Since the Cold War, Russia started collecting information about America’s parties, big companies, and dignitaries in order to lay the ground for some impact on non-aligned currents in elections through slander or omission. The Russians’ effective impact came in the 2016 elections by creating capacities over public opinion, think tanks, businesses, as well as by approaching the Trump, leading in the end to a boost in the Kremlin’s activities even in the US administration makeup. Rex Tillerson, Steve Bannon, Michael Fellin, Hope Hicks, Kevin Harrington are clear examples of Russia’s infiltration in the US political and security structure, with Harrington the only one who has remained in his post so far.
Russia’s infiltration in the US carried out over the past years via cover Russian companies is fully depicted by Russian investment in IT and Trump real estate. In 2016, part of the 13.4 million trade documents collected from 19 countries_ including Malta, Trinidad and Tobago, Virgin Islands, and Men’s Island, revealed the trade and financial activities of the Kremlin’s cover companies.
The covert Canton Services registered in Virgin Islands caught the attention of the Russian oligarch Asmanov, a Putin-backed, key figure in Gazprom, in 2005, who then in 2009 purchased the company for $920 million. Among other important companies where Russia has invested in the US are Gazprom Investment Holding, VTB Capital, Mill.Row, and DST Global, which currently belongs to the Russian-national Yuri Milner. As a subsidiary of Gazprom, Gazprom Investment Holding and the mother company work together as a pole underpinning Putin and the Kremlin’s power tent.
VTB Capital is the investment arm of its mother company VTB Bank. There are ample intelligence about close relations between the bank’s head of governing board Andrei Kostin and Putin as well as the FSB security organization. Naturally in 2014, Gazprom and VTB Bank, as two gig state companies in energy and banking, were put under sanctions by the Treasure under Obama for having roles in the Ukraine and Crimea conflicts.
Paradise Papers documents also reveal that Facebook as a global media had been under Moscow’s special attention right from the start.
Gazprom and VTB Bank, operating under Putin’s strong influence and direct oversight, have been observing not only Facebook’s investment its economic profits, but its influence on the public mind, which was cautioned against in the 2017 US national security report as Moscow’s media influence in the 2016 election, warning that the Mill.Row and Digital Sky Technology, which operated under Mill.Row since 2011, were among Russia’s other sources of investment through Milner in the Facebook project.
Among the above mentioned records, the main documents on Yuri Milner’s investment in technology, especially in Facebook and Twitter, were so revealed that they showed Milner’s investment resources in Facebook, among whose shareholders’ board stands Peter Taylor, were being financially supported by Russian governmental and cover companies.
The funds raised over the years 2011 and 2012, at several billions of dollars, were transferred for millions of Facebook shares via a number of intermediary companies under Milner, including DST Global 3 and DST USA 2.
The billionaire Milner who has registered a great part of his business operations in Russia, holds strong ties with Russia’s political and economic figures, including key figures at Mill.Row, Russia’s biggest IT company. Mill.Row was founded under Milner through Osmanov, the Russian oligarch who has extensive ties with the Kremlin and Russia’s security apparatus, and was able to enter America’s tech and public opinion arenas through Milner (Tech Investor), Silicon Valley’s big time investor.
Milner, with a history of cooperation and close ties with Osmanov, established ties with Russia in the early 20th century. Then, by having Moscow take part in the Facebook project and investing in Kidra company of the Kushner brothers, it created big economic opportunities for Moscow in the US.
With the Russians’ covert entry into the Facebook and Kidra projects, ground was laid for their breach into the country and establishing relations with America’s political and economic actors. Peter Taylor, key player in political and economic affairs in the tech arena, through Milner, who himself has long standing relations with Russia, was introduced as a determined partner to the Russians, setting a start point for among Taylor, Milner, and Russians in Facebook and some other economic and political fields.
On June 15, 2015, the modern digital company of Kidra, which belongs to the Kushner brothers and Rayan Williams, Jared Kushner’s old fiend and active in real estate and construction, was launched as one of the biggest project shared by Milner and Taylor’s investment. They saw it as coming with good omens this cooperation and joint political investment which was exactly on the same day as Trump announced his candidacy in the 2016 elections.
The result of this cooperation was a plot that went under the name of June 9, 2016 meeting in the Trump Tower, where Trump’s senior campaign representatives reached agreement with Russia’s representative over information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government and celebrated their victory.
By Adam Dentor (@Adamdentor)