Zarina Zabrisky
12 min readApr 11, 2018

Missing/Rare Links; Russian and Ukrainian Sources

Left: Source: Bulvar Gordona. Right: Source: Eadaily.com.


On April 9, 2018, the FBI raided the offices and home of U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen in a dramatic new development in a series of probes involving close Trump associates.

On May 30, 2017, Michael D. Cohen has received an “invitation to provide information and testimony” that pertains to the Russia investigation to House and Senate intelligence committees. He declined to participate and called it “a total fishing expedition,” “rush to judgment” and claimed that “they have yet to produce one single piece of credible evidence that would corroborate the Russia narrative.”


Below are just some highlights of Cohen’s thirty years of close business ties with the USSR-born* oligarchs, criminals and politicians.

His resume includes multiple partnerships with “taxi kings” convicted of felony fraud and tax evasion and connected with the Kremlin circles; associates of Brighton Beach and Italian mob fuel racketeers; money laundering for Moscow OCG (Organized Crime Groups) bosses; family and business ties with Eurasian oligarchs linked to the OCG considered a major threat to the US safety by FBI, and much more.


***Most of the individuals below are USSR-born Russian speakers, with pro-Russian views. Referring to them as “Ukrainians” is misleading. Ukraine is under a hybrid war attack by Russia.


Cohen partnered with USSR-born “taxi kings” with history of felony, fraud, tax evasion and some known for ties with the Kremlin circles.


Former partner Simon Garber had ties to the Russian government officials through a member of Russian parliament, Vladimir Slutsker.

In 1995, Garber used these ties and started and ran Moscow Taxi with two partners, including Moscow-based businessman Igor Bakunenko.

Igor Bakunenko and his partner Alexander Varshavsky owned multiple companies that shared the address with Moscow Taxi and were involved in a big corruption scandal with wholesale of Mercedes and Fords to the state-run organization.

Source: http://compromat.ru/imgup/33391.jpg

Varshavsky was a business associate of Vladimir Putin’s first cousin, Igor Putin. Varhshavsky and Igor Putin were on the Board of Directors of Termosteps-MTL, a part of VBM-Group holding.

Igor Putin was also on the board of a Moscow bank which held accounts involved in the “Global Laundromat” fraud.

In 2001, in Moscow, Garber befriended Patrick Daley, Chicago mayor’s son, who was friends with Moscow Mayor’s Yuri Luzkov. Luzhkov’s office was involved in long-term negotiations with Trump in 1996–2001.


Ex-partner Evgeny Friedman, arrested in June 2017 for allegedly failing to pay millions in taxes.

He is known to associate with USSR-born billionaires and Putin’s allies.

Friedman is close family friends with Cohen for more than 25 years.

Friedman managed the medallions for 15 taxi companies owned by Cohen.


Cohen’s USSR-born father-in-law, co-owner of taxi, with history of felony, currently owns three or more apartments in Trump’s buildings.


Cohen had partnered with USSR-born partners, associated with Brighton Beach and Italian mob fuel racketeers

In 2002–03, Cohen partnered with USSR-born businessmen Arkady Vaygensberg and Leonid Tatarchuk, and started Atlantic Casino.

Vaygensberg invested $3.2mn in another casino boat in Tampa with Tatiana and Michael (Mikhail) Varzar. Tatiana later ran a catering business in Trump Grande in Florida, where Cohen’s third partner resided.

Mikhail Varzar previously served term for participating in gasoline racketeering scheme carried on by Russian and Italian organized crime groups.

In 1992, Mikhail Varzar was arrested as an accomplice in “an elaborate scheme, referred to as a “daisy chain,” in which gasoline was purportedly sold between a number of wholesale distributors before reaching the retail level.

As part of the scheme, the Colombo, Gambino, Luchese and Genovese crime families collected their “tribute” payment of at least a one and one-half cents per gallon from the proceeds of these transactions.

Another Russian OC group member, David Bogatin, convicted in a gasoline tax-fraud case, bought five Trump Tower apartments for $6mn in 1984.

Trump personally attended the closing, meeting Bogatin and his lawyer.

State prosecutors concluded that Bogatin purchased them “to launder money, to shelter and hide assets: and used them on weekend “for parties.”

David Bogatin’s brother, Jacob Bogatin, was laundering money through Trump Tower condos via his brother. Jacob Bogatin has a string of mob-related convictions including financial fraud and tax evasion.

In 1993, Jacob Bogatin, along with Mogilevich, was indicted by the US government on 45 counts for $150 million in stock fraud. He was the president and CEO of YBM Magnex International, Mogilevich’s main business in the US.

In May 1998, FBI, IRS, INS, and Customs did a joint raid of YBM’s offices in Newton. Canadian and U.S. police cited YBM’s alleged ties to Russian organized crime. Mogilevich’s main activity in the U.S. appears to be money laundering, says a classified FBI report.


In 1999, Cohen was involved in a money-laundering scheme with Moscow-based Russian organized crime group members with connections to the Kremlin. A condominium in Trump Palace in Florida was used.

Cohen, a professional Russian hockey player, and a Moscow-based OCG leader with ties to the oligarchs close to Putin and to a Russian OCG boss connected to a person, identified by the Justice Department as the head of a transnational criminal organization that posed a threat to U.S. national security participated in the scheme.

OCG leader was tied to Vyacheslav Ivankov, a Russian OCG leader considered a major threat to the US safety by FBI.

Vyacheslav Ivankov had connections with Trump Organization. In 1995, FBI found Ivankov in Trump Tower, and later the Taj Mahal, Trump’s casino. Ivankov’s phone book contained a working number for the Trump Organization’s Trump Tower residence and a Trump Organization fax machine.

Ivankov was connected to Semyon Mogelivich, identified by the Justice Department as the head of a transnational criminal organization that posed a threat to U.S. national security.


In 2006–2010, Cohen and his brother Bryan Cohen tried to raise money for a Ukrainian-based joint-venture owned by Bryan’s USSR-born father-in-law Alex Oronov (aka Alexey Oronov and Alex Ornov), also a resident of Trump Hollywood, Florida.

In 2017, Alex Oronov passed away. Felix Sater’s old mafia partner Salvatore Lauria posted his condolences but later deleted his tweet.

Alex Oronov co-owned the joint-venture, a bioethanol plant, with Victor Topolov, one of the richest Ukrainian businessmen, a politician.

In 2008, Oronov sold part of his business to Topolov and Vadim Novinsky (at the time, Russian citizen). Both Topolov and Novinsky were the members of parliament (People’s Deputies.)

Novinsky and Topolov had joint business since at least 2005. In 2005, Topolov/Kiyv-Donbas’s Merses Plus and Fintechnology, controlled by Cyprus offshore Frodo Commercial Limited, owned by Novinsky, founded a joint company, Ukrperiklaz.

Topolov co-managed a conglomerate Kyiv-Donbas (currently KDD Group) founded by Semion Moglievich and another organized crime boss, Oleg Asmakov (“Magadan”) who was connected to the high-rank officers in Russian FSB (Federal Security Service).

Three executives of the conglomerate were described by the FBI as members of a Russian organized-crime network.

A Ukrainian court document shows that Topolov was questioned as part of a money laundering scheme and fraud investigation in the late 1990s.

Topolov was also a business associate of Rinat Akhmetov, a Ukrainian oligarch, closely connected with Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign advisor.

As noted, Topolov had connections with the Russian-Ukrainian oligarch Vadim Novinsky.

Novinsky is a business partner of Alex Schnaider and Eduard Shifrin (received his Russian citizenship by a personal decree from Putin), Trump’s partners in Trump Toronto Tower.

In the 90s, Novinsky delivered coal to Schnaider’s and Shifrin’s Zaporozhstal.

In 2009, Novinsky bought 70% shares in Schnaider’s and Shifrin’s Amstor. Schnaider held on 15% shares.

Novinsky is/was a partner with Roman Abramovich/Evraz (co-own UGOK), Alisher Usmanov (Moldovan Metallurgic Complex), Vagit Alkeperov/LukOil (co-owned network of gas stations in St. Petersburg in 1990s).


In 2008, Cohen helped Trump manage Affliction Entertainment, mixed martial arts entertainment company that starred Putin-supported Russian fighter Fedor Emelianenko. A reality television show was to be filmed in Russia. The business failed in 2009.

Emelianenko is close to Putin, who, true to his fighting background, is a fan.

Putin is known to watch battles from front-row seats and socialize with Emelianenko at dinners and sports events.

In 2012, Emelianenko campaigned for Putin’s presidential campaign. Soon after, Putin named Emelianenko to a presidential sports and fitness council.


In 2013, Cohen attended a meeting between Trump and Russian oligarchs in Las Vegas. One of them is a close ally of Putin and invested $20 million in Trump’s Miss Universe competition in Moscow in 2013 and got awarded by Putin at the same time.

Left: Trump and Aras and Emir Agalarov in Moscow, 2013. Note Sberbank behind Trump’s head. Right: After the Miss Universe contest in Moscow, 2013: Rotem Rosen, Aras Agalarov, Donald Trump and Alex Sapir.
Left: Sater to Cohen (see below). Right: Aras Agalarov invested $20 million in Trump’s Miss Universe competition in Moscow in November 2013, right after Putin decorated Agalarov with the Order of Orders in Kremlin in October.


In 2014, Cohen’s brother Bryan Cohen became a chief administrative officer at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, a real estate company the founders of which brought Trump to Moscow in 1996 and arranged discussions between Trump Organization and the Moscow authorities

In November 1996, Howard Lorber and Ben LeBow brought Trump to Moscow and arranged discussions about a joint venture between their Liggett-Ducat tobacco factory, Trump Organization and the city of Moscow with the Moscow authorities, namely Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s office. Luzhkov was known for his corrupt practices.

Howard Lorber is the founder/executive of Vector, Douglas Elliman and Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc. Vector Group is the parent company of Douglas Elliman. Lorber’s and LeBow’s real estate company Douglas Elliman currently has many listings in Trump Tower:

In April 2016, Trump thanked Lorber and LeBow in his speech after winning the Republican primary, calling them “our great businessmen of the world.”

LeBow wrote a $300,000 check to Trump’s inaugural committee.

In August 2016, Howard Lorber was included in Trump’s list of advisors.


During Trump’s presidential campaign, Cohen became a partner at the law firm Squire Patton Boggs that lobbied for Gazprombank in 2014, after the US imposed sanctions.

Squire Patton Boggs lobbied for Gazprombank in 2014, after the US imposed sanctions. It received about $450,000 for the work in the nine months through March 2015.


On January 29, 2017, Felix Sater organized a meeting between Andrii Artemenko and Cohen to discuss Artemenko’s proposal for solving the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The plan involved lifting sanctions on Russia and allowing Moscow to lease Crimea for either 50 or 100 years, and Russia withdrawing its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Cohen then allegedly “hand-delivered” the plan in a sealed envelope to Michael Flynn’s office.

Felix Sater, USSR-born former Trump advisor, an ex-convict with OC ties, and a son of a “syndicate boss” for Russian OC, knew Cohen through work with the Trump Organization.

When asked why he was chosen as the person to tell about this initiative in Washington, Artemenko answered: “Because I have long known these people with close ties to Trump. …with Cohen and Sater, I began to discuss it at the primaries stage, when no one believed that Trump would even become a candidate, not to mention the presidency… Already at that time, I began to establish channels of communication with Donald Trump’s team.”

This is a part of CLUSTERCLICK, a photo novella documentary by Zarina Zabrisky. Check out other chapters below or for the full adventure click here.

*All facts and photos are in public domain and available through Google. Links to the original sources are included.

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Zarina Zabrisky

Zarina Zabrisky is the author of IRON and CUTE TOMBSTONE, EXPLOSION, a poetry book GREEN LIONS, and a novel WE, MONSTERS. More at www.zarinazabrisky.com.