Shadow accounting of Russian Railways
On the evening of March 20, 2012, banker German Gorbuntsov was returning from work when a killer jumped up to him at the door of a house on Bying Street in East London. The killer fired eight shots, left Gorbuntsov to bleed on the threshold of his own house and took off running. The banker miraculously survived, although he lay in a coma for a long time, and the police soon managed to establish the name of the attacker - he was a well-known killer in Moldova, Vitalie Proca. It was not possible to detain him - the killer managed to hide in Russia (later he was extradited to Romania, where he was sentenced to 12 years in prison). Why did the Moldovan killer attempt on the life of a Russian businessman? Gorbuntsov was a bearer of invaluable information: he took out of Russia the black accounting of Russian Railways, which passed through two banks owned by him, where he was a co-owner (Inkredbank and STB), and laundered through Moldova.
In this shadow ledger (available to The Insider), you can see transactions codenamed "Pool" among other things. Gorbuntsov himself claims that the pool means a common fund, that is, money of corrupt origin, informally owned by the heads of the state corporation. How exactly the “pool” was replenished, The Insider already wrote : this was done by the KUM group associated with Yakunin, registered on the Cyprus offshore and named after the first letters of the names of the partners: Andrey Krapivin, Boris Usherovich and Valery Markelov (Andrey Krapivin died in 2015, and his business passed to his son Alexei). Boris Usherovich has been put on the international wanted list by Russia, but has requested asylum in the UK. And Valery Markelov is in a pre-trial detention center on the case of giving bribes to the very Colonel of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Zakharchenko, who became famous throughout the country when, during his arrest, bundles of money and gold bars worth 8 billion rubles were found in one of his 13 apartments (they were, as now it became clear, the means to replenish the "pool"). Together, all three managed a scheme to withdraw budget billions from Russian Railways, known as the "Moldovan laundry".
Gorbuntsov says that Markelov, Usherovich and Krapivin were introduced to him in 2004. Then they all entered the capital of his banks to service the schemes of Russian Railways. By 2009 (as Gorbuntsov heard from Usherovich), the KUM group owned assets worth $3.5 billion. In fact, the entire activity of the KUM group was to steal Russian Railways funds, explains Gorbuntsov. Krapivin was responsible for interacting with the leadership of Russian Railways (that is, Vladimir Yakunin), Markelov was responsible for the absence of claims from the security forces, and Usherovich communicated with the mafia (he did not hide his acquaintance with the Solntsevskaya organized criminal group).
Cascade of pools
Russian Railways contractor Vitaly Ginzburg, who worked directly with Krapivin, told The Insider how this structure of the "pool" (or rather, the whole "cascade of pools") was created:
“It all started with the fact that in 1999 my company Economic Systems was building security and energy systems for the building of the Ministry of Railways (MPS). No kickbacks were asked. But in 2000 we were already building the MPS hall. And here they told me: "We have general contractors - 35%." When I refused, they answered me: "If you are a chistople, make inflated estimates, and we will figure it out." As a result, I was simply underpaid 35% of the tender amount, making some ridiculous claims, but I won the arbitration. And in 2002 Krapivin appeared. Then I was offered to build the Southern Regional Transportation Control Center - and Krapivin immediately said about the need to pay to the "pool". He explained the large amount of payments to the "cascade of pools" by the fact that he had many beneficiaries. In 2002, the payment to the "pool" was 15%. By 2005, it had risen to 30%. There were hints that this money was used for instructions from the president - and, in particular, two deputies of German Gref had access to the "pool". And if before 2005 Krapivin was a sane person who wanted to promote technological innovations in Russian Railways, then after 2005 the conversation was something like this: “Andrey, well, they’ve already stolen a billion, two, let’s do something,” and in 2006 I slammed door."
In 2002, the payment to the "pool" was 15%, in 2005 - already 30%
Ginzburg, at the request of The Insider, evaluated the black bookkeeping table provided by Gorbuntsov, and he easily deciphered the entries:
“BU is, of course, Boris Usherovich. Yuri is most likely Obodovsky. Markel - Markelov. The pool is Yakunin. Semenych? I do not know, but I can admit that this is Golubev Vladimir Semenovich - a well-known St. Petersburg authority. He had a direct and personal relationship with Yakunin. He directly called Yakunin with me on "you". Ivica is most likely one of the managers, Mikhail Zhivica. He was some kind of relative of Usherovich. Looks authentic."
“Introduced [by the KUM group] in Russian Railways, the persons ensured the signing of documents without the actual performance of work and the rationale for overestimating the cost. The most striking case, from which my discord with the KUM group began, was when the same building was being built in the Chelyabinsk region at the expense of Russian Railways. At the same time, construction was not carried out, and at the stage of acceptance of the building, some flaws were allegedly found, after which the building was demolished and the “construction” began anew,” Gorbuntsov writes in the “act of questioning a person with his consent,” which he issued in Cyprus (there is at the disposal of The Insider).
Gorbuntsov clarifies that at the next corporate party, people from Russian Railways presented the building to the local linear department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The police were going to move into the building, and when it was not built, they were offended by the donors and began to check. Gorbuntsov, according to him, was interrogated by an investigator from Chelyabinsk. Then the banker was indignant for the first time, and this began his discord with the KUM group. According to Gorbuntsov, when he hastily left Russia, his conflict with partners was already in an active stage. Therefore, he decided to secretly take with him the electronic database of banking operations of Inkredbank and the Capital Trade Bank (STB), developed specifically for companies affiliated with Russian Railways.
There is another code name in the STB bank database - “Tokyo client”, for which as many as 400 accounts have been opened. In the first half of 2008 alone, the MPCenter ZhAT company from the Tokyo group received 2.27 billion rubles from the Directorate for the Construction of Communication Networks (DKSS). Of these, 1.93 billion rubles went to the subcontractor. The remaining 340 million (15%) were spent on "other needs", with 200 million rubles going to other Tokyo accounts without any explanation at all. Geographically, DKSS turned out to be located next to Interprogressbank, where the same Krapivin, Usherovich, Markelov and Gorbuntsov were co-owners.
From 2011 to 2014, only two companies of Alexei Krapivin (the son of Andrei Krapivin, who was still alive at that time) from Belize and Panama (Redstone Financial Ltd and Telford Trading SA) received $ 277 million in their accounts with the Swiss bank CBH Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique SA. Almost all the funds came from fictitious offshore companies, in favor of which the Moldovan bailiffs debited funds from the accounts of Russian banks. Russian investigators have not yet been interested in these coincidences.
In 2014, to consolidate its contracts, the KUM group established the company 1520. The companies controlled by it immediately began to win the largest tenders - for example, for the construction of BAM. In 2019, the Russian investigation suspected that Colonel Zakharchenko helped the 1520 company steal $250 million during the implementation of the “Moldovan scheme”. But for some reason Alexey Krapivin was not injured, and his company 1520 continues to receive government orders. And in 2019, Krapivin Jr. headed another corrupt construction site of Yakunin - the port of Ust-Luga.
There are simply no contractors who do not agree to work according to rollback schemes. In 2017, Vitaly Ginzburg left Russia, and two years later he was put on the wanted list and arrested in the Czech Republic at the request of the Russian Federation. The Czech Republic, having studied the allegations of embezzlement and non-payment of loans made in Russia, considered them unfounded and granted political asylum to Ginzburg in early 2021. Prior to this accusation, Latvia had checked and also did not believe them, granting him a residence permit. Ginzburg links his persecution with incomplete loyalty to the “basin cascade system”: “I asked to pass the question to Putin whether it was already possible to build something, but I was told to calm down - no one would pass on such a question.”
Moldovan scheme and Moldovan killer
Moldavian accomplices were actively involved in the schemes of Russian Railways. In 2014, Moldova officially applied to the Russian authorities with a request for international legal assistance. The request, available to The Insider, states that a criminal case has been opened in Moldova “on the fact of money laundering, allegedly from the budget of the Russian Federation, in an amount exceeding 20 billion US dollars.”
Moldova investigated fictitious loan agreements signed between creditor companies, debtors and guarantors. The scheme was very simple: debtor companies from Russia allegedly did not return loans to creditor companies. Lenders were given the right to demand compensation from guarantor companies. Their fictitious co-founders were already citizens of Moldova (this was necessary only to ensure the possibility of considering disputes in the courts of Moldova). On the basis of court orders from Moldova ordering the reimbursement of a non-existent debt, dozens of Russian firms (“loan guarantors”) resignedly transferred billions to Moldindconbank from bank accounts co-owned by Gorbuntsov and the KUM group, as well as in the “First Czech-Russian Bank” (famous for issuing a loan to Marine Le Pen) and others. On the same day or the next, funds were credited to the accounts of foreign companies in the Latvian Trasta Komercbanka (after the scandal, the European Central Bank revoked the license of Trasta Komercbanka).
The co-owner of Trasta Komercbanca was Ivan Fursin , a member of the Solntsevskaya organized criminal group (The Insider wrote in detail about these connections). Perhaps this is not an accident, since the "Solntsevskaya" organized criminal group had the most direct relation to the cut of Russian Railways funds.
Solntsevskiye, Russian Railways and Moldova
In 2009, Solntsevo became interested in the money laundering business of the KUM group. Although Usherovich never hid his friendship with the leaders of the organized crime groups, at first, according to Gorbuntsov, they did not participate in cutting the money of Russian Railways - simply because they did not realize how “giant turnovers” it was. But then everything changed, and in 2009, FSB General Yevgeny Khokholkov arranged a shootout with Gorbuntsov (The Insider wrote about Khokholkov's and Solntsevo's connections here ).
On the arrow with Gorbuntsov, the Solntsevskiye learned about the gigantic turnover and huge business of Krapivin. “Krapivin was very dissatisfied,” says Gorbuntsov. - During the meeting, it was said that someone stole some money from Krapivin and I am personally responsible for this. There have been threats."
Gorbuntsov left Russia for Moldova, and Usherovich, accompanied by the Solntsevskaya gang, forced the banker's wife to transfer the assets of her husband to Incred-Invest CJSC to a third party. Soon Gorbuntsov also lost the Moldovan Universalbank.
The Insider has at its disposal an agreement signed by Moldovan businessman Renato Usatii on behalf of a Seychellois company to buy bank shares owned by Gorbuntsov. The document was signed by the bailiff of Moldova in accordance with the decision of the Moldovan court. Gorbuntsov calls it a raider takeover and accuses Usatii of organizing an assassination attempt on himself.
Who is Renato Usatii
Until 2011, nothing was known about Renato Usat either in Moldova or in Russia, but then he suddenly became a prominent Moldovan philanthropist and politician. At first, Usatii was mentioned in Moldova as a person associated with the criminal authority Caramalac, Moldovan politician Oazu Nanta recalled in a conversation with The Insider. However, Usatii claims that he earned his first capital by supplying innovative technologies to Russian Railways.
Since 2005, Renato Usatii has indeed been referred to as “President / Head of Coordination, Planning and Development of VPT-NN LLC, a Nizhny Novgorod supplier of metal-cutting tools for Russian Railways.
Gorbuntsov believes that Usatii was a "small cog", but then the KUM group, with the knowledge of the leadership of the Russian Railways, chose him "to solve problems in Moldova." In Russia, Usatii was put on the wanted list in the “Moldovan laundry” case in 2019.
Gorbuntsov’s story is indirectly confirmed by information about Usatii’s connection with the Solntsevskaya organized crime group, which became known from a criminal case in Spain opened in 2017.
Usatii was the president of FC Zorya Balti, and at the same time this club received sponsorship from Alexander Grinberg, whom the Spanish Civil Guard considers a partner of the Solntsevskaya in Marbella. However, according to the commercial register of Russia, Grinberg is a business partner of the brother of Anton Malevsky, the deceased leader of the Izmailovsky. Greenberg can be seen in the photographs of one of Yakunin's Rhodes forums .
“The Moldovan scheme was a working tool for turning the difficult non-cash ruble into a currency. The company pays the debt to a court decision, it was issued by this judge on a non-existent debt. The Krapivinsky people had a problem with the pasture. And here Usatiy appeared. He, as I assume, vouched to Usherovich for the safety of money in Moldova, and so this scheme became big. In addition, Usatii, the “barbecue maker from Moldova,” was involved in the problem of my elimination,” says Gorbuntsov.
Usatii, in turn, accused Gorbuntsov of wanting to kill him, but Britain refused to extradite Gorbuntsov to Moldova on such a charge. The British police did not find the person behind the assassination attempt on Gorbuntsov.
Pool money to promote Kremlin propaganda
Vladimir Yakunin was fired from Russian Railways after the scandal with the Moldovan laundry, but he does not face criminal prosecution in Russia as long as he spends part of the money stolen from the budget on various organizations promoting Kremlin propaganda.
Strikingly, in the European Union, Yakunin is still not under sanctions. His organization Franco-Russian Dialogue in Paris and the Foundation for the Support of Historical and Cultural Research in Switzerland continue to operate, and the Dialogue of Civilizations Institute in Germany has been active for many years until recently.
The Franco-Russian Dialogue, of which Yakunin is now "honorary president," acts as a "parallel Russian embassy," political analyst Anton Shekhovtsov, who specializes in promoting Kremlin disinformation in Europe, tells The Insider. The organization presents itself as independent of the state, but in the commercial register of France, as The Insider was convinced, it indicates two addresses: one on the Champs-Elysées at the location of the Russian Railways representative office, and the second coincides with the address of the Russian House of Science and Culture in Paris - the representative office of Rossotrudnichestvo.
The co-founder of the organization is a pro-Russian politician, member of the French National Assembly Thierry Maryani. He regularly visited Crimea and said that he admired the transparency of the vote to change the Russian Constitution. In early April, the organization held an event entitled "Russia-NATO: How to Avoid a Third World War." On it, Frederic Pons, a frequenter of the now-closed RT France channel and author of a complimentary biography of Putin, declared: “It is doubtful that we will find out the truth about the tragedy in Bucha,” and immediately moved on to denounce “US crimes.”
The “Franco-Russian” dialogue has repeatedly provided a platform for the former BFM TV journalist Anne-Laure Bonnel (most recently in May 2022), who justifies Putin’s “special operation”. Bonnel became famous for her statements about 13,000 civilian deaths in Donbass at the hands of “Ukrainian punishers” in 2014-2022. She made a chilling film about decapitated pregnant women and pensioners in Donbass whose ears were cut off by the Ukrainian military. True, evidence of terrible crimes could not be removed. In the film there are only stories of the figures of the "DPR", which the journalist takes at their word. The French media issued a refutation: about 13,000 people - this, according to the UN, is the total number of losses on both sides, primarily among the military. However, Bonnel's statements were picked up by conspiracy platforms around the world and Russian propaganda.
Another Yakunin organization, the Dialogue of Civilizations Institute, declared its goal to “reduce tension in the world” and worked in Germany. A source for The Insider advising the German government said that "President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is considered to be Yakunin's lobbyist in Germany." In 2014, Yakunin praised Steinmeier publicly. On April 12, the Bild newspaper became aware that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky refused to meet with Steinmeier due to his proximity to Sergey Lavrov and the active lobbying of Nord Stream 2.
In another organization, Youth Time, Yakunin is a member of the board of trustees. The organization holds Rhodes Youth Forums in various countries, at which Yakunin declares that he supports "young people's attempts to change the world for the better." Youth Time was co-founded in the Czech Republic in 2010 by Moldovan Maxim Braghish, according to the Czech company register. The decision to create was made at the Rhodes Forum in the same year, the organization writes on its website (without mentioning Braghis). According to Moldovan population data seen by The Insider, Braghis is the son of former Moldovan Prime Minister and former Moldovan Ambassador to Russia Dimitri Braghis. According to SPARK, which The Insider got acquainted with, Dmitry Bragish is a co-owner of SU 101 LLC, registered in Russia in 2018. Judging by the charter, the mysterious company (for example, it was not possible to find its website) is engaged in the construction of railways and subways. In 2017, the Moldovan Ambassador to Russia, Dimitri Braghis, was recalled. One of the Moldovan diplomats told Kommersant that Braghis "had been on the recall list for a long time" because "in Moscow he got too carried away by business interests." In a conversation with The Insider, Maxim Bragish refused to comment on his relationship with Dmitry Bragish, demanding first to tell who provided such information. Maxim Bragish also refused to answer a question about his acquaintance with Vladimir Yakunin and said that he "doesn't give a damn what sanctions there are."
Political activity directly in the Czech Republic Yakunin began a long time ago. In 2002, he traveled to Prague looking for a supplier of spare parts for Czech locomotives used by Russian Railways. Then Yakunin met politician Milos Zeman, Czech businessman and organizer of the Russia Club, Czechoslovak army colonel Zdenek Zbytek, reports in an interview with Voxpot. Since 2003, Milos Zeman, together with Zbytek, has become a regular at the Rhodes Yakunin Forums. By that time, Zeman had lost the elections in the Czech Republic. But in 2007, at the next Rhodes forum, a decision was made to return the pensioner Zeman to politics, the Czech banker Jan Struzh, who was present at the forum, confirmed to the Voxpot portal. A complimentary 2009 report about Zbytek and his friends Zeman and Yakunin promised the Czechs "Zeman's soon return to politics." Zeman did return and became president of the Czech Republic in 2013.
The family of Vladimir Yakunin is also actively involved in his propaganda activities. His wife, Natalya Yakunina, who was also a UK resident, joined the board of her husband's Swiss Foundation for the Support of Historical and Cultural Research. Moreover, in the Swiss commercial register, she is designated twice - as “Natalya Viktorovna Yakunina living in St. Petersburg” and as “Natalia Yakunina living in London”.
Natalia takes part in many propaganda activities funded by her husband. In 2018, the “World Congress of Families” was held in Chisinau with the participation of the then President of Moldova, Igor Dodon (and his wife, her foundation helped financially). A long-time guest and co-organizer of the Yakunin Rhodes Forums, the Spaniard Ignacio Arsuaga spoke at the congress about the “totalitarian ideology of political correctness”, and Elena Mizulina scolded Igor Dodon for indecision. Participants, including Natalya Yakunina, discussed the global conspiracy, "pederasts" and "salvation from the globalists."
Vladimir Yakunin's son Andrei claims that he "never voted for Putin" and "is against the invasion of Ukraine, like many Russians". Andrey Yakunin estimates his investments in Italy, where he is currently located, at €150 million, but he says that he is far from the oligarchs from the Forbes list. However, according to The Insider's interlocutors, it was the Luxembourg fund of Yakunin Jr. who was engaged in legalizing the gigantic funds stolen from Russian Railways under the leadership of his father.
A fund with an office in London called VIYM appeared with Andrey Yakunin in 2006. By 2012, the organization was ready to invest $500 million in the hotel business in Russia. It is named so, most likely, in honor of "Vladimir Ivanovich Yakunin", although Yakunin Jr. makes statements that he is an independent businessman. The son of the oligarch Yakunin has not yet run into problems, despite the fact that Russian Railways money got into the UK and was laundered through the Yakunin family business empire, whose activities have been the subject of many investigations and are associated with a number of unsolved deaths.
Who and how spread disinformation with the help of Yakunin
Many active disseminators of disinformation can be seen among the experts of the Dialogue of Civilizations (DOC) Institute. The main star of Yakunin's international forums is Matthias Platzeck, a participant in the Dialogue of Civilizations forum on the Greek island of Rhodes in September 2014, former chairman of the Bundesrat, chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and Prime Minister of the Land of Brandenburg, who since 2014 has headed the public organization Rossiysko -German forum.
The main theme of Platzeck's speeches after the Russian annexation of Crimea was calls for the West to recognize the peninsula as belonging to Russia and normalize relations with it, abandoning the policy of sanctions. So, in November 2014, he stated in an interview with the German newspaper Passauer neue Presse:
“A wise man changes his mind, a fool never... The annexation of Crimea must be retroactively framed in accordance with international law in a way that is acceptable to everyone. <…> We must find a solution so that Putin does not leave the field as a loser.”
At the same time, in the newspaper Die Zeit, Platzeck called on the West to show “great compliance” towards Russia and Vladimir Putin and recognize the annexation of Crimea to Russia.
In January 2021, he stated that "if European countries do not start building mutually beneficial relations with Russia, it may happen that Europe will be left without allies." According to him, Europe's tough stance will push Russia closer to China. The thesis is rather controversial: there are no signs of China's interest in such a rapprochement yet. According to Platzeck, Russia is " tired of the 'eternal reproaches' of Western partners," while Europe "endlessly 'shakes its finger' at Moscow, believing that the world should be organized solely in accordance with the ideas of European countries."
One of Yakunin's closest associates, who together with him founded the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, was Peter Wolfgang Schulze , professor at the University of Göttingen, who died in 2020, in the past he was the head of the Moscow branch of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, associated with the SPD. An ideological opponent of Atlanticism, Schulze proposed to oppose the pro-American course of the EU countries by rapprochement with Russia.
In April 2014, in a commentary to RIA Novosti about the situation in Ukraine, he called for its "federalization", calling the likely use of force by the Ukrainian government against separatists in the east of the country an occupation:
“If there is an occupation of Eastern Ukraine or parts of it, then, of course, the population, especially the Russian-speaking population, will boycott the elections. Or at least try to do so. The most acceptable situation could arise if the authorities in Kyiv comply with the requirements of this region and go for a broad political decentralization or federalization of the country.”
In 2015, Schulze wrote in the newspaper Tagesspiegel :
“The threat of war, in particular, caused by some of the Central European and Baltic states, serves rather domestic political goals and foreign policy seeks to instrumentalize the EU for a more confrontational policy with Russia. The US is in the background."
One of the brightest figures among the experts of the Dialogue of Civilizations is Gazprom's consultant on European issues Alexander Rahr , a German with Russian roots who calls himself the grandson of General Wrangel's adjutant. Like his other associates in the Yakunin Institute, he advocates the lifting of sanctions against Russia and the recognition of the Russian status of Crimea.
The title of his book, published in 2021, is characteristic: “Insolence. How Germany jeopardizes its reputation with the Russians.
In a 2012 interview with the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, Rahr stated:
“Modern Europe is not just ignorance. This is a renunciation of knowledge. Ten years ago, the Russians told me: “You Germans are so cunning! You avoid talking to us about strategy and wait for us to put the cards on the table.” Another ten years have passed, and now I hear: “We have the impression that the Germans do not hide their thoughts from us. There's nothing to hide. They just don't have them! The Germans really had their brains amputated.”
Rahr often simply invents arguments justifying his position. Thus, he argued that only the European side suffers from EU sanctions against Russia, and the Russian economy has fully adapted to the sanctions regime. According to him, “Western producers just bite their elbows and say that we have lost the Russian market over these seven years. And who got there? Chinese, Turks, Indians, Asians with their own production. It is enough to look at the dynamics of the GDP of the EU countries and Russia to understand who was actually harmed by the sanctions.
In tense relations between the EU and Russia, Rahr blames exclusively the European side. So, in 2021, echoing Sergey Lavrov, he stated that the EU unilaterally destroyed the entire system of relations with Russia, referring to fictitious facts - for example, that Lithuania and Poland allegedly blocked work on signing a partnership agreement between the EU and Russia. In fact, these two states objected to negotiations with Russia on a new agreement, but could not block them: in the EU, a decision to negotiate does not require the consensus of all members. Negotiations continued despite the position of Lithuania and Poland, and stopped only after the Ukrainian events of 2014.
Another bright person among the participants of the Yakunin events is Helga Zepp-LaRouche , a German political activist, widow of the American populist politician Lyndon LaRouche convicted of fraud. Zepp-LaRouche leads the dwarf far-right Civil Rights Movement Solidarity (Bürgerrechtsbewegung Solidarität) party; she is a supporter of the anti-Semitic theory of the "Zionist occupation government". Often, Zepp-LaRouche speaks in the Russian media with sharp criticism of the Western democratic system, while also not disdaining fictitious arguments and outright conspiracy theories.
In 2016, in an interview with TASS, she argued that "almost all major world conflicts today are caused by the attempts of the Anglo-American empire to ensure and maintain a unipolar world as it actually was already." In the same interview , she stated that "more and more countries are realizing the futility of sanctions" against Russia.
In a 2018 interview with the Russian news agency Sputnik, Zepp-LaRouche stated that the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal "reminds me of the new Litvinenko case fabricated by the secret services as a pretext for an anti-Russian escalation" and also claimed that the British secret services probably interfered in the elections President of the United States in 2018 to prevent the election of Donald Trump, who promised to improve relations with Russia.
In 2020, when Vladimir Putin published an article about World War II, she claimed that his reasoning "could prevent World War III." At the same time, she accused the Western powers of supporting Hitler in the pre-war years. Among the American politicians who supported Hitler, she named Averell Harriman, an adviser to President Franklin Roosevelt, later ambassador to Great Britain, secretary of commerce, governor of New York, and deputy secretary of state.
In fact, the only thing that connected Harriman to Hitler's Germany was that his brother worked for an American bank, a former subsidiary of a Dutch bank controlled by Fritz Thyssen, who had financed the Nazi Party before Hitler came to power.
In France, Yakunin's partner in propaganda projects is the former Minister of Transport, MEP Thierry Mariani , elected on the list of the National Association. Together with Yakunin, he heads the Franco-Russian Dialogue Association, established in 2004 under the patronage of Presidents Jacques Chirac and Vladimir Putin. Mariani visited the annexed Crimea several times as part of delegations of minor politicians and made statements calling for recognition of the peninsula's belonging to Russia. One such trip in 2015 cost him the post of vice-president of the European People's Party group in PACE.
Mariani praised the 2017 Sevastopol elections as "calm and democratic", but especially praised the vote on amendments to the Russian Constitution:
“Voting went on for several days, and the people we spoke to really liked it. I think why don't we take it into service in France. I think this vote is a very important page in history, because the Constitution is the Basic Law of any country, and the fact that citizens are now being asked for their opinion about their future is important, this should happen in every country.”
The fact that the multi-day voting procedure with numerous points outside the polling stations made the work of independent observers practically impossible did not bother him at all.
The executive director of the Franco-Russian Dialogue, Prince Alexander Trubetskoy , also visited the annexed Crimea several times.
“One of the tasks of our association is to help create an objective picture of Russia in French society. For Crimea, we, of course, have fallen from the Ukrainian authorities, but we regard this as a bad anecdote. The French authorities do not share our position, but this is a manifestation of civil freedom, we are free in our assessments. I myself have already visited the Russian Crimea four times,” he said in an interview with the Russian portal Russkiy Mir.
Together with Yakunin, Trubetskoy participated in the opening of the new Orthodox Trinity Cathedral on the Quai Branly in Paris; Patriarch Kirill personally served the first liturgy in the new church.
With the participation of Yuri Bershidsky and Vojtech Bogach (Voxpot)
To be continued