TRUMP’S EARLY CONTACTS WITH RUSSIA
“In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation,” former acting CIA Director and the 33-year CIA veteran Michael Morell wrote in his NY Times op-ed on August 5, 2016. Source: New York Times.
“Already in the 1980s, Trump got on the KGB radar as an opportunist businessman who could be useful in promoting Soviet interests in America. I have no doubt that this is why he was invited,” said Vladimir Milov, a former Deputy Minister of Energy of RF, an opposition leader and a close associate of Alexey Navalny and murdered Boris Nemtsov, in his email interview with me in May 2017.
“The invitation came from a high-level official [Trump traveled back to the USSR in 1987 by invitation of Goskomintourist or, simply, Intourist. [State Committee of Foreign Tourism — ZZ.]]. Obviously, it was approved,” said Milov. “It is unlikely, though, that his visit in 1987 contained any interesting details. What’s more important here is that at the time KGB already had a personal ‘dossier’ on Trump and made a decision to ‘work him’ as a potential target, for the future.”
According to Milov, the fact that Trump’s first wife, Ivana, was a former Czechoslovakian citizen, is also important.
“I think that security services had some influence on him or at least established the channels for obtaining information about him through Ivana,” said Milov. “I think that in the 90s, KGB/FSB continued to collect a dossier on him, simply to keep the momentum. Most likely, it contains a lot of interesting information, both financial and personal, as Trump loved girls very much, liked to grab them in every possible way, etc. He didn’t restrain himself in the 80s and 90s… He really went for it when he came to Russia to discuss deals or hold beauty contests. Given the long-term observation since 1987, I have little doubt that they have a lot of evidence that can strongly compromise him in such a conservative country as America. He is not even sure whether these records exist. I think, he’s waking up sweating like a dog, thinking, ‘Oh my God, did they record this?!’”
Milov noted that “for the first time, this dossier could have surfaced in Putin’s memory in 2000 when Trump announced his nomination for president from the Reform Party and it became clear that he had great political ambitions. That’s when the dossier was ordered off the shelf and KGB started to follow Trump closer. These secrets are protected under seven seals, guarded stronger than the gold bars in the vaults of the Central Bank, especially his past adventures filmed in Moscow. I think they will keep these videos secret and will make them public only if Trump comes out against Russia or if Americans drive Trump out. For Kremlin, this is a valuable pressure tool.”
Kremlin is known for using kompromat for recruiting and blackmailing persons of influence. Just recently, the so-called Kasyanov leak of 2016 showed the unlimited capabilities of the FSB. According to the Los Angeles Times, Mikhail Kasyanov, “a former Putin crony, was flagged as a possible competitor to Putin in next year’s presidential election. But in the spring of 2016, the video was broadcast on a state-controlled, pro-Putin television channel that purported to show Kasyanov and a female opposition activist having sex and speaking contemptuously about other opposition figures.”
The following open-source research on the subject of recruiting American citizens by the Soviet agents provides rich details and confirmed evidence. Having worked as a translator and liaison for foreign businessmen in the USSR in my youth, I had personal experience with the KGB recruiting local agents, Intourist surveillance, and bribing foreign politicians.
HOW IT WAS DONE
KGB RECRUITED COLLEGE STUDENTS FOR SPYING AND SEX WORK
In 1984, I was a freshman at Leningrad State University when two KGB officers tried to recruit me as a hard currency prostitute-spy. They offered me a prostitute-spy job and explained that I would work with the clients of their choice, ask simple questions about weather and traveling plans and go with them to events as needed — museums, theater, ballet. The conversations would be recorded in bugged hotel rooms. They promised a lot of money, $3,000 a month (the average monthly salary was 70 rubles at the time), a rented apartment and a marriage to a Finn or s Swede in three to five years — basically, a ticket out of the USSR. I declined, jumped out of their car and never saw the men again. Later, I had a chance to find out that it was a common practice in both Leningrad and Moscow.
NATIONAL HOTEL IN MOSCOW: ASSIGNED SPIES
In winter 1986, my three girlfriends and I went to Moscow for a winter break. We met a young, beautiful Asian woman dressed in an expensive white fur coat. She said she was Japanese but spoke fluent Russian. She said she was lonely and invited us to come visit with her. We went with her in a limousine to what turned out to be the National Hotel, next to the Red Square. At this time the Russians were not allowed to come inside the Intourist hotels but the security guards knew her and allowed us to come in.
We went to the most luxurious suite. The marble bathroom was the size of our living rooms. There, a bodyguard in waiting, she kept drinking expensive cognac and telling us stories about her boyfriend, the president of Mitsubishi company. In a couple of hours, an older Japanese businessman arrived. Furious, he hit the girl across the face and ordered us out. She was crying as we were escorted out into the lobby where our bags were searched and we were kicked out into the street. The young woman was an expensive hard currency prostitute-spy serving the businessman during his trip. Since it was after my encounter with the KGB recruiter, we knew she was also spying on him.
In 1987, a year later, Trump stayed in this hotel. In his memoirs, he said that he stayed in “Lenin’s room.” As Mr. Milov stated and as I will show below, his trip might have been carefully planned by the KGB.
According to archived articles in Russian, during his visit to Leningrad in 1987, Trump would be staying either in Leningrad Hotel or in Evropeyskaya (from 1990, Grand Hotel Europe) where in 1991, I got my first job as a personal assistant/secretary to the General Manager. It was the first five-star hotel in the USSR, a Swedish-Russian joint venture. I know that all hotel rooms were bugged and the KGB monitored the entrance and lobby. We also had many sex workers assigned to the hotel and they were always greeted and allowed to enter by the doormen, former KGB or military staff, as opposed to other Russian citizens, especially women, who were denied the entrance.
My knowledge is confirmed by the University of Pennsylvania Workshop report: Intourist, the organization that invited Trump for his visit in 1987, “served as a cover for intelligence operations.” “…disciplinary functions were filled by doormen in Intourist hotels (widely rumored to be former KGB officers), charged with not letting “a-social elements” enter hotels, and the renowned dezhurnye, hall monitors who made sure that no inappropriate activity would take place inside hotel rooms. Furthermore, it was a common assumption held by both many Soviet people and travelers that all, or the vast majority, of Intourist employees were reporting on guests and their Soviet contacts in exchange for their continued employment.”
“Hotel rooms themselves were a prime site of surveillance. In Tallinn’s hotel Viru, for instance, over sixty rooms were bugged, according to its post-Soviet management. According to KGB defector Victor Sheymov, the same was true in restaurants receiving foreigners, where the latter were shunted to tables containing hidden microphones. Another major component of the KGB’s surveillance network were agents and trustees who were, as mentioned above, tasked with surrounding foreigners as tightly as possible.” Source: University of Pennsylvania Workshop: Alex Hazanov, Foreign Visitors in the Late Soviet Union, the KGB and the Limits of Surveillance.
COMMUNIST SURVEILLANCE IN THE SOVIET BLOC
Ivana Zelníčková, Trump’s first wife, was under the Czechoslovak security service surveillance, the Státní Bezpečnost (StB), since 1978, according to archive materials studied by the Prague-based Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, and first reported on by Czech Television.
The StB’s formally cooperated with Russia’s KGB, Poland’s SB, East Germany’s Stasi and other Soviet bloc intelligence agencies. These agencies supplied each other with intelligence data on request. The KGB was referred to in StB files as “our friends.” KGB communications with the StB were written without exception in Russian. Source: Radio Liberty.
Moreover, The Czechoslovak Communist intelligence service and other intelligence services of the Soviet bloc were controlled by the KGB/USSR government and reported to Politburo of the USSR. Source: Radio Svoboda (in Russian)
According to the Penn University workshop report, “the central archives of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) are, and will remain for the foreseeable future, closed to researchers.” However, claims the author, KGB archives from Lithuania and materials from Ukraine that became available in the wake of the Maidan revolution contain large amounts of material on the day-to-day operations of Soviet security services and are indicative of the recruiting activities of foreigners. It mentions, among other facts, that the Ukrainian KGB, transmitted information from Czechoslovak security services to the USSR supreme power. Locally, “daily reports filed by the KGB to the Ukrainian Politburo on conditions in the republic invariably began with a careful statistical breakdown of the numbers of foreigners in Ukraine. Even the smallest incidents involving foreigners, for instance, deaths, suicides, and brawls between foreign students and Soviet citizens, were reported to the republican Politburo…”
The First Main Directorate of KGB specialized in intelligence and the KGB’s foreign operations. It recruited visiting foreigners.
The Second Main Directorate specialized in counterintelligence: surveillance of tourists, diplomats, foreign students, black market dealings involving foreigners, etc.
Intourist worked closely with both departments, states the report. “Intourist’s participation in surveillance operations was conducted on several layers, some transparent, some semi-hidden, and some hidden… On the most basic level, Intourist guides filled a disciplinary function. Following the trips, all Intourist guides were charged with writing reports on group behavior, questions asked by tourists, unusual incidents, and other irregularities. These documents…were then transmitted upwards…and found their way both to party authorities and the KGB.”
Again, these findings are echoed by my life experience in the USSR. Working as an Intourist guide was optional for the Philological Faculty students of St.Petersburg State University but it was expected. I knew from my classmates that all guides had to write reports on foreign guests. In 1988, I took a course but fainted at the exam. Since the Intourist rules did not allow to retake exams, I escaped this dishonorable assignment. All my classmates who passed the exam had to deliver such reports through the summer as they worked for Intourist.
The U Penn report confirms this unpleasant memory, stating that “recollections of Intourist guides represent recruitment attempts by the KGB as a rite of passage. Intourist was one of the top employment locations for “active reserve” KGB officers, as it both allowed cover for travel and employment abroad, and allowed KGB officers close supervision of goings-on in Intourist locations.”
An unclassified CIA memo answering Senator Hatch’s Request for Information on Soviet Approaches to U.S.Citizens, dated February 1988, provides examples of known Soviet approaches to US nationals. The subject of the memo is the “Soviet Efforts to Recruit American Citizens.” Quotes from the brief unclassified memo below:
“American citizens are high priority targets for recruitment by the Soviet Union’s intelligence services. The Soviets are especially interested in Americans who occupy important positions in the fields of government, military service, business and finance, science and technology, industry, and academic resorts. The American “target” is, in service, the KGB, in the mid-1970s organized a special task force just to plan recruitment operations against selected American citizens. Referred to as “Group North,” the task force operates across bureaucratic and geographical lines to plan and coordinate worldwide recruitment operations against American targets of interest. (See John Barron, The KGB today.)
As the following examples show, American citizens traveling or working in the USSR are most susceptible to KGB recruitment efforts, but the Soviets will target Americans anywhere in the world if they have an operational interest in a person and if they can gain access to that person.
1. The Soviets attempted, unsuccessfully, to mount a provocation against an American businessman who had been visiting the USSR for some 10 years. During one of his business trips, the American citizen, whose company specialized in the technical field, first rebuffed a homosexual advance by a Soviet contact and then turned down an offer from another Soviet to provide him with prostitutes. Before giving up, the Soviets try to convince the American to sign an agreement to supply them with proscribed technology.
2. A naturalized American citizen and international banker returned to his native country in Eastern Europe for a visit. Several days after his arrival, he was approached by two men who identified themselves as officers from the KGB’s “economics department” and offered to pay him for supplying economic and financial data. The Soviets had studied their target carefully, as indicated by the fact that they knew not only about his visit to his former homeland, but also about his background, residence, place of work, and telephone number in the United States. The two Soviets eventually supplied the banker with instructions on how to maintain clandestine contact with the KGB in the United States.
3. The circumstances surrounding an intelligence approach to US servicemen suggest that the Soviet intelligence services are always on the outlook for vulnerable Americans willing to exchange sensitive information for money.” Source: CIA archives.
Now it is interesting to bring up the fact that at the same time, Vladimir Putin, the current President of the Russian Federation and a KGB agent in Dresden from 1985 to 1990, supervised Stasi, the Eastern German secret police, and performed similar surveillance operations.
1985–1990, PUTIN AND KGB/STASI IN EAST GERMANY
Putin was one of six officers working at the KGB office in Dresden. The office was located one hundred meters away from the local headquarters of the Stasi, the East German secret police at the time.
Putin, reportedly, performed the range of duties that could include the following: stealing technological secrets, recruiting top officials in the East German Communist Party and secret police (Stasi), contacting, entrapping, compromising, and recruiting Westerners who happened to be in Dresden studying and doing business and recruiting East Germans who had relatives in the West or were willing to emigrate. Source: Business Insider.
According to Spiegel, The Stasi passed on to the KGB all applications filed by citizens of Dresden to obtain official approval for visits by relatives from the West. Putin went through tens of thousands of these applications searching for contacts who lived near the US bases of interest. Source: Spiegel.
According to some sources, Putin’s real job was recruiting KGB agents among the foreign students at the Technical University — a job, similar to my “friend’s” job in Leningrad, where Putin worked for the KGB before and after his service in Germany.
Among documents in the Stasi archives in Dresden is a letter from Putin asking for help from the Stasi boss with the installation of an informer’s phone. Source: BBC News.
PUTIN’S RISE TO PRESIDENCY THROUGH A SEX VIDEOTAPE SCANDAL
In his book The Confession of a Rebel, Boris Nemtsov wrote that Yeltsin discovered Putin in 1999 due to the scandal with a videotape showing what press called “a naked man resembling the Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov” in an orgy with two prostitutes. The video was discovered in the President’s administration office and later aired nationwide on TV. Skuratov was rumored to investigate corruption in Yeltsin’s government. A huge scandal shook the country. The parliament opposition planned to demand Yeltsin’s impeachment and use the General Prosecutor’s immoral behavior as a tool. Yeltsin ordered Putin to get rid of the compromised General Prosecutor. Putin dealt with the dirty case “without blinking an eye,” wrote Nemtsov and his loyalty won Yeltsin’s heart who named a virtually unknown provincial bureaucrat as a presidential candidate nominee.
On June 2, 2017, Sergey Parkhomenko, a well-known journalist, publisher and political commentator, confirmed to me at a lecture in San Jose, California, that, like late Nemtsov, he believed that this kompromat scandal brought Putin his presidential nomination. In 2000, Parkhomenko wrote in ITOGI magazine about the press conference on April 2, 1999: “Vladimir Putin and Sergei Stepashin, co-chairmen of the Security Council’s Interdepartmental Commission (set up for the purpose of verifying “the reliability of information on misconduct damaging the honor and dignity” of the General Prosecutor), looked very different. Stepashin, red as a lobster, gloomy and silent, his eyes set on the desk, and his whole appearance showed how despondent and disgusted he was… Putin felt completely at home: he spoke a lot, easily and confidently, and with the calm determination to complete the operation to the full demise of the enemy, with confidence and even some jolly bravado.” Source: ITOGI (in Russian.)
Thus, kompromat changed Putin’s life and the fate of Russia. Virtually unknown in the West, this episode is saved in the collective memory of Russian people — and, most likely, plays an important role in the domestic and foreign policies of its current leader.
1977–90, IVANA TRUMP AND COMMUNIST SURVEILLANCE
In June 1977, an informant with the cover name “Lubos” reported that Ivana Zelníčková had married a man in Austria in 1968, worked there at a petrol station, later emigrated to Canada, then to the US, worked as a model and later married Trump.
“Lubos” reported that Trump’s company was “absolutely safe, economically speaking, since it receives commissions from the state.” One detail: “Another advantage is the personal relationship with the American President and the fact that he is completely tax-exempt for the next 30 years.”
An encrypted document from 1979 stated that the phone calls between Ivana and her father were to be wiretapped at least once per year. Their mail exchange was monitored.
The Communist secret police observed the Trump children’s visits to their grandfather.
A Prague-based skiing associate and secret police collaborator met numerous times with Ivana Trump during her visits to Czechoslovakia in the 1980s. One of the agents who reported on her went under the code names of “Langr” and “Chod”.
Ivana’s father Miloš Zelníček, was also monitored by the StB. During a trip to the US for Ivana’s wedding, Miloš Zelníček was subject to an StB-ordered search of his possessions at the airport, interpreted as a warning shot that cooperation was the only way such trips would be permitted in the future. Source: Radio Praha.
On October 21, 1988, a source with the cover name “Milos” reported that Trump was being put under pressure to run for the US presidency. The archives also revealed that Trump was supposedly considering a presidential run in the 1996 elections, convinced he would win.
Concerning a visit by Ivana to the CSSR, the source says that “any false step of hers will have incalculable consequences for her husband’s position, who intends to run for President in 1996.”
In 1989, the StB sent a spy to the US to monitor Trump, believing that if he was to succeed in becoming US president it could have a significant impact on Czechoslovak-US relations. Source: Guardian.
In an “agency note” of 10 October 1989, a source called “A-Jarda” reported a visit by the delegation of an Agricultural Production Cooperative (APC) from the CSSR to Trump. Trump accepted an invitation to visit Slusovice (a town in the Czech Republic).” Sources: Business Insider and Ceska Televize (in Czech).
1987: TRUMP’S VISIT TO MOSCOW AND ST. PETERSBURG
In 1986, around the time of Trump being closely followed by the Communist secret services, he happened to be seated next to Yuri Dubinin, the USSR Ambassador to the US, at a luncheon given by Leonard Lauder of Este Lauder. Dubinin’s daughter who happened to be right there, coincidentally knew all the details about the Trump Tower and engaged him in a conversation about the possibility of building a Moscow hotel in partnership with the Soviet government. Source: Washington Post.
I am quoting the above-mentioned CIA memo: “An American businessman who lives and works in Latin America was the object of a recruitment attempt by a Soviet “correspondent” he had met at the dinner party. The Soviet was familiar with the American’s business activities and his contacts as at the local US Embassy, and he attempted to draw the American into a “private” relationship in which the latter would receive financial compensation in exchange for information on the local American community. This Soviet’s reference to the businessman’ s alleged financial problems suggested that he knew about or was probing for information that might make the American willing to provide information.”
Goskomintourist, as we have established before, a state agency closely linked to the KGB, has followed up with an official invitation and in July 1987, Trump first visited Moscow and St. Petersburg.
During the visit, as he stayed at the closely monitored hotels, he negotiated a luxury hotel downtown Moscow with Moscow authorities and looked at half a dozen potential sites. “He met with a lot of the economic and financial advisers in the Politburo,” said Trump’s spokesman Dan Klores at the time. Source: Washington Post.
Two months after the visit, in September 1987, Trump bought full-page ads in New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe at a total cost of $94,801, to say the US should stop paying to defend countries that can afford to protect themselves. ‘’Why are these nations not paying the United States for the human lives and billions of dollars we are losing to protect their interests? …The world is laughing at America’s politicians as we protect ships we don’t own, carrying oil we don’t need, destined for allies who won’t help.’’
Once again, my university years allow me to comment on Trump’s ad.
St. Petersburg State University, my alma mater, happens to be the same school that Putin, Medvedev and Sechin graduated from. Sechin graduated from the same Philological faculty and, most likely, worked as an Intourist guide. There is a time gap but not much has changed.
As all linguists, I was forced to take a course at the military department as a part of my English language and literature degree. I was trained as a specialist in spetz propaganda that targeted the enemy’s population. Although I had zero interest in that subject, I retained some knowledge of brainwashing and techniques. It is easy for me to see how RT (Russia Today), Infowars, Sputnik etc infiltrate the Western mass media, brainwash the Russian-speaking diaspora and troll the internet. It is a hybrid war strategy. The wording of Trump’s 1987 anti-NATO opus strongly resembles the pamphlets we wrote in that class.
TRUMP’S 1996 VISIT TO MOSCOW
In 1995, Trump lost $916 million according to his 1995 income tax returns. In the early 1990s, he sustained loss due to failed projects like his three Atlantic City casinos, airline business and purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Source: NY Times.
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.
In 1993, President Yeltsin gave Luzhkov total and exclusive control over the privatization of city property and businesses. Luzhkov’s controlled Mosckomimuschestvo (The Moscow City Property Committee) was paid off by the majority of businesses in Moscow. Goskomintourist, an agency that invited Trump in 1987, was dissolved in 1991, and by 1992 most of its assets were transferred to the city of Moscow, in other words, were controlled by Luzhkov.
In 1996, at the hearing dedicated to the threat from Russian organized crime at the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives in the US Congress, an anonymous businessman from Moscow reported: “There are two things you must do to operate a business successfully in Moscow. First, you must pay the right government officials under the table. Because I had known officials in Moscow since I was a child, figuring out whom to pay was simple. To set up our office so close to Red Square, I had to pay money to the chief of government property in Moscow. Later, when we wanted to open a supermarket in Moscow, I paid cash to the mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov.
The second thing you must do to run a successful business is to purchase a krisha, literally, “roof,” in Russian, which has come to mean protection. The more important you are, the higher the roof must be. In Moscow, organized crime provides the roof.” Sources: Archive link with a full text and the PDF of the document: (Note the original link to the Library of Congress document has disappeared since 2017: https://www.loc.gov/resource/conghear03.00035412463/?st=gallery)
I witnessed the corruption of the Moscow city agencies in 1996–1998 when I worked for the CBS News Moscow Bureau. I was hired mainly for my ability to deal with the Russian authorities/mafia that I acquired by then through six years of my Western-Russian liaison career. I had to bribe the representatives of Pension Fund, Tax Inspection, and other Moscow authorities. It was illegal for Americans to do it but the office would be closed if the money was not paid so the management hired a Russian citizen to do it. I also had to take a lot of officials to expensive lunches and dinners in luxury restaurants. CBS News did not have to pay krysha, protection money, as the office was located at the foreign correspondents’ building and made no money. The BBC Moscow Bureau was located in the same building.
Trump, his second wife Marla and their entourage flew to Moscow on a commercial flight due to his personal financial crisis.
“We had to wait about an hour in London for a flight, right out there with all the other passengers,” said Marla [in an interview with Playboy], making a face. “Well, you can imagine how that went over with Donald.” Source: Playboy.
Despite the apparent financial crisis, during the week of November 6, 1996, Trump negotiated $300 million investments in Moscow. Introduced by Lerber and LeBow, he met with two of Moscow’s vice mayors, including Vladimir Resin, the vice mayor in charge of construction and “one of the key people in charge of attracting foreign investors to the Moscow real estate market.” The city was “very receptive” to the idea of Trump’s developments in Moscow. Source: Moscow Times Archives.
According to the archived article in The Moscow Times, Trump told a press conference at the Baltschug Hotel that he was planning to put his name to a luxury residential center of at least 30,000 square meters — to be called Trump International — as part of the Ducat Place development on Ulitsa Gasheka. The Ducat Place was owned by Liggett-Ducat, a subsidiary of the U.S.-based Brooke Group, Ltd, that had a 98-year lease on the site.
The second project in negotiations was a Moscow Trump Tower, a residential building of approximately 55,000 square meters in the Prospekt Mira area. Trump said “he would be meeting with high-level city officials, saying only that “there are some other ideas we want to explore” with them.
At the same press-conference, LeBow named four financial backers for the projects: Brooke Group; the investment banking firm Jeffries & Company, Inc.; one of the largest real estate owners and investors in the United States, the Apollo Group; and the Trump Organization. Source: Moscow Times Archives.
In 1996, Ted Liebman, an architect based in New York, said that Trump and Liggett-Ducat ordered sketches of the Moscow Trump tower, a high-end residential development near an old Russian Olympic stadium, for their meeting with officials in Moscow. Source: New York Times.
In December 1996, Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Moscow Vladimir Resin told reporters that Yuri Luzhkov’s office is in talks with Trump about the reconstruction of the Rossiya and Moscow hotels. The cost of projects was estimated at $300 million.
In January 1997, Resin told Interfax that an agreement with Trump’s representatives was “practically reached” and said that Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov is studying a Trump proposal to rebuild the Moskva hotel within 18 months. Source: UPI.
Luzhkov confirmed to The Daily Beast that Trump did have meetings with Moscow’s city hall and discussed major investment and development plans. Source: Daily Beast.
Luzhkov also said in an interview to The New York Times that he had met with Trump and showed him plans for a massive underground shopping mall just outside the Kremlin gates. Trump suggested connecting it to the Metro, “a very important observation,” Luzhkov said. Source: New York Times.
In The New Yorker profile, Trump said: “And we’re working with the local government, the mayor of Moscow and the mayor’s people. So far, they’ve been very responsive.”
Negotiations between Trump and Moscow authorities stopped and then, reportedly, resumed in 2004 when Resin flew to New York to discuss a new $5 billion development project with Trump’s representatives, but never led to any results.
In 2010, then-President Dimitry Medvedev fired Luzhkov for corruption and Resin became the acting mayor of Moscow, only to resign the following year. Resin served in the lower house of Russia’s parliament, the Duma, as a member of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.
LUZHKOV AND ORGANIZED CRIME
Luzhkov, the Mayor of Moscow from 1992–2010, was known for his corrupt practices and his association with organized crime.
According to Wikileaks, “Luzhkov’s wife, Yelena Baturina, definitely has links to the criminal world, and particularly to the Solntsevo criminal group (widely regarded by Russian law enforcement as one of the most powerful organized crime groups in Russia). According to the Internet article, “On the Moscow Group,” Vladimir Yevtushenko, the head of the company Sistema [Sistema is, coincidentally, the largest shareholder in Intourist, the company that inherited most of the property of Goskomintourist, Trump’s host in 1987 — JS] is married to Baturina’s sister, Natalya Yevtushenko. Sistema was created with Moscow city government-owned shares, and Sistema initially focused on privatizing the capital’s real estate and gas. Sistema’s president, Yevgeny Novitsky, controlled the Solntsevo criminal gang.”
Victor Baturin, a brother of Yelena Baturina and Luzhkov’s brother-in-law, owned a company named TRUMP-SERVICE from 1996–2009. No further information is available about this company but the name and the years of existence are worth noting. Source: Wikileaks.
ORGANIZED CRIME AND FSB/KGB
[Read a detailed analysis of the organized crime groups and their connection with the security services and Putin’s government here:]
According to Wikileaks, Kanev, a Russian journalist, reported that “everyone knows that Russia’s laws do not work. The Moscow system is based on officials making money. The government bureaucrats, FSB, MVD, police, and prosecutor’s offices all accept bribes…
Kanev stated that everything depends on the Kremlin and he thought that Luzhkov, as well as many mayors and governors, pay off key insiders in the Kremlin. Kanev argued that the vertical works because people are paying bribes all the way to the top. He told us that people often witness officials going into the Kremlin with large suitcases and bodyguards, and he speculated that the suitcases are full of money. The governors collect money based on bribes, almost resembling a tax system, throughout their regions.
“In contrast to Kanev, [another source — JS] Abdullayev said he did not see the sense in suitcases of money going into the Kremlin since it would be easier to open a secret account in Cyprus. He speculated that the Moscow police heads have a secret war chest of money. Abdullayev said that this money is likely used to solve problems that the Kremlin decides, such as rigging elections.
Police and MVD collect money from small businesses while the FSB collects from big businesses.
KRYSHA — PROTECTION
As in the case of the KGB, Intourist, and the Moscow City authority bribes, I know about OC and krysha from first-hand experience.
Back in 1993, while I still lived in St. Petersburg, the KGB/mafia approached my Swedish boss, Sven Vermilin, the General Manager of Grand Hotel Europe, demanding protection money, krysha. Two muscular men in bad suits had guns bulging out of their pockets and prison tattoos on their wrists. They explained that it was dangerous for foreign businessmen in Russia to be on their own and they were here to secure order but to do so they needed funds. In St. Petersburg, as in Moscow, all businesses, local and foreign, had to pay krysha. I was translating at the meeting. My boss refused to pay. The men promised to be back.
After the first meeting, I refused to translate as I knew it was dangerous to know too much. We had a lot of murders at the time; some were reported in mass media and some we knew from the streets. My boss insisted on my interpreting and I had to quit as the result of this conflict. I couldn’t get a job in St. Petersburg as everyone knew my boss and was afraid to hire me. I had to leave town and eventually found a job as a freelance translator for oilfields. I had a young child and sick parents, so I needed to support my family and stay alive.
In a few months, I heard rumors that Vermilin’s wife and kids were kidnapped and his Volvo was set on fire. True or not, he quit his job and had to go back to Sweden. Notably, Putin (who had returned from Dresden to St. Petersburg in 1990 and resigned from his KGB position in August 1991, after the coup) by 1993, at the time of the above extortion, was the Chairman of the Committee for External Relations of St. Petersburg’s City Hall. The committee was responsible for registering all joint ventures with foreign partners. The KGB extortion from the biggest and most visible joint-venture in town would be known to him — if not organized by him.
“According to Kanev, the FSB “krysha” is allegedly the best protection. He told us that, while the MVD and FSB both have close links to Solntsevo, the FSB is the real “krysha” for Solntsevo.” Source: Wikileaks.
Linden MacIntyre of KQED Frontline, who did an investigation of the Russian OC at the time, noted, “St. Petersburg, the old imperial capital, is controlled by four mafia groups. Today it’s virtually impossible to do business here without paying a substantial fee for protection to one of them.”
Similar racketeering took place in Moscow. In 1995, after working as a freelance translator all around the former USSR, I moved to Moscow and started to work as an assistant to the Director of an Irish computer company. My boss, a British gentleman new to Russia, wore a carnation in his breast pocket and was clueless. He was routinely approached by the KGB/mafia armed men for protection money — this time at a lobby of a hotel — and also refused to pay. When he came to his home office after the negotiations, he found a dead rat tied to the doorknob.
This company also took a group of Russian bankers to Dromoland Castle in Newmarket-on-Fergus, Ireland, for a luxury getaway business networking meeting. There, they drank for a week and raced a limousine around small town looking for prostitutes. All deals between the Russians and Westerners, in my experience, always included either kickback money or favors or foreign trips or sex workers. Whenever the foreigners had to do business they had to “oil” the Russian business owners, mostly former party functionaries, “red directors,” political figures, security services and/or mafia (often all at the same time.) Most of the time it was a money transfer to an offshore account of a shell company in Cyprus, Bahamas, Cayman Islands or a Swiss bank.
According to the gloomy statistics, in 1993, in Moscow 5,000 organized crime-related murders were recorded. Assassination became a problem in the early 1990s. In the eighteen-month period in 1995–96, there were four murders of Moscow hotel executives.
An American businessman, Paul Tatum, had been infamously murdered on November 3, 1996, downtown Moscow, a week before Trump’s arrival.
Tatum had an argument with the city for control of his hotel, the Radisson. A few days before his death, Tatum had placed newspaper ads accusing Luzhkov of corruption. After Tatum’s death, Luzhkov’s office took over control of the Radisson.
Here is a short and colorful description from an archived Fortune article about Tatum’s murder: “Outside the Slavyanskaya’s [Tatum’s hotel — JS] climate-controlled opulence, a new class of biznesmeni — some of them legitimately self-made millionaires, most of them not — cropped up almost overnight. Once-underground mafia like Moscow’s Solntsevo (“Sunny”) gang, bosses of the shadow economy in the Soviet years, were criminalizing nearly every facet of Russia’s economy. The new musclebound tycoons donned black turtlenecks and Armani blazers to party in members-only nightspots like the Metelitsa casino and the exclusive Up and Down club. Foreign cars of every make cruised like sharks over Moscow’s crumbling streets. Hoods murdered elderly pensioners for their newly privatized apartments. When consumer price inflation hovered around 1,600% between 1992 and 1993, housewives worked late shifts as casino prostitutes to make ends meet; policemen would sometimes give them a lift to their shifts, if bribed on time.
Murder evolved into a business strategy, and high-profile killings were an early part of Russia’s post-Communist collective memory. Vladislav Listyev, the popular television journalist, was shot dead outside his apartment in a crime linked to control of the lucrative TV advertising market. Ivan Kivelidi, chairman of the Russian Business Round Table, was killed by a nerve toxin, applied, it was said, to his telephone receiver. The year 1995 produced roughly 560 recorded contract killings. Police solved just 60; of them, two-thirds were found to have been committed by the victims’ bodyguards.
The Russian business community was decimated. “I take a look around this room,” says Oleg Kiselev, the new president of the Russian Business Round Table, “and I see about a dozen empty seats. All my friends.” Source: Fortune Archives.
“Because of the increase in shootouts among rival gangs over dividing the spoils, Moscow had been compared to Chicago during prohibition,” claimed the 1996 report on the Russian Organized Crime at Hearing in the US Senate. Source: Government Archives.
LUZHKOV — IVANKOV — TRUMP
One of Luzhkov’s friends was an OC figure Vyacheslav Ivankov. Ivankov became one of the most powerful Russian Mafia bosses in America. FBI tracked Ivankov in a luxury apartment in Trump Tower. Invakov disappeared and then turned up again in Trump’s New Jersey casino, the Taj Mahal. Ivankov also had a close relationship with Mogilevich, who paid a Russian judge for Ivankov’s early release from a Siberian prison.
LEBOW — LUZHKOV
Benett LeBow, a friend and partner of Yuri Luzhkov, is a veteran “Russian businessman.”
As early as 1991, a joint venture Liggett-Ducatt was founded between by LeBow’s Brooke Group Ltd’s subsidiary, Brooke Overseas Ltd. (70%) and Factory Ducat (30%), a Soviet state-owned cigarette manufacturer. The joint venture had plans for building a new tobacco factory in the outskirts of Moscow and a hotel, office and residence complex Ducat Place for foreign businesses at the old Factory Ducat site, a mile away from the Kremlin. Source: UPI.
On January 28, 1992, Luzhkov signed a Decree of the Government of Moscow “On the lease of land,” leasing a large site in downtown Moscow to LeBow’s Liggett Ducat and Brooke Mill Ltd. Source: Kremlin Archives (in Russian.)
Over the next two years, Moscow was shaken by a big scandal and a lawsuit as this lease agreement was signed against the requirements of having an obligatory auction. Despite the fact that the lawsuit revealed Liggett Ducat and Brooks Group machinations with multiple affiliates and the illegal actions of Luzhkov’s administration, by 1993 the case was closed and the Prosecutor’s office withdrew the accusation — a miracle way too common in 90s’ Russia. Source: Kommersant (in Russian), two articles.
There is another, more surreal, connection between Trump, LeBow and Luzhkov. Zurab Tsereteli, a Georgian-Russian ambitious sculptor with friends in high places, in particular, a close friend of Luzhkov, desired to bring his giant — and, reportedly, monstrous — a sculpture of Columbus to the US. Conveniently, in 1992, LeBow visited the Miami City Hall with former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, Luzhkov and Tsereteli to offer the strange monument as a gift from the governments of Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Kazakhstan, all expenses paid by the Russian government. Whether it was a Trojan Columbus, we will never know because despite LeBow’s further efforts — in August 1992, LeBow set up the New World Foundation Inc. to raise the estimated $20million it would cost to erect the sculpture in the sea off Miami Beach — Miami chose to decline. The statue was reported to cost $10 million. Source: Chicago Tribune and Orlando Sentinel.
In 1997, somewhat predictably, after LeBow partnered with Trump to turn Ducat Place into Trump Tower, Tsereteli and Trump had discussed erecting the homeless Columbus on the Hudson River, at Trump’s West Side Yards development, Riverside South. If it had happened, the deal would be a personal favor to Yuri Luzhkov. However, the statue would tower of the Statue of Liberty, and, luckily, this project also failed. It was, however, later installed in Puerto Rico. Source: New Yorker.
LORBER AND LEBOW AND THEIR TIES TO LUZHKOV
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 was also a director of Prime Hospitality Corp., a company doing business in the lodging industry, from May 1994 until its acquisition by Blackstone Group LP in November 2004. Source: Vector website.
Ben LeBow was an executive of New Valley, later Vector; he is now the chair of Vector, a giant holding company with major investments in tobacco and a large stake in Douglas Elliman, a New York City residential real estate investment firm. Source: Mother Jones.
As mentioned, Bennet LeBow had many business interests in Russia. He was the CEO of Brooke Groups, parent company to Brooke Overseas Ltd and Brooke Mill Ltd.
Until 2011, Brooke Overseas Ltd., and Brooke Mill Ltd. were the main shareholder of two Russian companies, Kamenny Bridge and Kremlin Site, that owned Golden Island, the most prestigious area right next to the Kremlin, having bought 50% shares from the city of Moscow. (It’s worth stating that in 2010, Luzhkov was fired from his post of Moscow Mayor.) Source: Novostroy (in Russian)
ADDITIONAL MOSCOW CONNECTIONS
There are other, less obvious and known, Trump — Russia connections rooted back in “wild” 90s’.
LUZHKOV — GIULIANI — TRUMP
In 2004, a former Mayor of NY Rudolph Giuliani visited Moscow to meet Luzhkov, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other politicians and businessmen.
In 2008, Giuliani Partners LLC, a management and security consulting firm, established in 2002 partnered with Triglobal Strategic Ventures, an international venture capital firm specializing in business consulting for firms in Russia and Ukraine, with offices located in Moscow, Kiev, Zurich, London and New York City.
Giuliani has visited Russia many times and has multiple business connections in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Giuliani’s law office, Bracewell & Giulliani, reportedly also provided consulting services to Rosneft. Sources: Crooks and Liars and TGSV website.
Giuliani is currently an informal adviser on cybersecurity to Trump’s administration.
LORBER/LEBOW — RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT — ALFA
As of 2001, New Valley was engaged in the real estate business in Russia, through Brooke Mill Ltd. and Western Realty. Source: Government Archive.
New Valley was also engaged in the investment banking and brokerage business, through Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Inc, which in 2012 created a new position for Dmitry Kolosov, who previously worked for the Russian government project and Alfa-Access-Renova consortium.
Dmitry Kolosov, 32, an attorney, has served since August 2010 as the Vice President, Chief of Staff, and Member of the Management Board of the Skolkovo Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Russia charged by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. From 2002 until 2010 when he joined the Skolkovo Foundation, Kolosov served in various positions, including as Executive Secretary of the Board of Directors and Head of Shareholder Relations, and as Advisor to the Executive Chairman of the Board, of TNK-BP, a joint venture between BP plc and the Alfa-Access-Renova consortium, and among the ten largest private oil companies in the world. Source: Government Archive.
CAPUTO — TRUMP
Michael Caputo, a communications adviser to the Trump campaign in New York and a close friend of Roger Stone, lived and worked in Moscow as an advisor to Yeltsin from 1994 to 1999. He is self-described on his current website as “the only executive in history who has worked for both the White House and the Kremlin.”
In Moscow, he worked for The Florence Group, a PR firm that helped Western companies to do business in Russia, where he provided government relations, media liaison, message development, and executive communications services.
According to the same website, from 1994 to 2000, Caputo organized projects like youth conferences, US companies’ entry into the emerging market and Choose or Lose, the national young voter campaign credited with helping Boris Yeltsin win his 1996 election to President of Russian Federation.
After his move to the US in 1999, he co-founded Rainmaker, a PR firm based in Washington, D.C., but working for Russians as well.
In the early 2000s, he worked for Gazprom Media, to improve Putin’s and the Russian government’s image in the US after Putin took control of an independent TV station NTV.
In 2003, Caputo founded Michael Caputo Public Relations (CPR). His partner of 30 years, Sergey Petrushin, is still based in Moscow and operates Zeppelin Production — clients include Alfa-Bank, and other major companies. Since 2015, Caputo and Petrushin are partners at CPR, with offices and staff in Miami Beach, New York and Moscow.
In 2007, Caputo consulted on a parliamentary campaign in Ukraine, working for Volodymyr Lytvyn, the former parliament speaker and former chief of staff to Putin-supported ex-President Leonid Kuchma, on his campaign. Lytvyn’s campaign manager, Oleh Sheremet, was murdered in an unsolved case that year. Source: Caputo’s website.
HOWARD LORBER AND BEN LEVOW’S ROLES IN TRUMP’S PRESIDENCY
As of 2017, Trump still has close business connections with Lorber and LeBow.
In April 2016, Trump thanked both of them 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.
In the week following Trump’s presidential election, Douglas Elliman sent out an e-mail promoting its listing of a $2.1 million, 1,052-square-foot condominium in the tower at 721 Fifth Avenue with the subject line “Fifth Avenue Buyers Interested in Secret Service Protection?” Source: Town and Country Magazine and Cosmopolitan.
TRUMP MEETING LEBED IN 1997: “THE GUY IS A KILLER, HE FELT VERY GOOD.”
I don’t have a good ending to the strange story of Trump and Russia in 1990s. So I am going to end with an eerie encounter that also points to the events of 2017.
General Lebed unsuccessfully ran for president in a 1996 campaign infamously stating that Russia could benefit from a military dictatorship and praising Pinochet. In 1997, Lebed and Trump had an hour-long meeting in Trump Tower in NY behind the closed doors. The meeting was off-limits to the press, according to the article in The New York Times. Source: New York Times.
However, there is an article in The New Yorker, quoting their conversation verbatim.
TRUMP — LEBED — LORBER
Trump introduced Lebed to Howard Lorber, who had accompanied him a few months earlier on his journey to Moscow, where they looked at properties to which the Trump moniker might be appended.
Some “poisonous people” at the Times, Lebed informed Trump, were “spreading some funny rumors that you are going to cram Moscow with casinos.”
Laughing, Trump said, “Is that right?”
“I told them that I know you build skyscrapers in New York. High-quality skyscrapers.”
“We are actually looking at something in Moscow right now, and it would be skyscrapers and hotels, not casinos. Only quality stuff. But thank you for defending me. I’ll soon be going again to Moscow. We’re looking at the Moskva Hotel. We’re also looking at the Rossiya. That’s a very big project; I think it’s the largest hotel in the world. And we’re working with the local government, the mayor of Moscow and the mayor’s people. So far, they’ve been very responsive.”
LITMUS TESTING PAPER
Lebed: “I hope I’m not offending by saying this, but I think you are a litmus testing paper. You are at the end of the edge. If Trump goes to Moscow, I think America will follow. So, I consider these projects of yours to be very important. And I’d like to help you as best I can in putting your projects into life. I want to create a canal or riverbed for capital flow. I want to minimize the risks and get rid of situations where the entrepreneur has to try to hide his head between his shoulders. I told the New York Times I was talking to you because you are a professional — a high-level professional — and if you invest, you invest in real stuff. Serious, high-quality projects. And you deal with serious people. And I deem you to be a very serious person. That’s why I’m meeting you.”
…Lebed, before departing, offered Trump a benediction: “You leave on the earth a very good trace for centuries. We’re all mortal, but the things you build will stay forever. You’ve already proven wrong the assertion that the higher the attic, the more trash there is.”
When Trump returned from escorting Lebed to the elevator, I asked him his impressions.
“First of all, you wouldn’t want to play nuclear weapons with this fucker,” he said. “Does he look as tough and cold as you’ve ever seen? This is not like your average real-estate guy who’s rough and mean. This guy’s beyond that. You see it in the eyes. This guy is a killer. How about when I asked, ‘Were you a boxer?’ Whoa — that nose is a piece of rubber. But me he liked. When we went out to the elevator, he was grabbing me, holding me, he felt very good. And he liked what I do. You know what? I think I did a good job for the country today.” Source: The New Yorker.
In 1998 Lebed became a governor, kept his presidential ambitions, and worked with Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer from Leningrad, “the bandit capital” of Russia and the President of RF since 1999. In April 2002, Lebed “happened” to die in a helicopter crash.
AN EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO TRUMP — AND RUSSIANS
There is an interesting note: Trump was planning to use his receptionist at Trump Organization, a native Russian speaker Inga Bogutska, as an interpreter during his meeting with Lebed. According to The New Yorker, Bogutska had a father who “by coincidence, was a Russian general.” Her initial is G and I was unable to find a military officer with a matching name.
However, Inga Bogutska’s further career is remarkable.
After working for Trump Organization from 1996–2001, she moved on to Millenium Partners, a company with UK HQ office located at 50, Berkeley Street, London, and sharing office space with Glencore, a company that bought 50% of Rosneft shares in a non-transparent deal that might have benefited Trump, according to Steele’s dossier.
Millennium Partners’ HQ in NY is 666, 5th ave, Jared Kushner’s property.
Millennium Partners’ CEO Israel Englander has multiple ties with Jared Kushner. Kushner used to date Englander’s daughter. Englander is reportedly an expert on shell accounts deals.
Furthermore, Rob Newton, a Chief Information Officer at Millennium Capital, Europe from 2015–2017, used to be the Managing Director of VTB (Vneshtorgbank) in 2011–2014. Vneshtorgbank provided the bridge loan for Rosneft sale.
Since 2010, Inga Bogutska works for Lukoil, one of the largest Russian gas and oil company. The CEO of Lukoil is Vagit Alekperov, Putin’s ally. Source: Hedgelists.
In 2014, “Lukoil… discussed with Cambridge Analytica the data company’s powerful social media marketing system, which was already being deployed for Republican Ted Cruz in the US presidential primaries and was later used to back Brexit and Trump. A slide presentation prepared for the Lukoil pitch focuses first on election disruption strategies used by Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL, in Nigeria. They are presented under the heading ‘Election: Inoculation’, a military term used in ‘psychological operations’ and disinformation campaigns. Other SCL documents show that the material shared with Lukoil included posters and videos apparently aimed at alarming or demoralising voters, including warnings of violence and fraud. Discussion of services offered by Cambridge Analytica was apparently going right to the top of Lukoil, even though its retail operations in America are a very minor corner of the oil and gas giant’s empire. Asking for a detailed presentation of Cambridge Analytica’s work in July 2014, Nix told his colleague the document would be ‘shared with the CEO of the business’.” Source: The Guardian.
While still a mystery, Rosneft deal might be one of the biggest pieces in Trump — Russia puzzle of 2016–2017 — if not the key solution to the problem.
In the next section, I am following every step of Rosneft privatization: connections between Trump’s government, the Kremlin, and links to the mafia, KGB, terrorist groups and international organized crime.
- These are facts, links and quotes. I encourage everyone to check sources and do their own analytical thinking. I intentionally leave out my opinions and conclusions.
- This document was shared with the major US and UK publications in 2017. Since these facts and information are still not widely known, I am publishing this research here for all to see before the Helsinki summit on July 16, 2018, where Trump is going to meet Putin one-on-one without official note-takers or other witnesses.
- Unlike my other articles and essays, this text does not have photos and images: it only has facts, personal accounts and interviews.
Read other investigative articles and reports by Zarina Zabrisky:
TRUMP — RUSSIA: KGB, OLIGARCHS, MAFIA
Investigative Photo Stories: Manafort, Page, Nunes, Wray and More
*All facts and photos are in public domain and available through Google. Links to the original sources are included.
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