“Problem:” SDNY Charges Elena Branson as Unregistered Agent of Russia

Back in 2013, the Senior Vice President of the Russian American Chamber of Commerce (Sergei Millian’s organization) sent Elena Branson language from FARA with the subject line, “Problem.”

a. On or about January 30, 2013, BRANSON received an email from an individual using an email address ending in “mail.ru.” Based on my review of publicly available information, I have learned that this individual was a Senior Vice President of the Russian American Chamber of Commerce in the USA. This email had the subject line “Problem.” and the text of the email included, among other things, a portion of the FARA Unit’s website with background on FARA. In response, BRANSON wrote, in part, “I am interested in the number of the law, its text in English[.]” The sender then responded with “Lena, read …” and copied into the email background on FARA and portions of the statute.

Branson, who the prior year had founded the Russian Center of New York and subsequently became the Chair of Russian Community Council of the USA (KSORS), apparently didn’t think it was an urgent problem. It wasn’t until 2019 that she appears to have considered — but then, after asking Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov for guidance, decided not to — register under FARA.

b. On or about December 10, 2019, BRANSON received an email indicating that BRANSON had requested a new FARA “eFile” account.21 That day, a member of the FARA Unit emailed the Branson RCNY Account with an eFile account number and temporary password to log in to the FARA eFile system. Later that day, a user logged in to the FARA eFile system using that account number and temporary password, and entered the registration name “Russian Center, Inc.” and the RCNY Office as the address. The user did not submit a FARA registration for the account. A user then accessed the account again on or about December 11, 2019, but, again, the individual did not submit a FARA registration. The internet protocol addresses connected to both log-ins of this account resolve to the same zip code as the RCNY Office.

c. On or about December 26, 2019, BRANSON emailed the Embassy Email Account. In the cover email, BRANSON wrote, in part, “[A] letter is in the attachment. Respectfully, Elena.” In the attached letter, BRANSON wrote, in part, that she had been asked questions from “compatriots” about “whether it is necessary to register their public organizations as a foreign agent.” BRANSON further wrote “[t]hese questions began to arise after the arrest of Maria Butina in Washington in July 2018 on charges of working as a foreign agent in the United States without registration.” BRANSON concluded the letter by asking the Embassy to advise such Russian compatriot groups, writing, “I am asking you to provide legal advice regarding registration as a foreign agent . . . for public organizations of Russian compatriots in the United States.” The letter was addressed to Ambassador-1.

Branson’s failure to register lies at the core of a 6-count complaint unveiled by SDNY yesterday, charging Branson in several conspiracies, under both FARA and 18 USC 951, as well as for visa fraud.

Branson won’t be arrested off this complaint. She’s long gone.

A month after the FBI interviewed her and searched her office in September 2020, she fled the country. Not long after Biden was inaugurated, Branson sold her NYC apartment.

During this investigation, the FBI has, among other things, executed judicially authorized search warrants for (i) approximately eight of BRANSON’s electronic accounts (the “Branson Accounts”3); (ii) the RCNY office (which was also BRANSON’s residence) in Manhattan, New York (the “RCNY Office”); and (iii) BRANSON’s person, for all electronics and other materials in her possession at the time of the search. From the RCNY Office and the search of BRANSON’s person, the FBI recovered a total of approximately 34 electronic devices (the “Branson Electronics”), including approximately 11 cellular phones. The FBI also conducted a voluntary interview of BRANSON on the same day as the search of the RCNY Office (the “Branson Interview”) and has interviewed other individuals living in the United States in connection with the investigation.

The searches of the RCNY Office (the “RCNY Search”) and BRANSON’s person, as well as the Branson Interview, took place on or about September 29, 2020. BRANSON flew to Moscow, Russia, on or about October 20, 2020, and BRANSON does not appear to have returned to the United States since that date. In or about March 2021, BRANSON sold the RCNY Office, which had been her residence in New York City. During in or about October and November 2020, BRANSON’s then boyfriend 9 (“Boyfriend-1”) wired approximately $197,000 to two of BRANSON’s bank accounts at Russian banks.4 On or about October 15, 2021, RT, formerly known as Russia Today, a Russian state-controlled television station, published an interview conducted by Maria Butina5 of BRANSON. During this interview, BRANSON told Butina, in substance and in part, that BRANSON left the United States for Moscow approximately one month after the Branson Interview because BRANSON was “scared” and thought the “probability was very high” that she would be arrested if she stayed in the United States.6

3 The Branson Accounts include four email accounts and four social media accounts, including BRANSON’s Facebook account (the “Branson Facebook Account”).

So Branson will only be arrested if she decides to flee Putin’s increasingly totalitarian regime.

Unlike the prosecution of Jack Hanick, then, whose indictment may have been timed to tolling statutes of limitation last November and in which the US is working on getting him extradited from the UK, this complaint seems to be more about messaging in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As a messaging vehicle, it shows how Russia has committed to the “consolidation” of Russian diaspora, cultivating a Russian identity that can be used to mobilize political pressure (and, in Ukraine and the Baltics, justifications for imperialism).

In or about November 2015, Lavrov published an article titled “Russian World: Steering Towards Consolidation.” In this article, Lavrov wrote, in part, “The provision of support to the Russian world is an unconditional foreign-policy priority for Russia, as formalized by Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept. . . . Over the years, we have managed to elevate our work in this area to an entirely new level and to create effective cooperation mechanisms in close contact with representatives of foreign communities.”

Some of Branson’s activities are mundane cultural exchanges paid for by Russian government entities. Some sprinkle the names of likely spies or handlers in the description.

Perhaps most interesting, the complaint provides an interesting addition to this passage from the Mueller Report.

Later [on November 9, 2016, the day after Trump’s victory, Kirill] Dmitriev flew to New York, where Peskov was separately traveling to attend the chess tournament. 1020 Dmitriev invited Nader to the opening of the tournament and noted that, if there was “a chance to see anyone key from Trump camp,” he “would love to start building for the future.” 1021 Dmitriev also asked Nader to invite Kushner to the event so that he (Dmitriev) could meet him. 1022 Nader did not pass along Dmitriev’s invitation to anyone connected with the incoming Administration. 1023 Although one World Chess Federation official recalled hearing from an attendee that President-Elect Trump had stopped by the tournament, the investigation did not establish that Trump or any Campaign or Transition Team official attended the event. 1024 And the President’s written answers denied that he had. 1025

The complaint describes how Branson had been instructed to arrange a meeting with Trump or Ivanka in March 2016, around the same time Russia was hacking John Podesta, though the complaint is remarkably coy about whether Branson ever sent her draft letter to Trump Organization (and if so, whether it was among the documents showing direct ties to Russia that Trump Organization withheld from Mueller’s inquiry and SSCI).

In or about March 2016, BRANSON exchanged a series of emails with Minister-2. During these messages, in part, Minister-2 asked BRANSON to organize a meeting with CC-2 and the now-former President of the United States, who was then a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, or his daughter, in New York. On or about March 23, 2016, BRANSON received an email from Minister-2 with the subject line “additional meetings of [CC-2].” The email stated, in part, that the author was requesting BRANSON’s assistance in organizing meetings for CC-2 with “the management” of certain specified U.S. companies. On or about March 16, 2016, BRANSON sent an individual, who was then-chair of KSORS, a draft letter addressed to the now-former President, inviting him to the Russia Forum New York in April 2016 and suggesting that if his “busy schedule will not permit your attending our forum, perhaps you can suggest one of your children . . . who have followed in your footsteps.” The draft invitation included BRANSON’s name and contact information in the signature block. There is no indication that the now-former President or his children attended the referenced meeting.

Branson’s complaint describes what would be a second attempt to get Trump to attend the Chess Championship, in addition to Kirill’s attempt to extend an invite through George Nader. Branson sent her invite to an unnamed Trump Advisor.

BRANSON also attempted to arrange meetings for Russian officials at the 2016 World Chess Championship, which was held in Manhattan, New York:

1. On or about November 9, 2016, CC-6 emailed BRANSON with the subject line “Chess business.” CC-6 wrote to BRANSON, in part, “as discussed we will try to get Kirsan online after tomorrow’s official press-conference is over around noon at Fulton Street Market Building, South Street Seaport NY[.]”20 On or about that same day, BRANSON responded to CC-6 and wrote “[CC-6], good evening! I can bring the ipad for a Skype session. I will contact the media. Need them at noon?”

2. On or about November 10, 2016, BRANSON emailed an advisor to the now-former President of the United States (“Advisor-1”), expressing congratulations for their victory in the presidential election and attaching an invitation to the World Chess Championship addressed to the then-President- elect. The invitation was signed by “President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE-FIDE).” There is no indication that the now-former President attended the referenced event.

3. On or about November 11, 2016, BRANSON was photographed at the World Chess Championship with CC-6 and a second individual who I recognize, based on my review of publicly available photographs, to be the current Press Secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

20 Based on my training and experience, including my review of publicly available material, I have learned that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is the former President of the Republic of Kalmykia in the Russian Federation and the former president of FIDE, the International Chess Federation. I have further learned that, on or about November 25, 2015, the United States Department of the Treasury designated Ilyumzhinov as a Specially Designated National for his involvement with the Government of Syria and related entities.

Here, the complaint reiterates the Mueller conclusion: there’s no evidence Trump attended the event. But it does raise questions about the completeness of the response Trump offered to Mueller’s questions, pertaining to whether Trump was asked to attend.

Were you asked to attend the World Chess Championship gala on November 10, 2016? If yes, who asked you to attend, when were you asked, and what were you told about about [sic] why your presence was requested? 1. Did you attend any part of the event? If yes, describe any interactions you had with any Russians or representatives of the Russian government at the event.

Were you asked to attend the World Chess Championship gala on November 10, 2016? If yes, who asked you to attend, when were you asked, and what were you told about about [sic] why your presence was requested? 1. Did you attend any part of the event? If yes, describe any interactions you had with any Russians or representatives of the Russian government at the event.

Response to Question V, Part (a)

I do not remember having been asked to attend the World Chess Championship gala, and I did not attend the event. During the course of preparing to respond to these questions, I have become aware of documents indicating that in March of 2016, the president of the World Chess Federation invited the Trump Organization to host, at Trump Tower, the 2016 World Chess Championship Match to be held in New York in November 2016. I have also become aware that in November 2016, there were press inquiries to my staff regarding whether I had plans to attend the tournament, which was not being held at Trump Tower. I understand these documents have already been provided to you.

Trump describes a March 2016 discussion about hosting the event and November press inquiries about whether he would attend it. But there’s no mention of a November 2016 invitation asking him to attend.

Yet the Branson complaint suggests there would have been an invitation to Trump, signed by the sanctioned Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, sent through an unnamed advisor. His response reflects only earlier (in March) communications about the chess championship, not anything sent on November 10 bearing Ilyumzhinov’s signature.

This is a signaling complaint, one that likely won’t lead to anyone’s arrest. But it should raise more questions about Donald Trump’s candor with Mueller back in 2018.

And we should expect more of the same. On Twitter, Brandon Van Grack, who would have been involved in Branson’s investigation when he ran the National Security Division’s FARA office and likely knows what else might be in the pipeline, suggested there’s probably more of the same to come.

76 replies
  1. Al Ostello says:

    “We don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.”
    — Eric Trump, GOP (Government Of Putin) endorsed

      • xy xy says:

        If the loan is to be repaid in rubles, TFG has potentially made a ton with the ruble virtually worthless.

        • Bobby Gladd says:

          Yeah, you’re right. I wasn’t clear. My intent was with respect to it financial asset accounts, not loans. But, then, Trump probably doesn’t have any unencumbered net “assets” anywhere.

        • Peterr says:

          I don’t think the Russians would have agreed to a loan like that, especially given the lack of other options open to the Trump Org. Their line would likely have been something like “If you want our money, you *will* repay in dollars. Lots of them.”

            • Scott Johnson says:

              No, but Russian “lenders” are likely loaning their own funds.

              Loan officers at banks are less likely to care if the bank gets repaid; they get their commission (and/or or whatever corrupt kickbacks might be involved–I expect that there was significant involvement of organized crime in the Trump DB loans) regardless of what ultimately happens to the loan.

              • ducktree says:

                Not just DB loan officers, but then current members of SCOTUS and their spawn having their thumbs in that pudding pie.

                (I’m looking at you, “Honorable” Anthony Kennedy.)

              • xy xy says:

                No bank is going to give out money just because a loan officer’s say so. There’s a team that evaluates the collateral, payment history of the borrower, etc..
                If you’ve applied for a credit card no bank accepted your application just because of your looks.
                Also banks care about employee screw ups and/or loan officers care about their jobs/careers and their future earnings potential.
                Except for maybe Deutsche, no bank trusted anything Mazars put out about tfg, otherwise they’d have no hesitation in lending to tfg. And probably Deutsche didn’t trust him and Mazars either, except for insider Kennedy.
                A good example if you don’t play by the rules: nypost.com/2022/02/07/stephen-calk-sentenced-to-a-year-in-prison-for-illegal-paul-manafort-loans/
                And if Russian lenders are likely loaning their own funds, then they’re not as worried because they have bone saws and tfg knows that.

  2. Alda Earnest Goodpeople says:

    There seems to be a fair bit of evidence that Trump repeatedly lied to Mueller and the government, which should require John Durham to indict Trump, if he applies the law in an equal manner, and if he doesn’t, will that be in a conspiracy to obstruct justice, harboring, concealment, and/or corruption on the part of John Durham? How much perjury equals the good faith truth? How much partisan corruption equals the duty to the Constitution, one’s oath, and alignment within the role of a public office?

  3. klynn says:

    Will increased sanctions serve to funnel money activity to make tracking of individuals by FARA easier?

  4. Rugger9 says:

    Eric’s admission also makes me wonder how the TrumpOrg will be able to maintain their Scotland / UK properties without their Russian lifeline (at a minimum because of the ruble’s collapse) and the effects of Mazars’ letter making other respectable banks unavailable. If the banks don’t refuse TrumpOrg outright, the boards, investors and regulators would nix any deals anyway because of Mazars’ statement about unreliability. The other options would be the GCC (principally the Saudis and Emiratis) or worse (would they sink to loan sharks?) which would doubtless include a quid pro quo of some kind.

    So, what could Individual-1 and his palace of cards ‘pro quo’ for the quid needed to prop up the UK properties? Out of office and with significant debt servicing due (much of it personally guaranteed) there are really no favors that Individual-1 could bestow. Neither could he trade info for ‘future considerations’ (to use the sports phrasing) because he no longer gets any briefings and he didn’t listen to the ones he did get in the WH. His properties are underused and apparently underwater as well.

    Will BoJo finally do the UWO investigation?

    • Rugger9 says:

      This might be a good signal for what’s coming in TrumpOrg financing, but what price will the GCC demand from Individual-1? The article mostly addresses the foundation of the immediate gas-price hit we’ll take, but I see more than that coming. OTOH, if the Russians undercut the other OPEC members, how long will the GCC tolerate that situation?


    • Scott Johnson says:

      Is the Trump Organization still even operational? Were I Trump, I would have spun up another shell company to handle my money-laundering activities, one that is far less conspicuous, and let the Trump Org take all the legal hits–and if and when Leticia James wins the civil case, there won’t be any money left to forfeit, unless the government has managed to freeze its assets.

      Remember–this is a mob operation. Lots of people like to laugh at Trump for his casino going bankrupt–but they miss the point; the failure of Trump’s Atlantic City casino wasn’t due to bad management, but planned: it was a bust-out joint. I’m sure some underworld figure will be happily to slip Trump money, given there’s a nonzero chance that he might be elected to a second term in 2024, and having the President of the US owing you a favor is a nice thing to have. (Whether Trump would repay this favor is a separate matter).

      • bidrec says:

        Oh, I always wondered why a successful casino operator– Sheldon Adelson—would invest in an unsuccessful one— Donald Trump.

  5. Rugger9 says:

    OT, about the Bill Barr book tour:

    Digby has an excellent article up at Salon about how Barr might have overplayed his hand defending Individual-1. So since we had a discussion some time ago about whether Barr’s behavior was a recent change from otherwise respectable conduct, I’ll offer up something that may help explain it.

    First, please dispense with the idea that Barr’s conduct really changed. He crossed to the dark side during Iran Contra (arranging the pardons, for example), bided his time in the RW welfare circuit (where Santorum now resides) and then went full Sauron in service of Individual-1. He’s never really been as honorable during that period of 30+ years as David2022 would have had us believe but perhaps he was before the first AG gig. I’ve seen such changes in ordinary people I’ve known over the years and it is kind of sad once they start down that path.

    Such a metamorphosis isn’t new in the reptilian swamp known as the GQP, from Kellyanne, Kayleigh, Mick, Mitch, Kevin, Sean, Ronnie, etc., et al. Devin Nunes deserves his own special mention because before Individual-1 took office he was not known to be a particularly rabid GOP type, but once he hitched his wagon on he had to be more MAGA than Lara and that would have finished him in CA even before redistricting.

    FWIW, it’s very hard to reform those individuals and they also have too much new baggage to respect them as well. In Devin’s case we had the cow lawsuit and the piss-poor rollout of the new site that apparently Individual-1 doesn’t even use. You don’t have to guess too many times who will be holding the bag when it collapses, and Devin would slurp it up because he has nowhere else to go now. It’s only a question whether Devin will be more pathetic than Sean Spicer. My 2 cents.


  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    EW must be a Scrabble as well as wordle whiz. Candor and Donald Trump so rarely fit in the same sentence.

    • emptywheel says:


      My parents were actually REALLY avid scrabble players. I knew my father was about to pass when he played outright bullshit words and I still beat him (he died of brain cancer).

      So I was raised to play it at a very young age. My parents may have let me cheat a bit, but my favorite word ever, and I was just a kid, was aardvark, my first 7-letter word.

      • P J Evans says:

        I’ve played Squabble (as it’s called in my family), but never got the hang of it. My *grandparents* played, and my grandmother only quit when she couldn’t see the board any more. I remember buying her a new word book, in 1973, because the old one was literally falling apart.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        You might enjoy quordle[.]com where you have to solve four words at the same time. Or, my current favorite, octordle[.]com. That’s right, eight words.

        • Olav Kvern says:

          I once played “apotheosis” horizontally across several vertical words, using all of my letters and hitting a triple word score. We waited, for a minute, to see if the clouds would open. I haven’t played much Scrabble since then. Cryptics, though, are an addiction.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        The 1st word I usually use for Wordle is adieu. The 2nd one is the plural of a name of a birthstone. Once upon a time I met a man called Mountain. He gave me a few of the uncut stones he mined in Mexico. They were colorful, as was he. When he lived in Kentucky he used to be a messenger for a moonshine operation.

        • punaise says:

          “Adieu” is definitely a Wordle starter staple chez nous. “Ouija” is the only other word I’m aware of that has four vowels. but it lacks the crucial “e”. But it’s not always just about the vowels…

          • skua says:

            I saw the second vid. And promptly decided my daily Wordle needed to be approached with more whimsey. Today’s first guess was BOWEL. Whimsy for microbiome readers any rate.

        • Eureka says:

          I just use whatever word strikes my fancy at the moment. Seems to work fine and is more fun for me.

        • Leoghann says:

          I’ve never seen the point of being secretive about Wordle strategy. My usual starting word is HEIST, although I sometimes use AISLE, and occasionally play a different one just on a hunch. My second word usually tests the other vowels, as well as some common consonants, but sometimes I get enough from that first try to send me in another direction.

          Lately there have been several answers in which the only vowel is ‘U,’ which has probably been good for a few extra tries for folks. I also play Wordly, which is a copycat game. I’ll have to check Quordle out.

  7. BobCon says:

    One of the odder wrinkles in the filing is a reference in Count One to a campaign to lobby Hawaii officials to stop the renaming of a state park that has the remains of a fort apparently built by Native Hawaiians with the assistance of Russians in the 1800s.

    It refers to her “providing Hawaiian officials with messages from Russian officials and by organizing a trip for Hawaiian officials to Moscow to meet with high-ranking Russian Government personnel.”

    The first part appears innocuous, and press accounts suggest it was a minor league issue. But the Moscow trip seems really odd considering it’s an obscure ruin on Kauai.

    When Tulsi Gabbard was in Congress it was in her district, but as best as I can tell she never played a role, which makes sense considering it’s a state property. But not even having a connection to her makes the trip to Moscow for stae officials seem even harder to explain.

    A website connected to the fort has this page about a 2017 forum held on Kauai to commemorate the fort. It appears to be in part a serious forum, with one of the speakers a scholar who has seriously downplayed the Russian connection as writing out the primary role of Native Hawaiians.

    But there was a second session on “Reorientation of Russian-American Relations” which included Elena Branson as a speaker.


    It may well have just been a simple bridge building exercise by the Russian government hoping for a bit of positive PR in the aftermath of the pro-Trump interference, or an effort by bureaucrats to score a junket in Hawaii. But maybe it’s something else.

    Or possibly it’s a warning by the US to the Russians how closely they’ve been watching even little events even when Trump was in office.

    • Rayne says:

      Yuck. So many haoles, and the few kamaʻāina and kanaka easily misled.

      People unfamiliar with Hawaii especially the island of Kauai need to keep in mind which wealthy Americans from the mainland own property on Kauai — like Mark Zuckerberg.

      • ducktree says:

        I had the good fortune to spend a week (in 1979) at the seaside manse of Ursula Thiese (Robert Taylor’s widow) on Hanalei Bay, Kauai – steps from the shore. It was destroyed and swept out to sea during Hurricane Iniki. Memories!


        [FYI, replaced your Google Search link with the Wikipedia page as the search link contains quite a bit of tracking and identity info. /~Rayne]

        • timbo says:

          [Rayne, if you aren’t already aware, the latest versions of Chrome for iOS (at the very least) now tries to default copy the google link instead of the real link. It’s maddening, and a change in how Chrome browser on iOS used to work. Ugh.]

      • Leoghann says:

        I always thought the stories about Russian moles were made up for fictional drama. Then along came Tulsi.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          By the end, the CIA’s James Jesus Angleton was a mental case and an alcoholic. He spent over a decade destroying lives by hunting for moles, the kind he missed for more decades because he was immensely stubborn and self-righteous, and because the ones he missed were “just like us.”

          John le Carre, on the other hand, despite the litanies issuing from his right wing critics, was often understated in describing the wrongs committed by the other side – and his own.

          • Leoghann says:

            I read up a bit on Angleton a few years ago, after a friend mentioned him in an article. His situation strongly mirrors that of Joseph McCarthy, including the pickled outcome.

      • BobCon says:

        The only connection I could see was one link to her email among several others on a clearly Russian-backed petition calling for the old name to be preserved. But as far as I can tell she didn’t even send a rep to their event or issue any statements.

        It’s possible it was just bait that never got a bite. She hasn’t been shy about providing talking points for Russia, as recent statements have shown.

        Incidentally, it was just a chef’s kiss how Russia used not only one of her claims to put blame on the US but one of Thomas Friedman. Not that the NY Times will ever have any problem continuing to run his stupidity.

        • Sonso says:

          Yes, Friedman is a bloviating dope – the equal of (Lord) David Brooks. I used to love reading Matt Taibi’s takedowns of TF’s writing style.

    • John Paul Jones says:

      To me it seemed like an attempt to maybe appeal to the demographic that bemoans the “war on christmas,” that sort of thing – that renaming the fort was pandering to the cancel culture crowd, that it was “re-writing history.” And of course, that sort of thing fits right in with Putin’s tendency to focus on “culture war” issues because he knows very well he can’t win on actual issues, like, for example, reducing corruption, allowing a free press, issues like that which actually require thought and policy discussions. It’s the same reason the Republicans like to focus on those issues – because they aren’t really doing anything for their constituents.

      I also wondered about whether Putin has been running a much more successful influence campaign(s) in the UK in order to snare BoJo and the so-called Tories, because it seems to me that would be the logical aim of such campaigns, to create a whole swath of people who are prepared to look the other way and even defend Putin.

      • BobCon says:

        The best I can come up with is the Russians were and are running a lot of these bits all over. The Butina-Erickson-NRA partnership, the various IRA outreach efforts in Florida and elsewhere — they’re always working on pushing online scams into real life.

        As MW suggests, the US may finally be ready to do more of these signalling complaints.

        I’d be curious to what extent it is a recognition that hiding what the US knows isn’t really paying off in keeping Russian disinfo networks under control. And also to what extent the Ukraine invasion and Trump investigations have forced the Russians to pull back assets anyway.

  8. gmoke says:

    “Dmitriev invited Nader to the opening of the tournament…”

    That would be George Nader (not the 1950s actor) who is in prison for the possession of child pornography, bestiality, and transporting a 14 year old Czech boy for sex, not his first sex crime offenses. He was sentenced in 2020 to 10 years in prison.

    Does QAnon know he’s actually JFK Jr? /snark

    [FYI – not certain why but I think the URL you’re adding to your username login field triggers throttling. You might try omitting that to avoid moderation. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  9. N.E. Brigand says:

    As I mentioned in my off-topic question on the second Tarrio post, there’s another reference to the chess tournament in this paragraph on the previous page of Mueller’s report:

    “Soon after midnight on election night, Dmitiriev messaged [redacted half line], who was traveling to New York to attend the 2016 World Chess Championship. [Redacted almost full line] Dmitry Peskov, the Russian Federation’s press secretary, who was also attending the World Chess Championship. [Three and a half redacted lines]”

    Is it possible Branson was referenced behind those redactions? Or would they have avoided describing her actions entirely so as not to tip her off?

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A few decades allegedly on the Russian payroll for Elena Branson, while working a day job in US banking. I wonder how many others there are like her, who have been here that long. I shudder to think how many are in the City and connected to the top echelons of the Tory party.

    Perhaps the new “Lord” Lebedev (Nov. 2020) might know. A “Russian-British businessman, who owns Lebedev Holdings Ltd, which in turn owns the Evening Standard, The Independent and the TV channel London Live. He inherited his wealth from his father, Alexander Lebedev who is a Russian oligarch and former KGB officer.” The Evening Standard and Independent are two of the UK’s top media publications.

    The steady stream of information and influence coming Russia’s way must be profound. Just for starters, witness its influence over the GOP and Tory parties. Reminds me of the know-how and data flow American companies threw at the Chinese and Japanese for decades, on the racist and imperial assumption they could never compete with Americans, while simultaneously assuming such outsourcing would effectively – and virtually risk-free – replace American manufacturing at a fraction of the nominal cost. I guess that depends on how one measures cost.


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Sounds like Lawton/Troy’s books are too close to home to make it onto the big screen. It’s one reason Foyle’s War was canned, as its timeline reached the post-WWII era. Too much honesty, too many secrets exposed about people still alive and priorities still in place.

    • vvv says:

      Wonderful writer of police procedurals with an historical and IC bent, highly recommended. Even has a LeCarre touch re class issues, and a protag with immediate Russian heritage.

  11. Leoghann says:

    Speaking of Russian agents, I saw yesterday that Maria Butina, in an interview on BBC, claimed that all the damage to Ukraine has been done by Ukrainians. The army is shelling and bombing its own cities, and the soldiers are shooting civilians and each other. The Russians are there on a peace-keeping mission.

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