The Times just exposed how deep Trump’s backchannel to Putin really goes

A new report in the Financial Times just revealed how deep a mysterious Russian banker’s ties to Putin run after he was caught in a secret meeting with a Trump advisor in the remote Seychelles Islands before last year’s inauguration. FT’s report upon which this story is based has since been corrected, and the RDIF has responded with a written comment, which is being addressed by inserting factual corrections into the material below in the italicized text. 

Special Counsel Mueller has a cooperating witness who says that Trump’s mercenary puppet master Erik Prince and Russian banker Kirill Dmitriev met specifically to form a backchannel communications line to the then-President-elect. Just last week, Prince was caught forming a secret off-shore company, Emerdata, with the Mercer and Bannon, backed psychological warfare company Cambridge Analytica.

Now, details of Dmitriev’s close links to Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin show that the relationship isn’t just business, but personal. Kirill Dmitriev got the job as CEO of Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) based upon his Harvard and Stanford education and has grown substantially in influence now that his wife befriended Putin’s daughter, with whom they remain close to this day; a relationship which the RDIF confirms began after hiring as the executive. Very close, according to the Times:

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According to six people close to Mr Dmitriev, his wife is close friends with Mr Putin’s younger daughter. Mr Dmitriev’s wife Natalia Popova was in the same year at Moscow State University as Yekaterina Tikhonova, Mr Putin’s younger daughter, and is the deputy director of her technology foundation, Innopraktika. (RDIF urged FT’s to change their reporting saying, “They definitely didn’t study in the same year, but we are unaware if they studied at the same time. “)

Ms Popova’s close friendship with Ms Tikhonova helped secure Mr Dmitriev’s job running the Kremlin’s $10bn Russia Direct investment Fund and has made him a powerful figure in the Kremlin, according to three people who work with Mr Dmitriev, a state banker, a fellow private equity executive and a person who knows him socially. FT removed the struck line as inaccurate, at the request of RDIF.

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In fact, Dmitriev is so close to Putin that he is still on the board of his daughter’s firm Innopraktica today. Under his charge, the RDIF told the Washington Press that it has completed transactions with 15 other sovereign wealth funds.

Putin’s son-in-law Kirill Shamalov is a minor oligarch in his own right, after a stint on the board of Sibur, a major Russian refinery and chemicals company which he owns 3.9% of today (down from 21.4% when he sold shares last year). It is unknown if he is still married to Putin’s daughter.

Back when Shamalov owned that huge block of Sibur shares, the RDIF – which Dmitriev has run since its inception in 2011 – made a loan to a project linked that firm.

ARDIF statement says that “alongside other investors, including leading Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds, [they] gave a $1.75bn loan in 2015 to one of Sibur’s projects, ZapSibNeftekhim (an integrated petrochemical complex in one of the Russian regions), when Mr. Shamalov owned 21.4 percent of Sibur’s stock.” 

(Yes, that is a very apparently conflicted and corrupt use of government funds to benefit Putin’s insider family and friends, which the RDIF did not dispute in their response to this story).

One of the Times‘ sources must be pretty close to the Russian banker because he or she has a granular view of his daily routine.

Mr Dmitriev regularly attends Ms Tikhonova’s performances in acrobatic rock and roll dancing alongside Mr Shamalov, according to the parent of another contestant.

Putin’s daughter, Ms. Tikhonova happens to be the world’s foremost Acrobatic Rock N’ Roll dancers (watch her here) which has led the Russian state run by her dad to invest over $30 million of state funds into building the world’s only dedicated facility for the niche sport.

Why would Erik Prince, the outed CIA agent, and brother of Trump’s most despised cabinet member, Betsy DeVos, best known as the infamous founder of the murderous mercenary firm Blackwater, want to meet with a Russian banker halfway around the world?

Erik Prince told the House Intel Committee that he only had a routine meeting at a hotel bar with RDIF’s CEO Dmitriev by accident late last November.

But Special Counsel Mueller’s cooperating witness George Nader – the pedophile advisor close to both the UAE rulers and Donald Trump – says that Prince went to the Seychelles Islands specifically to form a communications backchannel with Russia, so urgent that it couldn’t wait for the inauguration just weeks later.

Presumably, only one of the two men can be telling the truth, which sets up a potential legal showdown for the former Blackwater CEO with prosecutors, and with Congress, for the validity of his answers.

In their response to this story, the RDIF did not dispute the closeness of its executive to Russian President Putin nor anything else in the original text.

In the end, the American people deserve to know what then-President-elect Trump was doing, sending a spy on a 36-hour round trip by air just to contact one of Putin’s intimates in person before being sworn in as Commander-in-Chief.

Read the FT’s correction here:

“This article was amended on April 3 2018 to remove references to how Mr Dmitriev secured his job at RDIF and to clarify that the 2015 loan was to a project of Sibur not the company itself.”

Their story:

Author’s note: This article contained a factual error mixing up the holdings of two gentlemen named Kirill, Mssrs. Dmitriev and Shamalov, which has been corrected to reflect the accurate financial details of each man.

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Grant Stern

Editor at Large

Grant Stern is a columnist for the Washington Press. He's also mortgage broker, writer, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida.


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