Why is the Kremlin and the White House working overtime to cover up something, if nothing is going on?
“Sechin’s Chief of Staff Killed in Downtown Moscow” flashed the headline on Life.ru, a popular online Russian news site at 2:36 PM on Dec 26, last year. It caught the eye of Christo Grozev, a Russian security expert based in Vienna. He immediately tweeted:
By my count, this is the first time an FSB general has been murdered in Russia.
— Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) December 26, 2016
The circumstances were suspicious, to say the least. General Oleg Erovinkin’s body was found slumped over in the back seat of his chauffeured black Lexus parked in an alleyway in Moscow’s Chinatown district. The official cause of death: heart attack. No-one really believes that. The general’s body was quickly taken to the FSB morgue ensuring the real cause of death could remain a mystery forever.
Before his untimely death, General Erovinkin had an auspicious career within Russian Intelligence. First in the KGB, then in its successor agency FSB. Vladimir Putin handpicked him as Chief of Staff to his deputy, Igor Sechin. When Sechin was promoted to run the massive state-run oil company, Rosneft, Erovinkin followed him.
As the general’s body lay dead in that Lexus, Putin launched a massive crackdown on a CIA spy-ring operating inside his FSB, arresting four Russians on suspicion of treason – more specifically, for leaking information to the CIA on how the Kremlin interfered in the November US presidential elections. (I wrote about it in my post, “High Treason in Moscow“.) The timing of the arrests, so close to Erovinkin’s death, may be coincidental or it may hint at why he was murdered.
Christo Grozev, the Russian security expert who tweeted his surprise at the general’s death, believes Erovinkin was also leaking information to a foreign agent, ex-MI6 Spy, Christopher Steele, who compiled the explosive yet uncorroborated dossier of ‘kompromat’ and contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign, published by Buzzfeed.
In that dossier, Steele revealed, among many other salacious details, a high level meeting took place in Moscow between Sechin and then Trump campaign foreign affairs adviser, Carter Page and Igor Diveykin, a high–ranking Russian intelligence official. Page denies the meeting took place calling the accusations, “absolute garbage” but Erovinkin would have been well-placed to know the high-level meeting took place. He may have even been there. (I wrote about this in my post, The Russia House.)
Now, CNN is reporting that intelligence officials have been able to confirm some of the conversations, people and places outlined in Steele’s dossier. Although CNN says it can’t confirm the content of the intercepted conversations, the Intelligence sources could be hinting they have evidence this meeting took place.
Erovinkin’s death and the Kremlin’s arrest of four others on treason charges came on December 26, just two weeks after jaw-dropping conclusions by 17 US intelligence Agencies, that Russia had intervened in the US elections in support of Donald J. Trump. It seems likely the Kremlin was plugging the leaks which prompted the unanimous findings by the Intelligence Community. It’s also possible Moscow was trying to protect the soon-to-be President of the US. Why else would you eliminate a trusted general on Russian soil?
Just two day after the Kremlin’s crackdown and Erovinkin’s death, President Obama expelled 35 Russian intelligence officials from the US and imposed new sanctions on the FSB. Obama’s actions were a natural follow-up to the Intelligence Community’s findings.
Which brings us to Trump’s National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn. The most powerful person on Trump’s team as it relates to military and security. Flynn has a long-term relationship with Putin which has often raised suspicion. He even sat alongside the Russian President at an RT Network gala in Moscow in 2016. Now it’s been revealed, Flynn’s relationship with the Kremlin runs much deeper.
According to exhaustive reporting by the Washington Post, Flynn spoke and texted the Russian ambassador before and after Obama’s imposition of sanctions. A definite no-no for an official not yet in office. He signalled to Ambassador Sergey Kislyak Russia “could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration” once President Trump takes office, according to the Post.
More damning, are revelations that Flynn’s direct line to the Russian ambassador began well before the imposition of sanctions, according to nine intelligence sources quoted by the Post. Despite Flynn’s denials, the exchange over sanctions seems to be borne out by Putin’s surprising non-reaction to the expulsion of the 35 US based intelligence agents. Normally, these things are tit for tat, but Putin did nothing in response to Obama’s sanctions and the expulsion of 35 agents from the US. Then President-elect Donald Trump called Putin “very smart” for not responding, in a tweet.
After initially denying there was any conversation of sanctions, Flynn now says he has no “recollection if the topic came up”. The facts might jog his memory. It’s suspicious, to say the least, sanctions against Russia’s FSB were lifted on Feb 2, after Trump took office, in what was then described as a “technical review”.
The Steele dossier alleges Russia had been grooming Trump as a potential presidential candidate for 5 years, and had contacts dating back 8 years. While the revelations of Flynn’s connections to Moscow, may be egregious, they may not be convincingly illegal. Or they could be the tip of an iceberg. After all, President Trump says he’s never met Putin.
There’s nothing wrong with President Donald J. Trump wanting to establish closer ties with any country but if the road to his election was paved with deep malicious intent by that foreign entity, that would be an altogether different thing. Former Congressman Tom Petri once said, “as so often happens with Washington scandals, it isn’t the original scandal that gets people in the most trouble – it’s the attempted cover-up.” At first glance, there seems to be a lot of covering up here.