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FBI now investigating Russian meddling in their OWN election

Moscow wired $400,000 to its embassies to help Russian citizens vote abroad

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(The Saker) – As defined in various civil rights acts and codes of civil crimes and offenses, the crime of harassment takes place when actions are committed with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another. The relations between states are not much different, especially when one state intentionally annoys, alarms and harasses the entire population of another country.

In yet another barbaric act of harassment of the Russian diplomats in the US, BuzzFeed, an online content generator and a click farm, announced on November 14th their “secret finding” of “60 Russian Payments “To Finance Election Campaign Of 2016.”  In human language, the Russian Foreign Ministry wired to the business accounts of Russia’s embassies around the world some small amount of money to provide Russian citizens abroad with a chance to vote in the parliamentary election on September 18, 2016.

This “breaking news” were instantly distributed among the pro-Trump and against-Trump crowds, with both sides claiming the this somehow proved the guilt of their opponents. “Russia wired $30,000 to its own U.S. embassy in August of last year. Per @BuzzFeedNews, “to finance election campaign of 2016” was the memo line. Dozens of other transactions were marked similarly.”

Right up front, the Buzzfeed acknowledged that although, “The FBI is scrutinizing more than 60 money transfers sent by the Russian Foreign Ministry to its embassies across the globe, most of them bearing a note that said the money was to be used “to finance election campaign of 2016,”   they received a clarification from the Russian government that the money were used to organize the polling stations in its own parliamentary election.

Nevertheless, the FBI reportedly stated to “investigate” “why Russia transferred nearly $400,000 to its embassies ‘to finance’ the ‘election campaign of 2016.”

‘The FBI is reviewing a series of wire transfers totaling more than $380,000 sent in August and September of last year by the Russian government to its embassies around the world. Most had the memo “to finance election campaign of 2016.”

The Business Insider reported that “The Senate Intelligence Committee, which BuzzFeed News says has been made aware of the wire transfers, asked the Treasury for its FinCEN records in April, The Wall Street Journal reported at the time. It received over 2,000 documents from the financial-crimes unit, which monitors over 200 million Bank Secrecy Act records involving more than 80,000 financial institutions.

Same day, the Embassy of Russia in the USA / Посольство России в США issued the following statement

“The issue of “Russian meddling” in the 2016 US presidential elections is close to becoming openly marginalized. This is obvious for the American media environment, as well as for numerous investigators into these allegations. Leftovers are being vacuumed throughout the media space, slow movers are being leaked.

A yet another confirmation of this is publication by BuzzFeed. Citing the FBI, they reported of an investigation of ‘suspicious’ transactions by the Russian Foreign Ministry to our embassies worldwide – ‘from Afghanistan to Nigeria,’ ‘to finance election campaign of 2016.’ It mentions Citibank, a bank used by the Russian Embassy in Washington.

It is of absolutely no surprise to us that in the universe of the US mainstream, Russia and the Russian Embassy in Washington have the only goal of undermining the basis of the local democracy. Now, BuzzFeed together with the FBI and Congress are investigating money transfers, on which the Embassy exists and carries out its functions in strict compliance with the Vienna convention. In fact, with assistance from Citibank, the Embassy’s activities are being investigated. This is the new American norm.

By the fact, we will have to disappoint those ‘investigators.’  We have carried out and we will carry out the State Duma and Russian presidential elections in line with our constitution. Including for Russian citizens abroad, worldwide. Including in the United States. If additional funds are needed to organize them, we will receive them from Moscow. Through Citibank. Or other one. Lawfully.

We are even grateful to BuzzFeed journalists for uncovering a yet another gross violation of elementary norms of interaction between local authorities and foreign diplomatic missions. And this attempt to artificially link Russia and the Embassy to domestic US political wrangling has failed in the most shameful manner.”

The information on the election was distributed via the Embassies’ web-sites and also by the local Russian language press and public organizations like KSORS.org – The Russian American Cultural Heritage Center.

The event was well organized and went without any reported problems. Before the election day there was some concern about the safety of people coming to vote. In Ukraine, for example, a Russian citizen was viciously attacked by a group of men.  In the US, the election poll workers were college-age men and women along with some men acting as security. Everyone was exceptionally charming. There were no protests of any kind outside of the venues. However, at least on one occasion, a middle aged woman came inside and tried to vote without having a proof of citizenship. She told her tale of woe about residing too far away and being forced to take public transportation, and how she was very nervous and forgot her Russian passport. The poll workers acted with understanding and compassion, but refused to let her vote, advising her to go back home and to return with her passport, since there was still enough time.

Outside she was joined by a man, they both got in a car and drove away, never to return. The witnesses agreed that her accent was somewhat a giveaway of her being from one of the Baltic republics.

The most superficial analysis of the election polling places has revealed no surprises. They were opened for one day on September 18th from 8AM to 8PM local time.

They all looked similar to this one

In the US, the election polling places were organized  in the buildings owned by the Russia’s diplomatic mission and some others.
  • Washington, D.C. – in the Russia’s Embassy in Washington, D.C.: 2650 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington D.C. 20007;
    • New York – in the Consulate general of the Russian federation in New York: 9 East 91 Street New York, NY 10128;
    • San Francisco – in the Consulate general of the Russian federation in San Francisco: 2790 Green Street, San Francisco, CA 94123;
    • Seattle – in the residence of the Consul General in Seattle: 3726 East Madison Street, Seattle, WA 98112;
    • Huston  – in the Consulate general of the Russian federation in : 1333 West Loop South, Suite 1300, Houston, TX 77027.

In addition:

  • Boston: 20 Linden Street, Allston, MA 02134;

The office building owned by the Partners Properties LLC in Allston, MA. Managing partners were Alex Matov and Andrian M. Shapiro

Judging by this disposition agreement, both of them and also on of the employees contributed to the republican campaigns of the Thomas Koch Committee, Martin Walsh, and Maura Haley.

  • Philadelphia: 10100 Jamison Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116;

Occupied by the KleinLife, a Jewish active adult community

  • Chicago: 3100 Dundee Road Suite 915, Northbrook, IL 60062;

An office building hosting MELTSER LAW GROUP by Yevgeny Meltser is a Immigration Attorney  and shared by Steven Wilensky, another attorney at law.

  • Miami: 16850 Collins Ave, Unit 106-B Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160;

Operated by the Red Square Holdings.

The business directory lists Roman Bokeria as a President of Miami Red Square Realty.

Elena Grady, Miami based Red Square holding agent reportedly demonstrated somewhat unorthodox ways to treat her buyers,  but she didn’t seem to be invested in politics.

This address is listed for the Hollywood Temple Beth El synagogue

  • Sacramento: 5525 Hemlock St., Sacramento, CA 95841;

An office building that hosts multiple small businesses like the Jerry 300 Club, a local funeral florist, the College Life Epic Group, Hope for Israel, service to the Jewish community, and Marina’s Dance club.

  • Dallas: 6039 Churchill Way, Dallas, TX 75230.

An address for the Dallas International School Mission Laïque Française, an elementary, middle, and high school in the North Dallas area in Dallas, Texas, United States that  uses the French educational system.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that by July 1, 2016 1,872,390 people living abroad were eligible to vote during the last parliamentary election.

Election took place in Korea, in China,  in the South Africa and the Kingdom of Lesotho.  Also, in the Netherlands, and other countries.

What no one talks about is the scoop of investigation with over 80,000  domestic and foreign financial institutions being “audited” by the FBI, and easiness with which media obtains most detailed information on the activities of the sovereign governments using American banks.

Needless to say, that actions of the City Bank, the Buzzfeed, and the FBI constitute the most flagrant violation of the elementary norms and international agreements that govern interactions between local authorities and foreign diplomatic missions.

Also, this diplomatic scandal is one of many instances of the U.S. interfering with Russia’s elections.

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Photos of swastika on Ukrainian mall stairway creates a stir [Video]

Ukrainian nationalist press in damage-control mode to explain away the Nazi sign, but they forgot the name of the street the mall is on.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the aspects of news about Ukraine that does not make it past the gatekeepers of the American and Western news media is how a significant contingent of Ukrainian nationalists have espoused a sense of reverence for Nazis. The idea that this could even happen anywhere in the world in an open manner makes the claim seem too absurd to be taken seriously. Gone are the days when the Nazi swastika adorned streets and buildings in Europe. Right?

Well, maybe, wrong.

This was seen in Kyiv’s Gorodok (or Horodok, if you insist) Gallery, a shopping center in that city, located on Bandera Avenue.

The pro-nationalist news service UNIAN wasted no time going to press with their explanation of this incident, which admittedly may be accurate:

Children and teenagers who participated in the All-Ukrainian break dance festival held in the Kyiv-based Gorodok Gallery shopping mall were shocked to see a swastika image projected onto an LED staircase.

The mall administration apologized to visitors, explaining saying that their computer system had apparently been hacked.

“The administration and staff have no relation to whatever was projected onto the LED-staircase, and in no way does it support such [an] act. Now we are actively searching for those involved in the attack,” it said in a statement.

According to Gorodok Gallery’s administrative office, it was not the first time a cyber breach took place.

As reported earlier, Ukraine is believed to be a testing ground for cyberattacks, many of which are launched from Russia. Hackers have earlier targeted critical energy infrastructure, state institutions, banks, and large businesses.

This time, it appears, hackers aimed to feed the Kremlin’s narrative of “Nazis in power in Ukraine” and create a relevant hype-driving viral story for Russian media to spread it worldwide.

The Gorodok Gallery also apologized on its Facebook page and said that this was a result of hacking.

But what about the street that the mall is on? From the self-same Facebook page, this is what we see:


To translate, for those who do not read Ukrainian or Russian, the address says the following:

23 Steven Bandera Prospekt, Kyiv, Ukraine 04073

This street was formerly called “Moscow Avenue.” Big change, as we shall see.

Steven Bandera got his birthday designated as a national holiday in Ukraine last December. He is known in Ukraine’s history for one thing. According to the Jerusalem Post:

The street where the shopping mall is located is named for Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist who briefly collaborated with Nazi Germany in its fight against Russia.

His troops are believed to have killed thousands of Jews.

Several Israeli papers picked this bit of news up, and of course, the reasons are understandable. However, for the West, it appears possible that this news event will largely go unnoticed, even by that great nation that is often called “Israel’s proxy”, the United States.

This is probably because for certain people in the US, there is a sense of desperation to mask the nature of events that are happening in Ukraine.

The usual fare of mainstream news for the West probably consists of things like “Putin’s military seizes innocent Ukrainian sailors in Kerch incident” or, “Ukraine’s Orthodox Church declared fully independent by Patriarch of Constantinople” (not that too many Americans know what a Constantinople even is, anyway), but the overriding narrative for the American people about this country is “Ukraine are the good guys, and Russia are the bad guys,” and this will not be pushed aside, even to accommodate the logical grievance of Israel to this incident.

If this article gets to Western papers at all, it will be the UNIAN line they adhere to, that evil pro-Russia hackers caused this stairway to have a swastika to provoke the idea that Ukraine somehow supports Naziism.

But UNIAN neglected to mention that the street name was recently changed to Stephan Bandera (in 2016), and no one appears to have hacked this. Nor does UNIAN talk about the Azov fighters that openly espoused much of the Nazi ideology. For nationalist Ukrainians, this is all for the greater good of getting rid of all things Russia.

A further sad fact about this is the near impossibility of getting assuredly honest and neutral information about this and other similar happenings. Both Ukrainian nationalists and Russian media agencies have dogs in the race, so to speak. They are both personally connected to these events. However, the Russian media cannot be discounted here, because they do offer a witness and perspective, probably the closest to any objective look at what is going on in Ukraine. We include a video of a “torchlight march” that took place in 2017 that featured such hypernationalist activity, which is not reported in the West.

More such reports are available, but this one seemed the best one to summarize the character of what is going on in the country.

While we do not know the motive and identities of whoever programmed the swastika, it cannot really be stated that this was just a random publicity stunt in a country that has no relationship with Nazi veneration.

The street the mall is on bears witness to that.

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Putin: If mid-range missiles deployed in Europe, Russia will station arms to strike decision centers

Putin: If US deploys mid-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to respond.

RT

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Via RT…


If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Moscow will respond by stationing weapons aimed not only against missiles themselves, but also at command and control centers, from which a launch order would come.

The warning came from President Vladimir Putin, who announced Russia’s planned actions after the US withdraws from the INF Treaty – a Cold War-era agreement between Washington and Moscow which banned both sides form having ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles and developing relevant technology.

The US is set to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty in six months, which opens the possibility of once again deploying these missiles in Europe. Russia would see that as a major threat and respond with its own deployments, Putin said.

Intermediate-range missiles were banned and removed from Europe because they would leave a very short window of opportunity for the other side to decide whether to fire in retaliation after detecting a launch – mere minutes. This poses the threat of an accidental nuclear exchange triggered by a false launch warning, with the officer in charge having no time to double check.

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapon systems, which can be used not only against the territories from which this direct threat would be projected, but also against those territories where decision centers are located, from which an order to use those weapons against us may come.” The Russian president, who was delivering a keynote address to the Russian parliament on Wednesday, did not elaborate on whether any counter-deployment would only target US command-and-control sites in Europe or would also include targets on American soil.

He did say the Russian weapon system in terms of flight times and other specifications would “correspond” to those targeting Russia.

“We know how to do it and we will implement those plans without a delay once the relevant threats against us materialize,”he said.

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Russia’s Lukoil Halts Oil Swaps In Venezuela After U.S. Sanctions

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades.

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Via Oilprice.com


Litasco, the international trading arm of Russia’s second-biggest oil producer Lukoil, stopped its oil swaps deals with Venezuela immediately after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and state oil firm PDVSA, Lukoil’s chief executive Vagit Alekperov said at an investment forum in Russia.

Russia, which stands by Nicolas Maduro in the ongoing Venezuelan political crisis, has vowed to defend its interests in Venezuela—including oil interests—within the international law using “all mechanisms available to us.”

Because of Moscow’s support for Maduro, the international community and market analysts are closely watching the relationship of Russian oil companies with Venezuela.

“Litasco does not work with Venezuela. Before the restrictions were imposed, Litasco had operations to deliver oil products and to sell oil. There were swap operations. Today there are none, since the sanctions were imposed,” Lukoil’s Alekperov said at the Russian Investment Forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Another Russian oil producer, Gazprom Neft, however, does not see major risks for its oil business in Venezuela, the company’s chief executive officer Alexander Dyukov said at the same event.

Gazprom Neft has not supplied and does not supply oil products to Venezuela needed to dilute the thick heavy Venezuelan oil, Dyukov said, noting that the Latin American country hadn’t approached Gazprom Neft for possible supply of oil products for diluents.

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades. Analysts expect that a shortage of diluents could accelerate beginning this month the already steadily declining Venezuelan oil production and exports.

Venezuela’s crude oil production plunged by another 59,000 bpd from December 2018 to stand at just 1.106 million bpd in January 2019, OPEC’s secondary sources figures showed in the cartel’s closely watched Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) this week.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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