Russian oligarchs and American Liberty
Last edited Fri Jul 14, 2017, 09:59 AM - Edit history (4)
I was curious which Russian born spy turned "lobbyist" might have been present at the Kushner-Manafort-Trumplet meeting, and googled. Didn't find an answer, but I did find a couple of interesting articles. One was an article in the Weekly Standard (ugh, I know) from April 2012 saying that one of the oligarchs, Bidzina Ivanishvili, "one of the world's richest men with an estimated $6.5 billion fortune, hired a small army of PR consultants and lobbyists in Washington, including at least 7 of Washingtons most prominent firms". It says that he is "the single largest private investor in Russias state-owned gas giant Gazprom. He also holds a major stake in the Russian oil company Lukoil" and praises Putin. April 2012, an election year.
I also ran across this: http://www.therussianoligarchs.com Which has an interesting graphic or article or two. The 24 year old daughter of Rybolovlev is the new owner of the Cyprus island that Jackie Onassis once lived on -- maybe a birthday present, because fourteen months earlier she was also given a Central Park penthouse.
There's a graphic showing that the world's second biggest collection of billionaires is in Russia.
One of the oligarchs with political ambitions lists Renaissance Capital as one of his major holdings ($460 M). Is that the Mercer firm? Maybe not. Appears to be a separate Russian company with a similar name.
There's an article about how Miami is becoming the "Russian Riviera". Which again makes me think about Berenton Whisenant, the federal prosecutor found dead on the beach near Miami ("head wound by possible gunshot or other trauma" , who'd been "handling several visa and passport cases". http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/obituaries/article152981139.html and
Outside of google, in real life, I meet a freshly minted Russian immigre, a young man with an unusually hard or aggressive edge about him, who picks me ups in an Uber, in a suburb not so far from the place where Peter Smith, the GOP conspiracy true believer who committed suicide ten days after disclosing his own Russia-Trump connections to the Wall Street Journal, lived. There's a Russian-born banker whose son is no longer friends with my own, after his dad freaked out that that I'd let them take an Uber together. (What a great database Uber must be compiling, all the addresses that people go to. Which we know they USE, at least, to avoid picking up anti-Uber politicians.) I laugh at my own "lighthearted paranoia"; it amuses me to mention to a close friend that I noticed a group of Russians meeting up and high-fiving back in an obscure restaurant not long after the election. Celebrating. I'm a fan of a kind of dark humor, when things get bleak. Abramovich had the world's largest yacht parked by the Statue of Liberty for a while - is it still there, blocking the view? (Nope. It finally moved. http://nypost.com/2017/06/19/statue-of-liberty-finally-free-of-oil-tycoons-mega-yacht/)
My city is one of three cities mentioned as a hotbed concentration for Russian spies, per James Clapper, if I recall. Mr. Clapper says there's been a sharp increase in Russian spies and visa applications after election. He says they are laying the groundwork for the 2018 elections. http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/06/politics/russia-steps-up-spying-efforts-after-election/index.html Maybe there are many more, people who get jobs here to support themselves in mundane roles, so they blend in. Maybe at various levels in society. It feels like the "Red Scare", but I don't feel any animosity toward the individuals; that's just the system they were born into. They are humans first, potential spies second. Up until the point where they get involved in pushing people out of windows. It's America, right? We let anyone in, if you are loyal to America. (Except Latinos coming across the border, for some reason I can't understand, but that's another story.)
The locusts are coming. What do they do when they take over a country? Maybe Russian style oligarchy is coming. Are they collecting bank account numbers too, in their hacks? Can they strip the stock market, try to trigger a collapse, make the electronic records of your money disappear?
Most of us see wealth inequality as a problem, but to some, wealth inequality is the goal. Enrich yourself like Putin and the oligarchs and the Kochs and the Mercers to become powerful, then use the power to enrich yourself further. Putin mastered this. Maybe our own oligarchs are jealous. All the oligarchs are created by greed and corrupt systems, but in Russia, they are also routinely created through fear. In Russia, Putin is the all-powerful terrifying rich guy at the top of the heap. Do our oligarchs feel less powerful in comparison? Did they feel less powerful when President Obama was in office? The oligarchs of the world are in a race to corner the private Greek islands and the private oil and the biggest yachts, and maybe 3% taxes to pay for the little people's healthcare lowers their standing on Fortune's Richest Lists.
The world's largest yacht was anchored last month in a place where it blocks the view of the Statue of Liberty, but I wouldn't feel any better if it was owned by an American, instead of a Russian. Public treasures are not anathema to freedom; they are the flowering of it, no matter what the Ayn Randians tell you. But we do like our bright illusions of freedom, and all these Russians teaming with the useful idiot in the White House are making it pretty dark. Are we going to let America turn into the kind of oligarchy that pushes people out of fourth story apartment windows, or weakens a banister and watches them fall, or poisons them or sprays them with bullets on a public sidewalk in broad daylight, for opposing a political leader or expressing dissent or being a journalist exposing corrupt financial connections? If we let that happen, well, we might as well send that Statue all the way back to France.