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"Everyone thinks he was whacked"

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:27 am

"Everyone thinks he was whacked"

The US government ruled Mikhail Lesin’s death an accident, but multiple intelligence and law enforcement officials suspect it was a Russian hit. The government is withholding information so today BuzzFeed News has filed a lawsuit to pry the records loose.

This is Part Five of a BuzzFeed News investigation.
Part One: Poison In The System
Part Two: From Russia With Blood
Part Three: The Man Who Knew Too Much
Part Four: The Secrets Of The Spy In The Bag
Part Six: Holes In The Investigation

Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was murdered in Washington, DC, on the eve of a planned meeting with the US Justice Department, according to two FBI agents whose assertions cast new doubts on the US government’s official explanation of his death.

Mikhail Lesin’s battered body was discovered in his Dupont Circle hotel room on the morning of Nov. 5, 2015, with blunt-force injuries to the head, neck, and torso. After an almost yearlong "comprehensive investigation," a federal prosecutor announced last October that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls “after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.” His death was ruled an "accident," and prosecutors closed the case.

But the two FBI agents — as well as a third agent and a serving US intelligence officer — said Lesin was actually bludgeoned to death. None of these officials were directly involved in the government’s investigation, but they said they learned about it from colleagues who were.

“Lesin was beaten to death,” one of the FBI agents said. “I would implore you to say as much. There seems to be an effort here to cover up that fact for reasons I can't get into.”

Mikhail Lesin in Moscow in 2002.
Alexander Natruskin / Reuters
Mikhail Lesin in Moscow in 2002.
He continued: “What I can tell you is that there isn’t a single person inside the bureau who believes this guy got drunk, fell down, and died. Everyone thinks he was whacked and that Putin or the Kremlin were behind it.”

In another previously unreported revelation, the two FBI agents said it was the Department of Justice that paid for the hotel room where Lesin died. DOJ officials had invited the Russian to Washington to interview him about the inner workings of RT, the Kremlin-funded network that Lesin founded, they said.

But Lesin never made it to the interview. He died the night before it was scheduled to take place.

Last month, a two-year investigation by BuzzFeed News revealed explosive evidence pointing to Russia in 14 suspicious deaths on British soil that the UK government had largely ignored. Four high-ranking US intelligence officials confirmed that those deaths had been linked to Russian security services or mafia gangs, two groups that sometimes work in tandem, by “intelligence gathered in the field and analysed” by US spies and handed to Britain’s security services. But the UK police publicly declared that none of the 14 incidents involved foul play. As a result, the public has been kept in the dark about what national security officials have long suspected: Russian assassins may have murdered in the UK with impunity.

Some American officials now fear the threat has hit home. Lesin’s death raised “concerns” that the Kremlin would start “doing here what they do with some regularity in London,” said a former high-level national security official who recently left government. Altogether, 18 current and former intelligence, law enforcement, and other federal officials told BuzzFeed News that they question the official story of how Lesin died.

The FBI, which assisted with the investigation, and the Department of Justice declined to comment. The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said it had nothing to add beyond its statement last year calling Lesin’s death an accident. The DC medical examiner’s office said it is barred by law from releasing details of the autopsy, so would not comment beyond the US Attorney’s statement and a brief summary of its own findings that it released in March 2016. A spokesperson for the DC Metropolitan Police — which led the investigation, deploying homicide detectives — told BuzzFeed News that “we have no evidence to suggest this death involved foul play. However, we will certainly reinvestigate should additional evidence be brought to light."

Urgent questions remain about Lesin’s death. The government is withholding the FBI’s investigative file, which includes critical evidence ranging from surveillance tapes to witness interviews. So today, BuzzFeed News filed a lawsuit to pry that information loose.

A BuzzFeed News reporter submitted requests under the Freedom of Information Act for the FBI’s and the Department of Justice’s complete records of the investigation in 2016. But recently the FBI said that if it can release any documents, it may take as long as two more years for it to do so. The suit, filed in US District Court in Washington, DC, aims to speed up that process.

Mikhail Lesin in 2000.
AFP / Getty Images
Mikhail Lesin in 2000.

Lesin, the son of a military construction worker, rose to become one of Russia’s most powerful and influential media officials. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, he ran a wildly successful advertising agency and developed the ad campaign that helped Boris Yeltsin win the presidency in 1996. Lesin went on to serve as Yeltsin’s press minister. Vladimir Putin kept him on during his first term as president, and Lesin muzzled anti-Putin critics by helping to consolidate control over the country’s mass media under the Kremlin. The move earned Lesin, a stocky man with a large head, a nickname: “The Bulldozer.”

During Putin’s second term, Lesin was named senior presidential adviser and rose to the top of Putin’s propaganda machine when he conceived and founded Russia Today, which he once described as a news channel to counter Western spin disseminated by news networks such as CNN and the BBC. Later renamed RT, the state-owned media channel broadcasts in the US on cable and via the internet.

Lesin’s career in government ended in 2009 when Dmitry Medvedev took over Russia’s presidency. Over the next three years, Lesin traveled the world and spent lavishly. He owned a yacht — reportedly valued at $40 million — that he named Serenity, and property records show that companies he’s associated with spent at least $28 million on luxury real estate, purchasing sprawling estates in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and Brentwood for himself; his daughter, Ekaterina Lesina; an RT bureau chief; and his son, Anton Lessine, an up-and-coming Hollywood producer. Multiple sources said Lesin helped finance his son’s films, such as Dirty Grandpa starring Robert De Niro, and Fury starring Brad Pitt.

Neither Lessine nor Lesina, who are based in the US, returned multiple calls and emails seeking comment.

When Putin was elected to a third term in 2012, Lesin returned to Moscow, took over state-owned Gazprom Media, and acquired the conglomerate ProfMedia in what was seen by opposition critics as another effort by the Kremlin to crack down on independent voices in the media.

Lesin abruptly resigned from Gazprom in December 2014.

At that point, his activities became more murky. Intelligence and law enforcement sources said Lesin had a falling out with Putin’s close confidants and then went into hiding abroad. But five sources told BuzzFeed News he was forced out of Gazprom after US Senator Roger Wicker got wind of Lesin’s US spending spree and wrote to the Department of Justice demanding it investigate. The Justice Department, in turn, referred the matter to the FBI.

Lesin “was feeling good until that letter came out,” said the US intelligence officer. But “Putin decided to cut him loose as a potential liability. Once Putin ditched him, once he lost his protection, Lesin’s partners and competitors started going after him.”

A second US intelligence official said Lesin was hiding out in the Swiss Alps during the summer of 2015, fearful that he would be killed.

Lesin “was running out of options of where to live and hide,” the second intelligence official said. “At this point he was a defector. He contacted the Justice Department and the FBI through a third party. He was worried about his kids and their safety so he wanted to cooperate.”

Vladimir Putin and Mikhail Lesin in the Kremlin.
Itar Tass / Reuters
Vladimir Putin and Mikhail Lesin in the Kremlin.

The three FBI agents who claim Lesin was beaten to death said they were told by colleagues who were assisting Metropolitan Police detectives with the investigation. Two of the agents said they were told that the FBI has obtained evidence and conducted witness interviews that indicate that Lesin was murdered. Neither agent would describe the evidence or give details about who the witnesses were, or what exactly they said. The third said that a colleague working on the case told him in January that Lesin was beaten to death.

The intelligence officer would not say how he knew Lesin was bludgeoned but said that the weapon was a baseball bat. Another source — with direct knowledge of the autopsy performed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Washington, DC — offered new information about Lesin’s injuries: He had fractured ribs, a detail that has not been previously reported.

One of the FBI agents said that he learned Lesin was put up by the Justice Department at the Dupont Circle Hotel — a midrange hotel out of keeping with Lesin’s extravagant lifestyle — during an informal “water cooler talk” with a “case agent” working on the investigation. Lesin, he was told, “was going to talk about the inner workings of RT — basically, how the propaganda machine works. DOJ was investigating RT. These are the types of meetings we have with people when we want to recruit them as informants.”

Does he believe Lesin was murdered over RT? “Whether it was over RT, money, pissing off Putin or a combo or all of it, I don’t know,” he answered. “But falling down drunk? Come on. That’s bullshit.”.

The second FBI agent said he learned that the Justice Department had put Lesin up at the hotel from a DOJ official on the case. The DOJ “was investigating something with RT,” he recalled being told, and investigators planned to ask Lesin “how the station operated — how it was run and how the Kremlin used it.”

The Dupont Circle Hotel declined to provide any information about Lesin, citing its policy of protecting guests’ privacy.

BuzzFeed News filed suit today to compel the swift release of investigative records and other documents about Lesin because American intelligence agencies have said that Russia interfered in the US presidential election, ties to Russia are at the heart of the investigations underway involving President Donald Trump’s campaign, and we have revealed that US intelligence officials suspect Russian involvement in 14 deaths on the territory of one of America’s closest allies, Great Britain.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/jasonleopold/p ... .tsYwW9qb4
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:08 am

Christopher Steele's Other Report: A Murder In Washington

The author of the famous Trump dossier provided a secret report to the FBI asserting that RT founder Mikhail Lesin was bludgeoned to death by thugs hired by an oligarch close to Putin. Three other sources independently told the FBI the same basic story, contradicting the government’s finding that Lesin’s death was accidental.

The FBI possesses a secret report asserting that Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was beaten to death by hired thugs in Washington, DC — directly contradicting the US government’s official finding that Mikhail Lesin died by accident.

The report, according to four sources who have read all or parts of it, was written by the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who also wrote the famous dossier alleging that Russia had been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Donald Trump. The bureau received his report while it was helping the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department investigate the Russian media baron’s death, the sources said.

Christopher Steele
Victoria Jones - Pa Images / Getty Images
FBI spokesperson Andrew Ames declined to confirm or deny the existence of the report and would not comment for this story. Steele's business partner, Chris Burrows, declined to comment on behalf of Steele and their company, Orbis Business Intelligence.

Steele’s report — the existence of which has never before been made public — adds to a mounting body of evidence that casts doubt on the official finding on Lesin’s death.
The new revelations come as concerns about Russia’s meddling in the West have intensified to a pitch not seen since the Cold War. Both the UK and the US have blamed the Kremlin for poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England this month, using a rare nerve agent that endangered bystanders. (Russia has denied it was behind the poisoning.) In the wake of that attack, the British government has opened a review of all 14 suspicious deaths linked to Russia that a BuzzFeed News investigation exposed last year.

The BuzzFeed News series also revealed new details about Lesin — including that he died on the eve of a scheduled meeting with US Justice Department officials. They had planned to interview Lesin about the inner workings of RT, the Kremlin-funded network that he founded.

Now BuzzFeed News has established:

Steele’s report says that Lesin was bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for an oligarch close to Putin, the four sources said.

The thugs had been instructed to beat Lesin, not kill him, but they went too far, the sources said Steele wrote.

Three of the sources said that the report described the killers as Russian state security agents moonlighting for the oligarch.

Lesin’s corpse was found in a Washington, DC, hotel room on the morning of Nov. 5, 2015. The coroner determined that he had died from blunt force injuries to the head and had also sustained blunt force injuries to his neck, torso, upper extremities, and lower extremities. After an 11-month investigation, a federal prosecutor announced in late 2016 that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls “after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.” His death was ruled an “accident,” with the coroner adding acute alcohol intoxication as a contributing cause of death, and prosecutors closed the case.

Got a tip? You can email tips@buzzfeed.com. To learn how to reach us securely, go to tips.buzzfeed.com.
But Steele’s report — the existence of which has never before been made public — adds to a mounting body of evidence that casts doubt on the official finding on Lesin’s death. “What I can tell you is that there isn’t a single person inside the bureau who believes this guy got drunk, fell down, and died,” an FBI agent told BuzzFeed News last year. “Everyone thinks he was whacked and that Putin or the Kremlin were behind it.”

In December, DC police released 58 pages of its case file on Lesin’s death. While many parts are blacked out, what was released says nothing about the blunt force injuries that killed Lesin — or even about him falling down, which is how he is supposed to have died.

Lesin arriving at the Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington, DC, on Nov. 4, 2015. The next morning, he would be found dead in his room at the hotel.
Lesin arriving at the Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington, DC, on Nov. 4, 2015. The next morning, he would be found dead in his room at the hotel.

Now BuzzFeed News has learned that federal prosecutors called witnesses before a grand jury during 2016 to compel them to testify under penalty of perjury about Lesin’s death, and they amassed more than 150 pages of material from the proceedings. The use of a grand jury, not previously reported, was discovered in documents released after BuzzFeed News launched a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to compel the Justice Department, the FBI, and other agencies to turn over records related to the Lesin investigation. That lawsuit is ongoing.

FBI, Obtained by BuzzFeed News
Lesin in the Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington DC on Nov. 4, 2015, the day before he was found dead in his room.

Citing grand jury secrecy, two law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the case declined to say what witnesses were called or describe their testimony. They said that prosecutors used a sitting grand jury, rather than empanelling one specifically for the Lesin case, and that they were investigating the media baron’s death as a homicide.

During the investigation, FBI agents reviewing hotel surveillance footage of Lesin were asked to pay particular attention to the back of his head, documents obtained through the FOIA lawsuit show. As with the police files, the FBI documents that have been released say nothing about how Lesin sustained the head injuries that killed him. But, according to those documents, the bureau found no evidence of foul play.

“It’s really hard to imagine that it was an innocent death.”
“It’s really hard to imagine that it was an innocent death,” said former CIA intelligence officer John Sipher, who worked for years on Russia matters. “Everybody I know who’s a professional and dealt with Russia — the immediate assumption is that he was murdered.”

Details about Steele’s Lesin report are based on interviews with 11 sources, almost all of whom are current or former FBI agents or US intelligence officials. Two sources said they had read the whole report, while two other sources each said they read about half of it. Seven others said they heard about it from colleagues or had been briefed on it.

It’s not surprising that Steele provided his Lesin report to the FBI. The former head of the Russia desk for Britain’s foreign intelligence service served as a longtime source for the FBI and was occasionally paid for his information, some of which has been used in federal criminal cases, according to memos released earlier this year by Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee. He also provided more than 100 reports, mostly on Russian affairs, to the State Department, according to a former assistant secretary of state, Jonathan Winer.

For his report to the FBI about Lesin, Steele gathered intelligence from high-level sources in Moscow, according to the two sources who read the whole report.

All four of the people who read Steele’s report said it pins Lesin’s murder on a professional relationship gone lethally awry. According to the report, they said, Lesin fell out with a powerful oligarch close to Putin. Wanting to intimidate Lesin, the oligarch then contracted with Russian state security agents to beat up Lesin, the report states, according to three of the sources. The goal was not to kill Lesin, all four sources said Steele wrote, but Lesin died from the attack.

The sources could not recall what, if anything, the report said about whether Putin knew of or sanctioned the attack.

Three other individuals, including a business associate of Lesin and two intelligence officials, told BuzzFeed News that they had independently given the FBI similar information: that Lesin had been bludgeoned to death by thugs operating on orders from the same oligarch Steele named.

A fourth person, who is another business associate close to Lesin, told BuzzFeed News that Lesin had a falling out with the oligarch but did not know if the oligarch had any involvement in Lesin’s death.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Lesin in 2002.
Itar Tass / Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin with Lesin in 2002.

In the UK, BuzzFeed News exposed 14 suspicious deaths linked to Russia. In each of those cases, US intelligence officials suspected the dead might have been rubbed out by Russia’s security services or mafia groups — two forces that sometimes work in tandem — and they had shared intelligence with their British counterparts “in the context of assassinations.” In at least one case, that of Alexander Perepilichnyy, the US had determined he was likely killed on orders of Putin or his close associates.

Yet despite that and other evidence, British authorities stuck by their position that the deaths were due to natural causes, accidents, or suicides, and they refused to reopen the cases — until the poisoning this month of Skripal, the former Russian spy. The attempted murder, using a rare nerve agent produced in Russia, caused an outcry throughout Britain. In response to widespread calls for a full inquiry into all 14 deaths from members of parliament who cited the BuzzFeed News investigation, the government agreed to review each of the cases with the help of Britain’s security service and the police.

“It is not inconceivable that the Kremlin could use its security services in the United States as it has elsewhere.”
US intelligence officials told BuzzFeed News they had been watching the pattern of suspected assassinations across the Atlantic with increasing alarm, and Lesin’s death intensified those fears. “It is not inconceivable that the Kremlin could use its security services in the United States as it has elsewhere,” read a report released in January by Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The trail of mysterious deaths, all of which happened to people who possessed information that the Kremlin did not want made public, should not be ignored by Western countries on the assumption that they are safe from these extreme measures.”

The FBI declined to answer any questions for this story, including whether it would reopen the investigation into Lesin’s death. The DC Metropolitan Police pointed to an earlier statement that said, “We will certainly reinvestigate should additional evidence be brought to light.”

Lesin (right) confers over documents during a meeting in 2000.
AFP / Getty Images
Lesin (right) confers over documents during a meeting in 2000.

The son of a military construction worker, Lesin rose to become one of Russia’s most powerful and influential media officials. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, he ran a wildly successful advertising agency and developed the ad campaign that helped Boris Yeltsin win reelection to the presidency in 1996. Lesin went on to serve as Yeltsin’s press minister. Vladimir Putin kept him on during his first term as president, and Lesin muzzled anti-Putin critics by helping the Kremlin consolidate control over the country’s mass media. The move earned Lesin, a stocky man with a large head, a nickname: “The Bulldozer.”

“He was a binge alcoholic. He would go off the rails for a week and you couldn’t find him.”
In 2005, he founded Russia Today, which he once described as a news channel to counter Western perspectives put out by the likes of CNN and the BBC. Later renamed RT, the state-funded media channel broadcasts in the US on cable and via the internet. Lesin also served as a presidential adviser.

“Lesin was not a very nice guy,” one of his business associates said. “He was very smart, and he was a big player in the media. Whatever you wanted to do in the media, you had to go through him.” He was also difficult to work with. “He was a binge alcoholic,” another person who knew him said. “He would go off the rails for a week and you couldn’t find him.” The police files, first reported by the Washington Post, show that Lesin was drinking huge amounts of alcohol for almost three days before his body was found.

Lesin’s role in government ended in 2009, but he continued to spend lavishly. “He bought a huge boat and filled it with girls, and his drinking got worse, and all that sort of stuff,” said an associate.

Lesin’s yacht Serenity, which he purchased in 2011, was reportedly valued at $40 million. He spent more and more time in the United States, and he was dating a Siberian model at the time of his death. Property records show that companies he was associated with spent at least $28 million on luxury real estate, purchasing sprawling estates in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and Brentwood for himself; his daughter, Ekaterina Lesina, an RT bureau chief; and his son, Anton Lessine, a Hollywood producer.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/jasonleopold/c ... xu53RWRVXg
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Postby Jerky » Tue Mar 27, 2018 5:06 pm

Sounder » 10 Dec 2017 11:03 wrote:
What? Berezovsky was the whole world? Putin was a danger to him, and for good reason.

Criminals often get whacked, should we care?

HOO boy, I cannot WAIT to see your reaction when Putin gets what's coming to him.

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Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 27, 2018 5:09 pm

These are the 23 countries that have now expelled Russian diplomats
https://www.verdict.co.uk/23-countries- ... diplomats/

Putin Finally Went Too Far

The unified international response to the Skripal poisoning shows that the West will only suffer so much provocation.

Mark Galeotti9:49 AM ET
When Britain threw out 23 Russian diplomats in response to an assassination attempt on Russian agent Sergei Skripal, Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia and current bad boy of modern geopolitics, shrugged it off. With relations between London and Moscow so strained, the embassy didn’t have all that much to do, anyway. The cost, Putin no doubt felt, was predictable and bearable. Then on Monday, 20 additional countries, from Albania to Ukraine, joined in a coordinated expulsion campaign, with the United States accounting for 60 of the Russians sent packing. On Tuesday, NATO announced it would expel seven Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning. Suddenly, the Kremlin isn’t looking quite so comfortable. With the Skripal hit, it looks as if Putin may have finally overreached.

For years now, Putin’s calculation has been that the West is strong but lacking in unity and will, allowing a scrappy Russia willing to bend and break the rules of the international order to assert its place as a global player. But the success of this gambit hinged on his capacity to assess what the West would tolerate. By exceeding those limits, he may have delivered a triple blow to himself.

The expulsions are certain to deliver a serious, if not mortal blow to Russia’s intelligence networks. Putin has lavished resources and political capital on his covert foreign operations, which are now as pervasive and aggressive as they were at the height of the Cold War. His spook army is also a multi-headed hydra, featuring three main agencies: the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), military intelligence (GRU), and the newcomers, the political policemen-turned-spooks of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

The more than 120 expelled individuals, all presumed to be intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover, represent only a fraction of Russia’s intelligence apparatus. In the Czech Republic, for example, the security service has claimed that as many as 50 Russians working in the embassy in Prague are actually spies. But, mindful that their much smaller embassy in Moscow can only sustain a few retaliatory expulsions, the Czechs expelled just three Russians.

Nonetheless, as the remaining Russian agents scramble to absorb their departing colleagues’ sources and workloads, the wave of expulsions will inevitably disrupt both intelligence-gathering networks as well as “active measures,” or political subversion operations. These activities range from encouraging anti-government paramilitary groups in Bulgaria to supporting populist far-right fringe groups in Europe.

The expulsions also shift the geopolitical landscape. In previous incidents of Russian mischief, Moscow has only had to deal with one country at a time. When its agents poisoned defector Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006, for example, Britain received little real support from its allies when it pushed back against Russia. When assassins killed Chechen activists in Istanbul, no one rushed to help the Turks. When Russian commandos kidnapped Estonian security officer Eston Kohver in 2014, Tallinn had to cut its own deal with Moscow to get him back. Each time, allies offered little more than sympathy, and Putin presumably assumed this would again be the case with Skripal.

This time, despite the Trump administration’s often-tense relations with Europe and the fraught negotiations over Britain’s divorce from the European Union, the West has delivered an unprecedented collective message. Even the horrific shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 over southeast Ukraine by Russian proxies using a Russian missile failed to generate a similar reaction. While outright invasions such as the seizure of Crimea have led to sanctions, this is the first time ever there has been such an extensive and international response to a covert operation.

This new determination from the West to take Putin to task is the product of a cumulative process. As the tally of Russian provocations has grown, from the annexation of Crimea and destabilization of Ukraine in 2014, to election interference in the United States and elsewhere, to the heedless use of airpower against civilian targets in Syria, the sense that something had to be done had been building. This latest affair, an especially brazen incident which saw not only Skripal, but his daughter and a police officer who came to their aid poisoned with a Soviet-designed military nerve agent, simply provided the catalyst.

Perhaps most importantly, these expulsions challenge any easy assumptions in Moscow that Russian officials have the measure of the West. I was in Moscow in the immediate aftermath of the Skripal attack. Britain’s initial response, while decried by the Russian authorities as an act of “Russophobia,” did not seem to faze people I spoke to connected with the foreign ministry. They all seemed certain that that initial expulsion would be the end of it. The idea that 17 EU countries, as well as Albania, Australia, Canada, Macedonia, Norway, and Ukraine, would end up expelling suspected agents seemed implausible. That America would also kick out another 60? Unthinkable.

One of Putin’s greatest assets has been his capacity to break the rules of international behavior, as Western countries try and preserve them. As a result, he has been able to game out likely responses, staying clear of red lines and exploiting opportunities that arise. That does not mean he and his advisors don’t get things wrong (like the time Russia moved into the Donbas in Ukraine and expected Kiev to quickly capitulate). But they believed they understood the West, and that ultimately Western countries would not act decisively in support of each other. This time, he miscalculated.

In the near term, the Kremlin will respond with its usual mix of malice and bluster. There will be aggrieved denunciations, reciprocal expulsions, maybe even escalation, in the form of sanctions against Western media and cultural organizations (Moscow has already closed down the British Council’s operation in Russia), the suspension of cooperation agreements, and perhaps even pressure on other fronts such as Syria, Libya and the Balkans. Ultimately, though, Russia needs the West more than the West needs Russia. There are likely to be some hurried and anxious recalculations in Moscow as Putin and company realize how badly they blundered.

The Kremlin has relied on its own will and the West’s divisions to play a weak hand well. But maybe it played one card too many.
https://www.theatlantic.com/internation ... source=twb
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Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 27, 2018 9:52 pm

'Everyone thinks he was whacked': New evidence has emerged that a Russian media mogul was beaten to death by hired thugs in Washington

4h 2,408
Lesin and Putin
Putin (L) with Mikhail Lesin (R)
Itar Tass/Reuters
Former British spy Christopher Steele gave the FBI a report that claims the 2015 death of a Russian media czar in Washington, DC was the result of a deadly beating by Russian state security officers.
The death had previously been ruled an accident by police investigators.
The victim, Mikhail Lesin, founded the state-funded pro-Russia network RT.
The alleged murder took place days before Lesin was supposed to meet with Justice Department investigators.
According to a report given to the FBI, the suspicious 2015 death of a major player in Russian media was not an accident as was originally reported, but rather the result of a beating by hired thugs that went wrong, according to BuzzFeed.

The report was apparently written by former British spy Christopher Steele, who is most famous for writing a dossier about President Donald Trump's alleged ties to Russia that was released in January of last year.

Steele wrote the other report before he started investigating Trump's ties to Russia, and claimed that Mikhail Lesin, who founded the state-funded Russian network RT, was killed after a Russian oligarch whom Lesin had fallen out with ordered him to be beaten.

Lesin was found dead in his DuPont Circle hotel in Washington, DC on the morning of November 5, 2015. Almost a year later, in late 2016, the Washington, DC police closed their investigation, concluding that Lesin died after a series of drunken falls.

Steele had been a trusted source for the FBI and other agencies for years on all Russia-related matters, and it remains unclear how federal authorities used his information.

According to those close to him, Lesin, who was reportedly nicknamed "the Bulldozer" during his work as Russian President Vladimir Putin's press minister, was indeed known to go on alcoholic binges. But an FBI agent who spoke with the publication said it was no secret within the bureau that the Russian government had been behind his murder.

"What I can tell you is that there isn't a single person inside the bureau who believes this guy got drunk, fell down, and died," the agent told BuzzFeed in 2017. "Everyone thinks he was whacked and that Putin or the Kremlin were behind it."

A former CIA intelligence officer echoed the agent's statement.

"It's really hard to imagine that it was an innocent death," he said. "Everybody I know who's a professional and dealt with Russia — the immediate assumption is that he was murdered."

Key facts from Steele's report and the details of the police probe

The DC Metropolitan Police department said in a statement that it would "certainly reinvestigate should additional evidence be brought to light."

Here are the key points that BuzzFeed has uncovered about Lesin's death and the subsequent investigation:

The oligarch who hired people to beat up Lesin did not intend for him to die, but the assault apparently went too far.
Lesin's death took place just before he was slated to sit down for an interview with the Justice Department, which wanted to speak to him about the workings of RT.
Three other individuals besides Steele told the FBI that Lesin had been murdered by Russian security agents.
The police department released a 58-page report on Lesin's death in December that had significant redactions and made no mention of the coroner's findings that Lesin had died of blunt force trauma all over his body.
The hotel security footage from a camera outside Lesin's room that should have recorded three critical hours before he died was found to be defective. The Metropolitan Police refused to tell BuzzFeed whether they had ever managed to review this footage.
These findings about Lesin's death come on the heels of international outrage of the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skirpal and his daughter in the United Kingdom. UK authorities blamed the Russian government for the attack. Numerous countries, including the US, expelled Russian diplomats over the incident this week.
http://www.businessinsider.com/christop ... red-2018-3
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:58 am

Polly Sigh

Lesin, who was beaten to death on the eve of meeting w/ DOJ, was intimately involved in the efforts of Putin, Bank Rossiya & its CEO, Kovalchuk, to consolidate Russian media & a secret Roldugin offshore account which held the profits.

2016: The key to tracing Putin’s hidden billions: Putin's best friend, cellist Sergei Roldugin & Bank Rossiya, known as “Putin’s wallet.” Roldugin's name surfaced when the US sanctioned Bank Rossiya & its CEO Kovalchuk in 2014.


Mysterious death of Putin's aide Lesin. Baseball bat and ‘Hollywood laundromat

18:16 / 08.08.2017
Mysterious death of Putin's aide Lesin. Baseball bat and ‘Hollywood laundromat

Mikhail Lesin was very rich. The political context of his death, beneficial for the mass media, had shaded this aspect Photo: The CrimeRussia
Who possesses the multimillion legacy of Mikhail Lesin and why the movie production company belonging to his son continues operating at a loss in Hollywood? The CrimeRussia reviewed various versions of his demise to figure out who could be interested in the sudden death of the functionary-turned-oligarch.

Mikhail Lesin died almost two years ago but he is still well remembered – the ‘Gray Eminence’ of the Russian media was a too controversial figure and his sudden death conceals too many mysteries. Last week, BuzzFeed media company has announced, citing its sources in the FBI, that he was murdered.

The former Minister of Press of the Russian Federation, Presidential Advisor, and ex-Head of Gazprom-Media Holding died in November 2015 in a suite of budget-level Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington, DC. No documents were found with him, and the identity of the deceased Russian native has been established only after the intervention of Russian diplomats.


Dupont Circle Hotel where the body of Mikhail Lesin was found

The vague circumstances of the death of Mikhail Lesin, inconsistent information about its cause, delays with the expert assessments, and weird events occurring immediately after it have sparked several conspiracy theories.

‘Hand of Moscow’

The most popular theory – political assassination – has emerged shortly after the death of the ex-Minister of Press of the Russian Federation. On October 28, 2016, a year after the decease of Lesin, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia has officially ruled that his death was an accident. However, BuzzFeed News capitalizing on the political killings and blaming ‘the hand of Moscow’ for those has revived the ‘foul play’ version a week ago.

On July 28, 2017, BuzzFeed, citing several anonymous sources in the FBI and CIA, has published results of its own investigation and concluded that the former advisor for Vladimir Putin was murdered. Furthermore, according to BuzzFeed sources, Lesin was bludgeoned with a baseball bat, while his ribs were fractured. Allegedly, the reason behind the murder was the intention of the ex-Minister to tell the U.S. Department of Justice how, for what purpose, and on what funds Russia Today TV channel – whose creator was Lesin – had been launched. The judicial agency and ex-Minister reportedly had a preliminary agreement to hold a meeting, and the hotel suit where the body of Lesin was found had been booked and paid by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Mikhail Lesin and Margarita Simonyan, the Editor-in-Chief of Russia Today

BuzzFeed claims that Lesin had arrived to Washington, DC to make a deal with the American justice in order to be exonerated from further prosecution by the FBI for money laundering – but he was murdered prior to the interview in the U.S. Department of Justice located (similarly with the FBI Headquarters) within a walking distance from Dupont Circle Hotel. According to the anonymous BuzzFeed source in the FBI, the agency has no doubts that the Kremlin was behind this assassination.

The material published by BuzzFeed is a continuation of its two previous high-profile investigations dedicated to 14 mysterious deaths in the Great Britain allegedly arranged by the Russian secret services and to ‘Russian mafia’ and Donald Trump ‘dossier’ uncovering Trump’s ties with the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation. The American media disbelieved the new ‘leak’ from BuzzFeed; most of the outlets have simply ignored it, while the Washington police has immediately refuted its conclusions and reproached BuzzFeed for publishing unconfirmed information. By the way, this is not the first such situation – earlier CNN had openly blamed BuzzFeed for cheap sensationalism discrediting the journalism.


But, in fact, the American Internet portal has published nothing new – except for the baseball bat. The version blaming the ‘hand of Moscow’ for the death of Lesin had been broadly discussed after the publication of the cause of Lesin’s death back in 2016. A high-profile publication in Figaro newspaper citing its sources in the CIA and naming the death of Lesin a “political assassination” has further fueled the flame.

The neo-McCarthyism wave in the U.S. caused by the conflict in eastern Ukraine and subsequent sanctions against Russia has contributed to the popularization of this version in the Western media. For instance, some outlets claimed that “court dignitary” Mikhail Lesin, who was in charge of the ‘Kremlin propaganda machine’, had agreed to reveal the secrets of the Russian political elite to the U.S. authorities as an insider. In return, he had allegedly expected that the investigation launched against him by the FBI a year ago on suspicion of money laundering in the U.S. would be discontinued.

By the way, Alfred Koch, the ex-Vice Prime Minister of Russia, has written just about the same and in similar words on his Facebook page on the third day after the death of Lesin. The former Minister of Press has got strong reasons to switch sides more than a year before his decease.

In November 2014, Republican Senator Roger Wicker has asked Eric Holder, then-Attorney General of the United States, to launch an inquest against Mikhail Lesin on suspicion of breaching the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Letter from Senator Roger Wicker to Attorney General Eric Holder

In his letter, Wicker has emphasized that Lesin had “acquired multimillion dollar assets in Europe, including an estate reportedly purchased through a company registered in the British Virgin Islands during his tenure as a Russian civil servant”.

The Senator has also noted that Lesin had “moved his immediate family to Los Angeles, California, where he acquired multiple residences at a cost of over $28 million”. Wicker has stressed that Lesin “may also have close business ties with individuals subject to U.S. sanctions” and mentioned the links between the ex-Minister and Bank Rossiya and its beneficiary Yury Kovalchuk. The senator has also reminded that the name of Lesin “was suggested by some groups for inclusion on a U.S. sanctions list under the Magnitsky Act”.

The letter from Roger Wicker had its effect. On December 3, 2014, Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik has instructed the FBI to carry out an investigation of the possible legalization of criminal proceeds by Mikhail Lesin.

Response from Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik to Senator Roger Wicker

As early as on December 12, Lesin has resigned from the post of the General Director of Gazprom-Media and disappeared from Russia for a long time. Some sources directly link his resignation with a major corruption scandal on the West: the letter from Senator Wicker has not only attracted the attention of the FBI to offshore assets of Lesin – but also prompted the Spanish law enforcement authorities known for their intolerance to ‘the Russian mafia’ to launch their own preliminary investigation against Lesin on suspicion of money laundering.

Fractured hyoid bone

The CrimeRussia has found out that all the possible speculations in the investigation performed by BuzzFeed may pertain only to the motive behind the murder of Lesin (everything is unsubstantiated and anonymous), but the circumstances described by the news portal are real and based on the official information about the battering provided by the D.C. Medical Examiner’s Office and the state police back in March 2016.

The document issued by the law enforcement structures states that the cause of the death were “blunt-force injuries to the head”. It was also noted that numerous injuries had been found on the torso, neck, hands, and legs. In addition, the American law enforcement authorities were unable to determine the criminal nature of his death, and the investigation had lasted for six more months, until the District Prosecutor’s Office has ruled the death of Lesin an “accident”.

According to the unofficial information, the investigative authorities of the Russian Federation do not rule out the version proposed by BuzzFeed – although they do not advertise their opinion. A week ago, Mash group has reported that the Russian special services had received a medical report from the American colleagues describing the injuries in detail. In addition to the head injury (the direct cause of the death), the body had fractured ribs and hyoid bone, which is typical for strangling. According to Mash, a criminal case has been instituted due to the death of Lesin under Article 111 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Intentional Infliction of a Grave Injury).

Close the visa for a dead person

Even the opponents of Lesin do not believe that his death was an accident, neither do they support the version implying the involvement of the United States Federal Witness Protection Program (WITSEC).

Alexey Navalny, the founder of the Anti-corruption Foundation, was one of the first to suggest that the death of Lesin had been staged in the framework of the United States Federal Witness Protection Program. As if joking, Navalny has posted the following message on his Facebook page a week after the death of Lesin:

Have they already managed to bury him quietly? This is like a movie – so much resembles the witness protection program. Our Lesin may be now somewhere in Nebraska under the name of Lenny Hofsteder – growing beard, adapting to the new nose form, and testifying against Putin (Alexey Navalny, November 13, 2015).

The majority of the audience had initially thought that this was a joke – although an inappropriate one (Navalny was even shamed in the comments). However, in March 2016, Navalny has published in his blog documents indicating that Mikhail Lesin had crossed the American border in the Los Angeles airport exactly 40 days after his death.


The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has immediately attempted to clarify the weird situation – but failed to provide a rational explanation. According to its official representative, Acting Assistant Commissioner Michael Friel cited by TASS, the record entry indicating that the former Minister of Press of the Russian Federation had departed from the U.S. has been made only to “close the non-immigration visa of the deceased”. Allegedly, this entry does not mean that the deceased person had indeed left the U.S. by a commercial or private plane – this is just a legal procedure. The words of Friel were a real surprise for those familiar first hand with such situations (death of a Russian citizen in America) and who had never seen anything like this before.

It is necessary to note that the publication of documents indicating that dead Lesin had crossed the American border by Navalny has mysteriously coincided with the official statement about the cause of the death of the Russian ex-Minister issued by the U.S. authorities.

The rumors that ‘Lesin is alive’ have more or less calmed down after the presentation of his passport by his widow Valentina who told that the American law enforcement authorities had handed it to her immediately after the death of her husband.

Mikhail Lesin and his wife Valentina

In fact, it is highly unlikely that adventurer and reveller Mikhail Lesin, who used to live in grand style, would agree to grow old in an American province under a fake name and on a humble pension from the U.S. Department of State – like his former political rival, ex-Deputy of the State Duma Konstantin Borovoy.

Loving husband and proud father

The former Minister of Press nicknamed ‘enemy № 1 of the Russian independent media’ had numerous ideological and personal enemies, including Alexei Venediktov, the Editor-in-Chief, host, and co-owner of the Echo of Moscow radio station. In his recent interview, Venediktov has pointed out an obvious aspect somehow forgotten amid sensational politically charged versions.

Mikhail Lesin and Victoria Rakhimbayeva

After the resignation from Gazprom-Media, 57-year-old Lesin, father of two and grandfather of five, has fallen in love. Model Victoria Rakhimbayeva, who used to pose topless for Maxim men's magazine, became his darling one. In addition to the modeling, Rakhimbayeva had graduated from the Jet Service School and worked as a stewardess on a British private airplane – where she has apparently met Mikhail Lesin in 2014.

The lovebirds had spent a whole year travelling – and the girl was actively posting photo reports on her pages on social networks. They had lived in Switzerland for some time, flew all over the world (according to RBC Information Systems, in the last years of his life, Mikhail Lesin was flying only by business jets), sailed to most unknown islands on a yacht, enjoyed fishing and spearfishing, and visited the shores of Grece, Komodo, Bali, Italy, and California – where Victoria, according to her own words, would like to live.

The girl’s dream could come true, taking that her powerful patron referred to as “husband” in her posts had owned several luxury mansions there.

Mansion in Beverly Park belonging to the Lesin family

In September 2015, Victoria gave birth to their daughter, and, according to his close kin, Mikhail Lesin was inspired and happy. After the birth of the baby, Lesin has quit bad habits, including alcohol. He had to divorce Valentina, and Alexei Venediktov has emphasized that any divorce is primarily about the division of common assets. Lesin had plenty of possessions and, based on their luxury honeymoon, the lovers were not going to start a family ‘in a cottage’. The love affair of the retired functionary was about to incur significant property losses to his previous family.

But Lesin died, thus, eliminating the need to divide assets. Victoria Rakhimbayeva, who became a media personality in the last year of his life, had posted a seemingly weird message on Facebook prior to deleting her accounts on social networks and withdrawing into the shadows forever: “Serenity – calmness and tranquility. You have found those already”.

But a month later, Serenity has been found. It was a 55-meter luxury yacht worth some $50 million, made at Heеsen wharf in the Netherlands, and waiting to be picked up in Brisbane after maintenance works.


Serenity has everything to make a sea voyage comfortable for an oligarch

Many people had supposed that the ex-Head of Gazprom-Media had an own yacht (in particular, Margarita Simonyan, Editor-in-Chief of Russia Today and one of the few friends of Lesin, had mentioned it) – but no one knew this for sure. After settling the inheritance matters, the yacht has been promptly sold at Palm Beach International Boat Show to an unknown purchaser. The exact price and recipient of the sale proceeds are unknown – but it is known that IYC yacht broker had initially put it up for sale for only €37 million.

According to the CrimeRussia source, Victoria Rakhimbayeva has changed her sphere of activity – she graduated from a prestigious interior design school and lives quietly in Moscow with Tamara, the 2-year-old daughter of Mikhail Lesin. Apparently, Victoria has no need of money – at least, she can afford a babysitter for the daughter.

It is also known that she still loves sea voyages – but instead of the private yacht, Victoria now has to use cruise liners.


Mikhail Lesin had associated his future life with the U.S. since 2009, after the dismissal from the post of the Presidential Advisory by Dmitry Medvedev “for non-compliance with the civil service rules and civil servant ethics”. According to the CrimeRussia sources, Lesin had openly patronized Video International company created by himself a long time ago. As a result, it had monopolized the Russian media advertisement market. After the termination, Lesin has relocated his entire family to the U.S. and purchased his first American real estate.

There are different estimations of his fortune. Lesin was a governmental official for his entire life and, therefore, could not appear on the Forbes list. However, political expert Gleb Pavlovsky, familiar with him since the 1990s, claims that Lesin already was a multimillionaire in the period when he had directed the presidential election campaign of Boris Yeltsin and was in charge of the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK). Some sources believe that Mikhail Lesin had plenty of possibilities to siphon off VGTRK funds abroad through his official capacity without a risk to be caught by tax or law enforcement authorities.

The Anti-corruption Foundation also believes that Lesin had mastered the schemes allowing to siphon off funds abroad through offshore companies in that period; a major portion of these funds were huge profits of Video International almost uncontrolled by the government – while Lesin never was its official co-owner.

Mikhail Lesin with Boris Yeltsin and his wife

Journalist Yevgenia Albats estimates the value of the shady business empire of Mikhail Lesin at $1 billion. Politician Konstantin Borovoy and some other sources believe that a significant portion of his wealth originates from Russia Today – because “it is impossible to count” all the hundreds of millions of dollars allocated for the TV channel created by Lesin.

The mansions in California belonging to Lesin and accidentally found by Senator Roger Wicker (only because the housekeeper and babysitter from two different homes had filed lawsuits against the Lesin family demanding million-dollar compensations) were just the tip of the iceberg. According to some information, the legacy of Lesin includes multimillion-dollar assets in Finland and, possibly, in Switzerland; their official owners are dummy companies. By the way, his son Anton has been living and studying in Switzerland since the age of 10.

Hollywood story

Anton and Carole Lessine

Today 34-year-old Anton Lesin (he calls himself a la suisse – Antone Lessine) is a well-known producer who has released several movies starring A-list celebrities. Upon graduating from a prestigious college in Switzerland, Anton Lessine has joined his family in the U.S. At that time, his father started legalizing his shady capitals in the new country.

Not every graduate of the New York Film Academy can retain Brad Pitt and Arnold Schwarzenegger to play in his movies. Anton Lessine was lucky – these actors starred in the films produced by him.

According to the CrimeRussia source, Anton Lessine hasn’t inherited the business skills of his father and succeed only in aristocratic amusements, like polo – his Swiss wife Carole also plays it professionally. However, the good cinematographic education and knowledge of languages have enabled him to invest the family money into the American motion-picture industry.

Anton and Carole are professional polo players

In 2012, Anton Lessine and Alexander (Sasha) Shapiro, an old friend of his father and Hollywood manager of Russian descent, have acquired, through their fund Media Content Capital, the control block of shares in QED International, an American-based film production studio.

Shapiro had worked in Warner Brothers for almost 20 years and advanced through ranks to the Vice President; he understood that QED had difficulties with the financing for new movies. Even the production of Elysium starring Matt Damon was progressing slowly – so the company had desperately needed outward investments. Media Content Capital has offered $25 million for 75% of its shares. The deal has been made, and a year later, founder of QED Bill Block was driven out of the company. Shapiro and Lessine have taken full operational control over the studio.

The new management had no shortage of investments. Under the guidance of Shapiro and Lessine, QED started from a low-budget thriller Haunt, and then released Sabotage starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and famous ‘tank drama’ Fury with Brad Pitt who was also a co-producer of that film.

Lessine and Shapiro had initially kept silence about the source of funding for the film making – but in 2014, the letter from Senator Wicker has been published. Then rumors started circulating about the corruption origin of the money of Media Content Capital, and Anton Lessine told in his commentary to The Hollywood Reporter that the possible FBI inquest against his father would not affect the company in any way. He has emphasized that the funds are going not from Russia but from Europe, thus, implying Switzerland – his ‘second motherland’.

The ‘Hollywood laundromat’ of the Lesin family continued growing. In mid-2015, Media Content Capital has launched Covert Media film company specializing not only in the motion picture production but also in the distribution, thus, becoming a full-cycle movie maker. Paul Hanson, a former QED top manager, has been appointed in charge of the new company. According to its official web site, Covert Media intents to produce, finance, and distribute three to four films a year.

Paul Hanson, Anton Lessine, and Sasha Shapiro at the Covert Media presentation

According to Peter Newman, Academic Director of the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, the appetite for so-called ‘dumb money’ (funding from investors not related to the motion picture industry) has considerably increased in Hollywood in the last years due to the difficult economic situation. It is very hard to track financial flows going through a chain of intermediary companies.

According to a CrimeRussia source well aware of the American film industry and its mechanisms, even a shallow analysis of the QED operations shows that the company does not bring real profits to its founders. According to IMDb.com, the most successful QED movie was Fury starring Brad Pitt – it has brought $18 million in profits, while its budget was $68 million. It is necessary to keep in mind that 40–50% of the box office goes to the film distributors, while co-producer Brad Pitt has received a half of the remaining profit. Other movies released by the company were classical flops, including Sabotage with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In addition to the cinema industry, the funds of Mikhail Lesin are also circulating in the elite real estate sphere. Anton Lessine owns Dastel Holdings, a California-based company specializing in acquisitions and management of luxury real properties.

The most recent acquisition of the Lesin family in California

He also controls another real estate firm – Java Drive Inc. Mansions of the Lesin family in Beverly Park located near homes of basketball player Magic Johnson and actor Samuel L. Jackson officially belong to Dastel Holdings – as well as a home in the prestigious city of Brentwood with the living space of some 980 square meters purchased for $9 million.

The home features 7 bedrooms, 11 washrooms, wine cellar, spacious storage rooms, sauna with steam room, elevator, huge dining room, underground parking, etc. Both mansions are currently offered for sale at the cost considerably higher than their initial purchase prices – $23 million and $28 million.

Home theater in the Lesin Estate in Pacific Palisades

At the first glance, it might seem that the Lesin family is getting rid of its expensive assets – but their recent acquisitions dispel this illusion. In May, Anton Lessine has purchased an estate worth $16 million in Pacific Palisades, a coastal neighborhood of Los Angeles. This is the second property bought by the family in that neighborhood – the first, not so fancy, mansion was purchased for $4 million. Apparently, the coffers of the Lesin family are still far from depletion.


Joint Statement from the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Metropolitan Police Department
https://en.crimerussia.com/gromkie-dela ... aundromat/
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:49 am

The Secret Lover Of An "Assassinated" Russian Whistleblower Will Testify At His Inquest After BuzzFeed News Tracked Her Down

The UK inquiry into the death of Alexander Perepilichnyy on British soil will hear key evidence from the woman he met secretly on the eve of his death. She was asked to testify only after BuzzFeed News tracked her down in Paris.

April 11, 2018, at 12:01 a.m.

Elmira Medynska / Instagram / Via Instagram: @elmiramedins
The inquest into the death of the Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy will hear key evidence from the woman he met secretly on the eve of his death — who was called to testify only after she was tracked down by BuzzFeed News.

The coroner’s inquiry opened yesterday, having been suspended for 10 months after BuzzFeed News revealed that the British government was suppressing explosive intelligence indicating that Perepilichnyy was assassinated on the orders of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Perepilichnyy, who fled to the UK after blowing the whistle on a massive Kremlin-linked fraud, dropped dead suddenly outside his home in Surrey in 2012 after returning from a mysterious trip to Paris.

BuzzFeed News revealed last June that US spies had passed MI6 high-grade intelligence linking his death to Russia – but the UK authorities sidelined that information, shut down any investigation, and never even interviewed the woman with whom he spent his final days in the French capital.

Elmira Medynska, the Ukrainian with whom the financier met secretly in Paris, had not been due to play any part in the inquest before BuzzFeed News tracked her down last summer – but she has now been called to give evidence by video link today.

The British government is facing intense scrutiny over its handling of Perepilichnyy’s death as his inquest resumes amid a diplomatic firestorm over the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury last month. Britain has implicated the Kremlin in the attack on the Skripals, triggering the expulsion of more than 100 Russian diplomats from 20 countries, and the government has been forced to open a review of 14 suspected assassinations exposed by BuzzFeed News last year that the authorities had previously ignored. Perepilichnyy’s death is among the 14 being reexamined.

Alexander Perepilichnyy
Alexander Perepilichnyy
The UK police have always insisted that there is no evidence of foul play in the financier’s death – despite the fact that his name was found on a Russian hitlist and he received a string of threats in his final months – and the Home Office has invoked national security powers to withhold evidence from the inquest.

An independent expert from Kew Gardens told an earlier hearing of Perepilichnyy’s inquest that she had found a substance with the same atomic weight as the plant toxin gelsemium in the dead man’s stomach. However, the same expert told the inquest on Tuesday that further tests could not definitively identify that substance as gelsemium or any other plant toxin, and its origins could not be identified after the police toxicologist threw away most of the contents of Perepilichnyy’s stomach. The inquest is due to hear further evidence from toxicology experts later this week.

British spy agencies have spent years gathering intelligence about top-secret Russian laboratories where teams of state scientists are tasked with developing poisons capable of killing without leaving a trace.

Medynska’s secret assignation with Perepilichnyy in Paris was discovered by French police who opened a murder investigation after the earlier testimony that traces of plant poison may have been found in his stomach. French detectives seized hotel records showing that Perepilichnyy was joined at the five-star Bristol hotel for two nights by the young Ukrainian woman, who claimed online to have trained as a fashion designer in Moscow. The records showed that the pair stayed for two nights, ordering the hotel’s “romance pack”, and checked out on 10 November. It was later that same day that Perepilichnyy died.

French detectives told BuzzFeed News last year that Medynska had been identified as a “very important” person to their inquiry because “she’s one of the last persons to have seen Mr Perepilichnyy alive” – but they said the British authorities had repeatedly stonewalled their attempts to investigate the financier’s death, meaning they had not been able to interview her.

Two senior French law enforcement sources have now told BuzzFeed News that UK officials suddenly began cooperating and made efforts to secure Medynska's testimony following the revelations by BuzzFeed News last summer. The attitude of the British authorities had “completely changed”, one source said on condition of anonymity, and it appeared that officials were now “under pressure to investigate the case deeply”.

Perepilichnyy’s Paris visit was shrouded in mystery before BuzzFeed News obtained details of the French police file and tracked Medynska down to an opulent penthouse apartment on the glitzy Avenue Victor Hugo in Paris.

None of Perepilichnyy’s family, friends, or business associates knew what he had been doing in the French capital, and the only clues were that he had taken a Eurostar train on 6 November 2012 and his credit card statements suggest he had booked into two hotels simultaneously. He returned on 10 November with a €1,200 receipt from the Prada store on the Champs-Élysées but nothing to show for the purchase.

Elmira Medynska / Instagram / Via Instagram: @elmiramedins
Medynska said she had never spoken to any law enforcement official about her encounter with Perepilichnyy – but, in an exclusive interview, BuzzFeed News obtained the story of Perepilichnyy’s last days.

The fashion designer, now 28, said she had travelled from Ukraine to meet Perepilichnyy in Paris on 8 November, but said she did not know that by then he had already been in the city for two days. No one, including the French police, had been able to establish what he was doing, where he stayed, or who he saw between his arrival in the city on 6th and the morning of the 8th. When Medynska arrived, she said the financier took her for lunch at the Four Seasons and then shopping on the Champs-Élysées. He bought her a Prada handbag from the designer store, as well as a pair of black Louboutin shoes.

But, she recalled, it was clear that something was wrong. “I was feeling from him that he was very stressed,” she said. He kept going outside to take mysterious phone calls that seemed to spook him, she recalled, and she noticed that “his hands were shaking” and he was drinking “lots of wine”, which he spilled down his front. While she was trying on shoes, she said, he was “worrying, walking from side to side” – and was so distracted that he bought her Louboutins in the wrong size.

Medynska said Perepilichnyy never told her anything about his life, his family, or his work – she had no idea, she said, that he was married or in trouble with the Russian government. But she said when she heard of his death and read about his background, she was not surprised that he had died. “It happens to Russian people in London,” she said. “He gave Russian information to Swiss and you can be killed for that.”

Medynska said she was unaware of suspicions that Perepilichnyy may have been poisoned and did not know how any toxin could have entered his system during their time in Paris. But she had a message for the British government about the threat to Russian exiles on its soil. Attracting “big money” from Russia may be “good for economy in Great Britain”, she said, but it comes at a dangerous price. In Perepilichnyy’s case, she said the authorities should have been asking “Who is this guy? Where is his money from? Maybe he has some problems?” But, she said, “they didn’t think about this before and they didn’t do nothing to save him, so now they have only doubts and questions.”

The inquest yesterday heard evidence that Perepilichnyy was “in fear for his life” after being pursued for millions by a Russian firm led by one of two men implicated in the assassination of KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.

Dzhirsa LLC, a Moscow-based debt recovery firm, had been pursuing Perepilichnyy for more than $3 million in bonds and security “debts” since the financier blew the whistle on a major fraud implicating Kremlin officials in 2010. Its director is Dmitry Kovtun, a former secret service agent who was named by British police and the UK public inquiry into Litvinenko’s death as one of the men who poisoned him with radioactive polonium.

The inquest heard that Perepilichnyy had won a court case against Dzhirsa a month before his death in 2012. Speaking from Moscow by video link, his then-lawyer Dimitri Lipkin told the court that he had refused to return to Russia for the case because he was “fearful for his life”.

The inquest continues today and is due to conclude on Friday.

Poison In The System: Explosive Evidence Of A Russian Assassination On British Soil That The Government Is Suppressing
https://www.buzzfeed.com/janebradley/al ... .lyvxwvXQg

Litvinenko killer link to death of Alexander Perepilichnyy
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/litv ... -pxqdbhw8h

The mysterious 2012 death of a Russian businessman is now being investigated as an 'assassination' by French police

Mar. 30, 2018, 1:26 PM 1,476
Military personnel wearing protective suits remove a police car and other vehicles from a public car park as they continue investigations into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal on March 11, 2018 in Salisbury, England.
Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

French authorities are taking a second look into the death of Alexander Perepilichnyy and investigating it as a murder investigation.
Perepilichnyy mysteriously died while jogging outside of his home in England hours after returning from a four-day visit in Paris.
He was a central witness in a key corruption case before he died.
French police are taking another look at the mysterious 2012 death of a Russian businessman, treating it as a possible "assassination," according to the Globe and Mail.

The renewed investigation comes after the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, the Globe and Mail reports, and is one of 14 similarly mysterious deaths of Russian exiles in the UK that are being revisited.

The businessman in question, Alexander Perepilichnyy, made his fortune by investing money that had shady origins into other ventures. One of his biggest partners was Vladlen Stepanov, who was married to a government official in charge of a Moscow tax collection office.

Perepilichnyy reportedly became a money launderer for Russian organized crime, and when his benefactors began to suspect him of theft, he fled to the UK and helped Bill Browder prove the massive corruption that Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky had been killed trying to investigate.

Perepilichnyy provided evidence that he handled some of the $230 million stolen from Russian tax rebates, and funneled them through bank accounts and shell companies.

The forensic tent, covering the bench where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found, is repositioned by officials in protective suits in the centre of Salisbury, Britain, March 8, 2018.
REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

The US would pass the Magnitsky Act in 2012, which sanctioned 18 Russian individuals, froze any assets they had in US banks, and prevented them from using the US banking system in the future. In 2016, it was expanded to include 44 individuals worldwide.

The Magnitsky Act has been a thorn for Russia, and President Vladimir Putin has pushed for its repeal.

But Perepilichnyy did not get to celebrate its passage. He died while jogging outside his home in Surrey, England, hours after he returned from a four day trip to Paris.

"The British coroner's inquest has heard that Mr. Perepilichnyy died with a rare and toxic herb - believed to be gelsemium, which grows only in Asia and is called 'heartbreak grass' because ingesting it can trigger a heart attack - in his stomach," according to the Globe and Mail.

British authorities have said that they do not believe Perepilichnyy was murdered, and have declined to pursue the case further.

But Kremlin skeptics believe that Perepilichnyy, like Skripal, was targeted by Russian authorities, or at least someone he had betrayed.

"Perepilichnyy turned against his people. He was as important a traitor as Skripal was," Browder told the Globe and Mail.

Browder said that French police have interviewed him, and the Globe and Mail reports that the prosecutors in Paris are looking into a "criminal conspiracy and assassination" case.
http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-b ... ion-2018-3

Russian whistleblower linked to Litvinenko poisoning prime suspect, court told

A Russian whistleblower won a legal battle against a firm led by the prime suspect in the Alexander Litvinenko poisoning a month before he died, an inquest heard.

Wealthy businessman Alexander Perepilichnyy, 44, collapsed while out jogging near his home in Weybridge, Surrey, in November 2012.

An inquest at the Old Bailey has been examining whether he died of natural causes or was poisoned, and if so, who had a motive for his murder.

Giving evidence, lawyer Dimitry Lipkin said he represented Mr Perepilichnyy in a series of civil debt cases from late 2010.

Speaking via a video link from Moscow, Mr Lipkin said he had flown to London to meet him in November 2010 because the businessman “feared for his life” in his home country.

Peter Skelton, counsel for the coroner, asked if any of the alleged debts he was being pursued over were connected with “persons or organisations with criminal associations”.

Mr Lipkin said he did not know of any, adding: “We had information that was used in proceedings that he did not come to Russia because he was fearful for his life.”

The court heard how some of the cases involved a company, referred to in documents as Jsa LLC or Jirsa LLC, which allegedly take on debt for recovery.

According to an interview with a newspaper in 2012, Litvinenko murder suspect Dmitry Kovtun said he was invited by friends to become a director of Jsa because he enjoyed a “certain reputation”.

But Mr Lipkin said he was not familiar with the Litvinenko case and could not remember a connection with Jsa.

He told how he successfully argued Mr Perepilichnyy’s signature was forged on financial documents and won all the cases, including one appealed against by Jsa in October 2012.

Mr Skelton asked: “Is Jsa the type of company that if it does not succeed in court may resort to physical violence?”

Mr Lipkin said: “I do not know. We won that case.”

Mr Skelton went on: “Do you know anyone who might have information to the effect either that he was being threatened or somebody might have wanted to kill him?

The witness denied it in Russian, saying: “Nyet”.

On Jsa, Bob Moxon Browne QC, for Legal and General Assurance, said: “We know they had a reputation in Russia for acquiring money from people who did not want to pay it.

“It was not necessary for you to do research, Mr Lipkin, because Mr Kovtun was very well known in Russia in 2011 and 2012.

“And you knew because it was a matter of notoriety in Russia that Mr Kovtun had fallen ill as a result of exposure to polonium and had been given a medal by Mr Putin.”

Mr Moxon Browne told the inquest that Mr Perepilichnyy had been sued over sums amounting to three million US dollars and £3 million.

Referring to Jsa’s final unsuccessful appeal, he said: “Do you agree, within one month of this judgment, which went against Jsa, Mr Perepilichnyy was dead?”

Coroner Nicholas Hilliard QC said: “I think we know the answer to that.”

The court has heard how Mr Perepilichnny had been helping specialist investment firm Hermitage Capital Management uncover a 230 million US dollar (£150 million) Russian money-laundering operation at the time of his death.

Mr Lipkin confirmed he had also represented Hermitage in their case and said it was possible he was introduced to Mr Perepilichnyy by them.

But he denied a conflict of interests and said he did not act for Mr Perepilichnyy when he spoke to Swiss authorities about it.

He told the court he had no idea who might have been threatening Mr Perepilichnyy, or if it had anything to do with Hermitage.

He said he was aware of the concept of Reiderstvo, where a “criminal group use litigation as a way of intimidating or threatening people”.

John Beggs QC, for the family, questioned the witness about his ongoing association with Bill Browder and his Hermitage group.

Mr Lipkin confirmed he had represented Hermitage between 2008 and 2012, had met Mr Browder a number of times in London, and continued to be paid an “insignificant” sum to monitor for the firm.

Mr Perepilichnyy’s brother-in-law and business partner Rishat Ismagilov disputed there were any suspicious circumstances or links with Russian organised crime.

In a letter read to the court, he said: “I strongly believe if he had been in fear of his life it would have been impossible for him to keep it from me.

“He started planning to settle in the UK many years ago.

“There were no death threats.

“He never used a personal bodyguard. Had he felt insecure I’m certain I would have become aware of it.”

He denied there was any connection to the Magnitsky affair and called Mr Browder a “liar”, “convicted criminal” and CIA spy.

He said his brother-in-law had been keen to find a new family home and had not been “specifically focused” on Hermitage.

Before his death, he had lost weight through dieting and jogging.

Mr Ismagilov refused to be involved in the inquest but expressed his “bewilderment”, saying he had a “moral duty to the deceased”.

Mr Perepilichnyy’s various business, financial and real estate interests were listed with one firm, being said to have a turnover of 150 million US dollars a year.

Mr Ismagilov said his brother-in-law had complained that Mr Browder “set me up” by implicating him in money laundering.

Professor Monique Simmonds, from Kew, said DNA tests had still failed to identify material in Mr Perepilichnyy’s stomach contents.

Mr Moxon Browne said: “The net result of your evidence is your search of the DNA was not very successful.

“Six years after Mr Perepilichnyy’s death that vegetation recovered from his body, nobody knows what it is.”
http://www.bicesteradvertiser.net/news/ ... ourt-told/

RUSSIAN DEATH MYSTERY Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy ‘repeatedly vomited after dinner with his mistress the night before his death’
Alexander Perepilichnyy, 44, fell ill after visiting Buddha Bar in Paris with his 28-year-old model girlfriend, Elmira Medynska
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6027502/r ... his-death/

Russian whistleblower was nervous in days before death, inquest hears

Alexander Perepilichnyy was stressed out two days before he died, girlfriend tells Old Bailey

Haroon SiddiqueWed 11 Apr 2018 08.01 EDT
A Russian businessman and whistleblower who died while jogging was nervous in the days leading up to his collapse and vomited several times the night before his death, an inquest has heard.

Alexander Perepilichnyy, 44, was found dead outside his home in Weybridge, Surrey, on 10 November 2012.

Giving evidence via video link from Paris to the inquest at the Old Bailey in London, his girlfriend, Elmira Medynska, said Perepilichnyy appeared distracted when she met him in Paris two days before his death, and different from when she had seen him previously.

On the evening before he died, they went to dinner at the Buddha Bar. Medynska said Perepilichnyy positioned the couple so he could see everyone around them but she could not. She thought this unusual as it meant him sitting on the sofa and her on the chair, whereas it was customarily the other way round.

“He was looking for people around ... He was a little bit stressful that evening,” said Medynska.

She told the court that Perepilichnyy sent back some food she thought might have been vegetable or prawn tempura because he did not like the taste and was ill when they went back to the Hotel Bristol, where they were staying together. She said he was in the bathroom for about an hour.

“He stayed a lot of time there and I started to hear a lot of noise from the bedroom. It was a noise like he had vomited,” said Medynska. “I heard it three times.”

When he came out of the bathroom he had red eyes and a red face but did not talk about vomiting or the food he had eaten earlier, she said.

Traces of a rare and deadly plant poison, Gelsemium elegans, were discovered in Perepilichnyy’s stomach after his death, the inquest has heard. However, Surrey police and Perepilichnyy’s widow have disputed that he was murdered and said the scientific evidence was inconclusive.

Perepilichnyy was threatened after revealing details of a $230m (£165m) fraud, stolen from taxes paid by the investment company Hermitage Capital to the Russian treasury and carried out by a gang with alleged links to the Kremlin.

A lawyer who investigated the case, Sergei Magnitsky, was arrested and died in prison in 2009.

Medynska, a Ukrainian fashion entrepreneur, first met Perepilichnyy in Kiev in May 2012 after he began messaging her in March, having seen her profile on an online dating site.

She told the court that when she met Perepilichnyy in Paris on 8 November, they went for lunch at the George V hotel. She said Perepilichnyy did not eat anything but drank a lot for lunchtime and more than usual, spilling wine on himself, and described his hands as shaky.

When he took shopping the next day, buying her a Prada handbag and Christian Louboutin shoes, he was “on another planet”, ignoring her and looking at messages on his phone, she said.

Medynska said Perepilichnyy was fine the morning after he vomited following their meal at the Buddha Bar, eating a normal breakfast before leaving Paris.

During an interview with French police last month, she said that she never had any sense that her lover was in danger and that he just struck her as a “busy and tired businessman”, the inquest heard.

Medynska told the court that she did not find out Perepilichnyy was dead until 31 December when she searched the internet for his name. She said she had not even known he was married and was very scared to read about his death. She said she later received an email from Perepilichnyy’s account saying she would die of Aids, which she believes may have been sent by Perepilichnyy’s wife.

Shortly after his death, which she was then unaware of, Medynska said she received four calls – on 12 and 13 November – from an English number from people with English accents who said they were with Perepilichnyy in hospital.

They told her he had been in a car accident and that they were in hospital with him. They asked her questions about who she was and when she had last seen him and where Perepilichnyy lived. But they refused to answer her questions about his condition and did not tell her that he had died, Medynska said.

The inquest continues.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/ ... uest-hears

Perepilichnyy, the Whistleblower Who Helped Spur U.S. Magnitsky Act, Was Too Afraid to Return to Russia

By Brendan Cole On 4/10/18 at 11:55 AM
A Britain-based Russian businessman who blew the whistle on high-level corruption in his country was afraid to return home because his life was in danger, an inquest has found.

Before his death in 2012, Alexander Perepilichnyy handed over documents to Swiss prosecutors with details of how $230 million of state funds was being siphoned from the Russian Treasury into the pockets of Russian officials.

Perepilichnyy, 43, collapsed and died while he was jogging near his gated luxury home in Surrey, southern England. Police initially said his death was not suspicious, but traces of a poisonous plant known as Gelsemium were later found in Perepilichnyy's system. An earlier hearing heard that he had died only months after applying for £8.5m life insurance.

The inquest is examining whether Perepilichnyy died of natural causes or if he was unlawfully killed. The four-day inquest will hear evidence from toxicologists and plant experts.

The case has taken on increased scrutiny in light of the nerve agent attack in Salisbury against former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

RTR3AYZW Granville Road on the St George's Hill private estate, where Russian businessman Alexander Perepilichnyy collapsed on November 10, is seen near Weybridge in Surrey November 28, 2012. An inquest into his death has heard he was afraid to return to Russia. REUTERS/Olivia Harris

Perepilichnyy’s lawyer, Dmitry Lipkin, said Tuesday that his client had a “debt to somebody” and did not want to go back to Russia to deal with it.

Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now

“Alexander asked us to deal with a few matters. Mostly those matters were concerning his debts, and he approached us as a physical person privately,” he said according to the Press Association.

When asked if the debts were connected with criminal groups, Lipkin said via video from Moscow, “I’m not aware of that. We had information that was used in proceedings that he did not come to Russia because he was fearful for his life.”

Lipkin told the Old Bailey criminal court in London that he did not know about any threats issued to Perepilichnyy from either criminals or the Russian government. The lawyer learned of Perepilichnyy's role in uncovering corruption through other “open” sources before he died.

Perepilichnyy worked with investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, which made global headlines after its lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who was also investigating the corruption claims, was arrested and died in custody in 2009.

The U.S. adopted the Magnitsky List, which blacklisted Russian officials believed to have been involved in his death.
http://www.newsweek.com/russian-corrupt ... ife-878986

Russian whistleblower allegedly poisoned in Surrey was being pursued by assassin of Litvinenko, court hears

Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy died while jogging near his home in St George's Hill, Surrey

Hayley Dixon
10 APRIL 2018 • 3:52PM
The Russian whistleblower allegedly assassinated outside his Surrey mansion was being ruthlessly pursued by a company linked to Alexander Litvinenko’s killer, his inquest has heard.

Alexander Perepilichnyy had been sued for millions by a company founded by Dmitry Kovtun, the former KGB agent said to have poisoned Mr Litvinenko in London using Polonium 210.

Mr Perepilichnyy, 44, had won a civil case against the firm Dzhirsa just a month before he collapsed and died while out jogging near his £3m home in Weybridge, Surrey in November 2012.

The court heard that Dzhirsa bought debts from other companies at reduced rates and had a "reputation in Russia" for “ruthlessly” pursuing them through other means when the courts ruled against them.

Mr Perepilichnyy’s death was originally thought to have been a heart attack but suspicions were raised when it emerged that he had been on a hit list and had refused to return to his homeland amid fears for his life.

At the time of his death he had been helping specialist investment firm Hermitage Capital Management uncover a 230 million US dollar (£150 million) Russian money-laundering operation.

The whistleblower's home The Coach House in the millionaires' luxury private estate, St George's Hill in Weybridge, Surrey.

Surrey Police found no evidence of toxins in his body and concluded that there had been no third party involvement, a decision that his since been questioned by security sources in the UK, the US and France.

Professor Monique Simmonds, from Kew Gardens, found a compound similar to gelsemium, a rare plant known as 'heartbreak grass' which is used by assassins, in his stomach contents. Though she told the inquest she only had a small amount of material to test and her research had proved inconclusive.

The inquest, which was adjourned last summer and resumed on Tuesday, also heard from lawyer Dmitry Lipkin by video link from Russia, who had represented Mr Perepilichnyy in a number of civil cases relating to his alleged debts.

One company which was pursuing around 10 cases was Dzhirsa, founded by Kovtun and which listed him as its general director.

Peter Skelton QC, counsel for the inquest, asked Mr Lipkin: “Dmitry Kovtun was found by a British High Court judge to have murderer Alexander Litvinenko.

“Were you aware of a connection between Mr Kovtun and Dzhirsa?”

Mr Lipkin replied: “I don’t remember such a thing.”

Mr Skelton QC continued: “Is Dzhirsa the type of company that if it does not succeed in the court might resort to the threat of physical violence?”

Mr Lipkin said that he “did not know anything about it”.

They had won one case in the Supreme Court after a handwriting expert said that a signature on the security for the loan was not in Mr Perepilichnyy’s hand. The judge had been told that he was “not in Russia as he feared for his life”.

Alexander Litvinenko after he was poisoned CREDIT: PA.

Bob Moxon Browne QC, acting for Legal and General, said that Dzhirsa were pursuing around 10 cases against Mr Perepilichnyy in the years before he died, for a £3million bank loan as well as seperate claims for around 200million Rubles - around 3 million US Dollars.

Mr Moxon Browne QC, acting for Legal and General which had issued a substantial life insurance policy to Mr Perepilichnyy, pointed out the Dzhirsa lost an appeal in one of their cases against him a month before his death.

In 2012 in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, quoted in court, Kovtun said that he did not know Mr Perepilichnyy or that his company had had dealings with him. He said that he set up the company for friends as "I enjoy a certain reputation".

"They are former officers who help resolve business disputes – people call them 'the military men'," he said.

Mr Lipkin’s firm, the Bureau of Corporate Consultations LLP, had been instructed on behalf of Mr Perepilichnyy in Autumn 2010, but he first met his client later that year in London. “He did not want to come to Russia because he feared for his life”, Mr Lipkin said.

However, others dismissed the the idea that he may have been assassinated as "unproven speculation", including his brother-in-law and business partner Rishat Ismagilov.

He said in a letter read to the hearing at the Old Bailey: "There were no death threats... Had he felt insecure I am certain that I would have become aware of it."

Mr Perepilichnyy passed information to Swiss prosecutors which implicated senior police officers and state officials in a tax fraud, which had been uncovered earlier by lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Mr Magnitksy's fate caused worldwide condemnation following his arrest – allegedly by some of the same policemen he accused of fraud - and his death in custody in 2009 after being beaten and denied medical treatment.

Shortly before his death the married father-of-two was in Paris with Ukrainian model Elmira Medynska, 27, who is expected to give evidence tomorrow.

The inquest is being heard at the Old Bailey before Coroner Nicholas Hilliard QC.

The hearing continues.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/0 ... -assassin/
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
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Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:04 pm

Finalist: Staff of BuzzFeed News

For a stunning probe across two continents that proved that operatives with apparent ties to Vladimir Putin have engaged in a targeted killing campaign against his perceived enemies on British and American soil.


June 12, 2017
Poison in the System
June 15, 2017
From Russia With Blood
June 19, 2017
The Man Who Knew Too Much
June 20, 2017
The Secrets Of The Spy In The Bag
July 28, 2017
"Everyone thinks he was whacked"
December 8, 2017
Police File Exposes Holes In The Investigation Into US Death Of Putin’s Media Czar
June 15, 2017
Interactive Graphic: The web of death
June 15, 2017
Video: One by one, this circle of London high-rollers started dying. The police looked away, but secret files point to Russia.
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Postby seemslikeadream » Wed May 02, 2018 4:53 pm

Heidi Blake says Buzzfeed is 'major force in global news' after her investigations team named Pulitzer Prize finalists

By Charlotte Tobitt

Buzzfeed UK’s investigations editor says the news website is in a “really strong position” and remains a “major force in global news” after her team were named Pulitzer Prize finalists yesterday.

Heidi Blake (pictured, centre) also revealed the difficulty of publishing the From Russia With Blood investigation, which won her team the Pulitzer nod, last summer as it fought for attention in the middle of a “news hurricane”.

The investigation uncovered 14 mysterious deaths allegedly linked to Russia in the UK and one in the US in a series of seven stories – all of which are now being examined by police and the intelligence services.

Although 23 UK journalists were made redundant from Buzzfeed at the start of this year, Blake tells Press Gazette her team was never at risk and that the website is “in a really strong position now going forward in the UK”.

She says Buzzfeed is investing “really heavily” in investigative journalism, cutting edge foreign journalism and agenda-setting news journalism, in the UK and abroad, adding: “It is a major force in global news.”

She adds: “We’re very assured of Buzzfeed’s commitment to the UK team and to investigative journalism and just really excited to have seen the team smashing out a string of incredible scoops.”

Blake’s team uses the same investigative traditions as the likes of The Sunday Times, where she was deputy editor of the Insight investigations team and assistant editor before her move to Buzzfeed in March 2015.

But Buzzfeed, she says, finds more ways to connect these types of stories with a younger audience – such as recreating the mobile phone of one of the 14 dead connected to Russia so readers could interactively flick through his text messages and calls from the day he died.

Blake says: “Part of what’s been really exciting to me about that is learning that actually our young socially curious highly inquisitive audience will read very long, very deeply-reported definitive pieces of journalism on their mobiles and will spend hours reading these things and will share them with their friends – and that’s been a great revelation.”

The Russian deaths investigation was read by millions of people, Blake says, but her team’s primary objective is to produce work that will have the greatest possible impact.

“My team’s remit is about uncovering major wrongs perpetrated by people in positions of power in the public interest and the main objective there is to have real world impact and try to make real change for the better, and also to drive the news agenda and drive a social conversation about matters of major public interest,” she says.

“But also we do get very good readership numbers for this sort of investigation.”

The investigation had its roots back in December 2014, when Blake met Buzzfeed’s global investigations editor Mark Schoofs for her job interview.

Businessman Scot Young had just fallen from a window and been impaled on the railings below, the latest in a group of connected people who had “died in quite gruesome circumstances,” Blake says.

“At that point it wasn’t clear that there was any particular Russian connection but it just seemed that there was a ring of death unfolding in London and that it was clearly highly suspicious.”

She told Schoofs this was the sort of story she wanted to investigate, and he was “immediately fascinated”. Once she began in the job early in 2015, Young’s death was the first story the team began looking into.

Blake says: “We quickly obtained a huge trove of 250 boxes of documents about his business dealings and then ultimately we got hold of his computers and his mobile phones and were able to rebuild them and we managed to get bags of evidence from the scene of his death from the police.

“As we delved into that we began to make connections with the other 13 cases in the UK and then the one in the US and so the investigation just kind of snowballed and got bigger and bigger and wider and wider in scope.”

Publication eventually came in June last year despite it coinciding with a “news hurricane” around the snap general election, Grenfell Tower fire tragedy and multiple UK terror attacks.

But the death of Russian businessman and whistleblower Alexander Perepilichny while out jogging near his Surrey home in 2012 was about to be reviewed by a coroner and, by this point, the team had a “cache of explosive evidence” connecting his death to Russia.

After it was published, the inquest was suspended for ten months while the coroner sought further information, but the story did not get the sort of wider attention the team had hoped for.

It wasn’t until last month, after the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, that the issue of alleged Russian assassinations in the UK “rocketed to the top of the news agenda”.

Politicians began speaking about the issue in the House of Commons and the Government opened a review into all 14 deaths on UK soil exposed by the investigation.

Blake says: “It was a really extraordinary case of huge impact, but just very delayed impact, and we are really very pleased that the Government is now taking this extremely disturbing pattern of assassinations in this country seriously and are investigating it properly.

“That for us has been the biggest validation of our work and what every journalist wants when they spend years investigating something is for that investigation to make a real difference in the world.”

The UK investigations team of six has around ten other projects currently in the pipeline, but Blake says there is more to come in the Russian story.

George Clooney’s production company, Smokehouse, has optioned the movie rights to the story while the team is also working on a book which will contain new revelations and be released in late 2018 or early 2019.

Blake says the story proves the importance of investigative journalism, which she says is a “vital part of keeping a democratic society healthy and open and transparent”.

“Every news organisation should think hard about whether they have more resources that they can plough into their investigations team to do the sort of work that they can be really proud of at the end of the year and think: ‘That was the work that defined us this year and really made a difference and will have a lasting legacy,’” she says.

“But I think that at the same time this is a wonderful time to be an investigative journalist.

“The scourge of ‘fake news’ and also the rise of populism across Europe and the US and the fact that people are so politically polarised these days means that actually people are much more engaged in the social conversation about the way they want the world to be.

“So there’s never been a better time to be deeply reporting on that process and it’s never been more important that there are trusted media outlets carrying out rigorous, in-depth investigative journalism that readers can trust.”

She also paid tribute to the “many fantastic journalists” who “just day in, day out report the news fairly and accurately and rigorously – and that’s a huge public service as well”.

“We’re very lucky to have lots of time to work on thrilling projects like this for two years but that’s a rare luxury and I’m very conscious that we’re extremely lucky,” she says.

“I think our colleagues who work round the clock to bring the news to our audience do an incredible job and should be worthy of every bit as much praise.”

Buzzfeed’s UK investigations team includes reporters Tom Warren, Richard Holmes and Jane Bradley and deputy UK investigations editor Alex Campbell.

Says Blake: “The UK news team is absolutely on fire at the moment and that’s just wonderful to see, so I think it’s going to be a really great 2018.”
http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/heidi-bla ... finalists/
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Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:10 am

Helicopter crash at Hurn in 2004 to be re-considered as part of inquiry into ‘Russia-linked deaths’
By Faith Eckersall HerFaithness
Investigators study the wreckage of the Agusta 109 helicopter which plunged into fields close to Bournemouth Airport - killing Oil millionaire lawyer Stephen Curtis(45) boss of Group Menatep.

THE DEATH of a wealthy Dorset businessman and his helicopter pilot is one of the cases the Daily Echo understands will be re-considered by the police and MI5, following an announcement from Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

In a letter to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, which had called for a review of decisions not to re-open inquiries into a string of deaths in which there are allegations of Russian involvement, Ms Rudd said: “'The Government was aware of these allegations, and takes seriously any suggestion that a foreign state has engaged in murder on UK soil.

"In the weeks to come, I will want to satisfy myself that the allegations are nothing more than that.”

Her letter follows reports which claimed that US intelligence sources suspect up to 14 people living in Britain may have been assassinated by Russian security services or mafia organisations.

Stephen Curtis, 45, and Bournemouth-based pilot Max Radford, 34 died when an Augusta 109E helicopter crashed on the approach to Hurn on March 3, 2004.

An official investigation blamed pilot error, but the coroner heard of death threats against Mr Curtis and said the case had “all the ingredients of an espionage thriller”.

Speaking about the case, Christchurch MP Sir Chris Chope said: “I was always sceptical about the official verdict on it but looking at these things, the best assassins are the ones who cover their tracks.”

“Whether it could be the state or mafia groups or whoever, how can we prove it if you haven’t got the evidence?” he added.

The original AAIB investigation found there was no evidence of sabotage and that Mr Radford must have become disorientated when the weather worsened and he was forced to rely only on his instruments. “The pilot’s limited instrument flying background did not equip him to cope with the difficult situation in which he found himself,” it said.
http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/1 ... deaths___/

Why the death of Sunderland lawyer Stephen Curtis is linked to suspected Russian assassinations

Stephen Curtis' death in a helicopter crash is among 14 cases reopened in the wake of the poisoning of a former spy in Salisbury

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Russia 'highly likely' to be behind Skripal nerve agent attack, May tells MPs
It was a case which a coroner said had “all the ingredients for an espionage thriller”.

A wealthy lawyer, tangled up with Russian oligarchs, who had received death threats before he was killed in a sudden helicopter crash in 2004.

Yet the death of Sunderland -born Stephen Curtis was ruled an accident and the case was dropped - until now.

His case is among 14 which are being reopened in the wake of the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has directed police and MI5 to investigate allegations that the deaths, all marked down as accidents or suicides, were in fact assassinations carried out on behalf of the Kremlin.

In June, a Buzzfeed news investigation claimed US officials suspected these deaths on British soil were linked to Russian security services or mafia groups.

Among the names mentioned was that of Mr Curtis.

Helicopter crash victim Stephen Curtis
Helicopter crash victim Stephen Curtis (Image: Tark)
So how did he find himself mixed up with millionaires and foreign agents?

After working in solicitors firms, in 1990 Mr Curtis set up his own business, Curtis & Co, which specialised in commercial and property transactions.

From there, he went on to work with Group Menatep, a company which managed the funds of Russian oligarchs, eventually becoming managing director.

Set up as a holding company by Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, at one time Russia’s richest man, it held billions of pounds of shares in the Siberian oil company Yukos.

Mr. Khodorovsky was arrested in 2003, in what was thought to be a political move against a man who had opposed President Vladimir Putin.

The co-founder of Yukos, Yuri Golubev, is another name on the list of suspected Russian assassinations - he died of an apparent heart attack in 2008.

Through Menatep, Mr Curtis worked with Boris Berezovsky, another oligarch and critic of Putin, and an acquaintance of Golubev - as well as ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko.

Suspicion is now also being cast on Mr Berezovsky’s 2013 “suicide”.

According to Buzzfeed, Mr Curtis and another British lawyer, Stephen Moss - who died of a sudden heart attack in 2013 - may have been targeted because they helped these men funnel money into Britain and other countries, thus catching the attention of the powerful enemies of their employers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Image: POOL SPUTNIK KREMLIN)
At Mr Curtis’ inquest, it was revealed the 45-year-old businessman had received threatening phone calls, and believed he was kept under surveillance during the last two years of his life.

The journey which ended his life, along with that of his pilot, began at 6.59pm on March 3, 2004, at Battersea Heliport, London.

Bound for Dorset, conditions were reasonable, and Mr Curtis expected a short flight.

But just as the helicopter approached Bournemouth airport, something went wrong, and sent the aircraft plunging at high speed into a field. Both pilot and passenger were killed instantly.

Those who knew pilot Max Radford have insisted what happened was “not an accident”.

Speaking to the Dorset Echo, fellow pilot John Hackney, a friend of Mr Radford who saw him on the day of the crash, said: “All of us who knew Max and were friends with him said exactly the same – ‘this is not an accident’.

“That sort of helicopter, you don’t have an accident so near the ground where you’re going to land in a straight line.

“We all said to his dad, as long as we live we shall never ever believe this story.”

In a letter to the Home Affairs Select Committee, written on Saturday and released on Tuesday, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “The Government was aware of these allegations, and takes seriously any suggestion that a foreign state has engaged in murder on UK soil.

“In the weeks to come, I will want to satisfy myself that the allegations are nothing more than that.”
https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/no ... s-14408339
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:51 am

Sounder » Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:01 am wrote:
System itself is the poison
we all swallow our chosen poison don't we Sounder?

I was thinking more along the lines that the basic function of the mighty Wurlitzer is to maintain the position that if only this or that poison were to be removed, then the system would function properly. But the System depends on the production of enemies, such that the 'better' the System works the more problems are created for the average person.

It is another case of projection where the System identifies enemies, when the only real enemy is the System itself.

love that word projection ...it's one of your favorites...isn't it Sounder?


Police investigating Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy's death kept bosses in the dark, confidential police papers reveal

'We asked them to investigate his death as a potential murder and asked them to as quickly as possible secure the evidence and look for toxicology tests, based on the murder by poison of Alexander Litvinenko. The police didn't respond.

Sunday 5 August 2018 23:38

Alexander Perepilichnyy's name was discovered on a hitlist of 'a specialist in assassination ( east2west )
Investigators kept top brass in the dark for days about issues arising from the mysterious death of a Russian whistle-blower, confidential police documents have revealed.

When news finally broke that multi-millionaire Alexander Perepilichnyy had died on British soil, Surrey Police set about stemming the tide with "bland and simple" statements.

But the case had already sparked interest in Westminster, including from Surrey MPs Philip Hammond, then-defence secretary, and current Brexit secretary Dominic Raab.

Mr Perepilichnyy collapsed and died while out jogging near his home in Weybridge, Surrey, on 10 November 2012.

At the time, he had been helping prominent Kremlin critic Bill Browder's firm Hermitage Capital Management to uncover a 230 million US dollar (£150 million) fraud, the Old Bailey has heard.

Coroner Nicholas Hilliard QC has been examining whether Mr Perepilichnyy died of natural causes or could have been poisoned.

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Giving evidence last year, Detective Superintendent Ian Pollard insisted there had been no evidence of "third party" involvement.

But Mr Browder, who describes himself as Mr Putin's "number one enemy", criticised the investigation, citing a "horrible lack of response" to a letter in 2012 which highlighted the possible link to organised crime and urged police to investigate Mr Perepilichnyy's death as a potential murder.

He said: "When we learned about it, we got in touch with the police on 17 November with a letter from our law firm...alerting them to the fact that he was a whistle-blower who had been co-operating with authorities and exposing Russian organised crime. And we asked them to investigate his death as a potential murder and asked them to as quickly as possible secure the evidence and look for toxicology tests, based on the murder by poison of Alexander Litvinenko. The police didn't respond."

Following a request from media and Hermitage, Mr Hilliard released two pages of minutes from a meeting on the investigation on 10 December 2012.

The "Operational Daphne Gold Group" meeting was chaired by Assistant Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney.

Ms Pinkney told the gathering there were three missed opportunities to alert senior management to concerns surrounding Mr Perepilichnyy's death.

Under the heading "organisational learning", she noted: "There are three areas where it appears the opportunity was missed to raise this death as a concern/issue to Senior Management within Surrey Police."

She cited the letter of 17 November, referral to "Special Branch" and a phone inquiry from The Independent, which broke the story on 27 November 2012.

The article led several newspapers, Sky and the BBC to follow up on the story, the minutes stated. Journalists had asked when the result of toxicology tests would be complete and if South East Counter Terrorism were involved.

On the response to media inquiries, Mr Pollard advised on the "need to keep it bland and simple and continue to use the line that this is an ongoing investigation hence we cannot say much".

Ms Pinkney said the senior investigating officer should work with the press officer on the lines "and make it a non issue".

She told the meeting that she had offered to update Weybridge MP Mr Hammond by email, telling him it was "still unexplained and under investigation".

Read more
Russian whistle-blower could have been ‘malignantly' poisoned

On the subject of "national and political context", she said that "ambient interest remains" but Home Office official Richard Riley was "helping to keep a sense of perspective within central Government".

Asked if there was any international interest, Nicola Burress, of Corporate Communications, said there was "speculation regarding names on the Magnitsky list".

The list is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who represented Mr Browder's company and died after being detained while investigating alleged fraud involving powerful Russians.

According to the partial minutes, Mr Pollard had said Esher and Walton MP Mr Raab "is coming at this from the angle of impact of Russian" (sic).

On the need to keep the meeting under wraps, Ms Pinkney instructed: "Gold Group minutes to be confidential and not emailed unless a non confidential version can also be produced."

Mr Hilliard is expected to hear closing submissions from the interested parties in the inquest at a hearing in September
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/c ... 78801.html
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
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Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Dec 09, 2018 9:49 am

I don’t have a subscription to The Sunday Times ...if anyone does I would appreciate the posting of the full article

Skripal police revisit ‘suicide’ of Scot Young, tycoon who crossed Russians

December 8 2018, 6:00pm,

The leads picked up after the Salisbury poisoning attempt have given new weight to claims that Scot Young was murdered

Tom Harper, Richard Kerbaj | The Sunday Times

Michelle Young says her ex-husband, Scot, was killed for his money and the inquiry into his death was swiftly closed downRex Features; Ki Price for The Times

Detectives who led the investigation into the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy in Salisbury have uncovered new evidence that links the Kremlin to at least two other suspected murders on British soil.

Officers from Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command (SO15), which investigated the poisoning of MI6 double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, have obtained new information that suggests others may have been targeted by Russian killers.

The Sunday Times understands that SO15 has gathered evidence that agents from the GRU, Russian military intelligence agency, travelled in and out of Britain around the time of other suspicious deaths in the UK that have previously been linked to Moscow.

Among the cases under consideration are understood to be the death of Alexander Perepilichnyy, a…
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/1dbd ... c2d31f2a89
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Postby Sounder » Sun Dec 09, 2018 2:10 pm

Sounder » Tue Dec 12, 2017 7:01 am wrote:

System itself is the poison

SLAD wrote...
we all swallow our chosen poison don't we Sounder?

I was thinking more along the lines that the basic function of the mighty Wurlitzer is to maintain the position that if only this or that poison were to be removed, then the system would function properly. But the System depends on the production of enemies, such that the 'better' the System works the more problems are created for the average person.

It is another case of projection where the System identifies enemies, when the only real enemy is the System itself.

SLAD wrote...
love that word projection ...it's one of your favorites...isn't it Sounder?

Well, it does seem to often apply, as in the following case where Mufti Hassoun shows clearly that what is under attack is Syrian long established pluralist traditions, to be replaced by strident sectarians. Essentially sponsored by Western racists spouting 'humanitarian ideals' that are increasingly empty of substance. Why should people listen to your version of 'The poison in the system', when clearly other interpretations of where the poison lies, carry greater coherence with facts and human experience than do the badjacketing productions high priced think tanks and PR hacks.

Mufti Hassoun addresses well the enemy making productions of the system. So, yes SLAD, I stand by my words and thank-you for bringing them up again.

Mufti Hassoun is described in Western media as one of the most powerful figures in Syria. In my experiences, he is one of the most humble, approachable and compassionate figures, beloved by Syrians of all faiths.

Below is a translated transcript of my interview with Mufti Hassoun.

Eva Bartlett (EB): First of all, I’d like to thank you, Mufti Hassoun for your time today and for meeting with me.

Mufti Hassoun (MH): I would like to thank you because you were able to penetrate through the lies of the media, and come to Syria several times to report an authentic image of what has been happening in Syria.

Because the media, as President Trump put it, can be bought nowadays. The media write what they are told, not the truth.

Whereas you, Eva, you insisted on coming to Syria to see the truth and to report what is happening in Syria, and in Gaza, and in places where the fire of wars is raging.

You refused to lease your mind. You wanted to see the truth, and that is what I wish from all journalists in the world. [I wish] that journalists were never traders of values and principles, whose dignity and values can be bought. So they write what they are told, and report what they are told, not the truth.

The truth will be known to people through history. And God will hold us accountable for it [the truth] if we believe in God. And history will also hold us accountable.

So Eva, I have highly respected you since the first day you came. It wasn’t enough for you to listen to what I said and my words. You went on the streets, mixed with the people, went to Aleppo, went to Latakia, visited people in their homes.

You took the words from the supporters and the opposition listened to both parties and wrote the truth, that Syria is oppressed and that Syria has wonderful people. And that in Syria, there is no conflict between the people and the government.

The conflict is between the values and civilization that Syria enjoys [on the one hand], and those who want to drive people backwards [on the other hand] to a version of Islam that is not Islam, and to values that are not values. They want to enslave the people.

Thank you, Eva. I hope you will become a role model for free journalism, and for a noble, impartial, media, to report people’s pain and their hopes. Thanks to you, and to a father and a mother who raised you to become a truth seeker, and not one to follow others.

EB: How can Syria combat the sectarianism that is being thrust upon it by Saudi and Gulf television channels, and by their sheikhs (religious leaders), and by their muftis.

MH: Syria is a civilized country — it embraces all the civilizations of the world because it is the gate to the Orient. So [historically] those who wanted to go to China from Europe passed through Syria. And those who want to go back to Europe pass through Syria. Syria a hundred years ago was far bigger than Syria today. In Syria in 1900, 118 years ago, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria were one country. One bank, one currency, one president, and one nation. There were no religious minorities in it. The reason is that it is the land of Abraham, and Abraham was the forefather of all prophets. He was the forefather of Moses, and of Jesus, and the forefather of Muhammad, may prayers and peace be upon them.

Therefore, Syria embraced those divine messages. So, in one family, you can find a Christian, you can find a Muslim, you can find a secularist, you can find a capitalist and you can find a socialist.
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Postby Sounder » Wed Dec 19, 2018 6:32 am

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Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:38 pm

"Everyone thinks he was whacked"

Judge Orders Officials To Turn Over Lesin Autopsy Records

Mike Eckel
WASHINGTON -- A Washington judge has ordered the city medical examiner to turn over dozens of autopsy records and other files in the investigation of Mikhail Lesin, the former Russian press minister who was found dead in a D.C. hotel room under suspicious circumstances more than three years ago.

The February 13 ruling came in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by RFE/RL, which has sought the files as part of its ongoing probe into Lesin's November 2015 death.

Once a powerful media adviser to President Vladimir Putin, Lesin fell out of favor sometime around 2012, and had largely been out of sight before his body was found in the Dupont Circle Hotel. Despite the official conclusion he died of blunt force trauma, suspicion has focused on whether he was killed to keep him from sharing information with the Justice Department.

Judge Hiram Puig-Lugo ordered the city by February 20 to turn over the files -- which include medical records, toxicology reports, e-mails, and other materials -- with certain information including names and personal details redacted.

In his ruling, Puig-Lugo rejected arguments by city lawyers that privacy interests of Lesin's family outweigh the public interest in the circumstances surrounding his death. And he chided city officials for what he said were overly broad arguments that turning over the documents that could compromise how D.C. city police, or even the FBI, conducted their investigations.

It was unclear whether the city would appeal the ruling. The plaintiff in the case is the author of this article.


Lesin's body was found in the Dupont Circle Hotel on November 5, 2015, just a few blocks from the White House. An initial report by the medical examiner's office the following March declared Lesin's death to be caused by blunt force trauma, but said the manner of death was "undetermined."

But the final report, released in October 2016 by the U.S. Attorney's Office for Washington and city police, called his death accidental, caused by blunt force injuries to the neck, torso, and lower upper extremities "which were induced by falls." Acute ethanol intoxication was cited as a contributing factor.

The report was met with deep suspicion by business acquaintances and others familiar with the once-powerful, wealthy Kremlin insider who was instrumental in Russia's crackdown on independent TV and in the creation of the international broadcaster RT.

One person who had direct access to the hotel room where Lesin was found told RFE/RL in 2016 that it was physically impossible for him to have died alone in the room. Photographs released by police showed bottles of beer and liquor, stacks of dollar bills, and crumpled clothing on the floor. Associates of Lesin have argued that the Dupont Circle Hotel did not match his known tastes for expensive goods and lodging.

Prior to the Dupont Circle Hotel, Lesin had spent time at the posher Four Seasons Hotel, in another part of Washington. According to the D.C. police report, officials at the Four Seasons had called the U.S. Secret Service on November 3 when Lesin appeared to be heavily intoxicated, and the Secret Service advised that a guard be posted at his door to prevent him from leaving. He checked into the Dupont Circle Hotel a day later.

There has been no public explanation why the Secret Service was contacted.


As Putin's press minister in the early 2000s, Lesin was instrumental in bringing the country's national TV channels under Kremlin control, primarily NTV, a channel known at the time for its hard-hitting journalism. He went on to set up Russia Today, the global Kremlin mouthpiece known today as RT.

Much of his wealth came from a private company he set up in the 1990s to sell television advertising on Russia's exploding TV-advertising market. That company, called Video International, or VI, was later acquired by Yury Kovalchuk, the main shareholder of Bank Rossia, which has been closely linked to the Kremlin.

He lost favor with the Kremlin for unknown reasons sometime between 2012 and 2014, and he largely fell out of the public eye.

In 2014, a year before his death, Lesin had drawn attention from the U.S. Senate, where one lawmaker had called on the FBI to investigate him for possible money laundering.

Lesin owned mansions in Beverly Hills, California, where his children and estranged wife live, and owned a yacht valued at $40 million. Months before his death, Russian media alleged that he was engaged to a Russian model much younger than him, and that she was pregnant with their child.

The whereabouts of the woman, identified as Viktoriya Rakhimbaeva, is unknown.

Lesin was not known to be a regular visitor to Washington. But shortly after his death, it emerged that one of his reasons for being in the U.S. capital was to attend a scheduled gala fund-raiser at the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute on November 3, two days before his body was found.

One of the philanthropists being honored that night was the influential Russian banker Pyotr Aven. Lesin never attended the event.

Aven also attended a private event at the Atlantic Council, another Washington think tank, on November 4. According to a person with knowledge of that event, Lesin had sought to attend as well, but the organizers declined to include him.

One person in contact with federal law enforcement officials told RFE/RL that Lesin had been in contact with the Justice Department in the months leading up to his death. In March 2018, the website BuzzFeed cited unnamed sources as saying that former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele had given the FBI a report stating that Lesin was bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for an oligarch close to Putin. The identity of the oligarch was not revealed in the BuzzFeed report.

Steele later became famous because of a series of memos detailing President Donald Trump’s alleged connections to Russia. Known as the Steele Dossier, the memos were circulated among Washington reporters in late 2016, and published in full by BuzzFeed in January 2017.

In its December 2017 report, D.C. police said that Lesin had been drinking heavily in the days prior to his death. A month later, the FBI released a 56-page file on its investigation, including the work by forensic experts into the closed-circuit video footage of the Dupont Circle Hotel.

The FBI files also included 29 pages from report by the city medical examiner's office that were the basis of the official reason given by the city for his death. However, the pages were redacted almost entirely.

The asking price for the yacht was 36 million euros.
Luxury Yacht Of Ex-Kremlin Media Boss Lesin, Found Dead In Washington, Is Sold
Russian officials have said little publicly about Lesin's death, aside from indicating early on that they expected U.S. law enforcement to provide full details.

Since his death, some of Lesin's assets have been gradually sold off. His yacht was sold in Florida in 2016.

In 2017, his two Beverly Hills mansions were listed for sale, at $23 million and $29 million. It wasn't immediately clear if the homes had sold already.

Mike Eckel is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL based in Washington.
https://www.rferl.org/a/judge-lesin-aut ... 68604.html
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