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Tommy_Carcetti

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Member since: Tue Jul 10, 2007, 02:49 PM
Number of posts: 35,100

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BREAKING NEWS: Trump to travel to Florida to view Hurricane Michael damage at Mar-a-Lago

President Donald Trump announced that he will be traveling to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida to get a firsthand view of the aftermath of the damage that Florida incurred after Hurricane Michael--a near Category 5 major hurricane--struck the state this week.

Trump will take an up close tour of the grounds of the club, which is located approximately 500 miles from the Panama City area where the storm made landfall. Palm trees at Mar-a-Lago reportedly lost multiple fronds during a Tuesday afternoon thunderstorm from one of Michael's outermost bands as it moved up the Gulf of Mexico towards the Florida Panhandle.

"From what I heard, damage to Mar-a-Lago was tremendous, the likes of which has never been seen before," Trump said to reporters as he boarded Marine One on his way to Andrews Air Force Base. "The amount of rain, which was wet, very, very wet, and some of the most incredible, powerful wind imaginable. I've heard estimates of winds in excess of 500 miles per hour, actually. It's really, really something."

Trump noted the "furious" work of groundskeepers to rake up fallen leaves and power wash muddied walkways to make sure the club was in spotless shape for the upcoming winter club season.

"It hasn't been easy," he noted. "For anyone. But especially for me. Of all the people out there, I have to say I've probably suffered the most because of this storm."

When asked if he had any thoughts for homeowners in storm ravaged areas like Mexico Beach--where houses were ripped from their foundations by devastating storm surge and obliterated into rubble by catastrophic winds--Trump replied, "Well, I'm certain any of those people would have to feel sorry for the situation I'm in. They'd very likely feel very, very bad for me. I'm sure if they had people wanting to pay $200,000 for access to them and their house, they'd know the type of situation I'm in, and they'd feel very, very bad. They wouldn't want to be in my position, believe me."

First Lady Melania Trump was expected to join her husband and pose for pictures alongside maintenance workers trimming hedges. The President and First Lady would then reportedly sit down for a dinner prepared by banquet staff.

"We're going to have cake, chocolate cake, that most wonderful, magnificent chocolate cake like no other," the President said. "No natural disaster is going to stop us from enjoying that wonderful, beautiful cake."

Details at Eleven.


Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Fri Oct 12, 2018, 09:37 AM (52 replies)

False Acquisitions

False Acquisitions was the title of Charles Dickens’ little-remembered, much maligned follow-up to Great Expectations. The plot centered around Pip and Estella moving to the American West, where they pull off a series of stagecoach robberies in a lead up to their ultimate goal: a madcap search for Miss Havisham’s hidden gold.

Critics savaged the novel, calling it “nonsensical rubbish” and, “Why? In God’s good name, why?”

In an ironic twist, however, the film adaptation starring Ethan Hawke and Gwenyth Paltrow drew surprisingly good reviews, with Roger Elbert remarking, “So much better than the book. So, so, so much better. Not like that it was that hard of a feat, mind you....”
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Tue Sep 25, 2018, 05:28 AM (2 replies)

Woman who accused Bill Clinton of assault goes on warpath against Kavanaugh accusers

https://twitter.com/atensnut/status/1044019822248566785



Juanita Broaddrick‏ @atensnut

How can I, as a victim, not sympathize with Dr. Ford??
Plain and simple. I do not believe her. She has cast a dark shadow on real victims. Democrats have already convicted this honorable man. What about Judge Kavanaugh and his family?

5:24 PM - 23 Sep 2018



https://twitter.com/atensnut/status/1044043249470631936



Juanita Broaddrick‏ @atensnut

Creepy porn lawyer, Avanatti, says he has another victim and demands to be heard. Must be one of Stormy’s co-workers

6:58 PM - 23 Sep 2018



First and foremost: Why exactly am I even giving an admittedly fringe figure like Juanita Broaddrick the time of day throughout the Kavanaugh drama?

My answer is simple: The right keeps on bringing her name up as a talking point in a blatant fallacious Whataboutism strategy. And because her accusations go straight to the heart of one major figure--a two-term Democratic President who admittedly had some public weaknesses when it came to members of the opposite sex--as well as involving another major figure, his wife and an individual who by all accounts also should have been President but for certain interference by certain foreign powers.

And we're faced with two possible reactions. We can either attempt to ignore it and let figures on the right keep on invoking this woman's name without rebuttal, or we can go ahead and grab the bull by the horns and address it once and for all, and let the world know that not all accusations are of the same level.

The problem with the first reaction, while tempting, is that it just becomes cumulative and repeated to the point where the mere repetition of her name gives her legitimacy. And once there is an air of legitimacy behind Broaddrick, then we fall susceptible to the same sort of well-intentioned but erroneous "zero tolerance" strategy that needlessly felled Senator Franken's career over allegations that constituted one posed photo in poor taste and a handful of allegations of dubious credibility.

And it already has happened with Broaddrick. We've been told that since MeToo, we're supposed to give a presumption of truth to all accusers of powerful individuals, that we can't let personal feelings or party identity get in the way, and we need to do all this to be honest and supportive of the movement. So there's almost a rush to guilt people into automatically believing people like Broaddrick.

We saw it with New York Times' columnist Michelle Goldberg:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/13/opinion/juanita-broaddrick-bill-clinton.html

We saw it with comedian Chelsea Handler:

https://thepoliticalinsider.com/chelsea-handler-to-juanita-broaddrick-i-believe-bill-clinton-raped-you/

But that's not how MeToo should work. We should never, ever simply believe someone accusing a powerful individual of sexual misconduct simply because they've made those accusations. That's asinine. Even if it's well intentioned, it's still asinine.

What we do have a duty to do is to consider all allegations of sexual misconduct in good faith and allow the facts to come out without preconceived biases. However, it is up to our own ability to consider those facts in good faith and without bias as to whether or not a person should ultimately be deemed believable.

And the fact of the matter is, Broaddrick and her claims that she was sexual assaulted by then Arkansas Attorney General Bill Clinton in 1978 is by no means a newcomer to the public eye. She's had plenty of opportunity to be heard.

Her accusations became public 19 years ago. Even before then, her claims were investigated by then Special Counsel Ken Starr. She filed a lawsuit based on her claims. The suit was ultimately dismissed. She's been on a large host of television and radio shows, pitched her book, and made her allegations well known.

And so, with that in mind, I can say this (at least for myself):

I don't believe her. I simply don't believe her. And I'm not going to be guilted into believing her simply by an appeal to "zero tolerance" or argument that this is merely cogitative dissonance on my part.

And the fact that I don't believe has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that her claims did not become public until 21 years after she said the assault took place. We all know that victims of sexual assault and violence frequently feel ashamed or afraid to come public with their claims, especially when the person they are accusing might be a beloved or high profile persona.

No, the reason I don't believe Broaddrick has nothing to do with her raising them in 1999, but rather everything she has done since that point, which has revealed her not only to be a partisan hypocrite, but someone who's glaring lack of empathy towards people supposedly similarly situated to her makes me honestly question how legitimate her own claims are.

Here's why I doubt Broaddrick's credibility and honesty:

1. The only time she has gone under oath, she vehemently denied being assaulted by Bill Clinton, in an affidavit filed in relation to the Paula Jones investigation. And while I understand why there are many victims of sexual assault who will shy away from the spotlight not wanting to relive horrific memories, committing perjury--which you have to believe Broaddrick was doing if you believe she was assaulted--is an entirely different matter altogether.

2. Ken Starr listened to her allegations and had absolutely no use for them. Let's be honest--a man so driven to impugn Bill Clinton's name that he took an investigation about a failed land deal and turned it into an investigation of a man's sex life would have somehow worked in an alleged sexual assault in some way or another if he found the source to be credible and believable. Starr's complete disinterest in Broaddrick's story speaks volumes as to her credibility.

3. The one woman who Broaddrick identifies as her main witness to corroborate her claims just so happens also to be someone with a very personal animosity towards Bill Clinton, as she was furious that Clinton as Governor commuted the death sentence of her father's killer.

4. The way Broaddrick has fashioned the story is, frankly, absolutely bizarre. If you read her account, it sounds like a poorly written Lifetime movie. She claims Clinton viciously attacked her in a hotel room, and then after he was done, he slyly put on sunglasses and quipped to her, "Better put some ice on that," as it related to a supposedly bloody lip. Who is this, Bill Clinton, or Detective Horatio Caine? Did he have a thin pencil moustache that he twirled while sneering? This doesn't seem like normal rapist behavior in reality at all. Then she goes on to accuse Hillary of intimidating her weeks later, claiming when she shook her hand at a fundraiser, she squeezed her hand vindictively and gave her a glare while she said, "We want to thank you for everything you've done." First of all, we're supposed to believe that Bill went around telling Hillary about how he raped a woman, and that Hillary was perfectly fine with that, and that she then wanted to engage in intimidation tactics to subvert claims of sexual assault. And that "We want to thank you for everything you've done" is somehow smoking gun proof of that.

5. Oh, and the fact that Juanita Broaddrick actually attended the political fundraiser of a man who she claims raped her just weeks after the alleged assault. What sort of victim would actually do such a thing? It's mind boggling nonsensical. Almost every woman who has ever been sexually assaulted can hardly stand to look at the perpetrator or hear his voice, and yet we're supposed to believe she had no qualms going to a political event for him just weeks after she claims he brutalized her?

6. And finally, and I think most importantly, two things about Juanita Broaddrick and her behavior since 1999 and especially since 2016:

a. That she has openly championed and appeared with Donald Trump, including just days after the Access Hollywood tapes came out where Trump bragged about kissing women against their will and wanting to "grab them by the pussy", i.e. sexual assault, not to mention other right wing figures (such as James Woods) who have also been accused of sexual misconduct, strikes of gross partisianship and grand hypocrisy; and even more,

b. That she has been so vocal to demean and disparage other women--such as Dr. Blasey Ford--who have accused high profile individuals of sexual assault and misconduct simply because the accused is a right wing figure. This includes accusers against Donald Trump as well.

Why should I believe someone like this? Why should anyone believe someone like this, especially after considering some of the other glaring flaws in her claims?

Someone so devoid of sympathy and empathy for people would be in the same position she wants you to place her in--why should we believe her?

I'm sorry, call me biased, call me suffering cognitive dissonance, but it reeks of stuntsmanship and contrived political hackery.

There should be no shame in saying that no, you don't believe this woman and you find her to be a vile hypocrite. Doing so is not demeaning the legitimate victims of sexual assault out there who have been traumatized and who would do anything to support another person in the same position as they are, without any regards to political identify or affiliation.

They're not going to stop mentioning Juanita Broaddrick's name. It's time to stop running away and to grab the bull by the horns.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Mon Sep 24, 2018, 02:32 PM (18 replies)

Inside a Fox News research room, approximately 10:00 am EST yesterday:

Producer: Uh oh, looks like Aretha Franklin just died. Quick, Jimmy, get me a photo to run with the story.

Jimmy: Sure thing, boss. Here you go:



Producer: No, you idiot. That's Patti Labelle. I wanted Aretha Franklin.

Jimmy: Sorry, boss. I just googled "Soulful black female singer" and that's the first picture that came up. I'll try again.

Producer: Yeah, you better.

Jimmy: Got it now:



Producer: Goddammit, Jimmy, that's the Pointer Sisters and there are three of them!

Jimmy: Sorry, let me try that again:



Producer: No, no, no, no! That's American Idol Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks, a.k.a. the leader of the "Soul Patrol"!

Jimmy: Oh.

Producer: Jimmy, are you just googling the word "soul" now?

Jimmy: Um......yeah.

Producer: I need a picture of Aretha Franklin. Google that. Aretha.....Franklin.

Jimmy: Right on it. Yup, I got it now:



Producer: Aretha, I need Aretha Franklin! That's Benjamin Franklin, you fucking idiot. Please look up Aretha Franklin!

Jimmy: I'm pretty sure I've got it right now:



Producer: Jimmy?

Jimmy
: Yes, boss?

Producer: Why did you just give me a picture of a Christmas wreath?

Jimmy: Well, um, I.....

Producer: Fuck it, let's just run with the picture of Patti Labelle. Not like our racist ass viewers would know the difference anyways.....or, you know, care. Now, where's Ainsley Earnhardt? Apparently, she wants to tell me something very important about Communist Japan......
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Fri Aug 17, 2018, 09:01 AM (4 replies)

Today, I felt like we had been hit by a hurricane.

I don’t know if anyone else here has gone through a direct hit by a hurricane. I have. It’s a bizarre feeling, unique even among natural disasters.

Basically, beforehand you know what’s coming. And you know it’s bad. And you know it’s big. And you know what’s coming is going to create a big giant mess. And you know there’s no way to escape it at this point.

Still, even so, you’re not fully prepared on what to expect.

Then the hurricane hits, and it’s a rip roaring blur, with everything happening at a mile a minute, and you feel like you’re watching things happen out of your own body. It’s not quite real.

Finally the hurricane moves off, and you are left with a huge amount of damage from something that was just there but no longer there. And only then does it begin to sink in what you actually saw and lived through. And now you have the time to actually dwell on it.

We knew Trump would meet with Putin. We knew nothing good would come of it. We watched as Trump openly blamed President Obama, Hillary Clinton and the intelligence community for something Russia did. And once it was all over, the truth that the President of the United States is literally a traitor—and we witnessed his treasonous behavior live on TV—is beginning to sink further and further in.

I feel violated.

We should all feel violated.
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Mon Jul 16, 2018, 07:08 PM (9 replies)

PART FIVE (CONCLUSION): Assessing Russian propogandist Konstantin Rykov's pro-Trump "confession"

**PART ONE can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210416264

**PART TWO can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210416302

**PART THREE can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210430029

**PART FOUR can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210567354


Rykov's melodramatic interactions with Anton Nossik were just a part of his online footprint in later years. Since leaving the Russian Duma in 2011, Rykov has moved from being an active participant in mainly Russian online circles to involving himself heavily in western social media, to say nothing about western political affairs.

Rykov's Facebook and Twitter accounts are filled with literally thousands of entries discussing the politics and news of countries worldwide. He would even create specialty Twitter accounts based on a targeted country. In August 2014, Rykov registered the Twitter account @rykov_usa. Besides re-posting a few random clickbait styled articles on topics such as Sex and the City and Chinese "facekinis", Rykov--who adopted the Anglicized "Constantine" first name for account purposes--focused almost exclusively on a single topic , that being political unrest in Ferguson, Missouri following the police shooting of an unarmed black man, Michael Brown. There was no singular message being espoused by Rykov; articles seemed to target both those angry at police as well as those critical of protestors. Rykov's U.S. targeted Twitter account did not appear to gain much traction; in the end, it only attracted 169 followers (mostly fellow Russians) and Rykov abandoned it after only two weeks. However, the account remains active for the public to see.

Rykov's direct social media involvement in other areas of the world proved to be far more substantial. Perhaps his most notorious adventure (prior to his professed involvement in the 2016 US presidential election) came out of France. As Vice News and The Telegraph reported in April 2015, a series of leaked text messages from 2014 between Rykov and Russian internal affairs department head Timur Protopenko have Rykov claiming to have communicated with Marine Le Pen regarding supporting the dubious results of a Crimean referendum supposedly endorsing the Russian annexation of that Ukrainian region following the invasion of the Crimean peninsula by unmarked Russian troops. Once it becomes clear that Le Pen has endorsed the referendum, Rykov remarked to Protopenko that "It will be necessary to thank the French in one way or another." Eight months later, Le Pen's Front National Party received a large loan financed via a Russian bank for their 2017 presidential election campaign fund.

https://news.vice.com/article/leaked-messages-allegedly-show-kremlin-paid-for-french-far-right-leader-to-endorse-crimea-annexation

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11515835/Russia-bought-Marine-Le-Pens-support-over-Crimea.html

But it was another European political referendum that served to underscore an unusual social media dynamic between Rykov and perhaps his most high-profile nemesis and spark a feud that would continue all the way through the 2016 US elections. In September 2014, voters in Scotland went to the polls to decide whether they wished to remain a part of the United Kingdom or, alternately, become fully independent of the Crown. Seeking to legitimize the controversial Crimean referendum earlier that year (that featured none of the electoral safeguards and procedures that the Scottish referendum had) Russian propagandists and trolls glommed onto the measure, hoping that a Scottish schism would damage the UK and the EU. Konstantin Rykov helped lead the charge himself, and on Twitter, temporarily adopted the handle "McRykov." While arguably this was simply a joking tribute to Scottish surnames in general, it's also possible that Rykov intended it as a mocking insult to one of his most common targets of online vitriol: former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.

As the state of US-Russian relations entered a freefall around the time of Putin's return to the Russian presidency in 2012--with that freefall accelerated after the Obama administration imposed sanctions against Russia in 2014 for their illegal invasion of Ukraine's Crimean region--there were several individuals who were the target of extreme ire amongst the Russian internet community. Naturally President Obama received a brunt of the hatred, as did Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, U.S. Ambassador Geoffery Pratt and State Department Spokesperson Jenn Psaki also were routinely roasted over social media by Russian trolls. But Michael McFaul was an entirely different creature from the rest altogether . Far from shy, McFaul (now a professor of political science at Stanford, a position he also held prior to his government service) made it a point to have a very visible presence over social media. Both during his tenure as ambassador and afterwards, McFaul would constantly engage followers in casual conversations with followers.

Most of these conversations were pleasant and conciliatory; however, some were decidedly not. As Ambassador, McFaul was notoriously harassed by Russian state media and saw his own family threatened while in Moscow. His treatment over Twitter was no less ruthless, and Konstantin Rykov was certainly not afraid to join in the fray.

The feud between McFaul and Rykov started in the middle of 2014, and it's clear as to the reasons behind the mutual adversity shared by these social media titans. Rykov saw McFaul as being emblematic of U.S. imperialism and interventionism in the world, a key obstacle to Russian greatness in the former Soviet world. McFaul saw Rykov as epitomizing the Kremlin's strategy of asymmetrical warfare on the West, plugging up the internet with false information and propaganda.

Things would soon come to a head between the two as the Scottish independence referendum drama unfolded in September 2014. Rykov's "McRykov" postings on Twitter failed to make sufficient inroads in the Scottish community, which voted by a 10% margin to remain part of the United Kingdom. Recognizing Rykov's role in attempting to influence public opinion, McFaul couldn't help but spike the football in the end zone and directly rub the results in Rykov's face:



One can debate whether or not a former senior government official taunting a known Russian propogandist was the wisest course of action; however, from that point forward, it was on between McFaul and Rykov. The two sparred over the 2016 election and candidates, with Rykov (and a band of supporting trolls) chiming in to McFaul's commentary on the 2015 Republican primary debates. At one point in September 2015, McFaul adroitly points out, "Pro-Putin bloggers love Trump. Follow @rykov."

But as fascinating as McFaul's willingness to engage Russia's social media army head-on is, it is Rykov's response that is even more notable. Because as Rykov's plot to influence the 2016 U.S. elections from Russia progressed deeper and deeper, Rykov increasingly felt it imperative to actively tag--and mock--McFaul (who Rykov frequently referred to as "the old man" ) as he openly discussed his operations. If anything, this underscores Rykov's modus operandi when it came to the 2016 U.S. elections, he wanted to punish the United States, and let them know they were being punished, regardless of whether Trump would ultimately win or not. A prominent and socially active figure like McFaul was the perfect conduit for a Russian ultra-nationalist like Rykov to brag to the West--to borrow the lyrics of Taylor Swift--"Look what you made me do."

So it was no real surprise that Rykov chose to tag McFaul on November 12, 2016 when he begun to tell his tale about how he claimed to have helped Donald Trump win the White House. And while that posting has slowly but surely garnered some attention amongst the internet universe, another bombshell confession by Rykov to which Rykov knowingly made McFaul privy to has gone by virtually unnoticed so far. And unlike his November 2016 confession, this prior admission occurred right in the thick of the 2016 campaign.

In July 2016, Trump campaign foreign policy advisor Carter Page travelled to Moscow to ostensibly deliver an address before the New Economic School, a think tank known for attracting numerous Western figures. Page has claimed the trip to Moscow was for personal reasons only and was not sanctioned by the Trump campaign itself. However, in a July 7, 2016 Facebook posting--made while Page was still in Moscow--Rykov claims Page "came to Moscow for other reasons." He then goes on to say, "I can only imagine how worried old Michael McFaul is", tagging the former U.S. Ambassador into the post.



That's not the end of it. In the comment section in the post, when prompted by a follower, Rykov admits Page "also came to the intelligence service to understand the reaction to Donald." And in classic "Hi Mom!" fashion, McFaul jumps in and replies with a "Starik", which Rykov himself translates back as "Old friend."



Taken on its face, this is an absolutely stunning exchange that may have direct implications to the Mueller investigation. Here, we have a known Kremlin insider admitting that a member of Trump's campaign came to Moscow not just to deliver a speech on an individual basis, but rather to meet with Russian intelligence services about information pertaining to Donald Trump. All of this was freely admitted in the presence of the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia. And this was all done before Christopher Steele ever reported his intelligence to the FBI in late July 2016 about Page's activities, meaning the Steele Dossier could potentially be independently verified.

As Benjamin Wittes might say, "Boom!"

One would think that McFaul would passed this invaluable information that had fallen directly into his lap onto U.S. intelligence services. And knowing Rykov's propensity to spill the beans about his actions, it's quite possible McFaul wouldn't even have to do that; intelligence may have already been monitoring Rykov's activities on his own. There's nothing whatsoever to suggest that McFaul has been co-opted by the Russian government; his harsh anti-Kremlin statements belie such a possibility. However, it's likely that McFaul knows far more about Rykov and the Kremlin propaganda machine than he is at liberty to publicly discuss. He has, however, officially branded Rykov as a Russian state sponsored agent. And his instant reaction on Twitter to Trump's electoral victory (which he shortly deleted for no specified reason) left no doubt as to Russia being the key the deciding factor in the election: "Putin intervened in our elections and succeeded. (Well done.)"



In the long running McFaul-Rykov feud, it was Rykov who appeared to have gotten the last laugh.


***
In the pre-dawn hours of November 9, 2016, supporters of Donald Trump gathered at the Union Jack Pub in central Moscow, just several blocks away from the Kremlin and Red Square. Customers were decked out in the navy blue Trump-Pence hats and t-shirts that had just arrived days before. Maria Katasonova--always a friend to the cameras--was there, as was Mikhail Kovalev. Also in attendance was Artem Klyushin--who partied hard with Donald Trump during his 2013 Miss Universe pageant visit--although he was without Yulya Alferova, his ex-wife who talked up Trump on Twitter on Election Day 2012 and then went on to personally talk business with Trump in 2013. An author named Cyril Benediktov hawked copies of his Russian language book Black Swan, featuring an ominous looking photo of Donald Trump on the cover. The most curious attendee of them all was Jack Hanick, an original founder of Fox News and friend to Sean Hannity who had moved to Moscow to start his own media company, Tsargrad; Hanick spoke about how both Russia and Trump sought to embrace Christian principles and regain their respective "moral compass".

The purpose of this early morning soiree was of course to celebrate the election of Donald J. Trump to the U.S. presidency, and it was organized--and publicized via Facebook (complete with a mock invite to Michael McFaul)--by none other than Konstantin Rykov.

Partygoers were greeted at the door with the "Triptych", a three paneled painting featuring highly idealized portraits of Marine La Pen, Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin all stoically looking off into the distance. Televisions inside the British styled pub blared live election coverage from CNN and other western outlets as the results from states rolled in.

A video posted to Youtube several weeks later would capture the mood at the bar that night. As more and more states were called in Trump's favor, enthusiasm of the crowd grew and grew. At one point, Katasonova grasped a fellow supporter's hand in anticipation as results were announced, her eyes watering in tears of unbelief.

And then, at a little after 3:00 in the morning Eastern standard time--or 11:00 a.m. Moscow time--the news everyone had been waiting for came across the television screens; Donald Trump was officially projected to become the 45th President of the United States.

The pub erupted in jubilation. Dmitri Drobinski--a self-described "political scientist" and close associate of Rykov's--exclaims (in English, no less): "We've done it! We've fucking done it!" Drobinski and another supporter named Egor Kholmogorov rise from their seats, and then out of a darkened corner of the bar, like a star actor returning to stage after a curtain call, Rykov emerges wearing a black hoodie jacket over his Trump-Pence t-shirt. Klyushin--who would tweet "For once, I am amazed at the genius of Rykov"--cuts across in the background. Drobinski, Kholmogorov and Rykov meet and embrace, and then break out into song. Fittingly, in this English themed pub, it's from a British band; it's the well-known, often-sung celebratory refrain from Queen's "We are the Champions."

Even approaching two years since the election of Donald Trump, it's still not completely clear how to view Konstantin Rykov. Is he a brilliant mastermind who weaponizes propaganda and shakes up Western political landscapes all for the glory of Mother Russia? Is he nothing more than a self-important braggart who tells big fish stories over the internet? Or is he somewhere in between? That has yet to be determined. Whether his name--or the name of his cohorts--will be mentioned at all in the Mueller investigation is still unknown.

Regardless, it is undisputable that for Rykov, the four-year journey between November 2012 and November 2016 was as remarkable as it was tumultuous: from openly pondering Donald Trump's state of mind on Election Day 2012, to launching subversive social media campaigns in Scotland and France; from the imposition of sanctions against Russia in 2014 for its actions in Ukraine to the development of psychometric tools for Cambridge Analytica; from his online sparring with Ambassador Michael McFaul to his bitter fallout with his former friend Anton Nossik; and ultimately ending up in the morning hours of November 9, 2016 at Moscow's Union Jack Pub, watching Donald Trump "smash America as we know it."

The singing that morning from Rykov and Company was loud, and the message was clear. "We are the champions of the world....."



Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Wed May 2, 2018, 11:27 AM (4 replies)

PART FOUR: Assessing Russian propogandist Konstantin Rykov's pro-Trump "confession"

**PART ONE can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210416264

**PART TWO can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210416302

**PART THREE can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210430029

“Trump will smash America as we know it, we’ve got nothing to lose."--Konstantin Rykov, as reported in The Economist, September 8, 2016.

https://www.economist.com/news/europe/21706541-kremlin-prefers-trump-victory-its-feelings-are-mixed-brazen-meddling



The dubious-minded question asked by the Washington Post's Avi Selk--regarding Seth Abramson having brought Konstantin Rykov's purported Facebook confession to light--is a fair one: "Would those involved in a Kremlin-orchestrated plot to put Trump in the White House really spill the beans unprompted on Facebook?"

A fair answer might be that people with only a casual familiarity with Rykov have a flawed understanding of who he is and what type of mindset consumes him. By all appearances, Rykov seems to be a denizen of the dark web, running brothels and orchestrating subversive influence campaigns over social media. In the West, such individuals are counter-cultural and steadfastly do all that they can to shield their privacy, deeds and their very identities from open scrutiny and legal liability.

Rykov, however, is not operating out of the West. Rykov is operating out of Russia for the express purposes of furthering Russian interests.

In sum, Rykov's mindset is more of Al Qaeda than it is Anonymous.

In the end, Rykov is a Russian Ultra-Nationalist, no more and no less. Looking over his social media postings, he professes a steadfast loyalty and enthusiasm towards the Russian state, both pre- and post-Soviet. The fact that his personal hero is Yuri Gagarin should not be ignored; Gagarin's historic first spaceflight--beating the Americans to the punch--arguably represented the pinnacle of scientific achievement during the Soviet years and was a huge matter of civic pride. And Rykov has been known to exhibit legitimate displays of Russian patriotic fervor; when the Russian ambassador to Turkey was gunned down in December 2016, he angrily proclaimed about those involved in the plot, "You are fucking dead!"

And when protests against Vladimir Putin erupted in Moscow in 2011 (which were openly praised by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton), Rykov declared, "I've counted my cartridges. I have three clips. I'll take 30 or so liberals with me. I want to die for Russia tomorrow."

Konstantin Rykov is by nature an extremist, and while in the years following September 11th Americans have been trained to think of extremists as being stodgy, uptight religious fundamentalists , there is nothing that prohibits extremists of displaying the more casual, tech savvy "anything goes" attitude that young Silicon Valley tech gurus or internet hackers might display.

But most importantly, not only is Rykov an extremist, he is a state-sponsored extremist. He is a ally--and arguably a direct agent--of the Kremlin who is doing the express bidding of the Russian government. Accordingly, so long as he stays within his Russian safe space, he can act with full impunity and without any type of repercussions whatsoever. Given the kleptocracy that surrounds Russia, Putin's government is not going to suddenly crack down on the people who act to advance its interests.

So when one views Rykov as an extremist, one should consider that most extremist organizations thrive not on keeping their deeds secret, but boasting of their actions in furtherance of their agenda (e.g. ISIS claiming responsibility for a terrorist act).

One illustration of Rykov's zeal to punish perceived traitors to the Russian regime would be how in December 2015 he bragged over Facebook of having infiltrated the offices of the Echo of Moscow, a private media venture that has been critical of the Kremlin at times. Rykov claimed that people working on his behalf had gained access to emails and electronics of Echo staff and as a result numerous persons employed there would be subjected to further prosecution. While such violative actions in the United States might be considered unfathomable, in Vladimir Putin's Russia Rykov was given free rein to do his tricks.

The bottom line is that Konstantin Rykov has no incentive to conceal or hide his activities, and every incentive to brag about them in furtherance of his mission.

But what strikes one most about Konstantin Rykov is the paradox that surrounds him. Here we have someone who is not afraid to openly boast about his exploits for Mother Russia in full detail, but someone who keeps his own personal life a close, guarded secret. On his social media pages, you'll not find any pictures of his children, romantic partners, parents, or virtually any other significant individuals in his personal life apart from his work partners. One can find only tiny breadcrumbs of details of Rykov's personal life on the internet.

So who is Konstantin Rykov?



According to his Wikipedia page, he was born May 27, 1979. Naturally, this means he grew in the socially turbulent times where the Soviet Union collapsed and was replaced by the Russian Federation, and on Facebook he spoke fondly of his days as a member of the Soviet youth Pioneer program.

It's not clear who Rykov's parents were. Interestingly enough, there was an Oleg Rykov who worked for the KGB in the 1980s developing computer systems for the Soviet government and later butted heads with Mikhail Lesin (a Russian government official who died in the US in 2015 under suspicious circumstances). However, with Rykov presumably being a fairly common surname in Russia, it's impossible at this point to see if Konstantin is of any relation to Oleg.

Rykov claimed on Facebook his first job was at the age of 10, where he sold candy and cigarettes to people on the streets of Moscow. As the Daily Dot profile on Rykov's Dosug online prostitute service mentioned, Rykov visited the United States around 1995 and by 1998 he was already making a name for himself as being a key figure of the development of the internet community in Russia.

Based on his Facebook posts from 2012, Rykov has/had either a wife or romantic partner named Maria ("Masha" ), although it's unlikely that it's the same Maria as Maria Katasonova, his far younger partner-in-crime in social media activities in recent years. He has at least two children, a daughter named Katya and a son who was born in November 2012. He also has referenced having a younger brother in his social media posts.

One surprising fact about Rykov is that he claims to have authored a children's book titled The Invisible World. Related artwork on Rykov's Facebook page reveals the protagonist of the book to be a young girl with colorfully braided hair. Rykov also professes to be a fan of numerous western-produced television shows such as House of Cards and Game of Thrones.

But as humanizing as this all might seem for Konstantin Rykov, one cannot put aside his inherent extremist nature and unsavory aspects of his business. There is no better example of this than the volatile nature of his relationship with a former associate by the name of Anton Nossik.

***

On the surface, Anton Nossik was the exact opposite of everything Konstantin Rykov was. He was an observant Jew who spoke fluent English and fashioned himself as an intellectual and a liberal. He hardly seemed like someone who would pair up with a fervent Russian ultra-nationalist, but from the time they started working together in 1998 all the way through the following decade, the two were as thick as thieves.

Together, Rykov and Nossik helped develop the network of Russian bloggers who would weigh in on Russian news and policy. Nossik's personal blog on the Livejournal blogging website would soon become one of the most popular in Russia. He would become known as the "Godfather of the Russian internet."

As the 2007 Washington Post article on Rykov points out, Nossik helped arranged for funding of Rykov's projects via Putin's domestic policy advisor Vladislav Surkov.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/27/AR2007102701384_2.html

And both Nossik and Rykov were in attendance at the Kremlin for then President Dmitri Medvedev's 2011 forum of "Internet Community Representatives."

However, Nossik and Rykov's friendship suffered a rather dramatic schism by the time 2012 came around. According to a March 2012 article in Open Democracy magazine, in January 2012 Nossik accused Rykov of orchestrating a hack on the Livejournal wesbite and accused him of being used by the Kremlin in attacking Russian bloggers.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/node/65058/author/gerard-toal

Nossik subsequently became more and more openly critical of the Kremlin, alleging they were increasingly involved in a crackdown of internet speech and oppression. He came to the defense of the band Pussy Riot, who were imprisoned for their vocal protests against the Putin regime.

The Kremlin appeared to have taken note of Nossik's advocacy. In October 2015, Nossik authored a blog entry regarding Russian military actions in Syria which essentially advocated a scorched-earth strategy for the Russians, lives of civilians be damned. While undoubtedly a harsh position to take, it was still pretty much in line with the reality of what Russia was doing in Syria. Yet, it was supposedly that post by Nossik--and not the dozens of posts before taking the Kremlin to task for clamping down on online speech--that caused Nossik to be arrested for "extremism."

Nossik was convicted and in October 2016 was scheduled to be sentenced for his offenses. He faced a likely prison sentence of two years. But on October 2, 2016, something extraordinary happened. Nossik's old friend turned bitter rival Konstantin Rykov weighed in on Facebook.

Rykov visciously attacked Nossik as a "professional scoundrel and slanderer, " "Judas," an "envious and vile hypocrite" and said that he had "personally deceived me and betrayed me" numerous occasions in the past.



And then, amazingly enough, Rykov advocates that Nossik not be imprisoned, claiming Nossik "would have nothing to do" in prison. Such a sentiment echoed in the court; the judge in Nossik's case ultimately chose to fine Nossik for his offenses without any prison time.

While that might have been the end of the Nossik-Rykov saga, it wasn't. Soon after the US elections, it appeared there was a reconciliation of sorts between Rykov and his old friend. Rykov claimed he and Nossik had agreed to work on a "joint television project". And on May 8, 2017, Nossik showed up at a party hosted by Rykov and Maria Katasonova celebrating French candidate Marine La Pen as she faced off against Emmanuel Macron in that country's presidential elections.



Two months later, on July 9, 2017, Anton Nossik suddenly died while staying in a vacation house outside of Moscow with unspecified "friends." The stated cause of death for the 51 year old--who on all outward appearances looked to have been in good health--was a heart attack.

To be fair, sometimes a heart attack is just a heart attack. There has never been any sort of formal accusations of foul play in Nossik's death. But in a country where far too many government critics have turned up dead under suspicious circumstances, Nossik's unexpected death has raised more than a couple of eyebrows. And Rykov's bizarre behavior towards Nossik--brutally excoriating him and yet asking for leniency on his sentence, and then making sudden, unexplained overtures towards reconciliation--also makes one wonder how genuine and legitimate the level of Rykov's "forgiveness" towards his Putin-critic colleague really was.

**PART FIVE (CONCLUSION) can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210567386
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Wed May 2, 2018, 11:20 AM (1 replies)

PART THREE: Assessing Russian propogandist Konstantin Rykov's pro-Trump "confession"

**PART ONE can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210416264

**PART TWO can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210416302

The real meat and potatoes of Konstantin Rykov's confession can be found in Part Two, which he posted on November 15, 2016, three days after Part One and one week after the U.S. Presidential elections. Here's the screen cap of the English translation of the confession:




Interestingly enough, Rykov doesn't tag Michael McFaul in this post like he usually does, but given the fact that McFaul was tagged in Part One, there's a good chance McFaul--and quite possibly US Intelligence--soon read this as well.

Rykov begins with a mission statement of sorts, saying "it was necessary to get everyone in the brain and grab all possible means of mass perception of reality", which pretty much sums up the Cambridge Analytica operations he goes on to describe. He also gives us an idea of his ultimate goal, which is to "create a political alliance between the United States, Russia, (and a number of other states) and establish a new world order." While I'll expound on Rykov's mindset later, for now I'll just say this is important because it shows that Konstantin Rykov wasn't just in this business to be a rabble rouser or internet prankster. He had a clear nationalistic agenda in his work.

So Rykov talks about how "it was necessary to 'digitize' all possible types of modern man" and claimed it was Trump himself who sought out "the special scientific department of Cambridge University."

When I first read this, I just assumed there was either a translation error or an error on Rykov's part and he meant Cambridge Analytica. While it had gone almost completely under the radar to that point, before Election Day there had been some reporting of the fact that the Trump campaign (and the Ted Cruz campaign before that) had enlisted Cambridge Analytica's services. However, none of the pre-election reporting went into any detailed reporting on Cambridge Analytica's actual methods in the 2016 campaign.

The first reporting on Cambridge Analytica's methods didn't come until early December 2016 when a German publication named Das published an expose, a month after the election and several weeks after Rykov posted his own confession about his alleged role in the 2016 elections. The Das article (which would remain fairly under the radar until the recent BBC report mirrored most of its contents) was subsequently republished by numerous sources, including by the Russian based Center for Strategic Assessment and Forecasts:

http://csef.ru/en/nauka-i-obshchestvo/499/rassledovanie-das-magazin-kak-big-data-i-para-uchenyh-obespechili-pobedu-trampu-i-brexit-7288

What Das (and later the BBC) reported on was that a professor from Cambridge University named Mikhal Kosinski had begun development of an Facebook App called "My Personality", which utilized "psychometrics" and supposedly was able to identify personal characteristics of a person based on their likes and dislikeson social media. Kosinski was then approached by another Cambridge University colleague, Aleksandr Kogan (a Russian national), who offered his assistance. Supposedly unbeknownst to Kosinski, Kogan was affiliated with SCL, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, and he used the app development from his work at Cambridge University for Cambridge Analytica to create their own programs.

Rykov then continues on to talk about how Trump paid $5 million to Cambridge Analytica for "targeted advertising." This fact--along with Cambridge Analytica psychometric focused work--had been reported prior to the election but had for the most part remained under the radar. Kosiniki and Kogan's roles were not reported on until the Das article came out in December 2016, suggesting at the very least that Rykov had some inside knowledge about the development of the system.

Rykov then talks about the initial actors involved in his campaign. Notably, he mentions both Wikileaks and what he calls "a pair of hacker groups." It's important to point out that it's still unclear what relationship--if any--Rykov had with the individuals involved in hacking the DNC's computers and subsequent leaking of selected material on Wikileaks. If we read his statement literally, however, he identifies a "pair" of groups, and two Russian hacking groups named Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear are believed to have been the culprits behind the hacking attack.

What's also interesting is that subsequent to the election, individuals associated with Rykov created a music video titled "Russian Hacker":



The video features news clips, footage from the presidential debate, and stars Konstantin Rykov's parter Maria Katasonova unveiling herself from a Guy Fawkes mask. The lyrics reference the Russian hacking of John Podesta's email as well as references to Bitcoin and dark money. A full translation can be found here:

https://www.democraticunderground.com/10029892688

Other than Donald Trump, the one person Rykov mentions by name in Part 2 of his confession is an associate, Mikhail Kovalev (who he tags into the post.)



If you look over Kovalev's Facebook postings, you'll find that he's about as big a fan of Donald Trump as you can find. While Rykov's take on Trump could be considered winking and cynical at certain times, there's no doubt that Kovalev has long been true believer on the Trump Train.

What's most astonishing about Kovalev, however, is that he published on his Facebook page what could only be described as a long and detailed chronology of his involvement in Konstantin Rykov's operation. Even more amazing is the date he posted this narrative:

November 7, 2016. Five days before Rykov starts on his own Facebook confession. And one day before the U.S. presidential election.

Kovalev lacks some of the dramatic editing skills Rykov possesses--his own confession is rather long and rambling, with over 3,000 words in total. I could post the screen caps of the post, but for the purposes of brevity, I'll just post the Facebook link, which can be easily translated within:

https://www.facebook.com/kovalev2020/posts/1221546747931019

A few of the highlights:

* Kovalev says he was approached by Konstantin Rykov in July 2015 for what he calls a "secret conversation" about Donald Trump being elected president

* He launches into the up-and-down details of what he calls a "antisystem" underground campaign for Trump

*According to Kovalev, the first major coup of the "antisystem" came on October 17, 2015, when Donald Trump tweets a Washington Examiner article titled, "Putin Loves Donald Trump" along with the message, "Russia and the world has already started to respect us again." The Examiner article includes a lengthy profile on Konstantin Rykov, who it describes as being a "Kremlin mouthpiece." The tweet at issue is here:

https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/655502231719006208

*Kovalav is quick to point out how opinion of Russia by U.S. Republicans skyrocketed during the course of the campaign, with 85% of Republicans viewing Vladimir Putin as a strong leader (compared to 18% for President Obama) and only 27% of Republicans having a negative opinion of Putin, down from 66% just two years before.

*He describes essentially a win-win scenario for Russia regardless of who wins the election--If Trump wins, he would be "doomed to an alliance with Russia for the rapid achievements of his presidency." But if Trump loses, it would still "destroy the system" and the "weakened system would be less dangerous " for Russian interests.

* Kovalev says he was assigned in the project to work on Facebook in order to "seriously hamper the pro-active political environment" while also claiming he was "recruiting supporters."

*Towards the end of the post, he brags that he, Rykov and Maria Katasonova were solely responsible for "creating a wave of sympathy for Trump" before ending his post with a resounding "Glory to Russia!"

* In his very next Facebook post, he claims that Rykov, Katasonova and his next projects would be Austria, France, Germany, Ukraine and the Baltic States. A screencap of the post is here:



Turning back to Rykov's own Facebook confession, Rykov talks about the development of his Russian language website, trump2016.ru (tagline: "Make America Great Again" ). What's odd about this is the length of time and effort Rykov claims is necessary to launch what appears to be a rather mundane website (on the surface, it appears to be little more than a news aggregator listing trending stories.)

Instrumental to the website, Rykov claims, is the development of "a system of transferring tasks and information" impervious to detection from the NSA and other intelligence agencies, "how to make it so that even people who do not speak each other's language could exchange information faster than anyone, understand each other from a half-word, feel the trends and influence their development?"

This part raises all sorts of red flags. Why on the surface would a simple Russian language Trump website/news aggregator need an encrypted means of communication, unless it was actually serving as a front for a far more nefarious and covert purpose?

What's perhaps most interesting is when you consider how the recent BBC investigative piece revealed that Cambridge Analytica had recommended all of its clients use ProtonMail, an encrypted email service that deletes messages shortly after they have been read.

If one looks up the history of the development of ProtonMail, a clear timeline is set:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ProtonMail

The Protonmail prototype was launched on May 16, 2014. It then went into significant beta testing for over a year. Finally, on August 13, 2015, the new and improved Version 2.0 of Protonmail was launched.

What's fascinating here is how Rykov provides the timeline for his own website launch. He claims it took about a year for programming an encrypted communication system. If Rykov started conceiving the website in 2012 or 2013, that means the initial development phase lasted through sometime in the first half of 2014. He then says it took over another year for "tests and revision" of this system. Finally, he says the website itself was launched on August 18, 2015.

Which just so happened to be five days after Protonmail's Version 2.0 was launched. Was development of Rykov's Trump Russia website tied in with the development of the Protonmail system hawked by Cambridge Analytica? And again, why in the hell would anyone need an encrypted communication system for something that is supposed to be a simple website? Rykov remains coy to that extent.

Rykov ends with the teaser that a day after the website was launched, he received a message from "Vladimir Volfovich." Who "Vladimir Volfovich" exactly was remains a mystery. Could it have been Vladimir Volfovich Zhironovsky, the Russian firebrand politician? Perhaps that might be the most logical answer, although it's unclear what role he would have played. Or was it some other Vladimir? Unfortunately, the promised Part 3 of Rykov's confession never materialized, or if it did, it was subsequently deleted, and we are left guessing as to how events unfolded for Rykov from August 2015 through November 2016.

So how much stock can we put into Konstantin Rykov's confession? It could just be boasting, but from an individual who has noted Kremlin connections and whose longstanding reputation has been burnished in playing underhanded games on the internet, there would seem to be a purpose for it all beyond mere bragging.

For now, we can only affirmatively say that Konstantin Rykov's confession speaks for itself, for whatever it's worth. However, an excerpt from the recent David Corn/Michael Isakoff book Russian Roulette, published in Mother Jones magazine seems to suggest that either Rykov or someone along the lines of Rykov was on the radar for US intelligence:


https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/03/george-papadopoulos-claimed-trump-encouraged-his-efforts-to-establish-a-russian-backchannel/
High fives in Moscow. In the weeks after the election, the intelligence community reviewed intelligence previously gathered and concluded by early December that the Russian operation had aimed not just to foment chaos but to elect Trump. As one administration official later explained, “We vacuum up a lot of intelligence that is not exploited in real time. Things sat in databases until queried. Not until after the election did analysts go into these databases and find a lot of stuff that changed the assessments. Plus, intelligence picked up certain Russians high-fiving after the election.”


So what can we affirmatively say that we definitely know about Konstantin Rykov? Here's the basic list:


1. He's a former member of the Russian Duma for Putin's United Russia party.
2. He's maintained close ties to the Kremlin since leaving the Duma.
3. On Election Night 2012, for whatever reason, he was obsessed about what Donald Trump was thinking and solicited input from his followers, including those who would later personally interact with Donald Trump and promote his candidacy even before he officially announced it.
4. Days after the 2016 election, he posts a "confession " on Facebook claiming he ran a social media campaign from Russia with the help of hackers, Wikileaks and Cambridge Analytica aimed at influencing US voters to elect Donald Trump as President.
5. His confession at the very least hints details about the Cambridge Analytica operation not known to the general public at the time.
6. His associate Mikhail Kovalev had posted a similar confession that supports this alleged operation just days earlier.
7. He claims the Russian pro-Trump website he developed required encrypted communication services for reasons not fully known.



That's the long and the short of what we know about Rykov, apart from all the speculation of what he might have done.

And that's the what. In Part 4 (probably my final part), I will be looking into the "why"--who Konstantin Rykov is, why he might have done what he did, what sort of other things he may have done (spoiler alert: there's at least one very suspiciously dead ex-friend), and why his overall motive seems to be a bit misunderstood.

**PART FOUR available here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210567354 **

Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Thu Mar 29, 2018, 04:58 PM (8 replies)

PART TWO: Assessing Russian propogandist Konstantin Rykov's pro-Trump "confession"

**PART ONE can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210416264


For reference, here is the pertinent part of Rykov's confession for this post:




So we can pretty much confirm that Konstantin Rykov is smarter than your average bear, and that by November 2012--when his confession begins--he had already made quite a name for himself over the internet and within the halls of the Kremlin itself.

With that in mind, we can turn to Part One of Rykov's confession, the seemingly off the wall, crazy story about how Rykov--bemoaning President Obama's re-election in 2012--drew inspiration from Donald J. Trump to change Russia's fortunes in the world. (Note that he tags Michael McFaul, the former US Ambassador to Russia, into the post. This is not by accident--Rykov and McFaul have a long history over social media, and I'll try to explain that later.)

The great news is that Rykov's confession references his activities on Twitter on November 6-7, 2012. And the even better news is that Rykov's Twitter activities during that period--at least on his own feed--are still on full public display (and a simple Google Translate away from an easy understanding of his mindset.)

And no doubt about it, for whatever reason, Donald Trump was very much on Konstantin Rykov's mind on November 6-7, 2012.
As Rykov explained in his confession, he was well aware of Mitt Romney (who he described as "weak willed" ) as having just conceded the election.

And while Rykov's own Twitter post didn't indicate any "angry tweets" or "curses", it does show what--and who--he was thinking about that evening.

Here's Rykov's complete Twitter post from November 6-7, 2012, as translated:





So Rykov begins by saying, "Romney (concedes). Congratulated Obama. I wonder what Trump will say? " After a back and forth with one of his followers apparently relating to a bet on the election, the next signficant response is from Julia (Yulya) Alferova, who promptly posts a screen cap of exactly what Donald Trump was tweeting .

Alferova is in and of herself extremely significant here. One year after this exchange with Rykov takes place, it was Alferova who personally met and greeted Donald Trump when he came to Moscow for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant.

A Daily Beast article (containing a denial from Alferova that she personally denied witnessing some of the hanky-panky suggested by the Steele Dossier) describes Alferova's encounter with Trump in detail:


Trump had long been Alferova’s business idol. She read his books, his life story, and modeled herself after him, working in commercial real estate for Crocus Group, developing social-media pages for Russian governors and regional officials, organizing federal and regional events. That day in November, Trump teamed up with Alferova, as if they were old friends. “We talked as if we were equals, and I felt certain we were very much alike,” she said. Trump invited her to have lunch together—Alferova pulled up one more picture to demonstrate that there were just a few men and her waiting for lunch at the Crocus restaurant that day. When she mentioned she was interested in the real-estate business, Trump pulled out his business card and encouraged her to call him when she was in New York.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/she-met-donald-trump-at-the-moscow-ritz-not-that-way



Alferova--who was employed by the Crocus Group, owned by the Agalarovs who hosted Miss Universe in Moscow and later in 2016 pitched the infamous Trump Tower meeting to the Trump campaign--would be pictured close at Trump's side during the 2013 pagaent, along with her then husband, Artem Klyushin. (Klyushin--who's worth another thread on his own--was also friends with Rykov and the Agalarovs and has boasted on social media as well as to his own efforts in getting Trump elected.)

Here's Alferova with Klyushin living it up with Trump in 2013:


(There are several other photos of Trump with Alferova, some with Klyushin, some with both, etc.)
Alferova's Twitter postings also seem to confirm that politics and "the influence of social media" were very much a matter of discussion while Trump was in Moscow in 2013:



Notably, Alferova would soon take to Twitter--including on her English language account--and start heavily promoting Donald Trump as a Presidential candidate, long before Trump's official announcement.

https://twitter.com/alferovayulyae/status/426103699572678656

The next significant reply to Rykov comes from a follower, Alisia Gera, who promptly tags Trump's twitter handle to the conversation. This means that plausibly--although perhaps unlikely--Trump could have been keyed into Rykov's conversation, although him doing so would probably have required a translator since this was in Russian.

The next response from Andrey Shishkin is rather eyebrow-raising, where Shishkin suggests that Trump somehow engage in a ransomware scheme for "personal data" for $10 million dollars. This might be just a joke from Shishkin, but it might just also be perhaps the opening salvo into Russian hacking efforts into Trump's political opposition.

The final response of note comes from Alexey Petrukhin, who is actually a fairly well known filmmaker in Russia and has actually done work with some non-Russian actors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan. Like Gera, Petrukhin retweets Trump's handle into the situation and quotes Trump as demanding a march on Washington, language that Rykov was sure to quote in his confession.

So, according to Rykov--and this is the part that stretches his credibility for most everyone--Donald Trump personally responds to Rykov via DM over Twitter and provides a simple picture of him smiling and giving a thumbs up, which Rykov took as a sign that Trump should be the center of his next great online campaign. He attaches the picture at issue at the bottom of Part One of the confession.

Now, as other people on the internet has pointed out, this picture does not appear to be originally intended for Rykov but was actually posted on Melania Trump's Instagram account shortly before the results of the 2012 election were announced.

Does that rule out the possibility that Trump, seeing his name being discussed by this group of Russians, sent the picture off to Rykov as a goodwill gesture? No. And as we have seen, Trump will sometimes respond to and retweet the most obscure and even most offensive corners of the internet. Case in point: He retweeted someone with the Twitter handle @WhiteGenocideTM.

Twice.

That being said, it still sounds a bit far-fetched for Rykov to claim a direct interaction with Trump on Election Night 2012. But at this point, it's beside the point. Because beyond Rykov's Twitter post from November 6-7, 2012, we also have his Instagram posts from the same exact time period. And guess what image pops up:



As you can see, the caption reads quite plainly, "Donald Trump, America will be free."

A second Instagram posts shows a screen cap of the election results and cryptically says, "Powerful screenshot. Save as a memory."



Remember, all of this is in November 2012. By November 2012, Trump's Birther-fueled flirtation with a presidential run a year and a half before had long been forgotten by most Americans. For most Americans, Trump was still considered a joke and a carnival barker. He was the host of The Apprentice, a heavily edited reality show full of B-list celebrities performing comical tasks in an effort to avoid being "fired" by Trump. He was the namesake behind a handful of casinos and golf properties and a long line of failed, fly-by-night products like steaks, vodka, and a sham "University."

So on November 6, 2012, Donald Trump was probably on the mind of very few Americans as they watched the election results. They had long sinced moved on.

However, as these posts show, Donald Trump was very much on the mind of Konstantin Rykov on November 6,-7, 2012.

And this incontrovertible evidence demands the question: Why was Donald Trump very much on the mind of Konstantin Rykov on November 6,-7, 2012?

**CLICK HERE TO GO TO PART THREE: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210430029
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Mon Mar 26, 2018, 12:14 PM (9 replies)

PART ONE: Assessing Russian propogandist Konstantin Rykov's pro-Trump "confession"

***NOTE: THIS IS A LONG READ (perhaps my longest post ever at DU) BUT ONE I THINK IS WELL WORTH IT***

Last July, in the midst of searching for some other interesting Trump connections, I stumbled across what could only be described as an astonishing piece on Facebook:

https://www.democraticunderground.com/10029322103

In short, it was a boastful confession just days after the November 2016 elections from a Russian named Konstantin Rykov, claiming that over the course of four years, he helped develop an online campaign from Russia with one goal in mind: to get Donald Trump elected as the US President.

Here are screencaps of the confession, translated into English from the original Russian:






The way Rykov describes it, it's almost literally too unbelievable and too crazy to be true. The claim that he supposedly received a Twitter message on Election Day 2012 encouraging him to engage in this massive effort to get Donald Trump stretches the limits of credibility.

However, as the Mueller investigation has progressed, and we have learned more and more about intelligence findings as to how Russia was working behind the scenes with entities such as Wikileaks and Cambridge Analytica to shift the electoral landscape in favor of Trump, there are portions of Rykov's confession which definitely seem to have been confirmed by the facts around us.

I wanted to take a little time to analyze Rykov's claims and see how they jive against the facts and what we know and have recently learned. Because Rykov's confession offers so much, I figured I would break up my analysis into at least three parts, with the first part focusing on who Rykov is, the second about his seemingly wild, fantastical tale about Election Day 2012, and the third part his description of the scheme itself in the face of what we now know.

In a December 2017 profile of attorney turned Twitter pundit Seth Abramson--who has picked up heavily on Rykov's confession--Washington Post writer Avi Selk took a rather skeptical take on the Rykov confession story:


But these facts are sprinkled into his threads with more fantastic sounding claims. Read deep down into Abramson’s Twitter feed and you’ll find what he describes as a “confession” from a “Kremlin agent,” who detailed a five-year plot to help Trump win the election in a public Facebook post.
It’s dramatic stuff. But would those involved in a Kremlin-orchestrated plot to put Trump in the White House really spill the beans unprompted on Facebook?
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2017/12/06/people-cant-stop-reading-a-professors-theory-of-a-trump-russia-conspiracy-true-or-not/?utm_term=.fef6a9b93565


However, what's important to recognize about Konstantin Rykov is that he's not just some completely random Russian guy who would have been in no position to run an operation like the one he claims he did. Konstantin Rykov isn't simply the town drunk who rambles on about all the things he claims to have invented and all the famous people he knows.

Rykov's resume reveals that he has some very serious credentials, long before the events he describes in 2012 took place. For example:

* He served as a member of the Russian Duma (the Russian parliament) for Putin's United Russia party from 2007 through 2011

* His presence on the internet had long been known at that point. He had run online PR for numerous political campaigns and candidates, and had also been involved in the creation of various "dark web" websites, most notably Dosug.ru, a sex ap that was once described as "Uber for prostitutes": https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/dosung-dark-net-russian-brothel/

*None less than the Washington Post back in 2007 had specifically identified Rykov as an instrumental player in pushing pro-Kremlin propoganda over social media, as they described in this article "Kremlin Seeks to Extend Its Reach to Cyberspace": http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/27/AR2007102701384.html

*As the 2007 Post article notes, Rykov was the creator of his own online newspaper, Vzglyad ("View" ) and on social media would frequently cite to Vzglyad pieces during the 2016 US Presidential Campaign.

*In 2011 Rykov was invited by the Kremlin to attend a conference for "Internet Community Representatives". The conference was personally hosted by then- Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. In a photo published on the official Kremlin website, Rykov is seen here pictured on the right:



*Also in 2011, Rykov made headlines when his Twitter post calling longtime Putin critic Alexey Navaly (at the time imprisoned) a "cocksucking sheep" was re-tweeted by Medvedev. The incident even caught DU's attention at the time: https://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php/http/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=102x5082877

*As reported by independent journalist Scott Stedman, Rykov was deemed by Vladimir Putin himself a "trusted confidant" of the Kremlin: https://medium.com/@ScottMStedman/kremlin-propagandist-who-claimed-he-coordinated-with-trump-team-was-previously-appointed-as-putins-2dc5f83298e5

So the notion that Rykov was just some random Russian braggart with no significant connections to either the Kremlin or the workings of the Internet is something that should be immediately be put to bed.

**PLEASE GO TO PART TWO HERE: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210416302
Posted by Tommy_Carcetti | Mon Mar 26, 2018, 12:06 PM (13 replies)
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