5:43 AM 11/25/2017 – M.N.: Is there any connection between this Trump – Erdogan phone call, the end of the military assistance to Kurds, Russian-Turkish-Iranian policies in the region (see recent activities), and the current state of the Mueller’s Investigation, specifically around Flynn? White House, publish the entire transcript of this phone call! I could not find any reference to this phone call on the White House site. 

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С Президентом Ирана Хасаном Рухани (слева) и Президентом Турции Реджепом Тайипом Эрдоганом. Фото ТАСС

С Президентом Ирана Хасаном Рухани (слева) и Президентом Турции Реджепом Тайипом Эрдоганом. Фото ТАСС

M.N.: Is there any connection between this Trump – Erdogan phone call, the end of the military assistance to Kurds, Russian-Turkish-Iranian policies in the region (see recent activities), and the current state of the Mueller’s Investigation, specifically around Flynn? 

Did Trump promise any favorable terms to Erdogan at Kurds’ expense to get Turkey’s favorable terms in handling, managing, and releasing or not releasing the information on Flynn? 

Does Trump use the Foreign Policy positions and strategies as the bargaining chips, to obtain the personal benefits with regard to investigations of his and Flynn’s connections with Russia and Turkey? 

White House, publish the entire transcript of this phone call! 

I could not find any reference to this phone call on the White House site

_______________________________

The move could help ease strained tensions between the U.S. and Turkey, two NATO allies that have been sharply at odds about how best to wage the fight against IS. Turkey considers the Kurdish Syrian fighters, known by the initials YPG, to be terrorists because of their affiliation to outlawed Kurdish rebels that have waged a three decade-long insurgency in Turkey. Yet the U.S. chose to partner with the YPG in Syria anyway, arguing that the battle-hardened Kurds were the most effective fighting force available.

Cavusoglu, who said he was in the room with Erdogan during Trump’s call, quoted the U.S. president as saying he had given instructions to U.S. generals and to national security adviser H.R. McMaster that “no weapons would be issued.”

“Of course, we were very happy with this,” Cavusoglu said.

Yet for the Kurds, it was the latest demoralizing blow to their hopes for greater recognition in the region. Last month, the Kurds in neighboring Iraq saw their recent territorial gains erased by the Iraqi military, which seized the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and other disputed areas from the Kurdish regional government in retaliation for a Kurdish independence referendum that the U.S. ardently opposed.

Trump’s decision appeared to catch both the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department off guard. Officials at both agencies, who would normally be informed of changes in U.S. policy toward arming the Syrian Kurds, said they were unaware of any changes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

It was unclear whether the Trump administration notified the Kurds of the move before telling the Turks. Nor was it how much significance the change would have on the ground, considering the fight against IS is almost over.

The United States has been arming the Kurds in their fight against IS through an umbrella group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, which is comprised of Kurdish as well as Arab fighters.

But the retreat of IS, which has lost nearly all its territory in Syria, has altered the dynamics in the region and a U.S. defense official said he was unaware of any additional arms scheduled to be transferred to the Kurds, even before the Turkish announcement.

Last week, Col. Ryan Dillon, the chief spokesman for the U.S. coalition that is fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, said there has yet to be any reduction in the number of U.S. advisers working with the SDF. His comments appeared to suggest the possibility that changes in the level and type of U.S. military support for the Syrian Kurds could be coming.

As the fight against IS has waned in recent months, the U.S. has pledged to carefully monitor the weapons it provides the Kurds, notably ensuring that they don’t wind up in the hands of Kurdish insurgents in Turkey known as the PKK.

Both Turkey and the U.S. consider the PKK a terrorist group. But the United States has tried to draw a distinction between the PKK and the Syrian Kurds across the border, while Turkey insists they’re essentially the same.

_________________________

Trump and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan “underscored the need to end the humanitarian crisis, allow displaced Syrians to return home, and ensure the stability of a unified Syria free of malign intervention and terrorist safe havens,” the White House said in a statement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara that Trump said that in the call the U.S. would no longer supply arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters that Erdogan regards as terrorists.

The White House statement did not specifically refer to the Kurds, saying only that Trump informed Erdogan “of pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria, now that the battle of Raqqa is complete” and Islamic State militants are on the run.

_____________________________

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Did Donald Trump just publicly threaten Michael Flynns safety?
 

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

Last night multiple major news outlets confirmed that Michael Flynn is making moves to negotiate a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in what amounts to the worst case scenario for Donald Trump. Flynn will give up many of Trump’s Russia secrets, taking Trump down in the process. Rather than ranting about it this morning, Trump made a statement which if you put it within the proper context sure sounds like a threat against the safety of Flynn and his son.

Flynn is accused of having illegally been on the payroll of the government of Turkey, and of having participated in a conspiracy to kidnap a Turkish cleric in Pennsylvania. Here’s what Trump tweeted this morning, just hours after Flynn’s deal was revealed: “Will be speaking to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey this morning about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East. I will get it all done, but what a mistake, in lives and dollars (6 trillion), to be there in the first place!” There’s more to this than initially appears.

At first it sounded like Trump was merely calling up Erdogan in a panicked attempt at figuring out how to respond to Flynn’s decision to cut a deal. But the more I think about it, this sounds like something more. If this were just about Trump talking strategy with Erdogan, Trump and his handlers would have tried to keep the phone call secret, or at least as low-key as possible. Instead Trump promptly advertised on Twitter that the phone call had taken place, even though it meant making the entire thing look even more suspicious in the eyes of the public. That’s because the tweet about the Turkey phone call wasn’t intended for the general public. It was aimed at an audience of one.

This phone call, and in particular the tweet announcing it, were intended to send a message to Michael Flynn. But legally speaking, at this point there is nothing that Trump or Turkey can do to Flynn. It sure sounds like Trump is hinting to Flynn that Turkey’s lawless regime might put his safety at risk if he goes through with the deal. Keep in mind that Flynn is flipping to protect his son from criminal prosecution. Is this a threat against Flynn’s son’s safety? If that sounds like it might be a stretch, keep in mind that just a week ago, Trump bizarrely insisted “people will die” if the Trump-Russia investigation continues.

The post Did Donald Trump just publicly threaten Michael Flynn’s safety? appeared first on Palmer Report.

Trump speaks with Erdogan about ‘mess’ in Middle East
 

mikenova shared this story .

 

  • Trump, Turkish leader discuss Syrian crisis in phone call

    Trump, Turkish leader discuss Syrian crisis in phone call

  • Trump, Turkish leader discuss Syrian crisis in phone call

Trump, Turkish leader discuss Syrian crisis in phone call 

Trump, Turkish leader discuss Syrian crisis in phone call

President Donald Trump spoke Friday with Turkey’s president “about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East” before hitting the links with Tiger Woods and pro golfer Dustin Johnson.

Yahoo

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President Donald Trump speaks to members of the U.S. Coast Guard at the Lake Worth Inlet Station, on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017, in Riviera Beach, Fla.(Photo: Alex Brandon, AP)

President Trump discussed the path forward in Syria in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, including what the Turks described as a plan to stop U.S. from going to Kurdish fighters inside the war-torn country.

Trump and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan “underscored the need to end the humanitarian crisis, allow displaced Syrians to return home, and ensure the stability of a unified Syria free of malign intervention and terrorist safe havens,” the White House said in a statement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara that Trump said that in the call the U.S. would no longer supply arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters that Erdogan regards as terrorists.

The White House statement did not specifically refer to the Kurds, saying only that Trump informed Erdogan “of pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria, now that the battle of Raqqa is complete” and Islamic State militants are on the run.

Erdogan has long protested U.S. aid to Kurdish fighters in Syria, claiming they are an extension of militant groups that have waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. The Turkish government has also expressed concern about Kurdish desires to set up an independent state within Iraq, a new country that would border Turkey.

The Kurds say Turkey has been trying to suppress them.

The Trump-Erdogan call came as Turkey, Russia, and Iran work on a plan to reach a political settlement to the civil war in Syria. Trump spoke last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin before he left for his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., where he spent Thanksgiving.

More: President Trump, Vladimir Putin hold phone call on North Korea, Syria, other security issues

In announcing his plan to speak with Erdogan earlier Friday, Trump also took shots at his presidential predecessors.

“Will be speaking to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey this morning about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East,” Trump said. “I will get it all done, but what a mistake, in lives and dollars (6 trillion), to be there in the first place!”

Trump has used the $6 trillion figure before to describe the costs of U.S. involvement in Middle East conflicts, but has never specified how he arrives at that amount.

In September, Trump praised Erdogan as a “friend” during a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, despite global criticism of his increasingly authoritarian rule in Turkey. Just before that meeting, the U.S. protested a physical attack on protestors at the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C.

The Trump-Erdogan phone call also comes after reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son’s alleged plan to forcibly remove a Muslim cleric from the United States and deliver him to Turkey.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Flynn and his son Michael Flynn Jr. were allegedly were involved in a plan to deliver Fethullah Gulen to the Turkish government, which views Gulen as a political enemy and has pressed the U.S. for his extradition.

More: Report: Mueller probes Michael Flynn’s role in alleged plot to hand over Fethullah Gulen to Turkey

Flynn — who was forced out of his White House job this year after revelations that he had misled officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador — reportedly discussed the plan with Turkish government representatives last December. The meeting caught the attention of FBI, who have questioned at least four people about it, according to the Journal.

Flynn’s lawyers have denied the allegations, but extraditing Gulen is a major priority for Erdogan. Earlier this year, Erdogan pressed Trump to send back the religious leader his government blames for an attempted coup last year and now lives in exile in Pennsylvania.

The Turkish government alleges Gulen and his followers are using a network of publicly funded charter schools to support revolution that would put his supporters in power in Turkey.

Documents Flynn filed earlier this year with the Justice Department raised fresh questions about his other ties to the Turkish government, even as he was serving as top adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign – including including $530,000 in earnings from a Dutch firm with ties to the Turkish government.

In another tweet on Friday, the president said he would follow up the Turkey phone call by visiting Trump National Golf Club – “quickly” – for a round with pro golf stars Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods. “Then back to Mar-a-Lago for talks on bringing even more jobs and companies back to the USA!”

Trump’s pledge to play a “quick” game comes as Trump’s critics mock him for the amount of time he spends on the golf course, just as Trump took aim at predecessor Barack Obama for his golf game.

Contributing: Jessica Estepa 

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Michael Flynn and the Turkish Connection

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Trump tells Turkey’s leader: US to stop arming Syrian Kurds
 

mikenova shared this story .

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with U.S President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House, May 16, 2017.    (Reuters)

ANKARA, Turkey –  The United States will cut off its supply of arms to Kurdish fighters in Syria, President Donald Trump told the Turkish president on Friday, in a move sure to please Turkey but further alienate Syrian Kurds who bore much of the fight against the Islamic State group.

In a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump said he’d “given clear instructions” that the Kurds will receive no more weapons — “and that this nonsense should have ended a long time ago,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The White House confirmed the move in a cryptic statement about the phone call that said Trump had informed the Turk of “pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria.”

The White House called the move “consistent with our previous policy” and noted the recent fall of Raqqa, once the Islamic State group’s self-declared capital but recently liberated by a largely Kurdish force. The Trump administration announced in May it would start arming the Kurds in anticipation of the fight to retake Raqqa.

“We are progressing into a stabilization phase to ensure that ISIS cannot return,” the White House said, using an acronym for the extremist group.

The move could help ease strained tensions between the U.S. and Turkey, two NATO allies that have been sharply at odds about how best to wage the fight against IS. Turkey considers the Kurdish Syrian fighters, known by the initials YPG, to be terrorists because of their affiliation to outlawed Kurdish rebels that have waged a three decade-long insurgency in Turkey. Yet the U.S. chose to partner with the YPG in Syria anyway, arguing that the battle-hardened Kurds were the most effective fighting force available.

Cavusoglu, who said he was in the room with Erdogan during Trump’s call, quoted the U.S. president as saying he had given instructions to U.S. generals and to national security adviser H.R. McMaster that “no weapons would be issued.”

“Of course, we were very happy with this,” Cavusoglu said.

Yet for the Kurds, it was the latest demoralizing blow to their hopes for greater recognition in the region. Last month, the Kurds in neighboring Iraq saw their recent territorial gains erased by the Iraqi military, which seized the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and other disputed areas from the Kurdish regional government in retaliation for a Kurdish independence referendum that the U.S. ardently opposed.

Trump’s decision appeared to catch both the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department off guard. Officials at both agencies, who would normally be informed of changes in U.S. policy toward arming the Syrian Kurds, said they were unaware of any changes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

It was unclear whether the Trump administration notified the Kurds of the move before telling the Turks. Nor was it how much significance the change would have on the ground, considering the fight against IS is almost over.

The United States has been arming the Kurds in their fight against IS through an umbrella group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, which is comprised of Kurdish as well as Arab fighters.

But the retreat of IS, which has lost nearly all its territory in Syria, has altered the dynamics in the region and a U.S. defense official said he was unaware of any additional arms scheduled to be transferred to the Kurds, even before the Turkish announcement.

Last week, Col. Ryan Dillon, the chief spokesman for the U.S. coalition that is fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, said there has yet to be any reduction in the number of U.S. advisers working with the SDF. His comments appeared to suggest the possibility that changes in the level and type of U.S. military support for the Syrian Kurds could be coming.

As the fight against IS has waned in recent months, the U.S. has pledged to carefully monitor the weapons it provides the Kurds, notably ensuring that they don’t wind up in the hands of Kurdish insurgents in Turkey known as the PKK.

Both Turkey and the U.S. consider the PKK a terrorist group. But the United States has tried to draw a distinction between the PKK and the Syrian Kurds across the border, while Turkey insists they’re essentially the same.

In both Syria and Iraq, the U.S. relied on Kurdish fighters to do much of the fighting against IS, but those efforts have yet to lead to a realization of the Kurds’ broader aspirations, most notably an independent state.

Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurds, in particular, has been a major thorn in U.S.-Turkish relations for several years, given Turkey’s concerns about the Kurds’ territorial aspirations. In particular, Turkey has feared the establishment of a contiguous, Kurdish-held canton in northern Syria that runs along the Turkish border.

Relations between NATO allies Turkey and the United States have also soured recently over a number of other issues, including Turkey’s crackdown on dissent following a failed coup attempt last year.

Ankara has also demanded that the U.S. extradite a Pennsylvania-based cleric that it blames for fomenting the coup, but the U.S. says Turkey lacks sufficient proof.

Lederman reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.

Donald Trump didn’t know what hit him
 

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

Now that Michael Flynn has begun negotiating a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, one of the more curious questions has become what Donald Trump knew and when he knew it. Flynn is now going to take Trump down, no matter how the two men got to this point. But the details may help shed some light on how Trump can be counted on to respond going forward. As it turns out, Trump didn’t know what hit him.

Here’s how it usually works with these storylines: a major media outlet gets wind of what’s going on and begins putting together a story. Along the way, that media outlet contacts the White House and asks Donald Trump for advance comment on the story. This at least partially tips Trump off about the story that’s about to come out, and he tends to go on a Twitter tirade out of frustration and a desire to distract from the story that’s about to get published. As it turns out, precisely none of that happened this time around.

After the New York Times first broke the story on Thursday evening that Flynn was negotiating a deal, the Washington Post followed up with more detail (link). As it turns out, Flynn’s attorney notified Trump’s attorney about the situation on Wednesday evening. This means that, as Rachel Maddow was reporting live on-air on Wednesday night about the defense fund Trump was setting up for his advisers, and Trump’s attorney followed up with a statement making clear that Flynn would not be included, it was because he had just gotten word from Flynn’s attorney that Flynn was going to flip.

So now we know that, while Donald Trump may or may not have instinctively had some sense of what was inevitably coming, he had no real advance warning that Michael Flynn was going to cut him off on Wednesday night and begin negotiating a deal. If Trump is acting shellshocked and increasingly unsure of himself, it’s because he didn’t know what hit him when the stunning blow landed.

 

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Finnish Historians: Former Finnish Foreign Minister An Operative of Russian intelligence
 

mikenova shared this story from UpNorth.

Professor and former ambassador, Alpo Rusi and the former party secretary of The Finnish Centre Party, author Jarmo Korhonen have published a new book titled “The Kremlin’s Footsteps – Finlandization and Background of the Spying Scandal in 2002” (Kremlin jalanjälet – suomettuminen ja vuoden 2002 vakoilukohun tausta (Docendo 2017)). The book is available only in Finnish, but it cover issues of high international relevance.

“Tuomioja can be considered as an operative of Russian intelligence after the Zavidovo leak for his positions and openly stated Mareyev-connection,” Rusi and Korhonen write in their book.

The name of the book refers to the “footprints” of Kremlin – two subjects investigated more closely are finlandization and the background of the spying scandal in 2002. The strong connections between both issues are closely examined inside the book.
Alpo Rusi – who is currently a professor at Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania – became the focus of a Finnish spying scandal after leaving his post as an advisor to Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari (1994-2000). Alpo Rusi’s brother, Jukka, had been in contact with the East German STASI during the Cold War and documents concerning Jukka Rusi – in which Alpo Rusi was marked as a possible future contact – were used to label him as a spy.

Book author, Alpo Rusi

The spying claims concerning Alpo Rusi were completely false, but the investigation process revealed many gaps in Finnish society and challenges of Finnish “Vergangenheitsbewältigung” [process of historical reconciliation] in general. What happened to Rusi and President Ahtisaari is almost a prototype of Russian-style active measures. While the investigation itself was kafkaesque, the details of contained inside the broader background can be found inside the byzantine politics which was created in the era of finlandization.

RETURN TO ZAVIDOVO

The book begins by explaining the so-called “Zavidovo Leak”, which took place in the autumn of 1972. Finland was about to enter into an Association Agreement with the European Economic Community (similar to the Ukraine-EU agreement Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign), which many Finnish left-wing politicians openly opposed. Some considered the agreement as a “back-door” to NATO, despite the fact that the provisions concentrated strictly on trade issues and Finland had signed a similar, earlier agreement with the Eastern Bloc countries.

In 1972, President Urho Kekkonen discussed an association agreement with the Soviets in Zavidovo. Leonid Brezhnev expressed his suspicions, but Kekkonen tried his best to convince him that the policy of “neutrality” (which was actually quite heavily Soviet-leaning in the case of Finland) would remain.

Kekkonen wrote a memorandum about his meeting with Brezhnev, and Soviet objections Finland’s EEC Association Agreement. The status of the memo was top secret, but somehow Erkki Tuomioja, then an MP representing the left-wing faction of the Social Democrats, managed to obtain information about the memo and leaked it to Tor Högnäs, a Swedish-speaking journalist usually seen politically as pro-Kekkonen and anti-social democrat. The publication of the high level Soviet opposition to the Finnish-EEC agreement was very likely meant to destroy the entire EEC-process and even Kekkonen’s presidency.

According to Suomen Kuvalehti, the selection of Högnäs to publish the leak, was a great cover operation for Tuomioja and his left-wing comrades, who were able to make Kekkonen believe that foreign minister Ahti Karjalainen was resposible for it. According to the authors of the book, the unofficial working group responsible for the selection of Högnäs consisted of Antero Jyränki, Bo Ahlfors, Erkki Tuomioja, Jaakko Kalela and Jaakko Blomberg.

Kalela and Blomberg belonged to the authors’ collective called Y. Y. Antonen, by which name a column arguing for the necessity of the leak was published in Ydin magazine. The founder of the collective, Kari Tapiola, worked as a secretary for Kalevi Sorsa (a left-wing social democrat with close KGB-connection) whom the memorandum was delivered to in the first place because of his post as minister. Tapiola was able to see all the secret information by Sorsa’s permission.

Kalela and Blomberg made impressive careers as civil servants – Blomberg in the Foreing Ministery and Kalela in the Office of the President. During Tarja Halonen’s presidency, both acted as Ambassadors to Estonia. Kari Tapiola further built his career in the service of international labour organizations. His son, Pirkka Tapiola advises the European External Action Service leadership on Eastern Europe, and more broadly on issues related to democracy and transition.

In his book “Kukkaisvallasta kekkosvaltaan” (Tammi 1993) Tuomioja admitted that he committed the leak but didn’t reveal his own source(s). He probably believed that criminal responsibility won’t reach him anymore for it and that it couldn’t be considered as aggravated treason. However, he did not reveal where he got them information from.

However, presuming that Soviet intelligence – which was closely connected to the anti-EEC social democrats – knew who the leaker was all along, it leaves little room for speculation whether Tuomioja was under the threat of potential blackmail.

Maybe because of his personal animosity towards Kalevi Sorsa, Tuomioja supported Ahtisaari’s presidency in the 1994 election. He even acted as a chairman of Ahtisaari’s support group. In September of 1993 Tuomioja wrote in his diary that his former “home Russian” (personal KGB-officer) Valery Mareyev invited him for a lunch, which shows that contact with the Russian embassy continued.

Rusi shows in his book that like former president Mauno Koivisto, Tuomioja was also reluctant to stand up against Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic.

Tuomioja was named as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2000. Rusi shows in his book that like former president Mauno Koivisto, Tuomioja was also reluctant to stand up against Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic. When the negotiation process for the Lisbon Treaty took place, Tuomioja’s role in downplaying the security guarantee based on EU membership was significant. “Not a specially meritious stateman’s act”, historian Jukka Tarkka has stated.

When The European Union made  decision to place sanctions against Russia in 2014, Tuomioja expressed his dissenting opinion in the governmental committee. He hoped that Finland would leave an option to oppose the sanctions if a ceasefire held, no matter how other EU countries acted.

After leaving his post as Foreign Minister, Tuomioja has paid private visits to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and chaired a network called Historians Without Borders.

“Tuomioja can be considered as an operative of Russian intelligence after the Zavidovo leak for his positions and openly stated Mareyev-connection”, Rusi and Korhonen write in their book.

A recent UpNorth article analyzed some of the correspondence and relationship between Tuomioja and pro-Russian adjunct professor Johan Bäckman.

Historial connecitons between the KGB and Finnish Political LeadershipHistorial connecitons between the KGB and Finnish Political Leadership

FSB, SUPO AND THEIR NETWORKS

The Finnish Security Police, SUPO, was penetrated by the KGB during the Cold War. According to Vasily Mitrokhin’s archives, its chief Arvo Pentti was recruited as an agent by the code name “Mauri” and rewarded by 150 000 Finnish marks.

His successor Seppo Tiitinen held the post 1978-1990. In 1992 he was named Secretary General in the Finnish parliament from which post he retired in 2015. According to the authors of the book, British intelligence warned that Russian intelligence could blackmail Mr. Tiitinen.

According to Rusi and Korhonen, not only the influential Western intelligence community, but Estonia’s Internal Security, KAPO had also delivered warnings about the KGB’s and its successors’ influence on SUPO.

SUPO seems to have ignored this even in the most obvious spying cases (for example in the case of Jaakko Laakso and President Tarja Halonen’s strategist Riitta Juntunen, who was recruited as a STASI agent), which raises many questions. When the latter case was raised publicly, SUPO was led by Seppo Nevala, Kalevi Sorsa’s former secretary (as then President Tarja Halonen and Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen were).

Last year, Suomen Sotilas published a memorandum concerning Nevala’s nomination as the deputy chief of SUPO which took place when Tiitinen (with his Center Party background) was nominated as the chief. The memorandum includes detailed information about how Nevala used alcohol in an inappropriate way and has some challenging personality traits. It’s also mentioned that Nevala is formally unqualified for the position, but whether these facts have enough correlation with the other nomination – probably referring to Tiitinen – the writer of the memo doesn’t believe Nevala’s nomination will be cancelled either.

It looks like two Finnish Presidents actively worked to keep the list that included 18 people associated with the STASI, secret. This Tiitinen/Hassinen list (Raino Hassinen worked in Ahtisaari’s office as an advisor) was ignored by both Mauno Koivisto (1990) and Martti Ahtisaari (1999). According to Rusi and Korhonen, Kalevi Sorsa and many top officials of the Finnish Foreign Ministery were on the list. When the list was evaluated in Ahtisaari’s office, the President himself, Chief of Staff Jaakko Kalela and Hassinen were present.

Although Ahtisaari was in principle pro-western and relatively independent from party politics, he was elected to his post as a candidate of the Social Democrats. Also his career in the Foreign Ministry begun by Sorsa’s recommendation. The “spying scandal” constructed around Alpo Rusi – who was independent from the Social Democratic background forces – was needed to cover the real Eastern intelligence influence in Finland.

The distrust between the President and his advisor was also provoked with rumours about the latter having inappropriate contact with the Russians during the Balkan peace process. It’s commonly known that the erosion of trust and confidence between politicians and their closest advisors – and people in general – is one of the basic tactics of the KGB and its successors. Many of of those who acted behind the scenes during the Zavidovo leak – such as Kalela and Tuomioja – were now active inside or near the President’s office.

However, the President of the United States Bill Clinton expressed his special thanks to Rusi after peace was achieved and Ahtisaari’s advisor was responsible for organizing the summit of Sarajevo in 1999.

It is likely that Ahtisaari himself – later rewarded with Nobel Peace Prize – felt somehow threatened. Jussi Lähde, who had worked as communications manager of the President, has said that he received a call from London in summer 1999. The caller offered a significant amount of money in exchange for compromising information about Ahtisaari.

 WHAT HAPPENED TO  RENÉ NYBERG?

Paavo Lipponen, the long-serving prime minister who started his political career as Kalevi Sorsa’s secretary and international secretary of the Social Democrats, strongly opposed publication of the so-called Tiitinen’s list and the opening of the archives concerning the STASI’s activities in Finland. In his famous column, he imagined how a guillotine would be constructed in central Helsinki and “hippies” marched to kick the bodies after the heads had been removed. In Lipponen’s vision, Alpo Rusi would sign the doors and graves of the suspects.

Rusi’s book “Vasemmalta ohi – kamppailu Suomen ulkopoliittisesta johtajuudesta rautaesiripun varjossa 1945-1990” (Gummerus) was published in the same year. In that book, he revealed many details about the STASI contacts with Finnish politicians – ‘especially Social Democrats’.

In 2008, Lipponen announced that he signed an agreement with Nord Stream AG for consulting services. This job has paid him many hundreds of thousands euros. Also his former secretary Antton Rönnholm – now acting as party secretary of the Social Democrats – and many other associates have worked for Russian gas interests. Nord Stream AG is led by former STASI agent Matthias Warnig.

Already in 1998, then prime minister Lipponen’s advisor Timo Pesonen spread rumours that “SUPO is following Rusi and Nyberg”. Somehow, the information was widely spread although Rusi himself was not made aware of it.

We now know that Rusi withstood the scandal and has since been proven innocent. But what was the case with Nyberg?
After his diplomatic career in Moscow and Berlin, René Nyberg (whom Pesonen likely referred to) founded a consulting company called East Office. The company claims to specialize in building Finnish companies’ relations with Russia. Its board is led by former Center Party Prime Minister Esko Aho, who was also invited to join the board of the Kremlin owned Sberbank last year.

When Nyberg published his book “Viimeinen juna Moskovaan” (Siltala 2014) Lipponen praised it.
Recently, a retired ambassador Hannu Himanen recommended Nato-membership for Finland in his book Länttä vai itää – Suomi ja geopolitiikan paluu (Docendo 2017). Nyberg soon claimed in Helsingin Sanomat that Himanen’s book was unethical.

WILL ANYTHING CHANGE?

The  new book by Rusi and Korhonen includes some very important historical puzzle pieces about recent Finnish history and Eastern intelligence operations here. At the same time, it provides another example of the methods the Kremlin and its operatives are willing to use to achieve their geopolitical goals and discredit those who may threaten their impelialistc goals of securing “spheres of influence”.

During the last few month,s we have seen a flow of new – or at least recently organized – information regarding these issues. Historian Juho Ovaskainen has demonstrated in his book “Mauno Koiviston idänkortti” (Otava 2017) how Urho Kekkonen’s successor used The Soviet Union to achieve his career goals. It is known that he was good friend of Viktor Vladimirov, a Soviet diplomat in Helsinki, who used to lead KGB’s assasination department.

While the revelations may uncover further revelations, the old network is taking what it can. It is likely that when these old Soviet-based networks of influence lose their influence and importance, Russia may start to provide more support to the Western European style anti-establishment movements.

Recently, the Kremlin has given archival access to Kimmo Rentola, Timo Vihavainen, Ohto Manninen and Sergey Zhuravljov for historical research. Their book “Varjo Suomen yllä – Stalinin salaiset kansio”t (Docendo 2017) gives perspective to policies of the Soviet Union in relation to Finland under Stalin’s regime.

In 2014, professor Vihavainen received an Order of Friendship from Russian president Vladimir Putin. In 1990 he became known for his criticism toward finlandization, but now he is known as a strongly conservative “traditionalist”. In June 2014 he said the Ukrainian Euromaidan was started by “a violent mob” and compared those protestors to the terrorist separatists in Eastern Ukraine. He has also attacked the idea of lustration in Finland, which has gained more vocal support lately (the youth arm of the National Coalition (Conservative) Party adopted publication of Tiitinen’s list in its policy platform of 2017).

Professor Kimmo Rentola is a historian and former communist. He is the author of “Ratakatu 12” (WSOY 2009), a history book concerning and ordered by SUPO, then lead by Seppo Nevala. In 2016 he was elected to the board of Historians without Borders, organization founded by Erkki Tuomioja.

PERSONAL PRONOUNS

When asked about finlandization in 2009, Finnish-Estonian author Sofi Oksanen stated that if it was so normal, why can’t we talk about it openly? She also recommended to start using personal pronouns in such evaluation.

When it comes to Russian intelligence activities in Finland (yet not equal to the term finlandization), Rusi and Korhonen have opened the Pandora’s box. It will not be closed any time soon.

As he investigates Trump’s aides, special counsel’s record shows surprising flaws
 

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When he was named special counsel in May, Robert S. Mueller III was hailed as the ideal lawman — deeply experienced, strait-laced and nonpartisan — to investigate whether President Trump’s campaign had helped with Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The accolades squared with Mueller’s valor as a Marine rifle platoon commander in Vietnam and his integrity as a federal prosecutor, a senior Justice Department official and FBI director from 2001 to 2013, the longest tenure since J. Edgar Hoover. He was praised by former courtroom allies and opponents, and by Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

But at 73, Mueller’s record also shows a man of fallible judgment who can be slow to alter his chosen course. At times, he has intimidated or provoked resentment among subordinates. And his tenacious yet linear approach to evaluating evidence led him to fumble the biggest U.S. terrorism investigation since 9/11.

Now, as he leads a sprawling investigation aimed at the White House, Mueller’s prosecutorial discretion looms over the Trump presidency.

On what terms would Mueller offer immunity from prosecution to investigative targets? How broadly will he interpret his mandate to probe not only the 2016 campaign but also matters that “may arise directly from the investigation”?

Will he target Trump’s sprawling family business and financial empire and the years before the developer ran for the White House?

::

Robert Swan Mueller III began life on an elite footing.

Raised in affluent suburbs west of Philadelphia, he attended the St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire (classmates included future Secretary of State John F. Kerry), before majoring in politics at Princeton. He joined the Marines after graduation and was awarded Navy and Marine Corps medals in Vietnam, where he was shot in the thigh. He graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1973.

Bored by a stint at a white-shoe San Francisco law firm, the jut-jawed Mueller switched to the U.S. attorney’s office there in 1976. Colleagues say he typically arrived by 6:30 a.m., at times in his Marine-issue green raincoat. He played on the office softball team but was careful not to let down his guard while socializing.

“He’d join us, have one — and it was only one — and then his wife would arrive to pick him up,” recalled a colleague.


Editor’s Note

This article is based, in part, on interviews with more than two dozen lawyers and investigators who have worked with Mueller. Citing the sensitivity of the Russia investigation and potential repercussions, most spoke on the condition of anonymity. Mueller declined, through a spokesman, to comment.


Mueller also is remembered for a headline-grabbing case that ended in failure.

In 1979, the government lodged then-novel racketeering charges against 33 members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club. The indictments alleged bombings and murders as well as the manufacture and sale of illegal drugs. The defendants and their supporters were so feared that bulletproof glass was installed in court to shield the judge.

The first trial, of 18 defendants, ended with only five convictions. All were overturned on appeal.

Mueller, who led the U.S. attorney’s special prosecutions unit, then took over the case. He dropped many of the charges, including against Ralph “Sonny” Barger, leader of the club’s Oakland chapter, whose charismatic testimony had dominated the first trial.

Mueller led a team of four prosecutors in court when the second trial, with 11 defendants, began in October 1980. But after four months, the jury said it was deadlocked, and the judge declared a mistrial. Mueller decided not to ask for a retrial.

Richard B. Mazer, a defense lawyer at both trials, said the government was unable to prove the Hells Angels was a racketeering enterprise. Key prosecution witnesses, he said, seemed unreliable — especially those granted immunity to testify despite having committed violent crimes themselves.

“They made a mess of it,” Mazer recalled. “It was an entirely snitch case. It depended entirely on the quality of snitches.”

But Mazer and Alan Caplan, another defense lawyer, praised Mueller’s straightforward handling of the case.

“We fought hard, but I can’t conceivably say anything negative about him,” Caplan said.

About a year after the case collapsed, a new U.S. attorney in San Francisco chose a prosecutor with more trial experience to head the office’s criminal division, a post that Mueller had held for a year.

Mueller responded by transferring to the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston. He prosecuted financial fraud, terrorism and public corruption cases for six years, and served as acting U.S. attorney from 1986 to 1987.

One case — involving a Soviet-bloc spy — gave Mueller an early window into U.S.-Russia intrigues.

At the direction of the Justice Department’s internal security division, Mueller negotiated a plea agreement with an East German physicist named Alfred Zehle and his lawyer. In February 1985, Zehle admitted in court that he had conspired to deliver U.S. defense information to East German intelligence authorities.

Under the agreement, the judge sentenced Zehle only to the time he had served in jail after he was arrested at a scientific conference in Boston. Zehle, in turn, became a bargaining chip for a major spy swap.

“We ultimately got 25 of our people out, including their families,” in a trade for Zehle and several other Soviet-bloc spies, recalled a U.S. official who was involved with the negotiations.

The successful June 1985 exchange helped pave the way, the official said, for a more significant exchange by Washington and Moscow.

In February 1986, officials again faced off for a trade on the so-called Bridge of Spies between East and West Germany. Among those escorted to freedom was Natan Sharansky, the celebrated Russian human rights activist who had served nine years in Soviet prisons.

As the Cold War ended, Mueller moved to “main Justice” in Washington. He easily won his first Senateconfirmation after President George H.W. Bush appointed him assistant U.S. attorney general, responsible for the criminal division.

Mueller oversaw investigations of Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and Gambino crime family boss John Gotti, among other high-profile cases. But his tendency to command, rather than inspire, again came into sharp relief.

“He doesn’t invite disagreement,” said a former prosecutor who served under Mueller. “He’s an order-giver.”

He could be harsh on subordinates — sparking resentment when he referred privately to reassigning career lawyers as “moving the furniture.”

::

In 1993, at age 50, Mueller decided to try private practice again, joining Hale and Dorr as a partner in Washington, representing corporate clients.

The money was better, but Muller was unfulfilled. After two years, he returned to government service — signing on as a homicide prosecutor in the District of Columbia. It was a time of mayhem in the nation’s capital, made worse by the scourge of crack cocaine.

Mueller began working with a “cold case” squad, comprised of Metropolitan Police detectives and FBI agents, that sought to bring murderers to justice.

The squad sent applications for search warrants and subpoenas for Mueller’s review before seeking a judge’s approval. Unlike some prosecutors, Mueller “wouldn’t automatically give a signature,” recalled one of the investigators.

“He would ask, ‘Have you done your work? Do you have your facts?’ … He knew what he was asking was the way to make sure everything stood up” in court.

Building cases often entailed forging trust with victims, witnesses and suspects. Relating to both the sympathetic and the unsavory did not play to Mueller’s strengths.

“He was a gruff guy, and a lot of times, there wasn’t much warmth or ability to really build a bond or connect with a victim-witness,” said the same investigator. “There’s times when you’ve got to bond with the suspect to get what you need. His personality wasn’t necessarily the best for that.”

Nor was Mueller an easy fit with juries in Washington, especially in the freewheeling local Superior Court, where decorum is typically below what judges demand in U.S. District Court.

“In D.C. Superior Court, it’s a bit like meatball surgery. It’s a bit like a M.A.S.H. unit — it’s the unexpected,” said one of Mueller’s former colleagues. “His strength was not as a M.A.S.H. unit trial lawyer.”

Mueller, a registered Republican, moved back to San Francisco in 1998 after President Clinton appointed him U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California. In July 2001, President George W. Bush nominated him as FBI director, and he won unanimous Senate confirmation. Mueller asked the White House for a delay, however, so he could undergo treatment for prostate cancer.

His first day on the job was Sept. 4, 2001 — a week before hijacked airliners slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania in the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.

At 7 a.m. Sept. 12, Mueller, then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and other officials arrived for an emergency briefing at the FBI’s operations center. The senior agent had been given an hour to prepare while investigators were still combing airline manifests and scouring crash sites.

When Mueller asked a rapid-fire series of questions, the agent replied that accurate information was not yet “established.”

“ ‘I want answers, goddamn it!’ ” Mueller exploded, an official who was present recalled.

Mueller already was coming under siege from critics who questioned why the FBI had not prevented the 9/11 attacks. Fear spread of a “second wave” terrorist strike.

Mueller countered by announcing plans to reshape the FBI. Its first priority would be to prevent another terrorist attack — not conventional law enforcement.

The enormity of the FBI’s challenge emerged within weeks.

A handful of letters, laced with powdered anthrax, killed five people and sickened 17 others. The government closed congressional office buildings, the Supreme Court and postal facilities as the country braced for further biological terrorism.

But Mueller’s FBI struggled for nearly seven years to determine who was responsible — even as he personally managed the case from headquarters.

“The director was always the leader of the anthrax investigation, period,” said Michael Mason, former head of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

The FBI focused on Steven Hatfill, a virologist at the U.S. Army’s laboratories at Ft. Detrick, Md. In January 2003, Mueller assured Congressional leaders in a closed-door briefing that bloodhounds had traced anthrax from the attacks to Hatfill.

But Hatfill had no experience handling anthrax. Nor did he have access to anthrax stored at Ft. Detrick or elsewhere. Years later, the FBI would reject the bloodhound evidence as unreliable.

After media leaks fingered Hatfill, he sued the FBI and the Justice Department on privacy grounds. In June 2008, the government agreed to pay Hatfill about $5.8 million.

Two months later, on Aug. 6, Mueller summoned senior investigators and prosecutors on the anthrax case to his seventh-floor office. The FBI would hold a news conference that afternoon, and he wanted to recap the case’s stunning denouement.

Bruce E. Ivins, an Army microbiologist at Ft. Detrick who specialized in handling anthrax, had committed suicide after his lawyers informed him he was about to be charged with murder for the letter attacks.

Evidence showed Ivins had created and held custody of a batch of anthrax traced by DNA to each of the killings. Ivins had spent hours alone in specially equipped labs just before each batch of letters was mailed.

Mueller let others hold the news conference. Some aides who met Mueller that day think he was reluctant to publicly address the missteps with Hatfill, the bloodhounds and the long delay in focusing on Ivins.

“I think he was personally embarrassed,” said one. “I would assess him as someone that can’t accept the fact that he screwed up.”

::

At FBI headquarters, protecting the director from embarrassment was ingrained.

A case in point unfolded in 2011 — just as the Senate was considering President Obama’s request to extend Mueller’s expiring term as FBI director by two years.

The FBI’s Inspection Division, a unit that scrutinizes bureau operations, conducted a three-week examination of the Directorate of Intelligence, a unit that Mueller created to carry out the shift in preventing terrorism.

“They inspected it, and they wrote the inspection report and it said the whole thing’s broken — set it on fire and start from scratch,” said a former official familiar with the report. Another ex-official confirmed the account.

Mueller’s top aides saw peril in following normal procedure — forwarding the report to the Justice Department’s inspector general for possible follow-up action.

“It was, ‘The director will get skewered. We’ve got to protect him, and we can’t issue this,’ ” the former official recalled.

The aides kept the report in-house, the former official said, by tweaking its language.

“Anywhere it said, ‘inspection,’ they changed it to ‘review.’ And said this was a review, not an inspection, and therefore they didn’t have to issue it to … the inspector general.”

Two years later, Mueller — without citing the inspection — informed Congress that he had restructured the Directorate of Intelligence “to maximize organizational collaboration, identify and address emerging threats and more effectively integrate intelligence and operations within the FBI.”

During his final months as FBI director, Mueller was again enlisted to help with a thorny matter in U.S.-Russia relations.

In the summer of 2013, the White House asked Mueller to negotiate the release from Russia of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who stole volumes of classified material on U.S. surveillance operations at home and abroad. Snowden had fled to Moscow after leaking the data to journalists.

Unlike the Cold War spy cases, the U.S. did not offer a trade. The Obama administration wanted Moscow to return Snowden as part of a diplomatic “reset,” an ultimately unsuccessful effort to improve relations with Russia.

Lisa Monaco, the White House’s Homeland Security advisor, tasked Mueller to talk to Alexander Bortnikov, head of Russia’s internal security and counter-intelligence service, the FSB.

For at least a week, Mueller called Bortnikov’s office, starting at 3 a.m. in Washington. Each time, the FBI director was turned aside without getting Bortnikov on the line.

“Mueller just kept calling over there, like begging to talk to the guy,” said a former official. Instead, Snowden was granted asylum in Russia.

The unsuccessful outreach offered Mueller insight into Russian intelligence, who U.S. officials say helped hack and leak Democratic Party emails last year in an effort to undermine U.S. democracy and to help Trump’s campaign.

Investigators and lawyers who have worked with Mueller say that his legacy as special counsel will depend, ultimately, on his resolve, his integrity and especially his judgment.

“If he believes somebody has committed a crime, he’s going to do whatever he can to hold them accountable,” said a former FBI colleague. “Trump’s name or brand is not going to back down Mueller.”

david.willman@latimes.com

Finnish Historians: Former Finnish Foreign Minister An Operative of Russian intelligence – UpNorth
 

mikenova shared this story from Russian Intelligence services – Google News.


UpNorth
Finnish Historians: Former Finnish Foreign Minister An Operative of Russian intelligence
UpNorth
Professor and former ambassador, Alpo Rusi and the former party secretary of The Finnish Centre Party, author Jarmo Korhonen have published a new book titled The Kremlin’s Footsteps Finlandization and Background of the Spying Scandal in 2002 …
Yevgeny Nikulin – Google Search
 

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Czech Court Rules Russian Hacking Suspect Can Be Extradited to US

RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty8 hours ago
A prison guard walks outside a courtroom during an appeal by Yevgeny Nikulin, who faces charges of hacking computers of American …
Supreme Court in Prague approves extradition of Russian hacker …
<a href=”https://en.crimerussia.com/” rel=”nofollow”>https://en.crimerussia.com/</a>7 hours ago

Story image for Yevgeny Nikulin from https://en.crimerussia.com/

Detained in Czech Republic Russian hacker released from …

<a href=”https://en.crimerussia.com/” rel=”nofollow”>https://en.crimerussia.com/</a>Nov 23, 2017
Detained in Prague at the request of the US Russian hacker Yevgeny Nikulin is accused of hacking servers of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Robert Mueller nabs Trump-Russia hacker at the worst possible time for Donald Trump
 

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

If Donald Trump was thinking that his Thanksgiving holiday weekend couldn’t get any worse after Michael Flynn revealed he’s cutting a Trump-Russia deal, things have indeed found a way to get even worse. An infamous Russian hacker, believed to be near the center of the Trump-Russia election hacking scandal, is being extradited to the United States so that the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller can have their way with him.

The Czech Republic has ruled that Russian hacker Yevgeny Nikulin will be extradited to the United States, and not returned to Russia, according to a new report from Radio Free Europe (link). Nikulin’s attorney has revealed that the FBI believes Nikulin was involved in Trump-Russia election hacking. Mueller has jurisdiction over the FBI in all matters relating to the Trump-Russia scandal, which means that Nikulin is now all his.

So now, even as Robert Mueller is gaining Michael Flynn as a cooperating witness with valuable information about the Trump campaign’s sign of Trump-Russia collusion, he’s also gaining a hacker with insider information on the Russian side of the collusion. There is no guarantee that Nikulin will cut a deal once he arrives in the United States. But assuming he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life rotting in an American prison, it’s likely that he’ll work something out with Mueller and spill his guts.

To give you an idea of how much value the United States government places on the cooperation of Yevgeny Nikulin, it had him arrested on an Interpol warrant more than a year ago before election day and has been trying to get him extradited ever since. The timing of this extradition ruling appears to be coincidental to Michael Flynn’s decision to cut a deal. It simply means that Donald Trump’s luck and his future prospects are growing dimmer by the hour.

The post Robert Mueller nabs Trump-Russia hacker at the worst possible time for Donald Trumpappeared first on Palmer Report.

Cambridge Analytica endangers global democracy, and it must be stopped
 

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John Raines, 84, Who Evaded Capture in an F.B.I. Break-in, Dies
 

mikenova shared this story from Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Dr. Raines and his wife were among the antiwar protesters who broke into a field office in 1971 and stole hundreds of files, which they gave to journalists.

Michael Flynn may cooperate with Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation – PBS NewsHour
 

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PBS NewsHour
Michael Flynn may cooperate with Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation
PBS NewsHour
Flynn was facing a Justice Department investigation over his foreign business dealings even before Mueller was appointed as special counsel in May to investigate potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 …
A Split From Trump Indicates That Flynn Is Moving to Cooperate With MuellerNew York Times
Michael Flynn, Trump’s ex-National Security Adviser, focus of Russia investigation: What to knowFox News
Flynn may be moving to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia probeABC News
HuffPost –Newsweek
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Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017 – Google Search
 

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Image result for Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017

Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017 – Google Search
 

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Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017 – Google Search
 

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Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017 – Google Search
 

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Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017 – Google Search
 

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Story image for Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017 from Aljazeera.com

The death of the Russian far right

<a href=”http://Aljazeera.com” rel=”nofollow”>Aljazeera.com</a>Nov 23, 2017
Participants carry a banner during a Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017. The banner reads: “To …

Story image for Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017 from RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Police Detain Nationalists As Russians Mark National Unity Day

RadioFreeEurope/RadioLibertyNov 4, 2017
Police Detain Nationalists As Russians Mark National Unity Day … Police detained dozens of nationalistdemonstrators in Moscow on November 4 at an antigovernment … Organizers of the Russian March said more than 70 demonstrators were … Maltsev (right) at a Russian opposition rally on May 6, 2017.

Story image for Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017 from The Jamestown Foundation

Russian March 2017: Smaller Than in Years Past, but More Likely to …

The Jamestown FoundationNov 6, 2017
The annual “Russian March” on November 4 (National Unity Day) has become a rallying point for the nationalist opposition to the regime. … seemed to promise parades in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Vologda and …

Story image for Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017 from Channel NewsAsia

Police detain dozens in Moscow amid fear of anti-government attacks

Channel NewsAsiaNov 5, 2017
Russian anti-riot policemen detain a demonstrator taking part in a nationalist march during the National Unity Day in Moscow on Nov 04, 2017.
The death of the Russian far right | Far Right
 

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On November 4, a few hundred people gathered for the annual ultranationalist “Russian march” in Moscow. With chants like “Glory to Russia” and “Freedom for political prisoners”, the demonstrators tried to march through the Lyublino neighbourhood of Moscow, before the police dispersed the crowd, arresting dozens.

But this year’s march was a far cry from what it used to be in the late 2000s and early 2010s when thousands of people would join well-organised columns replete with banners, flags and drummers.

Today, most of the leaders of the ultranationalist groups that used to organise the march are either in jail or in self-imposed exile. Their supporters consider them to be politically persecuted and complain about increasing state repression.

Although the Kremlin has been accused of supporting conservative and far-right political groups in Europe, at home it seems to be becoming increasingly intolerant towards groups that propagate ideas similar to their Western counterparts.

In the past few years, and especially since the conflict in Ukraine erupted in 2014, the Russian authorities have cracked down on nationalist groups under the guise of criminal investigations or accusations of extremism under the infamous “anti-extremism” Law 282.

‘Controlled nationalism’

In the early 2000s, Russian President Vladimir Putin was finishing his first presidential term when two colour revolutions struck nearby – the first in Georgia in 2013 and the second in Ukraine in 2014. Large crowds in Tbilisi and Kiev demanded democratic change and major political reforms. The possibility of a colour revolution erupting in Russia seemed too real.

It was then that the Kremlin looked to the right. Russian observers would later identify this strategy of employing nationalist forces as “controlled nationalism”.

“Controlled nationalism is about using nationalists in some [political] games. In some cases, [the authorities] would support nationalists in order to keep the regime alive, to fight the threat of a colour revolution,” says Anton Shekhovstov, visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Austria.

“They thought that if they supported those ultranationalist movements, they would decrease the opportunity of nationalists becoming a force that would destabilise the regime,” he explains.

In early 2005, in response to the colour revolutions, the International Eurasian movement, headed by Alexander Dugin, a right-wing political scientist and ideologue (whom Western journalists eventually nicknamed “Putin’s Rasputin”) createda youth wing, the Eurasian Youth Union (ESM). Its aim was to whip up nationalist sentiment and mobilise young people against anti-government attitudes.

That same year, the Russian authorities decided to finally do away with the November 7 official holiday celebrating the October Revolution. They moved the allocated day off to November 4 – the day Moscow was liberated from the Poles in 1612, an official holiday in tsarist Russia until 1917.

The authorities named the new holiday “National Unity Day”, but there wasn’t much public enthusiasm for it and most Russians didn’t even know its history. So when the ESM requested to hold a right-wing march on that day, the local authorities readily obliged.

Other ultranationalist organisations and skinhead groups joined the ESM and the turnout that year surprised many: Some 3,000 people marched, chanting “Glory to Russia” and “Russians forward”, as young men made Nazi salutes in front of TV cameras.

In the years that followed, the ESM was pushed out of the organising committee of the march for being too pro-Kremlin and two other groups took the lead: the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) and the Slavic Union (SS). The DPNI was led by Alexander Potkin, who changed his name to Belov (“bely” in Russian means white) and the SS was headed by Dmitry Dyomushkin. Both men are now in jail.

“Belov was my assistant in the Duma. He became an opportunist and has ended up in jail,” says Andrei Savelev, founder and leader of the “Great Russia” nationalist movement, who was elected to the Duma in 2003. At around the same time, Dyomushkin was an assistant to another member of the Duma during that period, Nikolay Kuryanovich from the pro-Kremlin ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.

“Аll these years Dyomushkin was surprisingly untouchable. He was doing things for which others would go to jail. For four to five years, the justice system did not touch him,” says Savelev.

According to him, Dyomushkin and Belov were coopted by the Russian authorities. He says this was why he withdrew his organisation from the Russian march.

Ivan Beletsky, a close associate of Dyomushkin who took over organising the march in 2016, rejects the idea of cooptation and claims that “Great Russia” is a pro-government group. He says that the authorities tried but failed to take control of the Russian march in the late 2000s and were compelled to permit it in order to “cool down popular agitation”.

“The Russian march is a protest march: against the government, against corruption, and for a change of power,” he says, speaking to Al Jazeera via Skype from a location outside of Russia that he refused to disclose.

In July 2011, Dyomushkin and Belov caused a stir within the ultranationalist movement for going to Chechnya and meeting with its president, Ramazan Kadyrov, a Kremlin loyalist, despite their anti-Chechen and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Dyomushkin subsequently went to Grozny a number of times.

In August 2011, DPNI was banned by the Russian government (the SS had been banned a year earlier). Nevertheless, the government allowed the Russian march to take place. On November 4, more than 10,000 nationalists, joined by opposition politicians like Alexei Navalny, marched in Lyublino with banners reading “Stop feeding Caucasus”. Over the years, the central government has been perceived as being quite generous in its budget allocation to the Chechen Republic in the North Caucasus and has been criticised by both nationalists and liberals for it.

In 2012, ultranationalist organisations participating in the Russian march backed anti-government protests. The merger between regular opposition and nationalists worried the government and the Federal Security Service (FSB) considered it a potentially “revolutionary situation”, says Beletsky.

Schism in the far right and crackdown

The events of 2014 in Ukraine caught the ultranationalist groups in Russia by surprise. On one hand, the Kremlin was employing strong nationalist rhetoric claiming Crimea was “rightfully” Russian and that ethnic Russians living in Ukraine had to be protected; on the other, fellow Ukrainian far-right groups were supporting the Maidan and opposing the annexation.

“In 2014, the Kremlin demanded full loyalty from all Russian nationalists,” says Shekhovtsov. “Some of them declined to become loyal to the Kremlin.”

The result was a “schism” in the nationalist movement with one camp supporting the annexation of Crimea and the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, and the other opposing both and supporting the Ukrainian central government.

“We right-wing nationalists – we consider [the breakaway regions in Eastern Ukraine] Putin’s machinations. We stood up against this and we suffered fierce repressions,” says Beletsky.

On November 4, 2014, there were two events in Moscow that claimed to be the Russian march – one supporting the annexation of Crimea and the other rejecting it. In the following months, one by one leaders of ultranationalist groups supporting the latter were arrested on various charges.

In 2015, Belov was arrested and a year later convicted on charges of money laundering related to a Kazakh bank and spreading extremism among Russian-speaking Kazakh citizens. He was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail.

In 2016, Dyomushkin was arrested for posting a photo of a previous Russian march in which a banner saying “Russian power in Russia” was visible. He was accused of spreading “extremism” and handed two and a half years in prison. A previous court case against him on similar charges dating from 2011 ended in early 2014 without a sentence due to an expiration of the statute of limitations.

According to his lawyer, Dmitry Baharev, who also used to be a member of the SS, the case against him is politically motivated.

“Usually for pictures, they give suspended sentences, but Dyomushkin got prison,” he says. “In my opinion, this is connected with the events in Ukraine.”

Another close associate of Dyomushkin and Belov and a frequent Russian march attendee, Georgy Borovikov, а leader of the banned National Patriotic Front “Memory” was arrested and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in 2014 for robbery and torture.

Other far-right leaders managed to escape before being arrested. Beletsky says he fled the country fearing arrest as he was questioned multiple times and briefly detained this year after organising nationalists to join Navalny for an anti-government protest in March.

Yury Gorsky, also an organiser of the Russian march and former member of various ultranationalist groups, was charged with spreading extremism and is currently in Lithuania. Igor Artyomov, the former leader of the banned Russian All-National Union, which also used to participate in the march, received political asylum in the US.

Prominent ultranationalist vlogger Vyacheslav Maltsev, who at some point was associated with “Great Russia” and also attended Russian marches, fled from Russia after being briefly detained and is currently in hiding in a European country. Maltsev called for a “revolution” on November 5. Many of his supporters had previously been or were subsequently arrested.

Human rights groups have been divided over whether or not to consider the detention and imprisonment of ultranationalists to be political prosecution. Human rights organisation “Memorial” considers that in the case of Belov, there are “signs of political motivation”.

“All of these big nationalist leaders are guilty, not necessarily of what they accuse them of, but there is a lot of other things they did. The authorities have not undertaken to sort out these things because it is too difficult or long, so they stuck on them whatever they could,” says Natalya Yudina, a researcher at “Sova Centre” which focuses on extremism and violations of human rights in Russia. She says that the centre does not consider Belov a political prisoner and that members of the organisations which he and Dyomushkin led committed violent attacks in the past.

Promoting destabilisation abroad, preempting it at home

While the Kremlin was cracking down on the far right at home, in the West, it was seeking its support.

According to Shekhovtsov, the Kremlin launched efforts to establish relations with ultranationalist groups in Europe as early as 2008.

“[In 2008,] many in the Russian elite circles believed that Russia may have won the war with Georgia in military terms but it failed to win the information war and convince the West or the international community that Russia’s actions were justified,” he says.

Russian national and international media sought to feature Western commentators sympathetic to Russia’s actions in Georgia, but could not find any in the mainstream; the ones that would openly express support were mostly on the far right, explains Shekhovtsov.

In the following years, the Kremlin invested a lot of effort into nourishing ties with far-right groups and parties in the West. The Russian authorities would organise ultranationalist conferences, back media initiatives, and establish formal agreements with far-right parties.

Currently, the ruling United Russia party has established cooperation agreements with the Northern League in Italy and the Freedom Party in Austria. In 2014, the National Front in France borrowed nearly $13m in Russian bank loans.

Various other ultranationalist groups in the EU are said to have ties to Russia: from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) to Ataka Party in Bulgaria.

Shekhovtsov, who wrote a book on the subject, points out that Russian efforts to court Europe’s far right have not rendered major victories, such as the suspension of sanctions against Moscow in place since the annexation of Crimea. But the growing strength of far-right groups has had a destabilising effect across Europe.

In Germany, the AfD, which hardly managed to clear the five percent threshold in the 2013 elections, this year won 12.6 percent and is the third-largest party in the Bundestag after the September elections. Some commentators have attributed that success to Russian backing.

At home, the Kremlin preempted such a scenario.

“[Today] the anti-Putin far-right movement is extremely small. You cannot compare this to any other period of time in Russia [since 1991] where you would have such a weak [ultranationalist] movement,” says Shekhovtsov.

According to him, some ultranationalist groups have already changed strategy to accommodate the regime. At the same time, since 2014, a number of “patriotic” and ultra-Orthodox organisations have emerged which have also been accused of attacks, but not on minorities or migrants; their victims have mostly been opposition activists, like Navalny, and liberals.

“The classical Russian nationalism, in its ethnic form, is a thing of the past. There are new movements that are appearing now, which are connected with the Kremlin ideologically,” says Yudina. “The main thing for them is patriotism, the praise of our state, and adopting conservative, Orthodox values.”

Yudina says that in recent years hate attacks on minorities and migrants have decreased tenfold – from a few hundred in the late 2000s to a few dozen in 2016. Yet attacks on the LGBT community have persisted, as the new “patriotic” and ultra-Orthodox groups consider them “freaks”.

“All this scares me. This it seems to me will be the future. Aggressive Orthodox organisations will be getting stronger,” she says.

Follow Mariya Petkova on Twitter: @mkpetkova

The Trump-Russia Story Is Coming Together. Here’s How to Make Sense of It | By Bill Moyers, Steven Harper
 

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Совещание с постоянными членами Совета Безопасности
 

mikenova shared this story from Сайт Президента России: Все материалы.

Владимир Путин провёл совещание с постоянными членами Совета Безопасности.

Совещание с постоянными членами Совета Безопасности.Состоялся обстоятельный обмен мнениями в контексте прошедших на этой неделе международных контактов Президента, включая визиты зарубежных гостей и телефонные переговоры. Основное внимание уделено вопросам сирийского урегулирования с учётом итогов работы сочинской «тройки».

Затрагивались также текущие вопросы внутрироссийской социально-экономической повестки дня.

В совещании приняли участие Председатель Правительства Дмитрий Медведев, Председатель Совета Федерации Валентина Матвиенко, Председатель Государственной Думы Вячеслав Володин, Руководитель Администрации Президента Антон Вайно, секретарь Совета Безопасности Николай Патрушев, Министр внутренних дел Владимир Колокольцев, директор Федеральной службы безопасности Александр Бортников.

Flynn’s lawyers end communication with Trump team, signaling cooperation with Mueller: NY Times – Reuters
 

mikenova shared this story from US elections and russia – Google News.


The Guardian
Flynn’s lawyers end communication with Trump team, signaling cooperation with Mueller: NY Times
Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawyers for Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, have told Trump’s legal team they can no longer discuss a probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. election, indicating Flynn may be cooperating …
Michael Flynn breaks ties with Trump lawyers over Russia investigation reportsThe Guardian
Michael Flynn May Be Cooperating With Robert Mueller’s Russia Probe: ReportHuffPost
Ex-Trump aide Flynn moves to cooperate with Russia probe reportThe Times of Israel
CBC.ca
all 142 news articles »
Russian Fancy Bear hackers’ UK link revealed
 

mikenova shared this story from BBC News – Home.

When Russia’s most notorious hackers hired servers from a UK-registered company, they left a trove of clues behind, the BBC has discovered.

The hackers used the computers to attack the German parliament, hijack traffic meant for a Nigerian government website and target Apple devices.

The company, Crookservers, had claimed to be based in Oldham for a time.

It says it acted swiftly to eject the hacking team – dubbed Fancy Bear – as soon as it learned of the problem.

Technical and financial records from Crookservers seen by the BBC suggest Fancy Bear had access to significant funds and made use of online financial services, some of which were later closed in anti-money laundering operations.

Fancy Bear – also known as APT28, Sofacy, Iron Twilight and Pawn Storm – has been linked to Russian intelligence.

The group played a key role in 2016’s attack on the US’s Democratic National Committee (DNC), according to security experts.

Indeed an internet protocol (IP) address that once belonged to a dedicated server hired via Crookservers was discovered in malicious code used in the breach

The spies who came in for milk

Early in 2012, Crookservers claimed to be based at the same address as a newsagent’s on an unassuming terraced road in Oldham, according to historical website registration records.

But after a short period, the listing switched to Pakistan. The BBC has seen no evidence the shop or its employees knew how the address was being used or that Crookservers had any real connection to the newsagent’s.

Crookservers was what is known as a server reseller. It was an entirely online business. The computers it effectively sublet were owned by another company based in France and Canada.

The BBC identified Crookservers’s operator as Usman Ashraf.

Social media and other online accounts suggest he was present in the Oldham area between 2010 and mid-2014. He now seems to be based in Pakistan.

Mr Ashraf declined to record an interview, but provided detailed answers to questions via email.

Despite his company’s name, he denied knowing he had had hackers as customers.

“We never know how a client is using the server,” he wrote.

When in 2015 he had been alerted to the hackers, he said, he had acted swiftly to close their accounts.

He said he had also carried out a “verification” process, culling 60-70% of the company’s accounts he had suspected of being misused.

“There is 0% compromise on abusive usage,” he said.

Joining the dots

Over three years, Fancy Bear rented computers through Crookservers, covering its tracks using bogus identities, virtual private networks and hard-to-trace payment systems.

Researchers at cyber-threat intelligence company Secureworks, who analysed information from Crookservers for the BBC, said it had helped them connect several Fancy Bear operations.

Senior security researcher Mike McLellan said the hackers had exhibited poor “tradecraft”.

One communication shows one hacker, using the pseudonym Roman Brecesku, had complained that his server had been “cracked”.

Crookservers was previously linked to an attack on the German parliament.

The server used to control the malware was hired through Crookservers by a hacker using the pseudonym Nikolay Mladenov who paid using Bitcoin and Perfect Money, according to records seen by the BBC.

The hacker used the server until June 2015, when it was deleted at Crookservers’s request following media reports of the attack.

This server’s IP address also appears in malware used to target some attendees at the Farnborough air show in 2014.

Fancy Bear malware used to attack a UK TV station and the DNC also contained this IP address, although the server was no longer in Fancy Bear’s control when these attacks occurred.

A financial account used by Mladenov was also used by another hacker, operating under the pseudonym Klaus Werner, to hire more computers through Crookservers.

One server hired by Werner received “redirected” traffic from a legitimate Nigerian government website, according to Secureworks analysis.

Apple attack

The financial account used by Mladenov and Werner was used by Fancy Bear hackers – including two using the names Bruno Labrousse and Roman Brecesku – to hire other servers from Crookservers.

One server and the email address used to hire it seem to have links to “advanced espionage” malware used to target iOS devices.

The malware was capable of turning on voice recording and stealing text messages.

Another email used to hire servers can be linked to an attack against Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security.

But there are eight dedicated servers tied to the same financial information, whose use is unknown – suggesting there may be other Fancy Bear attacks that have not been publicly disclosed.

Follow the money

Fancy Bear spent at least $6,000 (£4,534) with Crookservers via a variety of services that offered an extra level of anonymity.

They included Bitcoin, Liberty Reserve and Perfect Money. Liberty Reserve was later closed after an international money laundering investigation.

The BBC asked a UK company called Elliptic, which specialises in identifying Bitcoin-related “illicit activity”, to analyse Fancy Bear’s Bitcoin payments.

Lead investigator Tom Robinson said his team had identified the wallet that had been the source of these funds. He said the bitcoins it contained were “worth around $100,000”.

Elliptic traced the source of some of the funds in that wallet to the digital currency exchange BTC-e.

In July, BTC-e was closed by the US authorities and its Russian alleged founder arrested in Greece accused of money laundering.

Although BTC-e is alleged to have been popular with Russian cyber-criminals, the BBC has no evidence its management was aware its clients included Fancy Bear.

Continuing operation

The financial and technical records link together several attacks previously tied to Fancy Bear.

And it is possible that following the financial trail further may yield additional revelations.

Crookservers closed on 10 October. Fancy Bear’s operations, however, have not.

The Dark Side of Allen Dulles: The Greatest Untold Story of American Power – U.S. History (2015) – YouTube
 

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