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Russia Arrests its only Liberal Regional Governor

Nikita Belykh – prominent Russian liberal politician and governor of Kirov Region – arrested after being caught receiving 400,000 euros in alleged bribe money.

Alexander Mercouris

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The arrest of Nikita Belykh, the governor of Russia’s Kirov Region, after he was caught in a sting accepting an alleged 400,000 euro bribe, is not perhaps the sort of event that attracts world attention.  After all the fact there is corruption in Russia is hardly news. 

Belykh is not however a run-of-the-mill governor.  Unlike all of Russia’s other governors his background is firmly in Russian liberal politics and he has in the past enjoyed close links with what is sometimes called Russia’s “non-system” opposition.  This consists of the individuals and groups who agitate outside Russia’s parliamentary system and who – almost to a man and woman – consider Putin an evil dictator who they want overthrown.

In fairness to Belykh he has been marginally more effective electorally than most of the other members of the liberal “non-system” opposition.  For a time in the mid-2000s he was the leader of the ultra-liberal Union of Rightist Forces where he became close to Boris Nemtsov.  A coalition he formed in 2005 with Grigory Yavlinsky’s Yabloko party (Russia’s oldest and biggest liberal party) won 11% of the vote in the Moscow city elections of 2005, gaining a presence in the Moscow City Duma.  In 2006 his party did even better in local elections in Belykh’s home region of Perm where it won 16% of the vote.  However under Belykh’s leadership the Union of Rightist Forces – like all other Russian “non-system” liberal parties and groups – never made a significant impact on national politics.

Belykh became governor of Russia’s Kirov Region in December 2008, when he was unexpectedly appointed to the post by Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev who was at the time trying to reach out to Russia’s liberal and “non-system” opposition.  Belykh was roundly denounced for accepting the post by some of his former liberal comrades – including Boris Nemtsov – but he has remained in that post ever since, even winning re-election in regional elections where he stood as the incumbent.

Belykh did however become involved in a national controversy in 2013 when one of his assistants – the liberal “non-system” politician Alexey Navalny – was prosecuted on corruption charges.  I undertook a detailed study of the case and concluded that Navalny would undoubtedly have been found guilty on a similar charge on the same facts had the case happened in England, a view I still hold though the European Court of Human Rights in what struck me as a perfunctory and obviously politicised judgment has recently said otherwise (in passing I note that the Russian authorities have as yet taken no step to reverse their verdict against Navalny, which remains in effect).

As part of that study I took a detailed look at Belykh’s conduct as governor and commented on

“…….the chaotic state of the administration of the Kirov Region on Belykh’s watch with Votnikov in prison, Arzamatsev on the run and Opalev with a four year suspended sentence to add to the case against Navalny and Ofitserov…..”

I also said that much of the blame for the complex of facts that led to the case against Navalny ultimately had to be laid at Belykh’s door

“If Navalny behaved like a loose cannon and if subsequent events bear a passing resemblance to a tale from Gogol much of the blame rests with Belykh for his failure to supervise Navalny and his other subordinates properly.”

In passing, a report on RT’s website suggests that there might be some connection between the Navalny case and the case that is now being brought against Belykh

“According to investigators, Belykh was getting the money for his actions in favor of the bribe-giver, who controlled two companies – the Novovyatsky Ski Plant and Forestry Managing Company.  The latter entity is associated with Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny. Among its co-founding companies in 2010 was the Kirovles (Kirov Forest), which was later involved in the criminal case against Navalny.”

The events involving KirovLes in which Navalny was involved took place in 2009.  It is difficult to see what connection Navalny could have to a company – the Forestry Managing Company – which was set up by KirovLes after he had already left the Kirov Region.  Russia’s Investigative Committee, which is bringing the case against Belykh, says Navalny is not involved and given that relations between Belykh and Navalny have cooled it seems unlikely that he is.

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The case against Belykh has not been proved and until it is he is entitled to the presumption of innocence.  The evidence against him does however appear strong.  The Investigative Committee claim to have caught him in the act, accepting the money in cash in a Moscow bar.  Apparently the bank notes had been smeared with a special paint traces of which were found on Belykh’s hands. Belykh however denies the charge.  Apparently he admits handling and receiving the money but claims it was not intended for him but was an investment for the Kirov Region.  Suffice to say that if that is true, then the fact Belykh was happy to receive such a large sum of money on behalf of the Kirov Region in person in cash in a Moscow bar is a sign of just how incompetent and chaotic his administration of the Kirov Region is. 

Inevitably there are already claims that the arrest and prosecution of Russia’s only liberal governor is politically motivated – supposedly as a tightening up exercise in light of the forthcoming parliamentary elections.  The Russian authorities of course deny this, and the reasons for supposing a political motive are not obvious.  Belykh is hardly a popular figure and as governor of the remote and underpopulated Kirov Region he is hardly a threat to the authorities in Moscow.  If he was they would have presumably dismissed him before now.  As it happens Belykh is the third Russian regional governor to be arrested on corruption charges this year, which suggests that he has simply fallen foul of an ongoing anti-corruption campaign.

The real mystery about Belykh is how he was able to remain governor of the Kirov Region for so long.  The mere fact that he is a liberal guaranteed him glowing reports in the Western media, such as this one from Newsweek.  However the chaotic and corrupt nature of his administration became all too apparent in the Navalny case.  Significantly, of the two activist friends named by Newsweek whom Belykh brought with him to the Kirov Region, one – Arzamatsev – was as of the time of Navalny’s trial on the run from the police, and the other – Maria Gaidar – after a turbulent career in the Kirov Region, has joined Mikhail Saakashvili’s team of advisers in Odessa and applied for and obtained Ukrainian citizenship.

Belykh’s political longevity notwithstanding the scandals of his administration and his all-too obvious administrative incompetence is an indication of how Russian liberals – far from being the persecuted minority they claim to be – in reality enjoy extraordinary privileges in a country where they are widely disliked.  His arrest however suggests that his incompetence and/or corruption have finally caught up with him.

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“Foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails (Video)

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx): Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails was hacked by foreign actor, and it was not Russia.

Alex Christoforou

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A stunning revelation that hardly anyone in the mainstream media is covering.

Fox News gave Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) the opportunity to explain what was going on during his questioning of Peter Strzok, when the the Texas Congressman stated that a “foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Aside from this segment on Fox News, this story is not getting any coverage, and we know why. It destroys the entire ‘Russia hacked Hillary’ narrative.

Gohmert states that this evidence is irrefutable and shows that a foreign actor, not connected to Russia in any way, intercepted and distributed Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails.

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Via Zerohedge

As we sift through the ashes of Thursday’s dumpster-fire Congressional hearing with still employed FBI agent Peter Strzok, Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller plucked out a key exchange between Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) and Strzok which revealed a yet-unknown bombshell about the Clinton email case.

Nearly all of Hillary Clinton’s emails on her homebrew server went to a foreign entity that isn’t Russia. When this was discovered by the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), IG Chuck McCullough sent his investigator Frank Ruckner and an attorney to notify Strzok along with three other people about the “anomaly.”

Four separate attempts were also made to notify DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to brief him on the massive security breach, however Horowitz “never returned the call.” Recall that Horowitz concluded last month that despite Strzok’s extreme bias towards Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump – none of it translated to Strzok’s work at the FBI.

In other words; Strzok, while investigating Clinton’s email server, completely ignored the fact that most of Clinton’s emails were sent to a foreign entity – while IG Horowitz simply didn’t want to know about it.

Daily Caller reports…

The Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) found an “anomaly on Hillary Clinton’s emails going through their private server, and when they had done the forensic analysis, they found that her emails, every single one except four, over 30,000, were going to an address that was not on the distribution list,” Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said during a hearing with FBI official Peter Strzok.

Gohmert continued..

“It was going to an unauthorized source that was a foreign entity unrelated to Russia.”

Strzok admitted to meeting with Ruckner but said he couldn’t remember the “specific” content of their discussion.

“The forensic examination was done by the ICIG and they can document that,” Gohmert said, “but you were given that information and you did nothing with it.”

According to Zerohedge “Mr. Horowitz got a call four times from someone wanting to brief him about this, and he never returned the call,” Gohmert said – and Horowitz wouldn’t return the call.

And while Peter Strzok couldn’t remember the specifics of his meeting with the IG about the giant “foreign entity” bombshell, he texted this to his mistress Lisa Page when the IG discovered the “(C)” classification on several of Clinton’s emails – something the FBI overlooked:

“Holy cow … if the FBI missed this, what else was missed? … Remind me to tell you to flag for Andy [redacted] emails we (actually ICIG) found that have portion marks (C) on a couple of paras. DoJ was Very Concerned about this.”

Via Zerohedge

In November of 2017, IG McCullough – an Obama appointee – revealed to Fox News that he received pushback when he tried to tell former DNI James Clapper about the foreign entity which had Clinton’s emails and other anomalies.

Instead of being embraced for trying to expose an illegal act, seven senators including Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) wrote a letter accusing him of politicizing the issue.

“It’s absolutely irrelevant whether something is marked classified, it is the character of the information,” he said. Fox News reports…

McCullough said that from that point forward, he received only criticism and an “adversarial posture” from Congress when he tried to rectify the situation.

“I expected to be embraced and protected,” he said, adding that a Hill staffer “chided” him for failing to consider the “political consequences” of the information he was blowing the whistle on.

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Donald Trump plays good cop and bad cop with a weak Theresa May (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 55.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK was momentous, not for its substance, but rather for its sheer entertainment value.

Trump started his trip to the United Kingdom blasting Theresa May for her inability to negotiate a proper Brexit deal with the EU.  Trump ended his visit holding hands with the UK Prime Minister during a press conference where the most ‘special relationship’ between the two allies was once again reaffirmed.

Protests saw giant Trump “baby balloons” fly over London’s city center, as Trump played was his own good cop and bad cop to the UK PM, outside London at the Chequers…often times leaving May’s head spinning.

Even as Trump has left London, he remains front and center in the mind of Theresa May, who has now stated that Trump advised her to “sue” the European Union to resolve the tense negotiations over Brexit.

Trump had mentioned to reporters on Friday at a joint press conference with Theresa May that he had given the British leader a suggestion that she found too “brutal.”

Asked Sunday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show what that suggestion was, May: “He told me I should sue the EU. Not go into negotiation, sue them.” May added…

“What the president also said at that press conference was `Don’t walk away. Don’t walk away from the negotiations. Then you’re stuck.”‘

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris summarize what was a state visit like no other, as Trump trolled the UK PM from beginning to end, and left London knowing that he got the better of a weakened British Prime Minister, who may not survive in office past next week.

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Via CNBC

It wasn’t exactly clear what Trump meant. The revelation came after explosive and undiplomatic remarks Trump made this week about May’s leadership — especially her handling of the Brexit negotiations — as he made his first official visit to Britain.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper published Thursday — just as May was hosting Trump at a lavish black-tie dinner — Trump said the British leader’s approach likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States. He said he had told May how to conduct Brexit negotiations, “but she didn’t listen to me.”

He also praised May’s rival, Boris Johnson, who quit last week as foreign secretary to protest May’s Brexit plans. Trump claimed Johnson would make a “great prime minister.”

The comments shocked many in Britain — even May’s opponents — and threatened to undermine May’s already fragile hold on power. Her Conservative government is deeply split between supporters of a clean break with the EU and those who want to keep close ties with the bloc, Britain’s biggest trading partner.

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Deep State poster boy Peter Strzok gives bizarre testimony that goes viral (Video)

The face of the Deep State.

Alex Christoforou

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If you were not convinced that the Deep State exists, then look no further than Peter Strzok’s bizarre, yet revealing, congressional testimony, showcasing the arrogance and smugness of a powerful FBI agent who worked diligently to push a fake Trump-Russia narrative onto the American public.

Via Zerohedge

While Peter Strzok’s marathon Congressional testimony was full of bickering, chaos and drama – mostly between members of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees – a clip of the disgraced FBI agent’s seemingly giddy reaction after answering a question is creeping people out.

Some have suggested that Strzok’s reaction was “Duper’s delight” – a hidden smirk that slips out at an inappropriate moment when a liar celebrates a successful manipulation.

Watching Peter Strzok, its hard, if not impossible to believe that this man is not a psychopath, who hated Trump so much that he was willing to forward a collusion story that has cost American taxpayers millions, and torn American society apart.

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The video clip even had Donald Trump Jr retweeting it, as he labeled Strzok “the creepiest person in America.”

Via RT

One particular moment from Peter Strzok’s raucous congressional hearing left Twitter users confounded and disturbed, even prompting Donald Trump Jr to label the FBI agent “the creepiest person in America.”

Strzok faced the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on Thursday to answer questions about his conduct during the 2016 investigations into Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The lengthy hearing quickly descended into a partisan shouting match, as Republicans and Democrats interrupted each other’s questions, heckling or applauding Strzok.

Strzok’s peculiar reaction to one question caught the eye of viewers and many took to Twitter to confirm that their eyes weren’t deceiving them.

Strzok’s facial expressions were also noticed by the congressmen in the room and prompted one of the most dramatic moments of the hearing when Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) accused Strzok of outright lying.

“I can’t help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk; how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eyes and lie to her about Lisa Page,” Gohmert told Strzok, referring to the agent’s extramarital affair with his former colleague Lisa Page, with whom he exchanged anti-Trump text messages. Gohmert’s comment sparked vociferous objections from Democrats.

The hearing evoked a significant reaction, with many describing it as a farce. Former New York mayor and current attorney to US President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, labelled it a “disgrace” and said it “taints the entire Mueller witch hunt.”

“President Trump is being investigated by people who possess pathological hatred for him. All the results of the investigation are ‘fruit of the poison tree’ and should be dismissed,” he added.

Democrats seemed to agree with that sentiment, as California Congressman Ted Lieu said it was “a stupid and ridiculous hearing.”

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