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By John Helmer, Moscow

On November 7-8, this website published a report on what the indictment of Igor Danchenko by the US Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Special Counsel John Durham didn’t mean, and what consequences it was unlikely to have.  The title was: Does the US Government really intend to make lying about Russia a crime?  The question was more than rhetorical, it was ironical.

In the days following, more evidence has been published which fills out the blanks in that report, also heaping irony upon irony.  This work provides fresh evidence about individuals;  organisations; a trail of urine from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Moscow; money trails and plots which the Danchenko indictment masks with anonymous tags, overlooks,  or conceals deliberately.

Research and detective work by Liane Theuerkauf in Munich, Stephen McIntyre and his ClimateAudit website in Canada,  Marcy Wheeler and her EmptyWheel blog in Houston,  Chuck Ross of the Daily Caller in Washington, DC, and others deserve to be expanded here and followed up. They are instructive; Aaron Maté and his Grayzone colleagues,  Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, and Jimmy Dore ignore or misrepresent this research while trying to sell you false scoops they attribute to themselves.

The Danchenko indictment runs for 39 pages. There are 27 separate anonymizing tags which  camouflage individuals like Christopher Steele (UK Person-1), MI6 (Foreign Intelligence Service-1), Brookings Institution friend Fiona Hill (Think Tank-1 and Think Tank Employee-1) and their sources, including PR Executive-1 (Charles Dolan). Read the document in full here.  

At the time of my report I said that “Organizer-1 has not been identified yet.” Stephen McIntyre has now identified him as Stephen Kupka. In 2016 he was the lawyer in charge of the Washington, DC, office of a Missouri law firm called Husch Blackwell LLP. Follow McIntyre’s detective work here.

Kupka changed his employer in April 2017, moving to a lower ranked job as partner at King & Spalding but staying in Washington. Kupka calls himself “an expert on the complexities of public policy and regulatory law at the federal, state, and local government levels”.

Six months before his career move, in October 2016, Kupka was identified (and interviewed in Moscow) by a Russian state media reporter as the organizer of a Moscow conference called “Inside the Kremlin” for a group of business executives called the Young Presidents Organization (YPO).  The financing of YPO is unclear; its “strategic” ties to Russia warfighting groups like Brookings and the Rand Corporation are identified on its website.   

In Moscow Kupka told Sputnik News he had worked in the White House when George W. Bush was president in 2003.  

Left to right: Stephen Kupka; Ivan Danchenko;  Charles Dolan. Kupka has declined the invitation to confirm or deny the published identifications.     

Kupka, Danchenko, and Charles Dolan, tagged PR Executive-1 in the new court papers, were all participants, according to the Danchenko indictment, in the Moscow conference in October 2016. Danchenko attended at Dolan’s invitation, according to the indictment. Kupka and Dolan were the originators and planners of the YPO event; they recruited Danchenko to work for them.  At the same time, Danchenko reported what they told him to Steele; he fed it to the Clinton campaign, the FBI, the State Department,    and US and British reporters who published it.

One of their stories was the golden showers incident at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow. The allegation was that Donald Trump had paid for it; that Russian intelligence had the evidence; and that Trump was exposed to Russian blackmail unless he followed Kremlin instructions. The indictment reports that the hotel personnel alleged to have been the original sources for the golden showers allegation were not; and that the US government investigations “ultimately [were] not able to confirm or corroborate most of their substantive allegations.”

At the time the story was hatched by Danchenko and Steele, the Ritz-Carlton hotel manager was  Bernd Kuhlen.  He is General Manager-1 who, according to the indictment, met Kupka and Dolan at lunch on June 15, 2016, for a discussion of the YPO conference plan. Kuhlen also gave them a tour of the presidential suite.

Ritz-Carlton is a brand name of the Marriott hotel chain which is based in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Kuhlen describes himself as German by origin; it is unclear what his current nationality is. It is clear he reports to the US headquarters of the company, and if the FBI had interviewed him in connection with Danchenko’s claims about Trump’s stay at the Ritz-Carlton, he would have complied.   Kuhlen was moved from Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jamaica, then St. Thomas, British Virgin Islands, in June 2016.   He had just arrived in Moscow when he gave Kupka and Dolan their first look at the bed in the presidential suite. Danchenko was in Moscow at the same time and met with Kupka and Dolan; he wasn’t present when Kuhlen showed the others the bed.

Left to right: Bernd Kuhlen; Allan Federer; the presidential suite at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Moscow.For details of the original Golden Showers lie, read this.  

But Kuhlen wasn’t in charge of the presidential bed in November 2013 when Trump allegedly arranged the incriminating urination.   At that time, the Ritz-Carlton manager in charge was a Canadian, Allan Federer. He commented publicly at the time on the problems of the presidential suite: “we only have one presidential suite. It is a very special suite overlooking the Kremlin, so you can imagine that it’s in high demand. But there are times when we need to have two or three presidential suites at the hotel, because these heads of states are coming sometimes to see each other, as well as meet the leaders of the Russian Federation. So one of the challenges that we’re working to overcome now is building the second presidential suite in the hotel.”

Federer also said at the time that he and other hotel and company staff would not disclose the names of their VIP guests. “I won’t tell you. It’s not permitted. It is an absolute policy of the Ritz- Carlton Hotel Company that we protect the privacy and confidentiality of our guests at all times. If guests choose to say that they stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, this is their privilege. Otherwise, we never disclose the names of our guests — famous or not…. It is a very serious disciplinary breach to talk about these things. But I can tell you that 90 percent of the performers playing at Crocus City Hall over the last six years have stayed with us; 96 percent of top foreign dignitaries on state visits over the last six years have stayed here. Guests attending virtually any movie launch you can think of stay with us. There are probably less than five days a year when there isn’t one star at this hotel.” Federer didn’t last long in Moscow. By July 2014, a year later, Federer had moved to Bermuda, where his new employer was the Berco family group which owns a well-known island hotel.  

Last week, on November 13, Marcy Wheeler reported in detail on several other identities and events which the Danchenko indictment has obscured.  In the indictment only one of Danchenko’s Russian sources has been reported and quoted.  This is Russian sub-source-1, a boyhood friend of Danchenko’s, whom the FBI investigation reported as having “acted as one of Danchenko’s primary sources of information for allegations contained in the [Steele] Company Reports.”

From depositions and evidence discovery this year in a federal Washington court lawsuit by Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr Aven and the Alfa Bank shareholders against Steele and his American partners, the identity of this individual has been disclosed. He is Sergei Abyshev. He is the only state official among the Russian sub-sources identified for Danchenko – the others are either journalists or junior university academics. Abyshev spent five years, 2011 to 2016, at the energy ministry, and when he left he was a deputy director of the Department of Administrative and Legislative Work. Before that Abyshev had worked at the Federal Monopoly Service; earlier he was vice mayor and head of the city duma for Nizhny Novgorod in the early 2000s.  He ran into an impeachment trouble at the time.  

Source: https://storage.courtlistener.com/

Abyshev is the wannabe who is documented in the indictment as exchanging his stories about Trump in Russia and other material for an autographed copy of a book from Hillary Clinton and a promise from Dolan that when Clinton won the November 2016 election, “[Dolan would] take me off to the State Department [to handle] issues of the former USSR, then we’ll see who is looking good and who is not.”  Abyshev also applied to Dolan to write to Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin press spokesman, “in support of Russian Sub-Source-I’s candidacy for a position in the Russian Presidential Administration.”


Source: https://www.emptywheel.net/

The list has been based on depositions collected for the Fridman litigation in May and June of 2021, and then filed in US District Court in Washington on June 21, 2021. Earlier press reporting in Russian and English had reported the names as Danchenko sources. In Ivan Vorontsov’s deposition in the Fridman case, he said: “I never provided Mr. Danchenko (or anyone else) with any information associated with the contents of the Dossier generally, or related to Mr. Fridman, Mr. Aven, Mr. Khan, or Alfa specifically. Mr. Danchenko later confirmed this to me as well when he expressed guilt for dragging me into this whole controversy concerning the Dossier… My impression of the Dossier is that the contents are false and inherently improbable. I believe that the Dossier was fabricated to fit whatever the client who requested the information wanted to receive.” Vorontsov, a financial journalist in Moscow, also confirmed that he had told the FBI as much when they interviewed him in June 2016.  Alexei Dundich, the alleged sub-source 4, testified in the Fridman case: “My impression is that Mr. Danchenko fabricated the information published in the Dossier to make quick money. It is apparent to me that the Dossier is a deliberate fraud and a collection of idle rumors”.  

Left to right: Sergei Abyshev, Olga Galkina, Alexei Dundich,  Ivan Kurilla.

This picture by Patrick Hardin in 2003 captures the very first public acknowledgement of intellectual rights, patent and copyright in the history of man dating back, before the invention of  money, to the Stone Age.  Hardin reported the character in centre as saying: “To be honest, I would have never invented the wheel if not for Urg’s ground breaking theoretical work with the circle.”  From Flint, Michigan, Hardin’s ground-breaking historical work can be followed and purchased here.

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