Matryoshka Doll: The Aleksandr Babakov Indictment

I’ve been trying to track the US government’s efforts to rein in Russia via various kinds of lawfare.

The indictment unsealed yesterday against Aleksandr Babakov is a remarkable example of the form.

To understand why, let me first explain what I imagine the goals of US lawfare in response to the expanded Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Since the Russian invasion, a number of Western countries have been rolling up Russian intelligence networks and expelling people serving under diplomatic cover by declaring them persona non grata under suspicion of spying. Whereas normally spooks would let other spooks carry on their work so they could spook on other spooks, there seems to have been a decision among most US allies to roll up Russia’s networks, perhaps with twin goals of blinding Russia and cleansing their countries of Russia’s formidable influence networks, which persuaded many in Western countries to trade principle for cash.

That is happening at the same time the West has been trying to craft sanctions to target people powerful enough to influence Vladimir Putin’s thinking.

The series of indictments — variably charging influence-peddling crimes (Foreign Agent and/or FARA), violations of sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine, and visa fraud — have exposed past influence peddling and raised the legal costs to Americans to continue to be a party. But the only American charged for providing cover for such operations so far — Jack Hanick — was actually charged in November and arrested before Russia expanded its invasion (though the indictment of Andrey Murviev was tied to already-existing charges against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman).

So it might seem like these indictments are just speaking vehicles: a way for DOJ to make evidence against Russians public, without any real legal impact. But this Babakov indictment demonstrates that’s not the case. This indictment, and the campaign generally, does the following:

  • Continues to flesh out Russia’s efforts to use its diaspora networks to illegally exert political pressure in other countries
  • Charges Aleksandr Babakov, making it impossible for him to travel if Russians ever get the opportunity to travel again
  • Demonstrates the cultivation of specific members of Congress
  • Puts the American involved — identified here as CC-1 — on notice they have to register past lobbying under FARA

One more detail before I explain the indictment. Remember that there are two overlapping foreign influence peddling laws, which are often confused (because both Michael Horowitz and John Durham fucked this up, I picked a fight with Peter Strzok to call attention to the distinction last night, but Brandon Van Grack, under whom these cases were surely developed, agrees with me.). [Update: I should clarify. This indictment is charged as an 18 USC 371 conspiracy to get an American to commit 18 USC 951, not 951 directly.]

There’s 18 USC 951, acting as an unregistered Agent of a foreign country, which is what is charged here. To be charged, it requires the influence peddling to have been done on behalf of a foreign government. It does not require knowledge of the requirement to register with the Attorney General. By contrast, FARA (22 USC 611), does require that the person peddling foreign influence know they need to register. But it can apply more broadly, to include “foreign principals,” like an oligarch who is not a part of a foreign government. Prosecutions under FARA were rare before Robert Mueller discovered that foreigners were asking agents like Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort to lie to their lawyers about whom they were actually working for. But generally, before that, DOJ would just formally alert someone they needed to register, the person would back-date a FARA registration, and they’d carry on with their sleazy influence-peddling.

So (in addition to sanctions violations and visa fraud) this indictment charges Babakov and two staffers with conspiring to recruit an American — CC-1 — to serve as their unregistered proxy for influence-peddling. The reason I call this a matryoshka doll is because this is how the influence-peddling worked.

As the indictment lays out, Babakov has three jobs. The first is to be a member of the Duma — and he was a member of the Duma for the entire period covered by the indictment, which is why DOJ can charge this under 951. The second and third are serving as the head of two cover organizations, the Institute for International Integration Studies and the International Council of Russian Compatriots. The funding for the two European consultants (their nationality is unclear) involved in this scheme — CC-2 and CC-3 — was paid through IIIS. Babakov recruited CC-1, the American whose involvement allows 951 to be charged — through CC-2. And it was through CC-1 that Babakov attempted to forge ties with members of Congress.

The reason this matryoshka structure matters is because it’s possible CC-1 did not know the extent to which he was working on behalf of the Russian government. CC-1 is described as someone who lives in NYC and has experience “relating to international relations and media.” This could well be a journalist and I don’t rule out knowing him personally. A footnote describes that the communications in the indictment are translations, so CC-1 appears to communicate with CC-2 and CC-3 in a non-English language, but it is not necessarily Russian. CC-2 first solicited CC-1’s involvement on a “national campaign” tied to “human rights and the cause of Cuba.” So it was based on that — an interest in helping Cuba, not an interest in helping Russia — that CC-1 first started pitching meetings with one of two targets described as a “then-member of the U.S. House of Representatives.” From there, CC-3 started sucking CC-1 in with free trips to Europe and Russia.

Via that recruitment process, CC-1 came to be introduced to and serve as the instrument for Babakov’s own views — views that are still quite familiar on the horseshoe left, which may well be the politics this person holds.

At around this time, ALEKSANDR MIKHAYLOVICH BABAKOV, the defendant, publicly expressed his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “approaches to building the country’s foreign policy priorities, including the prospects for developing relations with the United States,” blaming “instability” of the U.S.-Russia relationship on “well-known stereotypes and phobias, as well as the absence of a solid economic foundation,” and “destructive steps in the field of missile defense, NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] expansion to the East.”

Years later, as they were ratcheting up this effort in 2017, the Russians would use CC-1 as an American cut-out.

[T]he defendants[] planned to deploy CC-1 to obtain meetings in the United States with individuals perceived to have political influence, and to use CC-1’s status as an American citizen to help them gain access to visas to travel to the United States for these meetings, all in furtherance of the defendants’ foreign influence operations.

In 2017, CC-1 helped draft some letters to a second then-member of Congress in an attempt to set up a meeting with Babakov, including to invite the Congressperson on an all-expenses paid trip to Crimea.

The lines they pushed in 2017 were the same ones we hear from the horseshoe left now: recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and,

elaboration of issues of further reduction of nuclear potentials and confidence-building measures in the military sphere, including with regard to NATO’s policy in Eastern Europe and the problem of building up conventional weapons near Russia’s borders.

Let me be clear: This pitch feels familiar to me because I’ve experienced it first-hand. From 2013 until 2018 — until the time I revealed I had gone to the FBI about someone — I would get such pitches. I’m sure the US government considers Snowden’s Freedom of the Press Foundation to be such a cover organization — indeed, Xeni Jardin quit its board over its ties to Russia — and I received funding from them for several years (though always with the understanding that I was being funded by a specific, named American). And a slew of my friends in the dissident left or civil liberties community would get such pitches, as well, many with travel and some with lucrative business opportunities attached. Some of my former associates who most loudly disputed the Russian attribution of the 2016 operation did so after getting such pitches. This happens all the time. And many of the people to whom it happens are the last people the US government would provide counterintelligence training or warnings to in advance. Many are also the kind of people who would ignore government warnings if they were given any. I probably would have when I was getting such pitches.

To be clear, CC-1 is not free from blame. When the person was pitching meetings with three members of Congress in 2012, he claimed to be the “‘President and CEO’ of a nonprofit organization” inviting the members to Europe. CC-1 remained involved after Russia’s puppet in Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, was sanctioned in the 2014 Ukraine-related sanctions.

For example, on or about March 18, 2014, the day after Aksyonov’s OFAC designation, CC-1 posted a photo on a social media website of Aksyonov standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, and directed the post to VOROBEV, CC-2, and CC-3. Several weeks later, CC-1 made another post referencing a news article regarding “the new US sanctions on Russia.”

After those sanctions, CC-1 continued to pitch Russia’s line on Ukraine — again, a view that is still familiar among the horseshoe left.

[O]n or about May 1, 2014, CC-1 contacted the head of an American internet publication via email and asserted that he had “access to Crimean officials and other pro-Russian officials in Eastern Ukraine willing to go on the record to denounce US interference in the region and to give specifics about it.” CC-1 cited his ties to “[Country-1] MPs and also members of the Russian Duma,” that is, ALEKSANDR MIKHAYLOVICH BABAKOV, the defendant.

The last overt act CC-1 took, at least as described in the indictment, was on April 10, 2017. And while this indictment was unsealed on April 14, 2022 (and so days beyond a five years statute of limitations) it was filed on April 7, a few days short of it.

So it’s unclear whether the government will use this indictment to force CC-1 to retroactively register his lobbying efforts in 2017 under FARA, or whether there was another indictment filed on April 7 we haven’t seen yet. There’s also no description of CC-1 receiving money or other benefits (such as free travel) after the time when these people started getting sanctioned, so it’s unclear whether CC-1 faces a sanctions violation himself.

DOJ is not revealing what legal impact this indictment will have on CC-1 (or a businessman the effort recruited in 2017, or other American targets alluded to in passing), which may have been done to permit for the possibility of cooperation.

What it will do is force CC-1, whoever he is, to account for the fact that his support for carving up Ukraine was not organic, but instead was part of an extended effort by Russia to turn him into a spokesperson for the Russian state.

Update: The June 2017 sanctions against Babakov and his aides are pretty interesting. He appears, without much explanation, along with Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s front companies.

Today’s action also targets six individuals and entities pursuant to E.O. 13661, which authorizes sanctions on, among others, any individual or entity that is owned or controlled by, or that has provided material or other support to, persons operating in the arms or related materiel sector in the Russian Federation, and officials of the Government of the Russian Federation.

Molot-Oruzhie, OOO manufactures ordnance and accessories and is located in the Russian Federation. In 2016, previously-designated Kalashnikov Concern advised a foreign company to use Molot-Oruzhie, OOO to falsify invoices in order to circumvent U.S. and EU sanctions. Molot-Oruzhie is being designated for operating in the arms or related material sector of the Russian Federation and for acting or purporting to act for on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Kalashnikov Concern.

Limited Liability Company Concord Management and Consulting and Concord Catering are being designated for being owned or controlled by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who OFAC designated in December 2016.

Alexander Babakov is the Russian Federation’s Special Presidential Representative for Cooperation with Organizations representing Russians Living Abroad. Babakov was sanctioned in 2014 by the EU, which noted that he voted “yes” on a Russian bill for the annexation of Crimea. Alexander Babakov is being designated as an official of the Government of the Russian Federation.

Aleksandr Vorobev is Alexander Babakov’s Chief of Staff. Aleksandr Vorobev is being designated for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Alexander Babakov.

Mikhail Plisyuk is a staffer to Alexander Babakov. Mikhail Plisyuk is being designated for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Alexander Babakov.

It’s as if the US had already developed a pretty good sense that Babakov was running an information operation. And it makes me wonder if he had a role in 2016.

76 replies
  1. fubar jack says:

    Wow… great work as usual Dr Wheeler!
    Got me thinking about how subtle misinformation and influence operations are right now in the whole sphere of the media. Your article demonstrates that it is seeping into discourse on all sides of the political debate…and that this work is done not just with online trolling but with the targeted influence of persons such as CC-1. Always fascinating/ Always chilling…

  2. Desider says:

    Was Butina a 951 or FARA or other animal, and what was the excuse she was cut loose so quick? (Barr interference?) And was it Barrack who arranged the Dec 2016 UAE visit to Trump, or someone else?

  3. Zirc says:

    “Horseshoe Left.” For purposes of clarification, whom do you consider members of the Horseshoe Left? I am not entirely persuaded by the horseshoe theory even as a I recognize that people I once considered lefties have ended up taking what I consider to be rightwing positions on issues that matter to me. But people can be turned in various ways. As you point out in this post, attempts by adversaries to turn US influencers happen all the time. If a leftie is turned, is he/she a leftie anymore? Even of the horseshoe variety? Perhaps such a person has just become a RWNJ.

    All of the above aside, thank you for detailing how DoJ is trying to counter the efforts of the Russians to undermine the US. Indeed, one of the most confusing things about the Mueller investigation for me was the extent to which it was a criminal investigation, which I believe is laid out in the report, and the extent to which it was a counterintelligence operation, about which the American public at large still knows nothing.


    • emptywheel says:

      Aaron Maté and Max Blumenthal are horseshoe left.

      I suspect that many, if not most of what we’ll be seeing come out of SDNY as part of this is effort is the counterintelligence investigation that came out of the Mueller investigation.

      • Thomas says:

        Dr Wheeler
        You may have said or implied, before, that the SDNY investigation was connected to the counterintelligence investigation part of the Mueller investigation, or I might have concluded that myself because the investigation of Rudy Giuliani seems connected to so many Trump rackets, but I have long thought that the 2016 Trump campaign was part of a broad influence campaign by the Kremlin.
        I believe that this crackdown against Russians is also the beginning of a roll up of the Russian laundering racket that sought to compromise the Republican Party.
        Giuliani was brought in to help coordinate the OMERTA obstruction racket that was used to conceal the Russian money laundering and influence campaign.
        Recently, it has been reported, that Guiliani is now cooperating with the investigation and he has opened three of his phones for SDNY, which they previously couldn’t crack.

        Rosenstein and Guiliani had both said, back in the beginning of the Mueller investigation, that Trump had said that his finances were a “red line,” and we didn’t see Mueller follow the money, did we?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          “[T]he Russian laundering racket that sought to compromise the Republican Party?”

          “Sought” seems to be the wrong tense and wrong verb. “Has” would be more like it. Money laundering would be only a small part of such an op. At this point, the GOP has gone all in on its pro-Trump, pro-Russia stance. It’s its only policy.

          • BobCon says:

            I think the best way to think about it is a two way street.

            Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly was a prototype for the kind of prospecting among authoritarians that has gone on for decades on the right.

            DC PR firms have made a ton of money reaching out to Russia in the hopes of trading on their ties to GOP politicians and the media. The recent arrest of consultant and former Fox News director Jack Hanick is just the latest example of the kinds of stuff Manafort was doing to trade on his GOP connections with pro-Putin Ukrainians for years.

        • Timmer says:

          I, too, have long believed that the firehose of money called Citizens United has been a source of funding “bad guy” influence to McConnell, NRA and others. Love to see Dr EW, Jane Mayer and Sen Whitehouse in the same room creating a wall of connecting influences. I know I’m not smart or patient enough, but those three and staff would break it out!

    • Tech Support says:

      Imo “Horseshoe theory” only exists because political discourse has been captured by a highly constrained, one-dimensional spatial metaphor used to frame ideological distinctions. You have this imaginary line that has a “left” side and a “right” side and you plot everyone’s position on this line based on how closely they hew to whatever left and right are supposed to mean in that moment. The model has value but all models are insufficient.

      So what do you do if you’ve got individuals or groups whose views are diametrically opposed in classically defined terms but overlap in other areas? Or share similar tactics? Or come to the same conclusions from a different starting point? Now you have to imagine this line operating on a curved trajectory so that you can visualize the endpoints being closer to each other. Voila, horseshoe theory.

      If you just drop all the metaphors and propose that two different groups can can be suspicious of government for wildly different reasons and that both groups can have their suspicions manipulated by a single source? I dunno seems kinda obvious at that point.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Don’t let the complicated world hit your simplistic comment’s backside. Seems obvious to me.

      • d4v1d says:

        I agree – we reduce things to a two dimensional x-y spectrum when i think a volumetric model with a z-axis would reveal complexities that are, alas, difficult to comprehend, never mind describe.

        • Rayne says:

          Explain the ideological parameters of the z-axis; I don’t think you can (though I have a damned good idea how it works).

          The political ideology model can be explained fairly accurately with an x-y axis; the problem with horseshoe leftists is that they manage to hop diagonally on the matrix instead of x1 -> x2 or y1 -> y2. Literally they’re taking diametric opposition to a position from which they began.

          Horseshoe leftists also can’t explain why they have diametrically opposed positions, either.

          I find it rather telling that most of them are white and male, and the few women who fit the horseshoe left are those for whom power only exists if they collaborate and cooperate with those same white men. Think about it: how do people who have been social libertarians find themselves advocating for radical conservative positions which strip fundamental rights from individuals — if they are women/BIPOC/LGBTQ+/disabled/elderly.

      • Purple Martin says:

        Hey, I’m a retired Information security consultant. We couldn’t decide on where to go for lunch without plotting alternatives on a two-axis, 4-quadrent chart.

        Would sometimes add a third axis orthogonal to the others, allowing visualization of restaurant desirability in a 3-dimensional model. Horseshoe Theory is much more useful.

      • Leoghann says:

        “You have this imaginary line that has a “left” side and a “right” side and you plot everyone’s position on this line . . . .” That statement tells me you have never seen a horseshoe.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          To say nothing about a horse.

          I’d caution anyone venturing into axes: consider topology first. The Doctor’s horseshoe metaphor hardly constrains her to your x-y axis, which is itself a metaphor.

    • KathyS says:

      My understanding of Rod Rosenstain’s scope of Mueller’s designation as a SC is that it is of a very narrow limited scope and it is a criminal one. Rosenstein did his best to cripple Mueller’s work at it’s very beginning knowing that he will follow strictly the law and won’t step outside the scope. All counterintelligence info Mueller had run across he had shared with the FBI counterintelligence division. That’s why the question “What happened with Mueller’s counterintelligence info after Andrew MacCabe?” is very important but that’s classified and highly confidential and I don’t think we’ll ever know.
      I would like to thank Dr. Wheeler for her incredible work here on the blog shedding light to many important law enforcement developments which, without her skill and efforts, would have gone mostly unnoticed by the general public! And I would like to also thank all contributors to this blog and express my gratitude for their expertise!

      • bmaz says:

        And, despite several testimonies by the pertinent individuals under oath and penalty of perjury, you assert that…on what basis?

        • KathyS says:

          On the basis of the Appointment Order and the Rosenstein’s memo Scope of Investigation and Definition of Authority, it is written there “Russian government”, they do not say “and proxies of the Russian government”. Putin operates through proxies as KGB has always done, most of them are outside his government and do not hold official positions in it. Most of the Russian oligarchs and their relatives are just like that. Which doesn’t mean that proxies are not a threat to anyone’s national security if they are waging the same kind of disinformation antiUS and anti-democracy campaign through the so called “Russian cultural NGO’s” or legally buying influence. And most of the counterintelligence info does not see publicity for obvious reasons even after the investigation is completed and even if it’s declassification will not harm other investigations – sometimes it’s difficult to charge someone with a crime beyond a reasonable doubt or even charged if that info doest’t help the prosecution much (some details) why it should be exposed to the public? Which does not mean that the info doesn’t exist.

            • KathyS says:

              I am not a legal expert neither in my country nor in US, I am an M.D. That’s why I am so grateful to all the contributors on the blog. On what I am “expert” though is what it is to live behind The Iron Wall, what the Russian soldiers have done in 1944/1945 and in Prague in the 60s and why do you see now atrocities of that scale in the Ukrainian War, what kind of a cruel dictatorship (of the Proletariat) was the so called “Socialism”, on the way the Russians wage disinformation and Soviet antidemocratic propaganda in my own country (a NATO & E.U. country) where more than 30% of the population are supporting Putin, supporting the genocide and are eager to stage a coup inviting Putin here. Babakov in Bulgaria is called “The father of our 100% energy dependency to Russia”, and Malofeev’s money own a lot of journalists even in MSM. I just have lived and live in this and the Russian proxies drain my taxpayer’s pocket even while I am writing now here despite the recent change of the government. We have 6 people sanctioned by Magnitsky Act, 2 of them are Bulgarian oligarchs, the rest worked in the law-enforcement.

              • KathyS says:

                And I am also an expert on the Russian proxies – 5 months ago on elections I had to choose between 1. Russian proxy I, a pilot and a NATO general & 2. Russian proxy II, the Rector of the oldest, the largest and the most reputable university in Bulgaria. We chose the NATO general with the hope that NATO is scrutinizing him closely. Russians don’t follow laws, they use the law for the detriment of democracy.

    • Leoghann says:

      I think people here are over-complicating Marcy’s Horseshoe Left concept, perhaps by trying to use it to explain every facet of someone’s political and social preferences. I simplify it in my own mind as this transition, which is by no means inevitable:

      Liberal Democratic views -> support for socialism -> respect for Communism -> authoritarianism

      Conservative views -> radical right-wing support -> ultra-nationalism & bigotry -> authoritarianism

      As both Marcy and Rayne have pointed out, some people wind up connecting the horseshoe ends, as their acceptance of authoritarianism overrides their priorities in social issues. But I suspect pundits like ASS Greenwald have much more cynical reasons for their apparent shifts.

      As for Tulsi Gabbard, she’s never been a “leftie.” She’s always been an overly precious media whore, and campaigning for serving as a US Representative provided her the spotlight she craved. In Hawaii, she didn’t stand much of a chance running as anything but a Democrat, so that’s what she did.

  4. BobCon says:

    I agree it’s possible that the Cuba angle was aimed at the horseshoe left — Tulsi Gabbard was definitely supporting liberalized ties with Cuba — but I’m inclined to see that as much more likely to be about the GOP.

    Anti-Castro campaigns are typically cast in human rights terms, and the overlap of pro-Putin and anti-Castro Republicans is very broad in the GOP. Rohrabacher, for example, was simultaneously calling for a Cuban uprising against Castro and a US-Russian alliance against ISIS after Trump’s election in 2016.

    There are also some anti-Castro Democrats, to be clear, especially in Florida, but in general the targets for this stuff are far more plentiful on the right.

    • Rayne says:

      It was Rohrabacher and Paul Behrends I first thought of when reading the indictment, but I don’t think they fit the description — Behrends lived in DC where he died of a head injury in 2020.

      Feels like the Rohrabacher/Behrends model had one less matryoshka doll in the mix, though, as the Torshin/Butina/Erickson model might have had. The NGOs increase the number of potential contacts.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yup. I thought about it. I just think it’s more likely it’s horseshoe left. But we’ll find out eventually.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        It doesn’t matter who you are, or how your politics go. All they really want, at first, is for you to sign a receipt… whatever form that might take.

    • Zirc says:

      Following up on my earlier “Horseshoe Left” comment, I see that Gabbard has been mentioned as a leftie in this thread. I don’t get it. Whatever she was, she aint anymore. I see her as a right-winger now. In this case, I think the label matters. Difficult to see Gabbard as part of any project or cause I believe in. I don’t want to see her name raised in any bothsider argument. I am starting to see Sinema in the same light, though she does often vote in more traditional democratic ways, eg the impeachments. Still, I have occasionally, if ruefully, referred to her as “Senator Gabbard.”


      • Rayne says:

        Whatever she was, she aint anymore.

        That’s exactly how the horseshoe works. They move so far left they’re to the right.

        There’s a distinction between the Gabbardian types and Sinema, though. In Sinema’s case, she’s all about Sinema.

          • Rayne says:

            She was perceived as left enough to get elected in her state which isn’t that conservative. The perceived shift may not be as visible here; obviously Hawaii didn’t buy her schtick in 2020.

                  • Rayne says:

                    And Mazie Hirono. And Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka who were both rank-and-file Democrats. Gabbard was able to pull a more conservative vote in the same district where South Asians and military are most concentrated, but the entire state is closer to rank-and-file Democrats.

                    Most of my family live in HI-02, btw.

                    • Lawnboy says:


                      That’s a pineapple republic!

                      “Bro; me liads” you down the garden path on this one, don’t respond, just let it go.

                      Stick with politics in the mainland.


            • 808H says:

              Tulsi won the 2012 Dem primary, thereby the seat by catering to liberals that bought the well orchestrated story sowed by her R turned D politician father, Mike Gabbard’s political group. She had seen the light on her homophobic past, her cult East Asian connection were not well know then and she was supposed to be a progressive.

              She was thought to be more to the left of Colleen Hanabusa and Ed Case (ugh H-1’s current Rep). Everyone I know bought the story and gave her the chance, she proved us wrong and is far worse that we ever imagined including in that if the nesting doll fits kind of way.

              Anti war, LOL anyone with real conviction would have resigned their commission.

                • 808H says:

                  I was hopeful and voted for her in ’12 and ’14 but soured soon after that starting with her voting in a procedural vote along with the R’s to intern Muslims, something unthinkable considering Hawaii’s relationship with WWII internment Of AJA’s.

        • Rand Careaga says:

          “That’s exactly how the horseshoe works. They move so far left they’re to the right.”

          Eric Hoffer nailed this seventy years ago in The True Believer, and to this day the loathsome David Horowitz remains the exemplar of this phenomenon.

          • MB says:

            Yes! I remember reading David Horowitz’ articles in Ramparts magazine in the early ’70s. My how things have changed…

      • MB says:

        Gabbard has long been affiliated with the Modi wing of Indian politics, identifies as Hindu (and correspondingly has professed anti-Islamic positions), and was anti-LGBT until she publicly revised those views in 2012. The fact that she is a Democrat and espouses a position against U.S. foreign interventions (as do Libertarians) are the only things that mark her as nominally liberal, but as bmaz says, she has pretty much always been this way.

      • BobCon says:

        That was the point of Orwell, the Democratic Socialist, when he wrote Animal Farm.

        At the end, you couldn’t see a difference between the pigs who led the revolution and the old farmers they joined. They all ended up sending animals to the slaughterhouse.

        Orwell was referring to the overwhelming similarity between Soviet and English oligarchs, but it holds true today, and he was desperately hoping for another path.

        • viget says:

          Wise man, George Orwell. Always ahead of his time. There are more parallels between the Russian and British empires than we care to typically acknowledge and then there’s the rather intriguing intermingling of royal bloodlines with Tsarina Alexandra, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria. And Prince Philip and Elizabeth are also related to each other and Nicholas II and Alexandra.

          Looking at both empires, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em comes to mind….

  5. Savage Librarian says:

    My WAG is that the American — CC-1 has a name that would be accepted by Wordle. The language that was translated may be Slovak, or something closely related to it.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, until I learn something that suggests it is wrong.

  6. jaango1 says:

    Is there any mercy readily available for the horseshoe left?

    Heel no! Of course, when I view today’s politics, I am reminded that out here in the Sonoran Desert that the capacity for establishing the National Monument for Criminal Stupidity, is now the equivalent of Covid.

  7. greenbird says:

    i still have questions … impossible to improve/control this formatting, however.

    from INDICTMENT: (reverse page order)
    pdf 39 who’s ‘at least one of whom’ [others known and unknown] is expected to first brought to and arrested in SDNY ??

    pdf 32 ‘CC-4′[typo? / a MSRS official] inviting ‘American businessman’ to attend and contacting by email potential ‘conference speaker’ who sent draft sent by MSRS to Plisyuk ?

    pdf 20 CC-1 cited ties to [Country-1] MPs … ?

    pdf 18 American citizen ‘Individual-1’ doing pro-RU PR/articles ?

    pdf 12 CC-1 ‘as President and CEO of non-profit org’ invites three additional House members to visit a European govt’s parliament in City-2/IIIS conf held in City-2

    pdf 11 CC-1 working on meeting w Congmemb-1 in City-2 … w European politicians … and award ? [Congmb did not accept]

    pdf 11 particular senator to lobby

    pdf 06 ‘Country-1’ is in western Europe, CC-2 and CC-3 are nationals from there [and live there?] … working as foreign consultants on behalf of defendants funded through IIIS

  8. Lawnboy says:

    @bmaz 3:00pm
    Just punning around. Cant help a bit of trash talk regarding Raynes heritage state.
    I’m a gardener,…it just happens. Bromeliad?? Pineapple??

  9. viget says:

    I think the SOL on these conspiracies isn’t up until some time in June, as all three conspiracy charges claim the conspiracy was ongoing until “through at least June 2017”. So it can be superseded with charging CC-1 until at least that time, no?

    Note that SDNY isn’t required to list all of the overt actions in the indictment that they know about. Nor, do I think do they need to present specific evidence of overt actions of all co-conspirators to the GJ, just the ones who they are charging….

  10. WilliamOckham says:

    Has anyone figured out anything about the conference referenced in the indictment? I’ve looked and haven’t yet found an economic conference in Crimea that happened in April 2017.

    • Rayne says:

      Might need to search in a different language and include images not print alone. When I search “ekonomicheskaya konferentsiya апрель 2017 Севастополь” (economic conference April 2017 Sevastopol), assuming it would be in Crimea’s largest city, there’s content which needs to be screened with Google Translate. And I haven’t checked Ukranian language yet.

      EDIT: My bad, should have been Yalta not Sevastopol. “«Институт международных интеграционных исследований» «Экономическая конференция» апрель 2017 г. Ялта” produces image content as well.

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