#KremlinLeaks: On Crimean money-laundering and on the release of LifeNews “journos”

Next in our series of excerpts from the confidential analytical reports is a segment from the week of May 25th, focusing on that week’s trip by essentially the whole Russian government to Crimea.

Before reading this short report, I would like to remind you of something I wrote about last month. A leading Russian economist, whom I met in Moscow in April, shared his views that Putin is trying to bring as many Russian government members and oligarchs into the “sanctions list”, in order for him to be sure they would never betray him and “flee” with their capital. In return, he was going to offer them “stealing opportunities in the new territories like there’s no tomorrow”.

Curiously, this same thesis is being presented in the following confidential report, written on June 2nd.

* * *

“On the sudden descent of the entire Government of the Russian Federation into Crimea and its causes”

“According to experts, last week the majority of the members of Russian Government arrived in Crimea. First of all, Dmitry Medvedev flew to Crimea on May 23 evening and stayed there until May 26, combining recreation and work. Experts note that the Prime Minister trip to Crimea was politically motivated. Putin decided to send a signal to the newly elected president of Ukraine Poroshenko that no concessions are possible on this issue, as a matter of principle.

For this reason, it was necessary that on the very day of the presidential elections in Ukraine, the second person of the state was in”occupied” Crimea. At the same time, the Russian President remained in Sochi.

On Monday, when Poroshenko received congratulations on his election as President and made a statement of intent to return Crimea into the Ukraine, more half of the members of the Government of the Russian Federation arrived to meet Dmitry Medvedev in the (Crimean) Republic: deputy chairmen Shuvalov, O. Golodets, A. Dvorkovich, Dmitry Kozak, D. Rogozin, Yuri Trutnev, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsov, Ministrer of Education Dmitry Livanov, Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov, Russian Finance Minister A. Siluanov, Minister of Health of the Russian Federation Vladimir Skvortsov, the head of the Ministry of Transport M. Sokolov, head of the Ministry of Labor M. Topilin.

However, this was not the end of it. Experts report that the President of the Russian Federation ordered to accelerate the integration of socio-economic systems of the Crimea into Russia and accomplish this prior to the September elections.

* * *

Experts report that the officials of the Government of the Russian Federation met the increased work-load without enthusiasm and did not like the need to solve real problems relatingto Crimea. In addition, they fear that regular trips to the Crimea and actively participating in projects in the republic may lead to their inclusion in the list of those for which the West imposed sanctions. In the White House, some high-ranking officials informally complain that Russian President is doing everything to “entangle” as many members of the Russian government in the the Crimean topic (and generally in the “Ukrainian crisis”).

Against this background, the only activity is shown by Dmitry Kozak, who is trying to put under his full control all development funds allocated to the republic, especially on infrastructure projects, attempting to turnCrimea in fact nto a second Olympic construction. In order to create conditions for laundering the money of the “St. Petersburg group”, he insists on the active of foreign companiesparticipation in various investment and infrastructure projects. Since no Western company is ready to directly participate in such projects (due to the Internationally disputed status of Crimea), he has to rely on the involvement of Chinese capital, as well as possibly Turkish. Meanwhile, the plan is to spark interest amongstWestern companies in various gray schemes, which are easy to implement on unrecognized territories, especially if the act through the intermediary role of offshore subsidiaries.

According to our experts, while in Crimea, officials were more eager to discuss political, rather than economic developments. In particular, they discussed theversion of events leading to the release of Russian journalists from LifeNews, which is informally spread by [Medvedev press-attache] Natalia Timakova, as well as the signing of the Eurasia Union contract in Astana

Regarding the release of the journalists, the main reason that prompted the President to take decisive action and send to Kiev a mixed team of high-ranking representatives of the Chechen and Russian security forces, was the fact that there were advanced negotiations between OSCE reps and the Ukrainian authorities. When it was reported to Putin that the Ukrainian authorities were ready to release the journalists, and that such release would present in a positive light the OSCE, against the background that the Russian President had not taken sufficient efforts to free Russian citizens, it was decided to rush Kadyrov with a special mission to Kiev. In order to make the Ukrainian authorities more accommodating in the negotiations, a mobile group of Chechen militants penetrated the border into the East of the country, and took captive several significant ATO members from amongst the leaders of Ukrainian punitive battalions.”

[To be continued…]

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