One thing I’m certain of is that most Americans know very little, if anything, about Russia after the fall of the U.S.S.R. I’m no expert by any means and the following is a mere overview of events that occurred during the 1990s to mid-2000s. Yet, in my opinion, these particular events summarize how the U.S. viewed and handled Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. By implementing a failing privatization program, funding the Chechen Wars, and interfering in the 2004 Ukrainian elections it appears the U.S. government was hellbent on destroying what little was left of Russia. And they probably were. So, I’m hoping that the following will give you additional insight into how Vladimir Putin may have viewed these events (and the U.S.) both before and after his election and perhaps then you’ll realize that Western media rarely, if ever, takes into account the devastating actions of both the government and the CIA in the Motherland.
Let’s start with Russia’s dismal privatization program and the rise of the oligarch class. The collapse of the U.S.S.R. marked the demise of Communism and the ushering in of open markets and the privatization of Russia’s state-owned assets. Leading the charge underneath Boris Yeltsin was Anatoly Chubais, a man who is deeply resented in his country for the economic failures that took place during the 1990s. Here’s what he did: In 1990, Chubais became Deputy of the Leningrad City Council under Vladimir Putin’s now deceased mentor, Anatoly Sobchak. The following year he was appointed to Yeltsin’s Cabinet where he managed the State Committee for State Property Management of the Russian Federation (GKI)—Russia’s key state agency that handled the new privatization program. As Janine R. Wedel described in her book, “Collision and Collusion: The Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe,”
“As the first head of the new GKI beginning in November 1991, Chubais, together with his team of St. Petersburg and Western advisors, drew up plans to privatize no fewer than 15,000 state enterprises. The team designed and coordinated the signature mass-voucher privatization program, launched in November 1992, in which citizens were given shares, or “vouchers,” in state-owned enterprises. USAID spent $58 million to underwrite this privatization program, including its design, implementation, and promotion. Through the Harvard Institute, USAID supported about ten advisors to the GKI, whose contracts added up to $7.75 million.”
Okay, so a few things here. Like Wedel described, Russia began a voucher privatization program that gave Russian citizens a stake in state-owned (soon to be privately owned) assets. However, many people didn’t know what to do with the vouchers—some sold them to buy food, or simply gave them away. Others invested them into companies that went belly up leaving them nothing in return. On the flip side of the coin, those with the money and insight to see a massive, economic opportunity snatched up large bundles of these vouchers through rigged auctions and “loans-for-shares” programs. At these auctions, energy and oil companies were given away for peanuts. This is what gave rise to the oligarch class—the mass privatization program paired with corruption on every level. The other thing to note is Chubais’ team of “Western advisors.” These advisors came from Harvard and they received an abhorrent amount of money from USAID, the World Bank, the European Bank For Reconstruction and Development, and other European governments to “reform” the Russian economy.
Harvard professor Jeffrey Sachs and other U.S. economists began visiting Russia in 1991. At some point, Sachs and those working with him including Harvard professor Andrei Shleifer, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs and former Harvard professor Lawrence Summers, and David Lipton who received his Ph.D from Harvard offered their services and money to Chubais. USAID was more than happy to dish out huge monetary awards to these “Harvard Boys” who moved the money through the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) in order to implement the privatization program. In her book, Wedel pointed out that “using the prestige of Harvard’s name and connections in the [Clinton] Administration, H.I.I.D. officials acquired virtual carte blanche over the U.S. economic aid program to Russia, with minimal oversight by the government agencies involved.” Furthermore, Chubais found himself with the “support of the top political quarters in the West, above all the USA, the World Bank and the IMF, and consequently, control over the money flow from the West to Russia.”
So there you have it. I bet you didn’t realize that at one point in history (not so long ago!) the Clinton administration, the Harvard Boys, USAID, Chubois, and a handful of others were steering Russia’s economic reforms, did you? Welcome to the Bill Clinton/Boris Yelstin BFF years. Honestly, I don’t know if it was blind trust, sheer idiocy, vodka binges or all of the above that allowed Yeltsin to bring the Clinton administration into the fold like he did. Whatever it was, I’m sure the U.S. government was giddy about it given it was a “once in a century opportunity to advance our [U.S.] national interests.”
And how did it all work out, you ask?
Simply put the economic, political, and social problems that Yeltsin may have hoped to put an end to exploded under the plan that the U.S. and Anatoly Chubois laid out and then carried out in Russia. Both the oligarch class and the Russian mafia flourished while ordinary Russian citizens suffered extreme economic hardship. The Harvard Boys pocketed money wherever they could, government officials got filthy rich, and a handful of Russians like Boris Berezovsky, Mikhail Khodorkosvsky, Roman Abramovich, and Oleg Deripaska became the new oligarch class. They snatched up companies for a fraction of their worth and their personal net worth skyrocketed. Boris Berezovksy was estimated to be worth $3 billion in 1997, Khodorkovsky (Yukos Oil) at one point was worth $15 billion, and Abramovich and Deripaska teamed up to make billions in the aluminum industry. Even foreigners like Bill Browder of Hermitage Capital made a ton of money in Russia during the 1990s. One article stated, “Within two years the company [Hermitage Capital] had “amassed $1 billion in assets” and it was well on its way to becoming the largest foreign investor in Russia.” It eventually did just that.
As for the mafia, many of them were ex-KGB officers working hand in hand with the burgeoning oligarch class as they “gobbled up the oil, gas, mineral and telecommunications industries.” James Kurth said in his congressional report entitled, “Russia’s Road to Corruption,” (which I highly, highly recommend you read when you have the chance) on the rise of the Russian mafia:
“It was the devil’s due for Russia’s failure to develop a market economy in place of Communism–a failure abetted by the Clinton administration’s economic strategy for Russia and its embrace of corrupt Russian officials.”
In 2004, one particularly well known Russian mobster, Semion Mogilevich, established a U.S. company called YBM Magnex and then branched out onto the Toronto stock exchange (TMX). Former YBM executives included Jacob Bogatin and Ontario’s former Liberal Premier, David R. Peterson who once sat as the board’s director. Canadian firms such as Canaccord Capital and Griffiths McBurney underwrote YBM Magnex’s November 27, 1997 stock market offering after which everyone later claimed they had no idea that their client was a notorious Russian mob figure. It wasn’t until after the U.S. Organized Crime Task Force raided YBM’s headquarters in Pennsylvania on May 13, 1998, that TMX suspended YBM trading.
So, do you want to know how shady the Russian mafia is as it relates to U.S. politics?
Let’s start with Eugene Mcburney whose firm (now GMP Capital) helped underwrite YBM’s initial stock offering. He is not only a Clinton Foundation and Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership donor, he was a shareholder in Frank’s Giustra’s uranium company, UrAsia, before it merged with Uranium One and was later sold off to Russia’s Rosatom. He also worked with both Giustra and Canaccord Capital’s CEO Paul Reynolds through Wheaton River, Pacific Rubiales, and Silver Wheaton. The Toronto Star once called McBurney an “old friend and business associate” of Giustra’s. And let’s not forget how Canaccord Capital was also involved with the uranium deal and the fact that its CEO, Paul Reynolds, donated between one and five million dollars to the Clinton foundation.
Side note: As I pointed out in a previous post, I’m a bit suspicious of Paul Reynolds’ “heart attack” in 2015, three weeks before Jo Becker’s bombshell article about Clinton donors hit the news stands. Trust me, Reynolds knew where all the
bodies money were hidden.
As for Ontario’s former Liberal Premier, David R. Peterson, he wasn’t just a Canadian politician who ended up one day as the director of a Russian mafia magnet company (there actually weren’t any magnets or any products at all for that matter), he was also the former board director for BNP Paribas (Canada). If you’re not familiar with BNP Paribas they’re the ones who violated sanctions against Sudan and were subsequently fined $8.9 billion (a fine that Vladimir Putin called blackmail). In addtion, they were also involved with the “food for oil” scandal which involved Bill Clinton’s buddy, Marc Rich. If that weren’t enough, BNP Paribas lent millions of dollars to Nelson Resources—an oil company that employed the Boston bomber’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, was run by a consortium of criminal, Kazakstan businessmen, was financed by Canaccord Capital, and then was eventually sold to Russian oil company, Lukoil, under suspicious circumstances. And don’t forget the Boston bomber’s uncle once entered a witness statement in defense of the guy who sold Frank Giustra his Kazakhstan uranium in the first place. Small world, eh?
And I don’t mean to get distracted by the Boston bombing (again) but there’s more…
Semion Moglievich was not only a Russian mobster and the owner of YMB Magnex, he also gained control of Russia’s Inkombank in 1994, the same bank that was later investigated and shut down in 1999 for being tied to Russian mob activities such as drug trafficking and money laundering. Nothing shocking there. However, in 1998, Ruslan Tsarni began working for Salans Hertzfeld & Heilbronn which merged with former U.S. Prosecutor Arthur Christy’s firm in New York that same year. Arthur Christy was Inkombank’s attorney and in 1998, the year that the Boston bomber’s uncle started working there, Inkombank victims sued Arthur Christy for his own alleged criminal involvement through the bank. So there’s that.
Ruslan Tsarni and Canaccord Capital. Always in the most interesting places at the most interesting times, aren’t they? But as usual, I digress. I guess the question here is after you’ve done business with the Russian mafia (YBM Magnex, for example) and things go sour is that it? Did Frank Giustra and Bill Clinton’s buddies Eugene McBurney and Paul Reynolds simply break away from Semion Moglievich and go their separate ways? Is that how it normally works—you make a clean break from the Russian mafia without any risk of future blackmail? Hmm. That wasn’t exactly the argument Sally Yates used in regards to Mike Flynn’s more innocuous contacts with the Russians but maybe that’s none of my business.
The Chechen Wars is another example of U.S. intervention in Russia during the 1990s and 2000s that was far from helpful. In fact, it was more disgusting than anything else. Here’s the long and short of it: In an effort to prevent Russia from developing a new oil pipeline the CIA secretly flew Afghan mujahideen into the North Caucasus region to fight aside the Chechen separatists against the Russians. Remember all those people that died? Yeah. We supported that. In a May, 2000, congressional report entitled “Chechnya Conflict: Recent Developments” that was released by Wikileaks, it stated,
“While instability in the North Caucasus makes a Russian-proposed Caspian oil pipeline through the North Caucasus appear less feasible and a U.S.-backed plan for a pipeline to Turkey appear more feasible…”
Although the report goes on to express concerns that too much instability in the region could spell disaster, it didn’t deter the CIA’s funding of the Chechen Wars—probably because Congress wasn’t aware at the time that they were sending millions of dollars to radical Islamists in Chechnya through Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Richard Secord, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense who played a huge role in the Iran Contra scandal (and was subsequently prosecuted for it), was one of the men behind this operation as was Graham Fuller who has been called the “key architect of the CIA Mujahideen strategy.” If you’ve been following my blog then you know where this is headed. Yup. Back to Ruslan Tsarni. Seriously, folks, you can’t make this stuff up. In 1995, Ruslan Tsarni established an organization called the “Congress of Chechen International Organization” which was registered to Graham Fuller’s Maryland home. Tsarni was also married to Fuller’s daughter at the time. Here’s one of the letters that his organization sent out:
And as I wrote in a previous post:
Shoes? From the terrorist organization Benevolence International (BIF) that was run by Enaam Arnaout and shut down by the United States in 2001? Hmm. Let’s see, by 1996, al Qaeda was alive and well, Graham Fuller had eluded to their continued support from the US government, the first Chechen-Russian war broke out two years prior, and Chechnya had become a breeding ground for Islamic terrorism because jihadists like Sheik Fathi and Saudi Umar Ibn al-Khattab became heavily involved in the Chechen rebels’ struggle for independence. And Tsarni was really just asking for shoes?
Let’s look at the documents from BIF Chief Executive Officer Enaam Arnaout’s 2002 trial in the Northern District Court of Illinois. This document states,
“[Arnaout] served as director of communications in the “al Masad” mujahidden camp…under the direction of Usama Bin Laden…[he] distributed weapons…worked with others, including members of al Qaeda, to purchase rockets and assorted rifles in larges quantities…”
As for Benevolence International Foundation (BIF), it goes on to say,
“The objectives of the BIF Enterprise were to support the activities of mujahideen in various areas of the world by raising funds and providing support to mujahideen and others engaged in violence and armed confrontation, including al Qaeda and Hezb e islami.”
Annnnd if we scroll down to page 26 of this court document it reads like it is straight out of the letter written by Ruslan Tsarni’s organization which, again, if you missed it the first time, was registered to the home of a man who spent twenty years as a CIA operative before becoming deputy director of the National Intelligence Council.
So yeah. It appears Ruslan Tsarni was helping the CIA ask for help from terrorists. Nice, huh? A quick summary in case you glazed over the last few paragraphs: Ruslan Tsarni’s resume apparently includes helping CIA company man Graham Fuller fund a Russian jihad in the North Caucasus region (out of Fuller’s home, no less) in 1995, working for a former U.S. federal prosecutor who was accused of working with the Russian mafia through Inkombank in 1998-1999, working at a Western oil company (Nelson Resources) that was taken over by a consortium of criminal Kazakhstan businessmen who later sold it well below market value to Russian oil company, Lukoil, in 2005, and giving a witness statement (in London’s High Court) in 2010 for the Kazakhstan man who sold Bill Clinton’s buddy, Frank Giustra, his uranium back in 2005. Okay dokey then. Nothing to see here.
One other thing I want to mention with regards to Chechnya is the series of Russian apartment building bombings that occurred in 1999 which set off the Second Chechen-Russian War. Russia attributed the attacks to Chechen extremists however some investigations point the finger at the Russian FSB—essentially accusing Russia of a false flag. Yet, I have to wonder why no one has questioned the United States’ involvement? Perhaps because I may be entirely off base. But when you take into account the politics between the Chechen government and Russia at the time, and the U.S. government’s plan to stir up instability in the region for want of blocking Russia’s pipeline while gaining their own, we know the government will go to unbelievable lengths to get what they want. Perhaps more on this later.
Side note: Zerohedge has a more detailed and easily digestible article about CIA operations in Chechnya HERE. And in THIS 2015 (pro-Russian) documentary, Vladimir Putin states that he knew about the U.S. helping the Chechen insurgents.
Last but not least we have the 2004 Ukrainian elections a.k.a. the Orange Revolution. Here’s the deal in a nutshell: On November 21, 2004, Putin-friendly Viktor Yanukovych won the presidential run-off election. However, protestors took to the streets infuriated by what they believed was a corrupt election. The mass protests, probably “funded and organized by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations” demanded a revote. Lo and behold, they got one and the more Western-friendly candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, was swept into office. As a 2004 article in The Guardian noted, election campaigns such as this with the mass protests, fervent “democracy activists,” and civil disobedience were first supported and funded in Belgrade, and then Serbia, and finally in Georgia. The Ukraine was no different. The article further explains,
“The Democratic party’s National Democratic Institute, the Republican party’s International Republican Institute, the US state department and USAid are the main agencies involved in these grassroots campaigns as well as the Freedom House NGO and billionaire George Soros’s open society institute.”
Of course, I’m sure the U.S. messing with Ukraine’s elections in order to spread its tentacles across Eastern Europe didn’t please Putin. Why would it? Nor can I imagine that President Bill Clinton’s earlier expansion of NATO helped matters. If you were Putin what would you be thinking? Yeltsin may have given Clinton his blessing but Politico reported that even Bill Clinton’s former Secretary of Defense, William Perry “considered resigning over the issue out of concern for its effect on U.S.-Russia relations.” The expansion of NATO continues to threaten Russia as of today.
In the same Politico article I referenced above (which I consider a nicely churned-out U.S. propaganda piece), it stated that Putin sees the 1990s as “one long period of humiliation” and then goes on to imply that Putin’s grievances about America are a “contrivance” meant to cover up Russia’s own weakness. Meanwhile, the article omits every single thing I just pointed out in this post: The privatization program, the Chechen Wars, and the Ukrainian elections. Like Politico, almost all Western news outlets fail to tell the entire the story and, in essence, lie through omission—they are trying to rewrite history, if you will. When the article wrote, “Putin can’t undo Russia’s Cold War defeat by America,” it made me think of George Orwell’s statement that “History is written by the winners.” And when the article continued with, “But he can avenge it,” part of me silently cheered him on.
Full Russian Series HERE.
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