigative partners are in possession of a recorded conversation in which a member of the suspected FSB poison squad describes how his unit carried out, and attempted to clean up evidence of, the poisoning of Alexey Navalny. The inadvertent confession was made during a phone call with a person who the officer believed was a high-ranking security official. In fact, the FSB officer did not recognize the voice of the person to whom he was reporting details of the failed mission: Alexey Navalny himself.

This 49-minute call between Navalny and Konstantin Kudryavtsev, one of the FSB officers who traveled to Omsk in the aftermath of the Navalny poisoning, provides a detailed first-person account that describes how the FSB organized the attempted assassination in Tomsk as well as the subsequent clean-up operation. The unintended confession adds significant new details to our understanding of the operation, including the exact manner in which, according to the FSB officer, the Novichok was administered. It also sheds light on Russia’s secret service’s efforts to destroy the evidence in the wake of what Kudryavtsev divulges was its failure to kill the opposition activist. Shockingly, the member of the suspected poison squad blames the fast response time of the pilot and emergency medical services for the failure of FSB’s assassination plot.

While Bellingcat representatives witnessed the phone call in real time several hours before the publication of our investigation, its content was so explosive that we decided, before disclosing the existence and contents of the call, to validate key details described by the FSB officer against objective data. We have since been able to confirm key allegations confirming the overall plausibility of the confession.

Navalny’s call to Kudryavtsev under the guise of a fictitious high-ranking aide also raised ethical questions about this method of obtaining data. However, following an internal debate we concluded that this action clearly falls within the realm of the overriding public interest in light of the extraordinary circumstances. Navalny was not working on behalf of any police or security service, nor was he conducting a traditional journalistic investigation — rather, he was in the unique position of investigating his own assassination attempt at a time when no law enforcement agency is willing to do so. To our knowledge, it is without precedent that a target of a political assassination is able to chat for nearly an hour with one of the men on the team that tried to kill him and later cover up the evidence. Our supplemental research into the revelations of this call — detailed further in this article — shows that the information provided by Kudryavtsev is credible, and has led to new investigative leads we had not previously discovered.

At the end of this report we will present the original, unedited audio and transcript of the 49-minute call, recorded by a Bellingcat representative.



Alexey Navalny during his phone call to Konstantin Kudryavtsev

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-a...ot-to-navalny/
 

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny remanded in pre-trial detention in Russia
A Russian judge has remanded Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny in pretrial detention for 30 days for violating the terms of a suspended jail sentence, ignoring calls from Western countries to free the opposition politician immediately.
The ruling, a day after police detained him at the airport when he returned to Russia for the first time since being poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent last August, could be the prelude to him being jailed for years.
 
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