The German Intelligence Services and “The common denominator of Jewish sexual scandals” – By Michael Novakhov – 5:26 AM 7/1/2018

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Image result for antisemitic stereotypes of the Sexually Aggressive Jew cartoons

5:26 AM 7/1/2018 – “The common denominator of Jewish sexual scandals” might be the results of the special operations by the German Intelligence Services: to enhance and maintain the antisemitic sexual stereotypes of the Sexually Aggressive Jew. In the case of Anthony Weiner, this is the stereotype of the Sexually Aggressive Jew exhibiting his big erect penis.

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mikenova shared this story .

“The common denominator of Jewish sexual scandals” might be the results of the special operations by the German Intelligence Services: to enhance and maintain the antisemitic stereotypes of the Sexually Aggressive Jew. In the case of Anthony Weiner, this is the stereotype of the Sexually Aggressive Jew exhibiting his big erect penis.

(While sexting with the “underage” poor little girl! Who looks very much “overage”, and sick and mad like hell. And with his baby boy in the same bed with him! That’s what those dirty Jews politicians do. And Hillary Clinton’s “child molestation pizza scandal”?! They are the same family: Clinton – Abedin – Weiner. 

See also: guilt by association

That’s what they do in America! Things like that could never happen in our clean and white Germany. Especially now, that we finally managed to get rid ourselves of all those animals, dirty Juden.) 

The Russian antisemitic stereotypes have somewhat different emotional shades and overtones: the Jews in them are depicted as weak, inferior, ineffectual, and effete, rather than “sexually threatening”, which apparently was related to the fears of wide spread racial mixing between the Germans and the Jews, much more of  real possibility, given the commonalities of the language and cultures, than mixing of Jews and Russians before 1917.

 All this looks like the battles of the intelligence-propaganda hybrid war.

The pieces look like they might be connected in the puzzle, if you look further into the cases of other public figures and politicians: “The Monica Lewinsky story of the 1990s; the quickly forgotten and tragic Chandra Levy affair in 2001; the duplicitous life of Governor Eliot Spitzer (who prosecuted prostitution rings, only to use them himself); the disturbing pedophilia of Jared Fogel, disgraced Subway pitchman, and now the libidinous Anthony Weiner once again creeping into national life.” 

Also add, for the full measure, the story of Dominique Strauss-Kahn

This aspect of the investigation of “Trump – Russia Affair” is important and might provide the clues to better understanding of the whole picture and the ultimate players. 

It is worthwhile to look back to the early 1990-s, and to try to trace back the possible activities, actions and operations by the post-WW2 German Intelligence. They should never be underestimated. 

The Deutsche Bank which is one of the objects of interests for Mr. Mueller’s Investigations, enjoys the historically very close and special relationship with the German Intelligence Services (not an exception among the others in this respect). 

ernst-uhrlau-germany-spy-chief-bnd-deutsche-bank

“Ernst Uhrlau, 65, who retired as head of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency BND, has been employed as a freelance “global risk analyst” at the bank since the beginning of February [2012], only two months after his retirement, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank confirmed…”

A very interesting appointment, one might say.

Michael Novakhov

5:03 AM 7/1/2018

Links

German Intelligence and Jewish Sexual Scandals – 7.1.18

The German Intelligence Services and “The common denominator of Jewish sexual scandals” – By Michael Novakhov – 5:26 AM 7/1/2018 | Global Security News
The common denominator of Jewish sexual scandals – Heritage Florida Jewish News
Stereotypes of Jews – Wikipedia
Stereotypes of Jews – Google Search
Image – antisemitic stereotypes of the Sexually Aggressive Jew cartoons – Google Search
german antisemitic stereotypes – Google Search
german antisemitic stereotypes jew big dick – Google Search
Katz Ehrenthal Collection – Google Search
anthony weiner and antisemitic stereotypes – Google Search
Dominique Strauss-Kahn – Google Search
antisemitic stereotypes of sexually aggressive jew – Google Search
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anthony weiner – Google Search
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Image – Katz Ehrenthal Collection – Google Search
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anthony weiner and antisemitic stereotypes – Google Search

6.30.18

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German Intelligence, Deutsche Bank, Oligarchs, Mafia, and FBI – 6.28.18

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6:53 AM 6/30/2018 – The Bad Kaiser Trump Vs. Good Chancellor Merkel The Dragon Slayer! If she does not land on her ass again, bursting out her poder unstoppable. Help the Lady, Idiots! | Global Security News
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What do you see in this lady’s deep blue eyes? I see just hypocrisy poorly disguised as “humanity”. – Michael Novakhov – In My Opinion – on The Web
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German Hypothesis of Trump – Russia Affair – 6.27.18

The Rebirth of Abwehr and Putin’s Dead Souls – by Michael Novakhov | Trump: Current and Selected News Articles In Brief – Trump Investigations Report
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German hypothesis Trump – Russia Affair – Google Search
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Counterintelligence Reform – 6.26.18

FBI Counterintelligence Activities Should Be Separate | Observer
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Yes, the FBI is America’s secret police | TheHill
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Jumpin’ Jack Flash – Wikipedia
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FBI Trump-Russia investigation codename: Crossfire Hurricane – Business Insider
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james bond 007 skyfall – YouTube
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No, Christopher Wray, we don’t trust you | TheHill
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Christopher Wray – YouTube
FBI Director Chris Wray knocks down the agency’s partisan critics – Business Insider
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The NSA ‘spy hubs’ hidden in plain sight across the country | Daily Mail Online
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Early FBI contacts with Trump campaign officials analyzed; ‘Efforts to manufacture evidence’ – Washington Times
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FBI Entrapment – 6.27.18

8:08 AM 6/27/2018 – Did FBI try to entrap Trump’s campaign? – News Review | FBI News Review
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5.16.18 – Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation – The New York Times
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Trevor Aaronson: How this FBI strategy is actually creating US-based terrorists | TED Talk
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Weiner-Abedin Emails Affair is the FBI Plot – 5.26-21.18

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Search Warrant for Anthony Weiner’s Laptop Unsealed | The Epoch Times
Anthony Weiner hired investigative firm amid underage sexting scandal | Daily Mail Online
Revisiting the Weiner Laptop Surprise  |  Ricochet
Report: Girl in Weiner sexting case lied to damage Clinton | TheHill
Source: Huma Abedin “surprised” about emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer – CBS News
The Problems With the FBI’s Email Investigation Went… — ProPublica
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Weiner’s “sexting” – Google Search
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weiner: it was a set up – Google Search
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Kremlin espionage cookbook – Google Search
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Bloggers Deal The Facts While NYT Spreads The Manure [Updated] – Wizbang

Trump campaign, FBI informants, and their outing – 5.18.18

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5.18.18 – Why is the FBI Outing Stefan Halper As Their Informant In the Trump Campaign?
F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims – The New York Times
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The FBI Informant Who Monitored the Trump Campaign, Stefan Halper, Oversaw a CIA Spying Operation in the 1980 Presidential Election
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Here’s Your Unclassified Briefing on Secret Government Code Names – The New York Times

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6.29.18

 

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4:19 PM 6/30/2018 – 20 Latest Posts: 11:23 AM 6/29/2018 – Mueller investigation and The “German hypothesis” of the “Trump-Russia scandal”: Germany wants to keep the US out of Ukraine and to drive the geopolitical wedges. | FBI News Review
 

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Links  | globalsecuritynews.org | fbinewsreview.org | trumpinvestigations.org | worldnewsandtimes.orgworld-web-news.com | wwtimes.com | russia-news.org | Posts on G+ | News in Photos | VIDEO NEWS Audio and Video Mix | The Brooklyn News | The Brooklyn Bridge | Puerto Rico News | News and Times 

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Story image for nato summit 2018 trump merkel putin from The Mercury News

US assessing cost of keeping troops in Germany

The Mercury News17 hours ago
The effort follows Trump’s expression of interest in removing the troops, made … tactic ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels, where Trump is again likely to criticize …. on Germany, and on Merkel in particular, including recent tweets saying she was … The president’s decision to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in …

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The case of Germany could test Mattis’s standing with Trump

<a href=”http://DefenseNews.com” rel=”nofollow”>DefenseNews.com</a>18 hours ago
COLOGNE, Germany – As Chancellor Angela Merkel recited her trans-Atlantic … about the upcoming NATO summit and the message sent there by Donald Trump. … in a U.S. administration more interested in Russia and North Korea than the Old World. …. <a href=”https://www.defensenews.com” rel=”nofollow”>https://www.defensenews.com</a> © 2018 Sightline Media Group

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US assessing cost of keeping troops in Germany as Trump battles with …

Washington Post19 hours ago
But Trump remains displeased that many NATO countries fail to spend at least 2 … He has been especially critical of Merkel, on defense and a range of other issues. … [Trump calls for Russia to be reinstated to G-7, threatens allies on trade] … Bolton’s meeting with von der Leyen, and his emphasis on the bottom line, came …
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US assessing cost of keeping troops in Germany as Trump battles with …

Washington Post19 hours ago
But Trump remains displeased that many NATO countries fail to spend at … He has been especially critical of Merkel, on defense and a range of other issues. … [Trump calls for Russia to be reinstated to G-7, threatens allies on trade] … Bolton’s meeting with von der Leyen, and his emphasis on the bottom …
US assessing cost of keeping troops in Germany
The Mercury News17 hours ago
Why Germany should care about B9?
New Eastern EuropeJun 29, 2018
NATO Will Outlive Trump (and Putin), Don’t Worry
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The TrumpPutin Summit: What the Europeans Fear

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Video: What can we expect from the 2018 NATO summit?

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Defense News deputy editor Aaron Mehta gets a preview of this year’s NATO Summit in Brussels–especially in the Trump era. AddThis Sharing …

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President’s remarks were confirmed by European officials, adding to jitters among allies about what will happen at July Nato summit.
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For more than a year the Trump-Russia affair has dominated front pages and mired the president’s administration in conflict and controversy. But what is it exactly? How did it begin? And where is it going?

The inquiry is being led by Robert Mueller, a widely respected former director of the FBI. Holed up in an unremarkable office in Washington DC, Mr Mueller’s team is quietly pulling threads from one of the most high-profile political inquiries in US history.

Four people connected with Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency have been charged and further indictments could be issued. President Trump denies any wrongdoing and no solid evidence has emerged to implicate him.

We’ve put together a straightforward guide to what we know, what we don’t know, and what Mr Mueller may know that we don’t.

What’s it all about?

President Trump’s campaign and transition teams have been accused of colluding with Russian agents to influence the US election in the then-Republican candidate’s favour.

US intelligence agencies concluded in 2016 that Russia was behind an effort to tip the scale of the US election against Hillary Clinton, with a state-authorised campaign of cyber attacks and fake news stories planted on social media.

Both the Russian and US presidents have poured scorn on suggestions of collusion, with Mr Trump calling it “the greatest political witch hunt in history”.

What contact do we know about?

At least 12 Trump associates had contacts with Russians during the campaign or transition, according to an analysis of public records by CNN, with at least 19 face-to-face interactions with Russians or Kremlin-linked figures and at least 51 individual communications.

Trump aides known to have had contact with Russians include the president’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, his son Donald Trump Jr, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and the Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The president’s supporters point out that interactions with foreign nationals are routine during any White House campaign, but two Trump aides have admitted lying about the encounters.

Who’s been charged?

The special counsel has indicted 19 people: four members of Mr Trump’s campaign team or administration and 13 Russians, as well as three Russian companies.

On the US side, indictments have been issued against Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign chairman; Rick Gates, a former business associate of Mr Manafort and campaign adviser; George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, and Michael Flynn, Mr Trump’s former national security adviser.

Mr Manafort has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including tax evasion and a multi-million dollar money laundering scheme. Pressure is likely building on Mr Manafort however, after his longtime business associate Mr Gates pleaded guilty in February to similar charges. Mr Gates will be required to co-operate with the investigation in return for a plea.

Mr Papadopoulos is said to have attempted to set up meetings between Mr Trump and Russian representatives, and he has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians. Mr Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI over meetings he had with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

Mr Papadopoulos was dismissed by Mr Trump as a “coffee boy”, but both he and Mr Gates had access to high-level meetings over a significant period of time. They will be required by Mr Mueller to testify about their involvement in the campaign, as well as turn over any relevant documents.

The 13 Russians charged are all connected to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian “troll factory” accused of spreading fake news stories through US social media. Among the 13 is Yevgeny Prigozhin, along with two of his businesses. Mr Prigozhin, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been accused of funding the IRA.

Why are the Flynn charges important?

By far the most senior member of the Trump team to be indicted is Mr Flynn, who admitted one count of making false statements. This was a much lesser charge than analysts say he might have faced for conducting business as a private citizen with a foreign power. Such plea deals are only offered when a witness has incriminating evidence on someone more senior than themselves.

Mr Trump sacked Mr Flynn last February, saying he had lied to Vice-President Mike Pence about meeting the Russian envoy to the US. Questions have been raised over how much Mr Trump knew about Mr Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador and when. The answers to those questions could form part of Mr Flynn’s plea bargain.

How many investigations are ongoing?

As well as the special counsel inquiry by Mr Mueller under the aegis of the Justice Department there are four congressional investigations:

  • The Senate and House Intelligence Committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee are investigating alleged Kremlin meddling and any collusion with Trump aides
  • The House Oversight Committee is scrutinising links between Trump associates and Russian officials

Who is special counsel Robert Mueller?

A former prosecutor, Mr Mueller went on to become the second-longest serving FBI director in history, after J Edgar Hoover. His Senate confirmation vote as FBI director went 98-0 in his favour. A special Senate vote to extend his term beyond the usual 10 years to 12 passed 100-0.

With a team of experienced lawyers drawn from private practice and from the justice department, as well as FBI officers, Mr Mueller has worked quietly from an unassuming building in south-west Washington, not issuing any public comment on his investigation.

Can’t Trump just sack Mueller?

Reports swirled in December that the president might fire the special counsel and confer a presidential pardon on Mr Flynn, in an attempt to gut the investigation.

The rumours began after one of the president’s lawyers accused the special counsel of illegally obtaining emails from the Trump transition team. The Mueller investigation said all material was obtained legally.

Firing Mr Mueller would be seen by Democrats as a brazen attempt to obstruct justice and could trigger an effort to impeach the president. For now though, it seems to be off the table. A White House lawyer said there was “no consideration about firing or replacing the special counsel”.

What happened with James Comey?

Back in February 2017, before Mr Mueller was appointed as special counsel, the FBI was investigating Michael Flynn over his contacts with Russian officials.

Then-head of the FBI, James Comey, attended a briefing in the Oval Office at the White House, along with Vice-President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. According to a detailed account of the meeting written by Mr Comey immediately afterwards, the president asked Mr Pence and Mr Sessions to leave the room before suggesting Mr Comey end the Flynn investigation.

The FBI director’s notes quote the president as saying: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Mr Comey prepared memos from his notes and shared them with other senior FBI officials, saying he was concerned about the nature of the meeting.

A few months later, in May, the president sacked Mr Comey, citing “this Russia thing”, a move that shocked Washington and led to talk of a cover-up.

What about the Don Jr meeting?

Another focal point of the press coverage, and possibly the investigation, is a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York City involving Mr Trump’s son, Donald Jr, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and an influential Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

The meeting occurred after a Russian intermediary contacted Mr Trump Jr with a promise to provide material that would “incriminate” Hillary Clinton – the Democratic candidate – and be “very useful to your father”. Mr Trump Jr replied: “I love it.”

Mr Trump Jr later defended the meeting, saying Ms Veselnitskaya offered only “inane nonsense” and nothing came of it, but he also told Fox News’ Sean Hannity “in retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently”.

In January 2018, in an extraordinary break from the administration he once served, Steve Bannon, a former White House chief strategist, called the meeting “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”, and said the justice department would “crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV”.

The president responded furiously that Mr Bannon had “lost his mind”.

See our full Russia timeline.

What is the Christopher Steele dossier?

In January 2017, a secret dossier was leaked to the press. It had been compiled by a former British intelligence official and Russia expert, Christopher Steele, who had been paid to investigate Mr Trump’s ties to Russia.

The dossier alleged Moscow had compromising material on Mr Trump, including claims he was once recorded with prostitutes at a Moscow hotel during a 2013 trip for one of his Miss Universe pageants. Mr Trump emphatically denies this.

The file purported to show financial and personal links between Mr Trump, his advisers and Moscow. It also suggested the Kremlin had cultivated Mr Trump for years before he ran for president.

Mr Trump dismissed the dossier, arguing its contents were based largely on unnamed sources. It was later reported that Mr Steele’s report was funded as opposition research by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.

Fusion GPS, the Washington-based firm that was hired to commission the dossier, had previously been paid via a conservative website to dig up dirt on Mr Trump.

Who is ‘coffee boy’ George Papadopoulos?

Mr Papadopoulos’s role in the drama begins with a May 2016 drink in a London bar with an Australian diplomat. He told the envoy that Russia had “political dirt” on Hillary Clinton – a conversation which was later reported by Australian authorities to the FBI and may have prompted the bureau’s investigation into the campaign.

In late October 2017, court documents emerged showing Mr Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the timing of meetings with alleged go-betweens for Russia.

He falsely claimed he had met two figures with Russian connections before joining the Trump campaign in March 2016. In fact, he met them after joining the campaign. After lying to the FBI, he deleted an incriminating Facebook account and destroyed a phone.

Emails reveal that he communicated with high-level figures in the Trump campaign. He was pictured in March 2016 seated at a foreign policy meeting with Mr Trump, Jeff Sessions and others, a photo Mr Trump shared on Twitter.

How did Russia (allegedly) hack a US election?

It didn’t, exactly. Hacking voter machines, and rigging elections generally, is very, very difficult. Hacking people? That would be easier.

US intelligence chiefs say Russia effectively ran a two-pronged operation. The first prong in mid-2016 allegedly involved sending rafts of so-called “phishing” emails to figures in the Democratic Party – an unsophisticated method used by everyone from state-sponsored actors to low-level scammers for duping people into giving up their passwords.

Hackers gained access to the Democratic National Committee’s systems and leaked tens of thousands of emails revealing the inner workings of the Clinton campaign and the party’s operations, along with mundane, embarrassing details.

The second prong allegedly involved flooding social media networks, especially Facebook, with bogus stories designed to smear the Democrats and undermine the Clinton campaign.

According to testimony by Facebook before Congress, Russia-backed content reached as many as 126 million Americans on the social network during and after election.

What did Obama know and when?

In August 2016, an envelope arrived at the White House marked for the eyes of President Barack Obama and three senior aides.

According to the Washington Post, the envelope had come by courier from the CIA, and contained a bombshell revelation – Mr Putin was directing a state-sponsored effort to interfere with the US election.

The FBI was already looking at ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, but the CIA memo seemed to confirm Russian efforts to throw the election Mr Trump’s way.

According to reporting in the Post and elsewhere, the Obama administration agonised over whether to divulge the alleged operations. Reportedly fearful of appearing to attempt to interfere politically, they stayed relatively quiet.

Other intelligence agencies were slow in reaching the same conclusion as the CIA, and congressional Republicans were reluctant to offer support to a public condemnation of Moscow.

Warnings were issued to Russian officials, but it wasn’t until the main US intelligence agencies agreed, in late September, that President Obama directed them to make a public statement. To avoid appearing partisan, the statement would not carry his name.

How far will the inquiry go?

The special counsel investigation could potentially extend into 2019, the Washington Post has reported, which would infuriate a White House that is eager to draw a line under the affair.

Mr Trump’s legal team has been in talks with federal investigators about the president himself being questioned by Mr Mueller.

The president has been non-committal, suggesting he might not need to be interviewed because, he maintains, there has been no collusion.

What about obstruction of justice?

There’s been a lot of speculation that Mr Mueller is considering an obstruction of justice case against the president. It’s hard to say if the sacking of Mr Comey alone constitutes a case, legal experts differ on this point. The hitch is that the charge carries a fairly high threshold – proof of “corrupt intent”.

If the president intentionally pressed Mr Comey to drop the investigation into Mr Flynn, that could be considered a corrupt attempt to obstruct justice, but it is not clear cut. And even if it were, bringing charges against a sitting president is far from straightforward.

A recent and controversial book by the journalist Michael Wolff claims Mr Trump went to some lengths to stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the justice department’s investigation, another possible case of obstruction. But the veracity of several parts of Mr Wolff’s book has been called into question.

How does impeachment work?

It is effectively impossible to bring criminal charges against a sitting president – any case would have to be brought by the executive branch, of which Mr Trump is the boss.

As for impeachment, there is political resonance to obstruction of justice charges – it factored in the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the resignation of Richard Nixon, prior to near-certain impeachment.

But it remains highly unlikely at this stage. A majority in the House on Representatives is first required to approve an article of impeachment, and the Republican Party controls both houses of Congress.

In the event of a successful House vote, the Senate holds a trial presided over by the Supreme Court chief justice, and a two-thirds majority vote is required in the Senate to convict the president.

That’s a high bar – two presidents, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, have been acquitted at this stage.

What does the American public think?

Polls suggest that most people are taking it seriously. According to a joint ABC News /Washington Post poll published in November 2017, 49% think Donald Trump likely committed a crime, compared to 44% who said it was unlikely, and 53% said they thought the charges against Mr Manafort, Mr Gates, and Mr Papadopoulos indicated a broader conspiracy.

CBS poll suggested two-thirds of voters thought Michael Flynn’s guilty plea and co-operation with the special counsel was “a serious matter” for the Trump administration.

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Among the wealthy sophisticates who came and went from their seaside villas on the Spanish island of Mallorca, there was something that didn’t quite fit about the Russian who lived in a neoclassical mansion on the Avenida Portals Vells. Tall and powerfully built, with a flattened nose and graying, short-cropped hair, he looked more like an aging boxer than an international businessman. Most days, dressed in a t-shirt and sweat pants, he would drive over to a local marina in his older-model Mercedes—he saved the Bentley for rides with his wife—and stop in at a favorite restaurant. Taking a table by the water’s edge, he would order a tapa and watch the boats, murmuring into his cell phone in a hoarse, Slavic whisper.

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It wasn’t long before police began to wonder about Gennady Petrov. He and his family were clearly Russian, but their passports were Greek. They seemed to have a lot of money, and to spend it in unusual ways. A real estate agent reported that Petrov had paid a contractor to build a tunnel down to the sea from another home he had owned in the area. Then there was an incident involving two Russians who were arrested as they prowled outside an upscale shopping center. The suspects wouldn’t talk, even after the police found a bomb in their car. But detectives eventually determined that the men were hoodlums who had flown in from Frankfurt to track another Russian—a businessman who was apparently involved in a dispute with Petrov.

The authorities soon discovered that Petrov was indeed a former boxer—and reputedly a high-ranking figure in one of Russia’s most powerful criminal organizations, the Tambovskaya. In Spain alone, he had amassed at least $50 million in properties and businesses. Beyond his island refuge, he was said to control a global network of legitimate and illicit activities, ranging from jewelry stores and extortion rings to the gray-market sale of Soviet MiG-29 fighter jets. But even the scope of Petrov’s enterprises did not prepare Spanish investigators for what they heard when they began to listen in on his telephone calls.

At one point, Petrov called a senior justice official in Moscow to complain that a Russian shipyard had fallen behind on construction of a new yacht Petrov had ordered. According to a confidential Spanish report of the conversation, the Russian official promised to go see the shipbuilder with some of “his boys,” and show him “a lot of affection.” Days later, another Spanish wiretap caught two of Petrov’s associates laughing about how agents of the Russian security forces had left the shipbuilder terrified. The yacht was back on schedule.

In hundreds of telephone calls intercepted during the year before Petrov’s arrest in 2008, Spanish investigators listened as the mob boss chatted with powerful businessmen, notorious criminals and high-level officials in the government of Vladimir Putin. During one trip to Russia, Petrov called his son to say he had just met with a man who turned out to be the Russian defense minister—and to report that they had sorted out a land deal, the sale of some airplanes, and a scheme to invest in Russian energy companies.

“Will you join the government?” a fellow mob boss joked with Petrov in another conversation monitored by Spanish investigators. “I bought a suitcase to store all the bribes you’ll get.” Petrov seemed to enjoy the irony, but said he was quite satisfied with Putin’s continued political control.

At a time when Russian intelligence and criminal activities have become an urgent concern in the United States and Europe, the Spanish investigations of Petrov and other Russians offer a remarkable view of the way that some of the most powerful mafia bosses have operated, both in Russia and abroad. Building on ties that sometimes date to the last years of the Soviet Union, more sophisticated mob leaders have survived gang wars and crackdowns to amass extraordinary wealth and influence, while remaining almost as deferential to Putin’s government as the oligarchs he helped create. Rather than simply bribing police officials to facilitate their activities, bosses like Petrov have established themselves as business partners, money launderers, and investment scouts for high-ranking officials who have amassed sizable fortunes themselves, Western security officials say. Those relationships, in turn, have enabled crime bosses to expand their involvement in legitimate business and political activities that are linked to the Russian government.

In isolated cases, the mafias are also believed to have been used as instruments of Russian state power—running guns for the security services, killing enemies, or carrying out political skullduggery. But the blurring lines between state and criminal activities have taken on new significance as Russia has worked more aggressively to undermine its adversaries in Europe and the United States. In Spain, such concerns have grown especially around the current crisis over the campaign for independence in Catalonia, where Russian news and social-media operations have lately been accused of spreading disinformation to stoke the separatist fervor. Russian mobsters have been active in the region for years, Spanish officials say, working to build influence among Catalan politicians and businesspeople, and to take advantage of the rivalry between Catalan and national law-enforcement agencies.

Interviews with more than 20 Western law-enforcement and intelligence officials—including Spanish investigators who spoke publicly and in detail about the Russian cases for the first time—as well as a review of thousands of pages of court files and investigative documents, show the interplay of gangsters, spies, magnates, and politicians in Russian power networks at home and abroad. The mafias’ ties to the Russian government, and particularly to the security services, have led Spanish officials to fear for their national security as well as law and order. “If you are someone important in the mafia in Russia, you don’t work on your own,” said Juan Rueda, a former Spanish police commander who led many of the investigations. Another senior police official added, “There is always the shadow of intelligence services behind them.”

Over the past decade, Spain has cracked down more systematically than any other European government, jailing bosses and soldiers and confiscating tens of millions of dollars in cash and assets. Prosecutors have issued indictments or arrest warrants for high-level Russian government and business figures, and named others as suspected allies of organized crime. But the anti-mafia campaign has not always been successful. Many of the court cases have dragged on for years. Spectacular police operations have sometimes produced meager results. And the gangsters have not generally been cowed. “Neither you, nor your laws, are capable of fighting us,” one Maserati-driving boss, who was known as “the Beast,” snarled at the officers who arrested him.

Petrov was among dozens of high-level gangsters from the former Soviet Union who settled in Spain between the 1990s and 2000s. By the time of his arrest in 2008, at his elegant mansion overlooking the Mediterranean, the authorities had mapped out a web connecting about 40 criminal groups in Spain to murders, kidnapping, extortion, robbery, and drug and arms trafficking across the former Soviet Union and Europe. They had also helped to uncover a worldwide network to launder profits.

The first wave of criminal expatriates arrived in the Spain in the 1990s. Many were escaping the street wars that consumed their country after the Soviet collapse; others looked to safeguard their growing fortunes, and to capitalize on the booming criminal opportunities of a globalizing world. The diaspora was multi-ethnic—Russians, Georgians, Ukrainians, Armenians, Jews. The veteran mobsters known as vory v zakone, or “thieves-in-law,” included tattooed ex-convicts who had survived the gulags or made their bones in the black markets. Other gangsters had served in the KGB or the Soviet military. Still others had come through the Soviet athletic system as boxers, wrestlers, or weightlifters; along with their muscle, they often brought useful connections to the old communist elite.

Like Italian crime clans or Colombian drug cartels, the mafias took their names from their hometowns. (The Tambovskaya of St. Petersburg was founded by men from the Tambov region in western Russia.) And alongside other globally minded gangsters, they established beachheads overseas: in smuggling hubs such as Stockholm and Istanbul; in financial centers like London and Cyprus, and in major cities including Budapest and New York. Like a new breed of criminal telecommuters, they needed little more than access to offshore shell companies and havens of bank secrecy: Andorra, Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, the Seychelles.

Spain was especially alluring. Along the southern Mediterranean coast, the mobsters insinuated themselves into colonies of retired Britons and vacationing Germans. In gated communities near Valencia, they settled in Russian enclaves complete with newly built Orthodox churches. Spain’s fast-growing economy, driven by tourism, real estate, construction and finance, offered abundant opportunities for money laundering. Well-heeled lawyers and financial advisers were readily available.

Another attraction may have been that the Spanish police were busy with other challenges. Although the country’s long struggle with Basque terrorism was waning, Latin American drug traffickers had established Spain as their primary gateway into Europe. After the 9/11 attacks, Spain also faced one of the continent’s most active al-Qaeda networks, a threat that became tragically clear after the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in 2004.

Among the first investigators to grasp the Russian threat in the 1990s was Rueda, a low-key commander in the small organized-crime unit of the national police. The son of clerks in the national steel company, he had grown up in the industrial town of Avilés with little sense of the world outside Spain. He had investigated cases involving Italian mafiosi and Latin drug traffickers, but he quickly realized that the Russian criminals were different, starting with their strategic restraint about committing crimes on Spanish soil. “It was not easy,” Rueda recalled. “They were killing, kidnapping and looting—but in Russia. In the beginning, we made a lot of mistakes. We spent time looking for drug connections but couldn’t find them.”

But in March 2003, Rueda caught a break. Investigators of the paramilitary Civil Guard learned from a Russian informant that Zakhar Kalashov, a Georgian boss who had suspected ties to Russian intelligence and operated near the southeastern port city of Alicante, was preparing to celebrate his 50th birthday in grand style, flying in a large party of guests from Moscow on a private jet. On the appointed day, plainclothes officers watched limousines wind down a coastal road to a secluded hotel with burbling fountains on a bluff above the beach. The officers didn’t have time to install microphones, but hidden cameras later showed grainy images of Kalashov—natty in a black suit, with a bodyguard hovering nearby—being feted by a who’s who of the post-Soviet underworld.

The informant later helped police officials piece together what had transpired. The bosses had worked out plans to expand their activities in Spain, divvying up territory and approving an initial joint investment in coastal real estate. Like the 1957 Apalachin summit in upstate New York, a gathering of mafia dons that revealed the coordination among seemingly rival crime families from around the United States, the birthday party made it strikingly clear to the Spaniards that they were up against formidable enemies who were willing to work together. The investigators “realized the magnitude of what was happening,” said Julián López, a criminology professor who wrote a book on the Russian mafias, “and who these people were.”

By then, mobsters had already begun to entrench themselves in Catalonia. One accused Georgian gangster opened a string of restaurants around the iconic Barcelona promenade of Las Ramblas, in what investigators said was part of a scheme to launder money and cultivate the local elite. The venerable soccer team F.C. Barcelona hired a security supervisor who turned out to be a convicted Georgian drug trafficker. Suspected underworld figures also surfaced as representatives of a major Russian oil company, Lukoil, that was proposing to join with a Spanish firm to open 150 gasoline stations in the area. The deal ultimately fell through, but information from Spanish and Russian law enforcement cited in court documents suggested that organized crime figures with ties to both Lukoil and the Russian spy agencies planned to use the deal to launder illicit funds. Lukoil, now a major multinational firm, denied any ties to organized crime. But those concerns also prompted Spanish officials to block an attempt in 2008 by Lukoil and Gazprom, another giant Russian company, to acquire an interest in Repsol, Spain’s biggest energy firm. Spanish leaders feared an eventual loss of control of the national energy sector, law enforcement officials said.

An FBI expert on the Russian mafia, who came to train the Spanish police in 2004, warned them that he had seen Russian organized crime groups follow a similar approach to infiltrating countries in Eastern Europe. “I told them that the Russian presence was step one of a process,” said the retired special agent, Robin Gazawi. “They first arrive cloaked with a certain degree of legitimacy for the purpose of infiltrating a society. They corrupt politicians, judges, cops, banks, industries, in different cities. By the time you figure it out, it is too late.”

But recognizing the threat was only a first step. Russian-language interpreters and Russian-speaking informants were scarce. The campaign against Islamist militants consumed enormous resources. The mafia investigators even had difficulty convincing prosecutors assigned to their cases to seek court authorization for wiretaps. “These investigations were so new, and the anti-corruption prosecutors had only worked on economic crimes that used documents as evidence,” Rueda said. “Wiretaps were seen as tools more for drug cases.”

Nor could the Spanish police count on any real cooperation from the authorities in Russia. In some instances, investigators and prosecutors came to believe that their Russian counterparts were actually leaking information about the Spanish cases to the mafia suspects and trying to undermine their prosecutions. At one point, Rueda got into a shouting match with a diplomatic attaché from Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, and ordered him out of police headquarters. “He hated me with a passion,” Rueda recalled. “They wanted to know, to participate, but we didn’t let them because we couldn’t trust them.”

Investigative magistrates of the Spanish high court had by then earned a global reputation by pursuing human rights violators like the former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, under a doctrine of universal jurisdiction. The idea of prosecuting complex, far-ranging crimes seemed to be nothing new. But the magistrates were distinctly unenthusiastic about going after the Russians, about whom they knew little. When the Guardia Civil presented an early case to the magistrates, seven turned it down before one finally agreed to open a formal inquiry. “They just didn’t understand that world,” Lopez said.

In June 2005, the police finally launched raids on homes and businesses from Marbella to Barcelona. They froze some 800 bank accounts, seized properties and detained 28 suspects—Russians, Georgians, Ukrainians, and Spaniards. But the big fish got away. Kalashov was out of the country; another boss from Georgia, Tariel Oniani, managed to flee Barcelona by boat just ahead of the raid on his garish mansion, apparently after being tipped off by a corrupt Spanish police officer. Vitaly Izguilov, a flashy, foul-mouthed gangster known as “The Beast,” returned to his criminal activities almost as quickly as he posted bail, the police said. (He was later arrested on new charges while still awaiting prosecution in the first case.)

If the fugitives were intimidated, Rueda saw little sign of it. Law-enforcement officials in Georgia told him that Oniani was threatening to kill Spanish investigators. But in the spring of 2006, Rueda heard about another birthday party. This time the guest of honor was to be Vyacheslav (the Little Japanese) Ivankov, a feisty mobster who had cut a swath through New York City in the early 1990s, reportedly living in a Trump Tower apartment and dressing like a Russian John Gotti. The U.S. authorities had convicted him of extortion and deported him to Russia, but a decade later, he was a free man, looking forward to celebrating in Dubai with a parade of other kingpins.

Rueda spent weeks preparing a secret operation with the help of law-enforcement officials from several nations. As the celebrants departed the party at a luxury hotel, the Emirati police arrested Kalashov on a Spanish warrant. Extradited back to Madrid, he was eventually convicted of money laundering and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment, in what was one of the most important convictions overseas of a gangster from the former Soviet Union. But the Spanish fight did not end there. Kalashov, considered the most dangerous inmate in the country’s prison system, bombarded courts with appeals, plotted repeatedly to escape, and did his best to corrupt any officials he could reach, investigators say. In 2012, the FBI passed along a formal warning that the mafia was prepared to spend a million dollars to bribe a Spanish official for Kalashov’s release, a confidential FBI document indicates.

Still seeking Russian help, the prosecutors turned in June of 2006 to Alexander Litvinenko, a gregarious former FSB officer who was living in exile in London. After gaining asylum in Britain, Litvinenko had emerged as an outspoken critic of Putin, denouncing corruption and human rights abuses in two books. He was also consulting for the British and Spanish intelligence services (as well as Russian businessmen and European companies) and he seemed to have expertise of special value to the Spanish investigators: He knew first-hand of Kalashov’s work for military intelligence in Chechnya, and had arrested Oniani himself in 1992, only to see him freed by corrupt senior officials, he said.

Meeting in London with Spanish anti-mafia prosecutor José Grinda, Litvinenko argued that Russia’s mafias, like its oligarchs, were almost organically entwined with the state. The patronage system under which both operated had roots in an alliance that Putin and other KGB veterans had established with underworld figures in St. Petersburg, early in Putin’s political career, Litvinenko said. The partnership had evolved as Putin consolidated his power and the Russian criminals expanded their reach. “Litvinenko’s theory was that Putin and the intelligence services have taken over, manipulated and absorbed the criminal groups,” Grinda said in an interview.

Grinda, a bearded workaholic with a dry sense of humor, persuaded Litvinenko to testify against the mobsters in Spain. But only months later, the would-be star witness died an agonizing, almost public death, having been poisoned with radioactive material slipped into his tea at a London hotel by two men believed to have been hired by the FSB. A British inquest later concluded that the operation was “probably approved” by Putin himself, in retaliation for Litvinenko’s accusations against Russian officials and his cooperation with British and Spanish intelligence agencies. Newspaper photographs of the cadaverous former spy, staring out from his hospital bed, shook the Spaniards. But the evidence that he might have been killed on Russian government orders gave a new sense of credibility to their work.

“We had accepted the idea that the world of the Russian mafia was like that,” Grinda said. “But it’s true that the case made other people think this gentleman had told the truth, because now he was dead.”

The Spanish investigators still had a big Russian target before them in Gennady Petrov, the hulking ex-boxer based on Mallorca. What they had found in shared files of European intelligence and law-enforcement agencies was more than enough to get their attention: Petrov had started out as part of a crew of former athletes in the Tambovskaya, the St. Petersburg gang, and served a six-year prison term for money laundering, extortion, and fraud. Known for his discretion as the “Gray Cardinal,” his rise had tracked the political ascent of Putin, who left the KGB in 1991 and moved into local politics in St. Petersburg when underworld figures were a brazen presence there.

The Tambovskaya’s swashbuckling boss, Vladimir Kumarin, was known as the “Night Governor” for his involvement in nightclubs, strip clubs, and protection rackets. He was among the many casualties of the mob wars of the period, losing his right arm and nearly his life in a gun battle in St. Petersburg in 1994. Still, his gang established an empire stretching beyond traditional rackets into legitimate industries like real estate, banking, and energy, according to investigators and court documents. Among the latter enterprises was the Petersburg Fuel Company, which in 1995—in a decision that involved then-deputy mayor Vladimir Putin—won the exclusive right to sell gasoline in the city, according to Spanish court documents and other sources.

Petrov’s faction of the gang also clashed with Kumarin around that time, but did not prevail. Petrov escaped with his wife and children to the safety of Marbella, using fraudulent Greek passports to gain European residency, court documents show. In 1998, Petrov moved with his family to the Mallorcan town of Calvià, and a handful of his Russian associates followed.

While Petrov’s children attended a private school, learning English, Spanish, and the local Mallorquín, their father set about acquiring properties and businesses, learning to scuba dive and picking out a $4-million yacht, Spanish investigators said. “What Petrov most liked about Spain was that he could move around by himself,” a Guard officer who worked on his case recalled. “No security detail, no looking over his shoulder. It was safe. Calm—not like when he went to Russia; he’d plan those trips like a paramilitary operation.”

As was the Guard’s practice with wealthy foreigners from mysterious backgrounds, a couple of officers paid Petrov several visits not long after his arrival. His Spanish was halting and he chain-smoked Marlboros, but he seemed almost serene as he answered questions about his activities. “He was always polite,” said the officer. “He spoke slowly, but it was a voice accustomed to command.”

By 2004, the Petrovs had built and moved into a $10-million, cream-colored villa that rose four palatial stories above a glistening grotto called the Cala Xada. Stone lions and neoclassical columns flanked the entrance. Terraces on each floor overlooked the sea. Inside, the décor featured plush rugs, a collection of swords and daggers, and religious art. One Orthodox icon “was worth more than his Bentley,” the Guard officer recalled.

By 2007, the local Guard unit had been joined by investigative teams from Madrid, deployed to dig deeper into what they had already concluded was a vast criminal empire. Petrov’s holdings in Russia were thought to include a chain of more than 300 jewelry stores owned through front men, supermarkets, a maritime oil shipping company, and firms developing property in the resort of Sochi for upcoming Winter Olympics, court documents show. But other leads spooled out in all directions—to associates on Mallorca, the Spanish mainland and beyond. Petrov and his network were being investigated for money laundering in Germany, Belgium, Cyprus, and the Czech Republic; they were tied to the smuggling of cobalt and cigarettes through Finland, and they were connected to black-market sales of military helicopters and MiG fighter jets in Africa, according to court documents. Petrov had also been implicated in an embezzlement scheme that had skimmed away more than $100 million and cost thousands of shipyard workers their jobs in Germany, the documents show.

In Spain alone, he was found to have accumulated 89 bank accounts and more than a dozen companies. Investigators saw indications that he was laundering money through the Cayman Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Lichtenstein, and evading taxes along the way. But Petrov’s holdings were structured carefully by Spanish lawyers and financial advisors, who used introductions from Petrov to take on other wealthy Russian clients, court documents show.

Tracking his calls to and from Russia, the investigators followed Petrov into far-off labyrinths of power and accumulated unusually detailed evidence about the deep ties between the Russian government and organized crime, court documents show.

As Petrov’s legitimate business operations expanded, his political influence in Russia grew steadily, and he seemed confident that he had little to fear from Russian or Spanish law-enforcement. “I’m a clean criminal,” he joked during one recorded phone call. Petrov then corrected himself: “A clean businessman.”

The intercepts recorded Petrov’s contacts with a Russian deputy prime minister and at least five other cabinet ministers, as well as legislators, oligarchs, and bankers, investigative documents show. And his influence was remarkably steady, given the volatility of the Putin regime. In one chat, a government friend offered that he was sorry to see Petrov’s “close friend,” the minister of health, lose his post in a cabinet shuffle. Then again, the official added, Petrov could celebrate the appointment of another old friend from St. Petersburg, Dmitry Kozak, among the new crop of ministers, documents show. (Kozak, one of Putin’s closest aides, served as both his presidential chief of staff and as deputy prime minister.) Another case in point was Putin’s then-defense minister, Anatoly Serdiukov—the man he referred to on a call with his son, court documents say. Petrov and the minister were friends and partners who engaged in lucrative business deals and exchanged gifts, prosecutors allege. Serdiukov was dismissed in an unrelated corruption scandal in 2012.

And then there was Vladislav Reznik, an urbane businessman-turned-legislator who had also come up through the rough and tumble of St. Petersburg politics, Spanish investigators said. Reznik, whom Petrov called by the diminutive “Slava” or “Slavik,” rose to become a founder and vice president of Putin’s political party, United Russia, and the powerful head of the finance committee in Russia’s parliament, the Duma. Along the way, Spanish court documents show, he had been among the close Putin associates to appear as a member of the board of directors of Bank Rossiya, a financial institution that was sanctioned by the United States in 2014 in retaliation for Putin’s invasion of Crimea. The Treasury Department called it “the personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation.” It has also been alleged by Russian dissidents and in published reports that the bank had links to the Tambovskaya gang and that Petrov was a shareholder at one point, an allegation that U.S. national-security officials describe as credible.

By the time Spanish detectives began to follow his movements in 2007, Reznik had bought Petrov’s first Mallorca home and set it up as a regular getaway, stocking it with fine wines and expensive art. Reznik and Petrov socialized together, did business together, and once entertained another visiting Russian politician on the gangster’s yacht, documents show. In Spain, Petrov, and Reznik used the same secretary, the same lawyer and the same financial adviser, documents say. They shared a private jet, leased by one of Petrov’s companies, to shuttle back and forth to Moscow in style. Court documents show Reznik as the most frequent flyer on the plane, which also stopped in Kiev, Frankfurt, Geneva, Zurich, Verona, and Naples.

The Spanish indictment accuses Reznik of operating at “the highest levels of power in Russia on behalf of Mr. Petrov and his organization.” And in their recorded conversations, Petrov talked to and about Reznik as if he were both a partner and friend. On one call, Petrov said he and Reznik would meet to discuss having Petrov’s enemies “put in jail” in Russia, according to prosecution documents. The intercepts indicate that Reznik was more cautious about what he said on the phone, but investigative documents suggest that at one point he addressed Petrov as “boss” and “leader.”

Reznik has responded to his indictment by insisting that the Spanish police were simply confused. His lawyers presented evidence that the person who called Petrov “boss” was a different Slavik, a man who gave a sworn statement to the defense saying he had indeed made the call. Reznik asserted in court documents that he only met Petrov in 2004 and had no idea at the time that he was a gangland boss from his home town.

“The accusations against Mr. Reznik are absolutely unfounded and wild,” said Joaquín Burkhalter, the Russian politician’s lawyer in Madrid, during an interview. “We have become accustomed to cases in Spain in which major operations against groups that are considered to be Russian organized crime end in nothing, or with only half of the defendants being convicted.”

On visits to Russia, Petrov often moved around Moscow in an armored vehicle accompanied by bodyguards armed with machine guns and grenade launchers, documents show. He also received protection from Nikolai Aulov, a square-jawed police general and senior Interior Ministry official whom he paid to deflect investigations, remove incriminating information from government databases, order the arrests of rival gangsters, and appoint allies to useful posts in the security forces, according to court documents. In a kind of mob role-reversal, the general also supplied muscle to the visiting gangster when necessary, the documents indicate. Aulov also apparently liked to chat: Over a one-year period, the Spanish investigators recorded 78 calls between him and Petrov, 74 of them placed by the general.

Petrov’s highly placed friends did not come cheaply, documents from the Spanish investigation show. In return for services such as providing confidential law-enforcement information or relaying messages to the country’s special prosecutor, for example, documents show that he paid for a senior prosecution official’s home, car, office computers and even his dental bills.

In June of 2008, the Spanish authorities made their move, raiding Petrov’s villa and leading him away in handcuffs. Around Mallorca and on the Spanish mainland, they arrested nearly 20 others, seized $17 million in cash and confiscated two yachts. It would take another seven years before the Spanish authorities would file a final, pre-trial indictment against 27 suspects accused of criminal association and money laundering. Reznik was the only public official charged, although the authorities later issued international warrants for others. The indictment also named nearly a dozen other officials, including Serdiukov, the former defense minister, as mafia associates, but did not charge them.

The Russian government’s primary response to the charges was to deny them and to file motions asking that Spain cede its authority to prosecute and turn the cases over to Russian justice. Putin’s anti-drug chief, Viktor Ivanov, publicly defended his deputy, General Aulov, telling The Guardian newspaper he had merely used Petrov as a source of “operational information.” A Kremlin spokesman dismissed the suggestion that Putin himself was connected to organized crime as “beyond the realm of reason.”

After years of procedural delays, a trial in Madrid is scheduled for February. Petrov, now 70, is unlikely to attend. In 2010, his high-powered Spanish lawyers got him transferred to house arrest with a $800,000 bond; two years later, a court granted him permission to travel temporarily to Russia to visit his ailing mother. He initially returned to Spain as required, but then took a second travel furlough and disappeared. Russian officials have made no move to send him back. The Spanish authorities do not expect to see him again.

“With money,” Petrov once told his son, “you can fix anything.”

In 2009, police following up on the Petrov case searched the Marbella office of an aristocratic, 76-year-old lawyer who was suspected of laundering money. As the officers entered, the lawyer swept a one-page document from his desk, crumpled it, and began to chew, police officials said. The tattered paper that a detective forced him to spit out opened up a new path for the Spanish investigators, leading them to a group of suspected money launderers in Barcelona.

Last year, the Spanish prosecutors took the case into a new realm, charging a high-profile Ukrainian oligarch named Dmitry Firtash with being a boss of the money laundering operation. Firtash, who is based in Vienna, was also once a business partner of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who worked extensively for pro-Russian political figures in Ukraine and was charged last week with money laundering, conspiracy and other crimes by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. But on August 30, an Austrian court rejected Spain’s extradition request, ruling that its prosecutors had not presented sufficient information against Firtash. (The businessman still faces possible extradition to the United States on charges that he paid $18.5 million in bribes through American intermediaries to win a mining concession in India.)

The reversal—amid suggestions that the Spanish authorities had overreached—signaled a new phase for anti-mafia investigators. The visible presence of Russian mobsters in Spain has begun to wane, although some remain notably dangerous. Last year, police overheard a call from a jailed Georgian kingpin using a smuggled phone to order the assassination of Grinda, the lead prosecutor for the Russian cases. It was the third such threat against the prosecutor, who has a police security detail.

Grinda has pressed on, pursuing money trails that investigators believed showed ties between the underworld and powerful Russian oligarchs. A judge finally dismissed that case this year after a decade of investigation. But in October, the Spanish anti-mafia team carried out its biggest operation in years, arresting an accused Russian mob boss and Alexander Grinberg, a genial expatriate Russian who had become a fixture in Marbella as the owner of the city’s soccer team, on charges of laundering at least $30 million through the team and other businesses.

The Spanish authorities’ concerns about Russian intentions have echoed in what European and American officials say are the increasingly aggressive actions of Russian intelligence agencies and Russian-sponsored Internet trolls and hackers to exacerbate political divisions and separatist tensions in the West. In Catalonia, where a separatist-led government is attempting to declare unilateral independence from Spain, the Spanish authorities say Russia’s hand is behind a wave of recent online misinformation about the crisis. For Russian criminal interests, it was familiar terrain: In 2011, the Catalan government nearly appointed as its top police official a legislator who was later convicted of taking bribes from a Russian developer and accused money launderer. Senior law-enforcement officials in Madrid warned them off.

After nearly a decade of preparation, Spanish prosecutors are gearing up for a trial in the Petrov case next February. But the moment may be anticlimactic. Petrov, who is said to be ill, cannot be tried in absentia under Spanish law. The most prominent defendant might therefore be his friend Reznik, the legislator, who has said he will come to Madrid to clear his name. The other defendants will be mostly accused Spanish accomplices. Still, the investigators said they are gratified to have disrupted the mafias, even if the bosses remain beyond reach.

“These cases are like a long-distance race,” Grinda said. “We are telling them: not here. We don’t want you here.”


ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit journalism organization based in New York.

A complete guide to the Jewish machers in the Russia probe | The Times of Israel
 

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Russian Jewish entrepreneur and co-founder of the Breakthrough Prize, Yuri Milner, attends a press conference in London on July 20, 2015, where he and British cosmologist Stephen Hawking announced the launch of Breakthrough Listen Initiative, a new effort to detect intelligent life in the cosmos. (AFP photo/Niklas Halle'n)

Russian Jewish entrepreneur and co-founder of the Breakthrough Prize, Yuri Milner, attends a press conference in London on July 20, 2015, where he and British cosmologist Stephen Hawking announced the launch of Breakthrough Listen Initiative, a new effort to detect intelligent life in the cosmos. (AFP photo/Niklas Halle’n)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The special prosecutor’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election offers an unsettling journey for anyone steeped in Russian Jewry, and the transition from the repression of the former Soviet Union to the relative freedoms of the Russian Federation.

Of 10 billionaires with Kremlin ties who funneled political contributions to Donald Trump and a number of top Republican leaders, at least five are Jewish. (The Dallas Morning News has a handy set of interactive charts.)

There’s Len Blavatnik, the dual British-American citizen who dumped huge amounts of cash on Republican candidates in the last election cycle, much of it funneled through his myriad investment firms. (The same Len Blavatnik who funds scholarships for IDF veterans and who is friends with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.) Alexander Shustorovich is the president of IMG Artists, a titan among impresarios, who gave Trumps’ inauguration committee a cool $1 million. He arrived in 1977 with his penniless family in New York at age 11, fleeing Soviet persecution of Jews.

The list goes on — we explore some of the names below. But first: What was going on in the Soviet Union as it headed towards collapse in the late 1980s that led to the proliferation of Jewish names among its powerful business leaders?

“Not all oligarchs are Jewish, of course, not the majority, but there is a significant number,” said Mark Levin, the CEO of the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, who joined its predecessor, the National Council on Soviet Jewry, in 1980 as a staffer. “They were in the right place at the right time.”

Here are some of the factors that put them in the “right place at the right time.”

You can go home again

Many Soviet Jews left the country because bigotry and punitive Soviet policies kept them, among other indignities, from getting jobs in their preferred professions. But with the collapse of the USSR, and with opportunities opening up at home, a number of these younger emigrants drew on the entrepreneurial strain, training and connections they found in their new countries, be it the United States, Britain and Israel.

In the late 1980s, when they heard that the policy of glasnost was loosening up markets, a number of them traveled back to their homeland seeking opportunity, armed with savvy and with moneyed connections in their new countries. They were in place after 1991 when Russia and its former republics rapidly privatized everything from mines to media.

“I know people who left the Soviet Union, it imploded, they went back, they had friends and acquaintances who were telling them there were great opportunities,” Levin said. “There were business people who were partnering with people in Russia and other countries because they had the connections to complete business deals.”

Networks

The Jews who stayed behind kept in touch with friends and family who were succeeding overseas and were able to tap them for investment opportunities.

“Jews in the ex-USSR had a ready-made network of trusted contacts in the U.S. and Israel who they could go into business with,” said Oliver Bullough, a British author and journalist whose expertise is Russian history and politics. “It was harder for Russians who had no contacts abroad to achieve this. This also, in my opinion, explains why ex-KGB people did well since they had a network of former spies in other countries.”

Glasnost opened doors

Glasnost, or openness, instituted by Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, included opening up plum government jobs to minorities that had previously been marginalized. That accelerated Jewish entry into higher ranks of the bureaucracy just when it was opportune to be in a position to know what sector was about to be privatized, and which government-owned business was about to be broken up.

It helped that unlike communist regimes in eastern Europe, Levin said, in Russia and the former Soviet republics, the elites remained in place — only the ideology of communism was jettisoned.

“Russia and most successor states of the Soviet Union went through a much different transformation than the former communist Europe nations,” he said. “Most of the governing elite didn’t change.”

Moreover, the very professions to which Jews were restricted under the old Soviet system were the ones that proved useful in the new economy. Jews, Levin said, were likelier to be entrepreneurs.

“There were Jews who were helping to make the transition from a command economy to a market economy,” he said.

Author Michael Wolff, profiling tech entrepreneur Yuri Milner in 20111, wrote, “The Jews in Soviet Russia, often kept from taking official career paths, came to thrive in the gray and black markets. Hence, they were among the only capitalists in Russia when capitalism emerged.”

Bullough said the scientific disciplines that accepted Jews under the old system were suddenly in demand under the new.

“Jews were often excluded from the kind of universities that produced diplomats, and therefore pushed more towards pure sciences, which meant there was a disproportionate number of Jewish mathematicians who were able to engage with the new banking industry,” he said.

But who really knows

Most of all, said Levin, it was chaos. Massive sectors of the economy were up for grabs. At times, there seemed to be no controlling authority. When the dust settled, Russia had entered the age of the oligarchs. “In the beginning, it was like Chicago in the 1920s,” he said. Connie Bruck, profiling Blavatnik in The New Yorker in 2014, quoted a new Russian phrase: “Never ask about the first million.”

Here are some of the businessmen with Soviet Jewish roots who have been named in stories about the Trump-Russia investigation.

Leonard Blavatnik, 60

Oligarch factor: U.S.-British citizen. Forbes lists him as the 48th richest man in the world. Access Industries, which he founded in 1986 while he was at Harvard Business school, exploded in its earlier years through investments in oil in the collapsing Soviet Union. It has since expanded into massive media holdings. (Blavatnik rejects the term “oligarch,” believing it to be pejorative. “Mr. Blavatnik has no involvement in Russian politics or in the Russian government, and, in fact, has never been a Russian citizen,” a spokesman told JTA in an email. The spokesman also pointed out that Blavatnik does not appear on U.S. Treasury list of designated oligarchs. (His longtime partner, Viktor Vekselberg, for example, does feature prominently on the list.)

Len Blavatnik, head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation (Courtesy)

Trump factor: Gave more than $6 million in the 2016 election cycle, virtually all to Republicans, after a pattern of relatively modest donations to both political parties. Longstanding business ties to Viktor Vekselberg, the oligarch allegedly linked to secret payments to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Blavatnik donated $12,700 last year to the Republican party, which used part of it for a legal fund that has helped to pay Trump’s lawyers in the Russia inquiry. (The spokesman for Blavatnik said that the businessman did not know the money was targeted for the legal fund.)

Jewish ties: He has served on the board of Tel Aviv University, the Center for Jewish History and the 92nd Street Y. His family foundation funds a Colel Chabad-run food bank and warehouse in Kiryat Malachi in Israel, which sends monthly shipments of food to 5,000 poor families in 25 Israeli cities. He is friends with Netanyahu, and has been questioned by police in connection with the investigation into gifts the prime minister allegedly has received from wealthy benefactors. He funds scholarships for Israeli army soldiers.

Andrew Intrater, 55

Oligarch factor: A cousin to Vekselberg, who has a Jewish father but does not identify as Jewish. Intrater, a US citizen, is the CEO of Columbus Nova, the investment company with close ties to Vekselberg’s Renova. An SEC filing from 2007 lists Intrater as the chairman of the board of CableCom, a Moscow-area cable TV provider.

Trump factor: Columbus Nova funneled payments from Renova to Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer. Intrater also donated $250,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee.

Jewish ties: Intrater, the child of a Holocaust survivor, has given more than $500,000 to the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation and has donated to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation Committee. Intrater’s brother, Frederick, the design manager for Columbus Nova, bought up a batch of domain names with associations with the “alt-right” in the summer of 2016, when support for then-candidate Trump on the far right was rising and Get Out the Vote drives were intensifying. Frederick Intrater said he made the purchases without Andrew’s knowledge, and later regretted it, allowing the URL names to wither. “To conclude that I support white supremacy or anti-Semitism is unreasonable given what I’ve described above and also taking into consideration that I am a Jew and son of a Holocaust survivor,” Frederick Intrater said.

Alexander Shustorovich, 52

Oligarch factor: Shustorovich, a US citizen, traveled to Moscow in 1989, a year after graduating from Harvard, and immediately became a player in media there, starting scientific publications. He unsuccessfully sought to get his company, Pleiades Group, into the $12 billion deal that sold Soviet nuclear fuel to the United States. He is now CEO of IMG Artists, a company that manages talent in classical music and dance.

Trump factor: Shustorovich gave $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee. Notably, his attempt to give the George W. Bush campaign $250,000 in 2000 was rejected in part because of his ties at the time to Russia’s government.

Jewish ties: Shustorovich arrived in New York at 11 in 1977 with his family, who did not have enough money to buy food. His father, Evgeny, pushed out of work in Russia as a chemist because of his hopes of emigrating, joined Kodak in Rochester, New York, and soon rose to prominence in his field. For a period in 1986-1987, Evgeny Shustorovich was one of the faces of the Soviet Jewry movement as he became an ardent advocate for the right of his brother — also named Alexander — to emigrate from the former Soviet Union.

Simon Kukes, 72

Oligarch factor: Kukes, a US citizen, left the Soviet Union in 1977, settling in the Houston area. A chemist, he was for a period an academic, and then worked in the Texas oil industry. He returned to Russia and became an executive in the post-Soviet oil industry there. In 2003, he became head of the Yukos oil company after another Jewish oligarch, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was jailed by Russian leader Vladimir Putin for tax evasion and theft — but mostly, most observers think, for funding opposition parties.

The Guardian in 2003 uncovered CIA documents linking Kukes to bribery, charges which he has denied. Prior to his year-long gig helming Yukos, Kukes was from 1998-2003 the president of TNK, another oil company, whose principal stakeholders were Blavatnik and Vekselberg. In 2012 when he headed the Russian arm of Hess, Forbes reported that Kukes’ former chauffeur, who had risen through the company ranks, was a Russian mafia boss. The man denied the charges, but Kukes pushed him out of the company. Last year, Kukes was a U.S.-based CEO of Nafta, a consulting firm for investors in Russia’s energy sector. Nafta’s website has since been scrubbed.

Yukos Chief Executive Simon Kukes speaks at a news conference in company’s headquarters in Moscow, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2003. (AP/Misha Japaridze)

Trump factor: With no major history of GOP giving, Kukes suddenly funneled $285,000 into the Trump election effort — much of it after June 2016, when Russian interest in the possibility of a Trump presidency intensified.

Jewish ties: Kukes does not have apparent formal ties with the organized Jewish community, although he tells interviewers he left the former Soviet Union because he was Jewish. In 2015, he bought a 12.5 percent share in Leverate, an Israeli-founded company that develops brokerage software.

Yuri Milner, 56

Oligarch factor: Milner never fled the Soviet Union — his parents still live in Moscow. He was the first non-emigre from the Soviet Union to attend Wharton business school, and was for years involved in Russian banking before entering tech. He is well known as a Silicon Valley investor, owning one of the most luxurious houses in ritzy Los Altos Hills, valued in 2011 at $100 million. Last year, it was revealed through leaked documents that Russia’s government funded substantive stakes in Twitter and Facebook that were for a time held by his company, DST Global. In 2013, Milner joined Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sergey Brin and 23andme’s Anne Wojcicki in establishing the multi-million dollar Breakthrough prize for scientists.

Yuri Milner speaks at TechCrunch conference on September 21, 2015. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Trump factor: After last year’s revelations, Milner scoffed at the notion that Russia was plowing money into social media efforts to influence elections, noting that he never sought a seat on the board of the companies he invested in. Milner in 2015 invested $850,000 in Cadre, a real estate startup launched by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, and Kushner’s brother Josh. Milner has said that he met Jared Kushner only once. Kushner’s stake in Cadre was one of many that he initially failed to disclose when he became an adviser to his father-in-law.

Jewish ties: Milner attends a synagogue when he is in Moscow. Somewhere along the line, he appears to have acquired Israeli citizenship. Speaking with Forbes in 2017 after the magazine named him one of the 100 “greatest living business minds,” Milner said he was “humbled and honored” to be “the only Russian or Israeli citizen on the list.”

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