Prominent Russians Who Fell Off Buildings

This morning, a man named Nikholai Gorokhov fell off a building and lived.

He is a lawyer due in court tomorrow, representing the family of a man named Sergei Magnitsky.

Magnitsky died in prison in Russia in 2009 (under mysterious circumstances) after exposing a Putin-era state-sanctioned fraud ring that allegedly stole $230 million in tax dollars from Russia and laundered some of it in luxury N.Y. Real Estate through a Company called Prevezon out of Cyprus.

Gorokhov was also due in court in the near future, as a witness, in the United States vs. Prevezon. This case is in the District Court of NY, and was being prosecuted by Preet Bharara, until Donald Trump fired him a few weeks ago. The case was brought by Immigration Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and the District Attorney of New York… all of which have been shaken up by Trump in recent weeks.

This seemed like an odd coincidence. And I had an unexpected day off today… so like any sane person, I spent it reading about untimely Russian deaths and weird connections to Donald Trump.

Most of it reads like a paperback mystery or outlandish conspiracy theory. But, if you strip out the speculation and partisan hackery, there are some really interesting and odd things going on.

Three and a half hours into reading, I feel like I’m halfway through the most amazing spy movie I’ve ever seen… but the more I read, the more it’s starting to feel like a documentary I’ll be watching a few years from now.

So here’s a facts-only crash-course in the Trump-Russia connection… I’ll leave out the speculation and ‘dot-connecting’ and I’ll just give you the dots. You can connect them as you please.

Back to our friend Magnitsky. He was working as a lawyer on behalf of a company called Hermitage Capital when he exposed this corruption (which was backed by groups of international journalists and confirmed by the Panama Papers). He died in a Russian prison a week before the expiration of the 1 year term he could legally be held without trial.

He had clearly been beaten, but the official cause of death was listed as Heart Attack. And while the corruption and money laundering he uncovered was not investigated by Russian authorities, Magnitsky himself was tried and convicted posthumously, and without evidence, of some of the crimes he himself had exposed.

This, and the overwhelming evidence of corruption he exposed, corroborated by other international investigations and evidence, led to the Magnitsky Act being passed by Congress and President Obama in 2012. This act barred 18 Russians from entering the U.S. or using U.S. banking systems.

In retaliation, Russia enacted a ban on U.S. adoption of Russian children, and banned 18 Americans from Russia, including former N.Y. District Attorney Preet Bharara.

The Magnitsky Act, along with other Obama-era Russian sanctions and the pending Prevezon case made it very difficult for Russians to continue doing business in the United States… And for Americans to borrow their money.

The owner of Prevezon is a man named Denis Katsyv. Katsyv obviously is not a fan of the Magnitsky Act. So along with a few others, he started something called The Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation, which is a lobbying group in the U.S. And although they registered as a lobbying group to undo the Russian Adoption ban, they spent the majority of their time lobbying against the Magnitsky Act, which included meeting with anti-sanction Republican Dana Rohrabacher. During Trump’s campaign, Rohrabacher spent some time implying he would become Secretary of State.

Katsyv’s lawyers also hired an investigative firm called Fusion GPS and tasked them with digging up dirt on the proponents of the Magnitsky Act (primarily Bill Browder, who had been Russia’s largest outside investor prior to being deported in 2005, and who subsequently hired Magnitsky to help him expose the corruption that led to his ouster — and was later found guilty in absentia along with Magnitsky). Fusion GPS’s CEO, Glenn Simpson, was also involved in attempting to change the narrative on Magnitsky himself from whistle-blower to criminal.

In September 2015, the same Fusion GPS was hired by a “major Republican donor” to dig up dirt on Donald Trump. As Trump looked increasingly like he would win the Republican nomination, that donor backed out. Fusion shopped the project and found a Democratic donor to continue it. They then hired Christopher Steele (former MI6 agent) who compiled “The Dossier” released on January 7th 2017, outlining Russian plans to blackmail Donald Trump.

The alleged “leaker” that cooperated with Steele to compile the dossier is a man named Oleg Erovinkin. He is a former KGB General, and at the time of his death was the Aide, Treasurer and closest associate to Igor Sechin. Sechin, a longtime KGB buddy of Vladimir Putin, runs Rosneft, Russia’s biggest oil company. Obama sanctions shelved a $500 billion deal Rosneft had in place with Exxon, negotiated by current Secretary of State and former Exxon employee, Rex Tillerson.

Erovinkin died on December 26th, 2016. Initial reports stated he was shot twice in the head and found in the back of a car. Russia’s official statement was that he died of a heart attack. The Russian coroner’s report lists “no cause of death.”

The FBI received the dossier well before it was made public. And they were already in the process of investigating Russian interference in the election, specifically into the DNC hacks. The FBI asserted their confidence in Russia as the culprit and cited significant human intel.

The #2 man in the Russian Department implicated by the FBI in the hacking campaign is Sergei Mikhailov. On December 7, 2016, he had a bag thrown over his head and was perp walked out of a meeting and charged with Treason by Russia. He has not been seen since. He is thought to be the “human intel” the FBI mentioned.

A month prior, on Election day, a man named Sergey Krivov was found dead inside the Russian Consulate in New York. Initial reports said he fell off the roof. The autopsy showed blunt force trauma. Russia stated the official cause of death was a heart attack. He ran security for the consulate and was primarily responsible for “prevention of sabotage” and “prevention of attempts of secret intrusion.”

His registered home address was a museum building owned by the Smithsonian Institute. There are no residences there. The NYPD closed the case without a listed cause of death. FOIA requests by Buzzfeed and others were denied multiple times and they were told that records were only available by subpoena. Subsequent attempts to request records were referred to the State Department.

Alex Oronov died of Cancer in Florida. He lived in one of Donald Trump’s buildings. He allegedly helped arrange a meeting between Michael Cohen (Trump’s Lawyer and Oronov’s in-law), and known Russian criminal and Trump Associate Felix Sater, at the request of Ukrainian Politician Andrey Artemenko. This meeting (which Oronov did not attend) led to the formal drafting of a “Peace Plan” that ended up on Mike Flynn’s desk and ultimately led to his resignation, after proof of his meetings with Russian contacts surfaced.

Felix Sater was the COO of Bayrock, and partnered with Trump for 5 years to invest Russian money into international real estate projects after several Trump bankruptcies made it harder to borrow from traditional lenders. At the time, Donald Trump Jr. said of the investments “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Sater left Bayrock in 2008 after the New York Times exposed Sater’s criminal past. “In 1998, Sater had pled guilty to stock racketeering and fraud as part of a US and Russian mafia-connected $40 million stock pump and dump scheme.” Sater then went on to work with the CIA and FBI on black market sting operations.

Trump later hired Sater as a Senior Advisor.

On February 20th, 2017 Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin died, of a heart attack (of course), in NYC. The initial autopsy was inconclusive and awaiting toxicology reports. When press contacted the Coroner’s office for those results, they were told that the State Department (under Rex Tillerson, who had been confirmed 3 weeks prior) had issued a request that the autopsy not be released publicly due to Diplomatic Immunity of the deceased. While uncommon, the request was honored by the NYPD and the Medical Examiner’s office and the results are sealed under the gag order.

There is one other one. Back in 2015. November 5th, 2015 to be exact. A man named Mikhail Lesin was found dead in a locked hotel room (registered in his name) in Washington D.C., with no identification. Russia immediately released a cause of death as, you guessed it, heart attack. Per his family spokesperson “Mikhail Lesin died… His death supposedly came from a heart attack.”

His family did not know that he was in D.C. or why he was there. He had been an employee of Vladimir Putin for 10 years (in the past) and was credited with leading the effort to censor the Russian independent press. He was also one of the founders of Russian state press outlet RT. He was accused of a money laundering scheme in California by a U.S. Senator after purchasing $28 million in real estate there and moving his extended family to the state.

The Washington D.C. Chief Medical Examiner noted head trauma, but listed the cause of death as “undetermined” and suggested an accident related to alcohol consumption.

Earlier that same day (but likely unrelated), a private House Republican Conference was held that discussed and determined several committees and policies. Most notably, this meeting resulted in the appointment of Kevin Brady to chair the House Ways and Means Committee.

However, Kevin Brady has been a regular Trump cheerleader, and has been instrumental in helping shape Trump policy with regard to the Border Adjustment Tax, NAFTA renegotiation, Tax Reform, and most notably, refusing to use his authority to demand Trump’s tax returns.

If you look at any of these situations individually, even with the thin lines that seem to link some of them together, no one situation really provides a silver bullet motive or element of proof that clearly defines a relationship between Trump and Putin. And if one exists, it seems far more likely that Trump is somehow under Putin’s thumb and likely able to be blackmailed as a result of some shady dealings with the wrong people somewhere along the way… as opposed to Trump being some kind of mastermind, or in a real partnership of some sort with Russia.

I have little doubt that something in these connections will lead to an impeachment… and eventually, one hell of a great movie.

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