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Putin critic Bill Browder detained by Swiss authorities

A man hiding in plain sight, William Browder has a formidable record of alleged lies and deceit, and a political influence that may be behind the biggest hoax in political history

Seraphim Hanisch

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William “Bill” Browder is an American born, naturalized British financier who has been convicted of fraud in Russia twice. He was detained in Geneva just recently while on the run from the Russian FSB. He was in Europe this week, giving news conferences about how he did business in Russia, but according to Rossiya 24 “Vesti” News, he conveniently neglected to talk about some things, like how Moscow has him under an extradition order because he swindled billions of rubles by creating fake companies and money laundering.

Many people may not be familiar with Mr. Browder, but they may recall the Magnitsky Act. This act, signed into law by President Obama in 2012, is for the purpose of punishing Russian officials who were thought to be responsible for the death of Sergey Magnitsky, who was himself a Russian tax accountant who got put in prison in Russia and died while incarcerated there.

At this point the accounts of Mr. Browder and the Russian Federation diverge, and since the Russian version is written in Russian, it remains not immediately accessible to English-speaking and English-reading people in the West. The Russian and English language accounts are so different that the differences demand attention from the critical thinker.

The main point of divergence centers around the unfortunate case of Sergey Magnitsky himself.

Browder’s claim

Sergey Magnitsky was assasinated in a Russian prison because he discovered that Russian tax officials were involved in fraud. While in prison he developed gallstones, pancreatitis and calculous cholecystitis, and was refused medical treatment for months. After almost a year of imprisonment, he was reportedly beaten to death.

In an effort to punish the people who facilitated (Browder claims orchestrated) Magnitsky’s death, he lobbied the US Congress (as a British citizen!) to get the “Magnitsky Act” passed to punish the Russian “human rights violators” who were responsible for the death of his friend, and former colleague who had represented Browder’s Hermitage Capital Management investment fund. This act has been expanded since its inception to give the US Congress a “legal” right to sanction foreign government officials implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world.

Russian Government claim

There is much more to the story, even before Sergey Magnitsky’s name even arises.

The Russian government and Browder began to be at odds with one another starting in 2005, when Mr. Browder was detained at Sheremetyevo-2 Airport on November 13th immediately upon his arrival, and held for fifteen hours, before being put back on a plane to London. The official reason given for his refusal of admittance into the Russian Federation was that he was considered a national security risk, and so the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs said that under Article 27 of Russian Federal law on entry and exit, Browder was no longer allowed in the Russian Federation.

In 2005, Browder decided to get involved in the ownership structure of a company named Surgutneftegaz, run by Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, but which was also frozen by order of the Russian government under President Vladimir Putin. Khodorkovsky’s assets were frozen based on tax charges associated with fraud, which Khodorkovsky was charged with.  Browder didn’t want this to happen to him, so he had all his employees relocate to the UK and the Hermitage Fund sold all the shares in Russian companies or transferred them elsewhere in the summer of 2006.

In 2007, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation came to the offices of Hermitage Capital and conducted searches. The charter documents and seals of several front, or “shell” companies through which Hermitage acted in Russia were removed. This action was all carried out in the framework of a criminal investigation.

The front companies, Parfenion LLC, Mahaon LLC and Ryland LLC were found to have improperly benefitted from the illegal return of some 5.4 billion rubles of profit tax. The first people to be discovered as participants in this crime were employees of the Firestone Duncan firm. This firm is a law firm that handled the affairs of the shell companies, and of course, Hermitage Capital. One of the lawyers there was Sergey Magnitsky.

The lawyers at Firestone Duncan had themselves initiated an investigation into the theft of Russian government funds, totalling about , and the list of participants in the crime grew to some 60 employees of various Russian executive bodies, most of whom continued (and may still be continuing to serve) in various ministries and departments of the Russian Federation.

However, it was discovered that the same criminal group regularly organized such crimes, which stole significant amounts of money from the Russian budget. On November 24th, 2008, Sergey Magnitsky himself was arrested on charges of helping William Browder in tax evasion.

In other words, Magnitsky is held by Moscow to have been aiding and abetting Browder in a tax evasion scheme that defrauded 5.4 billion rubles from the Russian Federation’s operating funds and budget. In these years, the ruble was worth quite a bit more than it is now, so this was a big cash haul.

Since Browder is no longer allowed in Russia, Russia has tried to go after him. There is a standing extradition order at present, and also, as recently as October, 2017, the Russian Federation put Mr. Browder unilaterally on Interpol’s search list.

The Russian story has a lot more details still; we have only given some. Yet, Mr. Browder considers himself safe in Europe, since neither the EU nor the US will extradite him to Moscow. However, according to Vesti news, Browder refuses to acknowledge US subpoena requests just as much as he evades Russian extradition attempts.

So, what, though? So he is a dishonest businessman. Why is this important?

There is another interesting piece to this story.

Video: President Vladimir Putin discusses the Browder – Magnitsky affair at October’s Valdai conference, with Western journalists present.

On July 27, 2017, Browder testified to the US Senate Judiciary Committee on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election. He testified regarding the Foreign Agents Registration Act and Fusion GPS.

Sound familiar?

Browder directly discussed President Vladimir Putin, saying that he is “the biggest oligarch in Russia and the richest man in the world.” This, apparently, is accomplished by Putin’s threatening Russian oligarchs and getting a 50% cut of their profits.  Browder went on to say this:

I estimate that [President Putin] has accumulated $200 billion of ill-gotten gains from these types of operations over his 17 years in power. He keeps his money in the West and all of his money in the West is potentially exposed to asset freezes and confiscation. Therefore, he has a significant and very personal interest in finding a way to get rid of the Magnitsky sanctions.

…I hope that my story will help you understand the methods of Russian operatives in Washington and how they use U.S. enablers to achieve major foreign policy goals without disclosing those interests. I also hope that this story and others like it may lead to a change in the FARA enforcement regime in the future.”

So, in other words, this offers a bit of motive perhaps for why the election of Donald Trump is such a hot issue with some people. Browder has cast Vladimir Putin as a mega-oligarch, and has portrayed this situation as that of Putin trying in any way possible to take apart the Magnitsky Act, because it affects his vast wealth which is held in western banks.

However, Russia’s FSB is not without abilities to remind Mr. Browder that all is not just smooth sailing. They got the Geneva authorities to stop him and to discuss confidential matters with them a the request of the FSB. He has presently at least 22 years worth of prison time from in absentia convictions, and the more one investigates the man’s life, the more wily he is revealed to be.

This piece only scratches the surface. We plan to discuss this issue much more, because there is much more to discuss.

And to think that his words have been marching orders for the US’ propaganda and slander campaign against Russia since at least as early as 2012, and continuing through today. While Vesti has its own rather sensationalist feeling about this story, research beyond Vesti through Russian entries on Magnitsky and Browder and Yukos in Wikipedia reveal that there is a lot going on here, and that this is not likely to be the tale of an intrepid and honest businessman, but in the words of Yury Chaika, Prosecuter General of Russia:

I call him Yasha Browder. He has Moscow roots. He has a dark personality, he’s an international level criminal, a schemer.”

One wonders: where is Robert Mueller now??

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Second group of Su-57 stealth fighters to be requested in 2020

The second Su-57 contract will feature fighters with the advanced engine design that was under development while the prototypes were made.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The contract for a second order of Russian Su-57 stealth fighters is expected to be signed in 2020, according to an unnamed source in Russia’s aircraft-making industry. TASS, the Russian News Agency, reported on this on Wednesday, 16 January:

The second contract to manufacture 13 Su-57 fighter jets for the Russian Aerospace Forces is to be signed next year, a source in Russia’s aircraft-making industry told TASS on Wednesday.

“In 2020, we plan to sign the second contract to manufacture and deliver 13 Su-57 fighter jets, some of them equipped with the second-stage engines,” he said. “The preliminary timeframe for the new contract is five years.”

The first contract envisages the delivery of two fifth-generation aircraft in 2019-2020.

“In line with the contract signed in 2018, one serial Su-57 jet with first-stage engines will be delivered to the Aerospace Forces this year, the other aircraft featuring the same type of engine – in 2020.”

The aircraft’s manufacturer, the United Aircraft Corporation, refrained from commenting on the report.

The Su-57 is a fifth-generation multirole fighter designed to destroy all types of air targets at long and short ranges and hit enemy ground and naval targets, overcoming its air defense capabilities.

The Su-57 took to the skies for the first time on January 29, 2010. Compared to its predecessors, the Su-57 combines the functions of an attack plane and a fighter jet while the use of composite materials and innovation technologies and the fighter’s aerodynamic configuration ensure the low level of radar and infrared signature.

The aircraft has been successfully tested in Syria.

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Pelosi tries to prevent State of the Union address because of shutdown

Nancy Pelosi advised Mr. Trump not to deliver a live State of the Union speech, but the reason may be because she is unwilling to be exposed.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tried what is perhaps a new stunt in the ongoing government shutdown saga (we hesitate to call it a “crisis”). She requested that President Trump either reschedule his yearly State of the Union address or – and she said this literally – deliver it in writing to Congress on January 29th, the date the speech is scheduled to occur.

“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to Trump.

The letter, which can be seen directly by clicking the hyperlink above, tries to essentially make this request the President’s fault because he refuses to take “no wall” for an answer.

The motive behind this attempt is interesting. Politico covered this story originally, and this publication is pretty far to the left and definitely not a Trump fan oasis. Yet in a rare random feat of journalism, the Politico article does appear to give some of the real reason why the Speaker of the House did this.

Publicly, Democrats plan to argue that the parties need to focus on addressing the shutdown, now the longest in U.S. history. They’re also concerned about security staff working through a major national event without being paid.

“This shutdown is ridiculous and the people tasked with protecting him and protecting us are not getting a paycheck,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the House Rules Committee chair. “So it’s inappropriate to carry on with business as usual.”

But privately, Democrats also don’t want to give Trump a major platform to blame them for the shutdown when Trump’s demand for billions in wall funding has been the main driver, according to a Democratic lawmaker close to leadership. Trump has tried to pin the blame on the shutdown on Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, but public polls shows the public largely blames the president.

The announcement comes as a group of bipartisan House lawmakers in the Problem Solvers Caucus is set to meet with Trump on Wednesday to discuss border security. Trump, frustrated by his inability to secure any additional money for his border wall, has tried to peel off moderate Democrat support as Pelosi and Schumer dig in.

But Democrats are rallying fellow members to stay together. Schumer attended a closed-door caucus meeting with House Democrats just as Pelosi made the announcement on the State of the Union address on Wednesday. Her message was to stay unified in their opposition.

Politico was able to bury this bold-typed point in the rhetoric that “public polls largely blame the president.” However this may not exactly be the case.

There are indications that the 26-day long standoff is going to go the President’s way. While this is admittedly speculative, there seem to be solid factors on the President’s side of the argument that the Democrats do not have. Some are factual, and many are emotional and rhetorical:

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is standing firm, and has not wavered from the commitment to pass nothing that the President will not sign.
  • Some Democrat leaders are beginning to speak about border security – including the wall – as vital needs. This includes this representative from Southern California (!) Representative Katie Hill, who gave this interview on Fox News:

  • Where the argument is pragmatic and information-based, as Representative Hill notes, then the argument becomes quite compelling for a wall.
  • CNN turned down the opportunity to interview Dan Plante, a San Diego area TV reporter, about the border wall there because Mr. Plante said that the new wall that has been installed in that sector is hugely successful.
  • The level of information given by the Democrat opposition leaders, Pelosi and Chuck Schumer is essentially at the level of “no you can’t have it. Because!!” – in other words, septuagenarians acting like four-year olds. Really.
  • Talk show anchor Rush Limbaugh and his huge body of listeners are wildly in favor of the shutdown and everything the President is doing. It is very clear that the shutdown’s length is doing nothing to deter President Trump’s base. And as long as that holds true, he will not move a muscle.
  • President Trump is a businessman, not a politician. He is far more results-driven than the mainstream media can afford to admit. While they characterize him as insane, or a child, or throwing a tantrum, the President doesn’t really care. He knows what he wants, and he is prepared to be patient and wait the Democrats out.
  • The final sign we will offer on this list (though there are more) is that the Russia collusion narrative is back. When things go bad for the media on Trump, they try to pull out Russia. Maybe it is just a bad habit because it seems less and less effective each time it is tried.

The battle lines are tropes versus reality, and politics versus policy. It is too soon to be sure that this will go the President’s way and that the wall will go up, but patience and perseverance are beginning to expose cracks and weaknesses in the Democrat argument. Some of the US certainly does NOT care about a border wall. But those that do have not been shaken by all this – rather, they have been strengthened, plus they have facts on their side.

All the Pelosis and Schumers of the world can do is fret and complain and look like fools, and they seem to be doing exactly that.

 

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Peak Stupidity: Deep State and mainstream media push ‘Trump is a spy’ nonsense (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 167.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the sheer stupidity of the entire ‘Trump is a Russian spy’ narrative being plastered all over the mainstream media, as neo-liberal shills and neocon war hawks continue to damage the Office of the United States President by insisting on pushing a made up story that a five year old child who waits for Santa Claus to bring Christmas gifts would have a hard time believing.

Meanwhile the real crime and real treason derived from a Comey-Clapper-Brennan Deep State plot to remove a democratically elected Trump from power, is being blacked out from the mainstream, neo-liberal news cycle.

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The Gateway Pundit lists the 35 times the FBI “deviated from standard practice” or committed crimes in an effort to exonerate Hillary Clinton and indict US President Donald Trump..


The FBI leadership under the Obama Administration took many actions that deviated from standard practice [i.e. were corrupt and criminal] in their efforts to exonerate Hillary from her crimes and then spy and frame candidate and then President Trump.  Today current members of the FBI are embarrassed to even turn on their TV’s as a result.

Time magazine of all places reported recently about the many efforts the FBI took related to Hillary exoneration and then the Trump framing.  These corrupt and criminal actions have taken a desperate toll on the current members of the FBI –

In normal times, the televisions are humming at the FBI’s 56 field offices nationwide, piping in the latest news as agents work their investigations. But these days, some agents say, the TVs are often off to avoid the crush of bad stories about the FBI itself. The bureau, which is used to making headlines for nabbing crooks, has been grabbing the spotlight for unwanted reasons: fired leaders, texts between lovers and, most of all, attacks by President Trump. “I don’t care what channel it’s on,” says Tom O’Connor, a veteran investigator in Washington who leads the FBI Agents Association. “All you hear is negative stuff about the FBI … It gets depressing.”

Of course the employees of the FBI are in a funk, their fearless and corrupt leaders, as well as leaders in Obama’s corrupt DOJ, went to extravagant links to exonerate the obvious criminal actions of Hillary Clinton, and then to do all they could to prevent candidate Trump from winning an election.  Then once the election was won by President Trump, they went to unheard of depths of deceit and corruption to attempt to remove him from office.

Here’s a list of the actions the Deep State FBI took in their recent criminal actions surrounding the 2016 Presidential election and since [the first 11 items are from the Time post noted above with comments in brackets] –

1 – Comey breached Justice Department protocols in a July 5, 2016, press conference when he criticized Hillary Clinton for using a private email server as Secretary of State even as he cleared her of any crimes
2 – Comey reopened the Clinton email probe less than two weeks before the election
3 – Andrew McCabe lied to the bureau’s internal investigations branch to cover up a leak he orchestrated about Clinton’s family foundation less than two weeks before the election and had lied for months about it
4 – FBI wasn’t adequately investigating “high-risk” employees who failed polygraph tests (but, in fact, putting them in charge of high-profile investigations, like Peter Strzok who failed his poly). In one instance, an FBI IT specialist with top-secret security clearance failed four polygraph tests and admitted to having created a fictitious Facebook account to communicate with a foreign national, but received no disciplinary action for that.
5 – The FBI’s miss of the Russian influence operation against the 2016 election, which went largely undetected for more than two years (The FBI had the chance to kill this Russian intrusion years before it reached crisis point in the election). Mueller’s Russia probe found that Moscow’s operation against the 2016 election first got under way in 2014, but the FBI failed to address it.
6 – The FBI was getting information it shouldn’t have had access to when it used controversial parts of the Patriot Act to obtain business records in terrorism and counterintelligence cases.
7 – The bureau missed the significance of the damaging 2015 hack of the DNC database [although others argue that the DNC was never hacked – due to the FBI’s lack of investigative process, we may never know what happened.] 8 – The bureau also sat on the disputed “dossier” prepared by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. [Which was then used for the entire case against Trump and anyone near him].
9 – The bureau’s decision to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was influenced by politics.
10 – Text messages between FBI special agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which were critical of Trump.
11 – Comey broke with Justice Department rules and norms by assuming authority usually held by prosecutors and speaking in public about a case that did not produce criminal charges.
12 – Comey took copious notes and diligently informed others of all interactions with Trump while lying about having had any interactions with Obama, never taking notes or notifying anyone so even after having been warned of Mr. Steele’s motivations, even after having fired him for violating the rules, the FBI continued to seek his information—using Mr. Ohr as a back channel. This surely violates the FBI manual governing interaction with confidential human sources.
13 – FBI guidelines state that unverified information should not be submitted to the FISA court.
14 – They were passive, not proactive. The Obama administration “stood down” and watched these “activities” unravel. At worst, they possibly played a hand in creating circumstances to push the investigation forward into more serious stages that allowed for more intrusive techniques, such as spying. (The FBI is supposed to prevent crime, not watch it happen).
15 – John Brennan, James Clapper, Samantha Power, Loretta Lynch were all briefed by James Comey on the alleged Russian interference into the Trump campaign, yet the Trump campaign was left in the dark.
16 –FBI agents found Abedin deleting classified Clinton emails from her Yahoo account but failed to subpoena her devices. If they had, maybe they wouldn’t have had to reopen the case in 11th hour when NY agents found work emails on the laptop she shared with her perv husband.
17 – The FBI failed to notify Congress of the investigation into the Trump campaign for months rather than quarterly as was practice. [See Comey presentation to House Republicans in March 2017] 18 – The FBI did not pursue criminal charges when Clinton’s email archives were permanently deleted from her private server days after a subpoena for them was issued by a congressional committee investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
19 – The IG found that the FBI and DOJ during the MidYearExam probe of Hillary Clinton email server “did not require any witnesses to testify before the grand jury,” despite at least 3 witnesses lying to FBI agents.
20 – “[T]he 
Midyear team did not obtain search warrants to examine the content of emails in Mills’s or Abedin’s private email accounts and did not seek to obtain any of the senior aides’ personal devices.”
21 – IG Report: Nobody was listed as a subject of this [Clinton email] investigation at any point in time (So neither Hillary nor her top aides were formally under investigation by FBI at any time in 2015-2016, but the agents handling the issue thought it was a criminal action).
22 – The IG report indicates a strong pro-Clinton/anti-Trump bias in FBI investigators of Midyear and Operation Russian Collusion but it still went on without personnel changes or actions against the corrupt investigative team.
23 – The IG report found: “The MYE Team did not seek to obtain every device, including those of Clinton’s senior aides, or the contents of every email account through which a classified email may have traversed.”
24 – Manafort interviewed twice before joining the Trump team. If he was guilty of anything why did they allow him to join the Trump team?
25 – In 2008, a questionable person on McCain’s POTUS campaign caught the attention of FBI counterintelligence, and the FBI privately approached McCain. That questionable person was quietly removed from Team McCain but this same sensitivity was not provided to the Trump team.
26 – The corrupt Obama FBI and DOJ used the “salacious and unverified” opposition research called the Steele dossier to open a counterintelligence investigation and obtain warrants but it wasn’t even verified and it was created by the opposition party [DNC]. [Multiple sources] 27 – Unprecedented leaking to the press: 13 different individuals at the FBI were feeding a journalist information.
28 – Dan Bongino asks the question: How did Halper go from being a CIA informant to an FBI informant? And he’s right. It is a DEVIATION FROM THE STANDARD PRACTICE for law enforcement agencies to give up/share their asset.
29 – The “probable cause” arrest of George Papadopoulos is a deviation from the standard practice.
30 – Halper was a CHS (Confidential Human Source). FBI rules prohibit using a CHS to spy on Americans before an official investigation has been created.
31 -Stone and Caputo say they believe they were the targets of a setup by U.S. law enforcement officials hostile to Trump which was before an official investigation which again is a deviation from standard practice.
32 – The FBI interviewed Carter Page in March of 2016 about his Russian ties. Two months later, Comey is briefing the NSC about his concerns about Carter Page. Nothing of any note happened in those intervening months to cause a rise of concerns, so whatever concerns Comey had Comey had them before Page was hired on as an adviser. It was a DEVIATION FROM STANDARD PRACTICE for Comey to not have warned Trump about Page. Comey warns Obama instead who also takes no steps to warn Trump.
33 – Another deviation from the standard practice is to start an investigation without a crime.
34 – Planting the Isikoff article to be used in court to obtain a FISA warrant.
35 – Related to the FBI, it’s important to note that former DNI chief James Clapper limited the IC report for review to only 3 agencies rather than send the report out to all 17 agencies for review. This way he was able to control what was put into the report – another deviation from the standard practice.

This may only be a partial list of FBI abuses and actions taken with deviations from standard practice, if not clear cut crimes.  The gangsters who ran Obama’s FBI, from Mueller to Comey, are so corrupt, current and former agents are now embarrassed to be part of the once storied federal agency.  Quite frankly, it’s doubtful if the FBI can ever be trusted again!

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