My colleague Michael Weiss has a an interview with Andrei Soldatov at the Daily Beast from which we can get the following important take-homes:
1. The murderers of Boris Nemtsov were highly-trained because the assassination operation was complex and sophisticated and most likely it was Russian intelligence behind it, not the Russian mafia or returning Russian fighters from the war in Ukraine;
2. Edward Snowden is acting strangely and one obvious thing is his failure to give a single interview to a Russian journalist and to admit that he is under heavy guard.
3. The Russians didn't really help on the Tsarnaevs and the Boston Bombing investigation and the FSB (Federal Security Service or domestic intelligence) don't really want to cooperate with the FBI.
4. The Russians who hacked the State Department and the White House were sophisticated and may have had inside knowledge and might be the same ones who hacked opposition leaders in Russia.
All of these things might seem "obvious" but it's important when they are validated by Russians and put in print.
These are all important messages that we seldom get from the run-of-the-mill coverage of all these topics in the US or Russian press but that's why it's worth picking them apart.
1. The Murder of Nemtsov was Done By Skilled Intelligence Operatives
First, the Russian press -- the in-bed-with-the-secret police press like LifeNews; the more-or-less-free press like RBK.ru and Ekho Moskvy and Novaya Gazeta; and the state loyalist press like Komsomolskaya Pravda have all put out various version of the Nemtsov murder, but more often than not -- even with the independent press -- it works like this:
o an FSB agent or an Investigative Committee investigator or a "law-enforcer close to the investigation" calls up his journalist/regular drinking buddy/curated agent of influence and tells a story;
o the journalist takes out his steno pad and copies it down or -- more likely -- uses ctr-v and ctr-c (the Cyrillic keyboard equivalents) to cut and paste the story directly from a private email into his news story. Walla.
Very few stories have gotten fancier than that, truly. There has been a wide variety of crazy claims about the murder made from officials to semi-officials to conspiracy sites but they've settled down along two lines: a) these Chechens related to Kadyrov did it, but they are just the trigger men/direct perpetrators, the real organizers are their commanders/their relatives/somebody big in a Chechen crime family or b) they don't look like these Chechens and maybe it's the guy Viktor/Yevgeny who is the witness himself or maybe some other people.
None of these stories are very deep, and none of them ever consult experts to see if any of this fits. Russian media has long since learned how to put a range of experts on to news stories, so, for example, if it is a gas pipeline story there will be experts from this or that think tank or if it is a budget story this will be this or that economist but on Nemtsov's murder, there's no experts at all. Either they don't exist, or they aren't talking. The only thing faintly approximate is the effort of former Kremlin aide Andrei Illarionov taking the known weather camera video footage of the murder from Moscow municipal TV (TVTsentr) and matching it up with the LifeNews narrative - and guess what, it doesn't match. Then some other bloggers did the same thing with the recycling of this same witness later by Kommersant -- and also found that it still didn't match up.
So Soldatov's learned hypothesizing about the murder is definitely worth something because no one else has really done that. However, we're left with some questions.
In an interview with Valentin Baryshnikov of RFE/RL on March 2 (just days after the February 27 murder), and in the Daily Beast interview, Soldatov makes the reasonable point that the murder required precise timing and skill, and therefore the people committing it were likely highly trained.
That means they weren't just random people driven by a crime of passion, or semi-skilled returnees from the war in Ukraine, maybe from some ultranationalist group, with a beef with the "fifth columnists" they saw vilified in the press. Or even the GRU, Soldatov tells us in the RFE/RL interview.
But who said anything about the GRU? The GRU takes care of military intelligence and foreign intelligence related to military security and wouldn't be expected to be the agency that would perform a domestic hit. So why mention them?
In the RFE/RL interview, the GRU isn't eliminated because it's not the "appropriate" agency for a domestic hit, it's eliminated because "it doesn't have sufficient training". Huh? Since when does the GRU not have sufficient training to assassinate people?
Russian agents abroad killed the Chechen Umar Israilov in Vienna and Zelimkhan Yanderbiyev in Qatar, for example. That wouldn't be the FSB, as they operate domestically. It might be the GRU if the Russian state reasoned that Chechens are a military threat, say, with Al Qaeda, and need to be eliminated. Could it be the SVR? Or these hits on Chechens abroad could be done by Kadyrov's own personal loyal troops in the Interior Ministry -- in which case they are way outside their legitimate operation zone, but then, Uzbek Interior Ministry are said to do the same thing, and in Kadyrov's case, it might make sense. After all, these "Interior Troops" are the ones fighting in the war in Ukraine abroad -- at the Donetsk Airport, for example, where they were killed -- which is how people learned it was they who were involved.
But the claim that the "GRU doesn't have the training" doesn't make any sense to me, even if it might make no sense for the GRU per se to be involved with the murder of Nemtsov -- although again, perhaps it was by contriving a rationale that Nemtsov was involved with Ukrainians, Russia is at war, at least covertly with Ukraine, and therefore it became a matter of "military intelligence." Stretched, but not impossible.
In the Daily Beast interview, Soldatov discards the reference to the GRU, but still speaks about people who are trained at a higher level than the people who we might imagine to be doing this.
One of the first versions was that Nemtsov could have been killed because of his position on Ukraine by some rogue elements of separatist groups, but I don’t think these sort of people have the training to organize such a sophisticated operation, and the Chechens with military experience also have no such training. Let me explain: The best of them could be close to the level of Spetsnaz [Russian Special Forces], and the average Spetsnaz do not carry out these kinds of operations. As far as I know, the Spetsnaz units have a list of the kinds of operation they’re trained to do—ambushes and military-style assaults and so on. But they are not trained to plan these kinds of sophisticated hit jobs in a major city. It means that the level of coordination present in Nemtsov’s attack excludes veterans of Spetsnaz and people who got a similar training or below—i.e. all kinds of veterans, say, of the conflict in Ukraine or the Chechen Wars. They could only be used as executors of a plan but not as the planners themselves. For this, you need intelligence people trained at a level higher.
So who has the training to plan and orchestrate a murder like this?
Well, we can say two things: Such a high-profile assassination would either be carried out by the mafia or by intelligence agencies. Since there were no high-profile mafia assassinations [in Russia] for many years—the last one occurred in 2004, when a guy on a bike put the bomb on the roof of a car in Moscow—then the version about an intelligence service looks more plausible.
The question remains: Who could be involved in planning of such a sophisticated operation? Some people in the security services are trained to do these things as the Russian secret services since 2006 have been authorized to conduct the assassinations of terrorists abroad. There have been a number of operations, some skillfully executed, for instance when some Chechens were killed in Istanbul in 2008-2009. That’d be the natural choice.
What are the Trained Troops?
But then wait, does that mean that these Chechens currently in custody couldn't be the perpetrators because they aren't trained?
How does that work, exactly?
And why aren't spetsnaz trained to kill people? I mean, isn't that what you do in the army, kill people? To be sure, killing combatants in an armed conflict isn't like making a hit on a civilian, but there are some similarities, and we need to get precise here.
Which exact secret services are authorized since 2006 to conduct assassinations abroad -- and might do them at home, too? A certain branch of the FSB? What?
Chechens in the Interior Troops in fact hunt down rebels or terrorists and kill them in villages and forests. Sometimes they do this the easy, untrained way, by waiting until they are inside their houses with their family, then surrounding them with overwhelming firepower and even armored vehicles and shooting them until they die. Sometimes they let the women and children come out first, then shoot them.
But other times they stalk them into villages and woods and kill them in ambushes. Sometimes there are drive-by hits or rammings of cars and shootings, but usually it's the terrorists/militants who do that to each other/the police rather than the other way around.
So what's different about the urban hit? No trees for cover? That pavement isn't as springy under your feet and you need sneakers?
To me, aside from this elusive question of "training" -- which I want to hear more about from people who have actually been in this training or are familiar with its actualities -- there are three things required of an assassin in Russia:
1. The willingness to kill somebody. That's not an ordinary capacity, and killing someone on a contract or for an ideological reason requires overcoming the normal moral code, so it already takes a criminal-minded person or someone very ideologically motivated or cynical.
2. The ability to shoot a gun. Not everyone even who has been in the army for 18 months is going to know how to do this properly when it comes to shooting and killing a person in the wild on the run, on the spot, as distinct from target practice.
3. The ability to procure the weapon and ammunition, organize the getaway car, and get out of town without getting caught.
Obviously it's on no. 3 that the current suspects --- if they are the real perpetrators -- were not so well trained -- not as trained as the killers of, say, Israilov, who got away and weren't caught.
Of course, on top of these three things, there are the "organizers". These are the people who get guns that aren't so easy to get in Russia as they are in the US; who get money; who get cars; who provide safehouses. Particularly in the area of safehousing that the "organs" would be expected to excel. And yet the houses were all discovered -- if we are to believe these are the real perpetrators.
And that's the disconnect -- on the one hand, Soldatov tells us that the murder as it was executed was very skillful, and yet on the other hand, we have this gang-who-couldn't-shoot-straight who have been caught mainly because of surveillance cameras and the traffic police scanners which are more intrusive than people may realize.
How is it that people who were skilled enough to pull off a finely-timed operation on the bridge in the rain in the dark to kill a man on the fly without tripping the local cops on the beats or the FSO protective squads around the Kremlin or some other forces? Yet weren't skilled enough to get their getaway car and safehouses lined up right?
So either these people aren't the killers at all but are completely accidental -- and some of them are producing alibis -- or there are still "masterminds" somewhere. Except, what did their masterminding consist of, exactly? Hey, if they were such masterminds, couldn't they hide the car better? We're told that the killers bought it from a woman in a Moscow suburb and didn't even bother to change the registration from hers -- although they racked up a lot of parking tickets and that didn't seem to raise any red flags, either, for months before the killing. Does that sound like masterminding?
We're told by the police reports leaked to the press that there are two kinds of bullets at the scene and that creates the impression of amateur-hour -- "they had to scrounge through their pockets" to get the bullets, said one investigator -- because normal, equipped, planned, sophisticated killers would have one of those nice fresh boxes of ammunition with the crisp straw the way Givi at the Donetsk Airport has always had throughout the war in Ukraine.
They also haven't found the gun, and hilarious (or creepily), three guns found in the Moscow River under the bridge so far aren't the gun that used those bullets that killed Nemtsov.
The Feud Between the FSB and Kadyrov
Soldatov also notes that he doesn't buy this supposed feud between the FSB and Kadyrov, that the FSB needs Kadyrov because he gives them leads about ISIS which they are very hepped up about.
All that's true, but it's like the way the US needs Russia for Iran, and then has sanctions against it over Magnitsky and of course Ukraine. The relationship can be...complicated.
I agree it's far too pat the way it's been portrayed, because it's explained to us (in Novaya Gazeta and RBC.ru and Kommersant) as a high-stakes game where either the FSB prevails and reins in Kadyrov and prosecutes the killers or Kadyrov literally gets away with murder.
But it might be more muddled than that.
Certainly so far, however, we'd have to say that the FSB is not winning -- nor is the Investigative Committee. These are the data points for that:
o Bortnikov has not spoke about the murder since March 7. That's a long time ago. Only FSB agents leaking to the press have provided actually very contradictory stories -- some saying it's Kadyrov's people related to Ruslan Geremeyev, and others saying no, it's anti-Kadyrov Chechens run by Adam Osmayev, who is fighting on the side of Kiev. That's quite a diapazon, as they say in Russian.
o the Investigative Committee sent agents to Grozny and they weren't able to interrogate Geremeyev. Indeed, they required Kadyrov's reluctant intercession even to speak to Demlikhanov.
o the suspects are saying they confessed under torture and have alibis.
So, if the theory is that Kadyrov did this as a favor to Putin -- but also as a way to rein in Putin by essentially pinning this on him like it or not, he's winning so far. Only lower-level people are in jail and the real masterminds aren't.
But this in fact may suit the FSB, especially if they're the ones who did it after all.
And that's where I keep coming back to this "training" issue. Isn't the FSB trained in assassinations? Perhaps they haven't been able to keep up their skill set as they did in the good old days of the KGB and NKVD but it's not as if there are no dead Dagestanis or Chechens, you know? And other assorted people who may have gone to their reward via the organs' skills.
But to play the devil's advocate for a moment -- are we absolutely sure that this is a skilled operation? After all, Boris was a big, lumbering target with no bodyguards, right out in the open. While one leaker said that Nemtsov's habits were erratic and it was hard to follow him, that's actually hard to believe. He saw the same opposition friends and went to the same places like Ekho Moskvy, where he gave an interview right before his murder. He had the same apartment and same office where he worked with colleagues. He probably like most people went to the same favorite restaurants and when his girlfriend visited, perhaps in particular had the same favorite haunts. There was only one way for him to walk home to his house from that restaurant. So maybe it was not so hard.
All the spotter had to do was follow him, then call the killer who was idling in a car below the bridge in a parking lot. Yes, the timing had to be precise, but as Nemtsov and Duritskaya were walking slowly up the bridge, it was fairly obvious.
Except here are two important points that we get from the weather tape (if we are to believe the analysis of it):
o The killer did not shoot from the car, but seemed to come out from behind the street cleaner, possibly even jumping off the street cleaner, and then get into the car; he did not disappear down the steps (as was reported initially) -- there is no one on the stepsm
o The street cleaner blocks the view of this right at the time of the shooting -- but only from the perspective of the TVTsentr camera, not from the perspective of cameras right on the lamp posts on the scene.
Could the street cleaner guy be in on it? This is one theory, especially as he had large debts and quit his job after the murder -- so he might have a motivation to be paid off. After one interview on LifeNews, not to be trusted, he disappears from the story. Indeed, timing a murder with the route of a street cleaner takes the cleverness of Yury Kuryakin of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. - so...FSB?
There's another angle that hasn't been worked very well and which I think is an obvious question for Soldatov who will know more than most about the FSO, although this wasn't addressed.
Viktor Zolotov Combines the Interior Ministry Troops (the Chechens' Boss) and the FSO
Could an FSO agent be the murderer? Yes, the job of the FSO is to protect and serve, and not stalk and kill. But surely, to protect leaders of state, they have to learn how to shoot and kill targets. What exactly is the training of those 20,000 troops in the FSO? And we don't know the narrative that people in the Kremlin tell themselves. Maybe they convince themselves that the "fifth columnists" really are a threat and they argue backward from that to justify having agents do thing they don't do normally.
Could Viktor Zolotov, who combines the job of commander-in-chief of the Interior Troops -- the ultimate boss of even Kadyrov's personal army, you know? The ultimate boss of Ruslan Geremeyev? -- AND has the FSO background -- be the ideal person to arrange this, out of loyalty to Putin, for whom he has served virtually as a bodyguard all these years? Is that why he disappeared when Putin did soon after Nemtsov's murder -- he had a cooling off period? Or some other forces challenged him/Putin/the MVD/something?
A rumor was even spread that Zolotov was dead when Putin disappeared -- but then he turned back up alive and well.
The SVR defector Sergei Tretyakov talks about Zolotov and others as discussing plans to kill Putin's enemies. Zolotov was even rumored to say "there are too many to kill." But did they get started on "the list" anyway?
The murder seems to have been committed in the FSO zone, but no one has confirmed that because it's secret information -- so we need a defector to tell us this - but in fact Nemtsov himself, who may have known this information in his capacity as deputy first prime minister said that the area on the other side of the square was in the FSO zone when he discussed the lone picketer arrested by the FSO. Nemtsov called the FSO "stupid" in a Facebook post. Could that have provided some extra incentive to kill him?
No one knows these answers to these questions because there are no fresh defectors nor leakers who might have heard something inside the FSB or other intelligence agencies.But few are asking questions.
The "Not Dadayev" Killer Claimed by Witness on the Bridge
For example, LifeNews and Kommersant leak the story of Viktor or Yevgeny, but then they don't match it with the weather video; and those analyzing the video don't have access to Viktor/Yevgeny to challenge his story. He says the person identified as the killer isn't Dadayev, and yet his description of a man in a black hoodie with an elastic waistband with wavy hair with jeans possibly a size too big in fact exactly matches pictures of Dadayev where in fact his hair does look wavy, he's in a black hoodie with a wasteband and his jeans are a bit big. He also doesn't look that tall.
So basically what's needed here are some other sources who have actually gone through spetsnaz training -- whether in the MVD or GRU or anywhere (a variety of agencies have things called "spetsnaz" or "osnaz" which is also a kind of "special") to say whether they learned how to kill people in a timed, organized kind of way. And we need some others to analyze whether the killing -- at least as it has been described -- was sophisticated or not, and if so, why it was that these people were so easily caught within a week.
If the FSB planned it, couldn't they have given sufficient bullets, and bullets of one type? or did they deliberately recruit some Chechens at loose ends to involve so they could pin it on Kadyrov? Now that takes planning -- making a killing look like people who aren't the real masterminds did the job.
2. Snowden is Acting Odd and Won't Talk to the Russian Press
Now let's look at what's said about Snowden. Yes, it is completely odd that he is never allowed to speak to Russian journalists, even the most loyal, controlled state types, let alone independent reporters.
And that's because any Russian, even a total myrmidon, is going to ask questions a bit more savvy than Americans -- all of whom seem to have developed either amnesia about how the KGB works or whose curiosity about Snowdens' guards has been chloroformed. One can understand that it might be a condition of the very interview not to ask Snowden questions about his guards or his security arrangements. But John Oliver didn't even tell us about the car with the tinted windows and the circuitous routes he took, which is what we got out of some of the Snowdenistas in the past.
It's good Soldatov is highlighting once again the glaring fact that Russian journalists can't meet him -- and that strange interlude with the "Snowden awards" is also mentioned - which occurred after Snowden was featured asking a pre-fabbed question of Putin on a talk-show -- an act he justified even after his own handlers were face-palming.
It's here Soldatov should be reminded of his own enthusiasm about what a "breakthrough" this was at the time for the domestic lobbyists for privacy and against surveillance -- he implied that now a "national conversation" could be opened up in Russia because Snowden has publicly challenged Putin, and Putin had essentially lied in his answer.
Except, from the get-go it was clear that this was going nowhere, and represented nothing at all but a disinformation smoke-and-mirrors, because there can't be any conversation with a president who says there is no spying. It's not like Snowden is going to champion the cause inside Russia, and the Russian Internet technology community is too timid -- Putin caused Yandex to lose millions of dollars of share value just by implying they weren't very loyal because they had a foreigner on their board, and implying the Internet as a whole was an untrustworthy business because "The CIA invented it." Imagine, there's Yandex, the Russian answer to Google, and instead of building it up and taking pride in it, Putin is causing it to lose millions. That's not exactly a setting for a national conversation. I might add that Snowden's "opening of the national conversation" took place just as the FSB was asking Pavel Durov to hand over VKontakte's user data and he was preparing to leave Russia.
Jeremy Duns was all caught up in this chimera at the time; Robert Mackey even blogged about it as a "thing". Of course I eviscerated this because I couldn't believe how people got snowed by it. Now it's all clear it wasn't any breakthrough. Some admission of that would be in order.
Runa Sandvik in Moscow
I still remain with the question I had last year that nettled Soldatov, which is what he knows about Runa Sandvik. After all, he is the one who invited her to take part in programs in Moscow, twice. The first time was in November 2012, just weeks before she actually met Edward Snowden at the Oaha Crypto Party in Hawaii. The second was in April 2014, shortly before Greenwald's book came out, in which he outed the fact that Snowden was the "Cincinnatus" behind the organization of the Oahu Crypto Party and Sandvik had met with him.
A number of us suspected that the crypto kids taking part in the "Spring Break of Code" in Hawaii met with Snowden because they could have overlapped and because Jacob Appelbaum himself brought up the coincidence as a thing that looked suspicious and meant that he couldn't go back to the States or he might be questioned (?!). We were all ridiculed for taking this seriously and probing it extensively although the fact is, Runa Sandvik -- one of the Tor developers along with Appelbaum -- did meet with Snowden in December 2012 before anybody, before Laura Poitras was in contact with him and before Greenwald!
And that's precisely why lots of questions begin to be asked about this -- especially when she turns up again in Hong Kong two weeks before Snowden arrives.
It's my theory that she got an early leak of Greenwald's book, which was floating around, saw that it was going to reveal the Oahu Crypto party identity that would lead to her, and realized she had to wire down a plausible story with Snowden ("a limited hangout") and had to meet with him in person about this and possibly other issues we just don't know about.
Her going to Moscow was certainly an odd thing to be doing as it wasn't exactly in her Tor Project job description nor in the Center for Democracy and Technology description where she briefly worked -- except, oh, Soldatov needed a speaker for a privacy panel. She had come via Skype before; now she came in person.
Did she meet with Snowden? Soldatov hasn't answered if she did or not, although he himself continues to say he personally hasn't been allowed to meet with Snowden, just like other Russian journalists.
Here's another odd thing I'll note for the record -- in the last week, three people have independently contacted me with detailed and even hostile questions about the Jacob Appelbaum story and how it relates to Snowden and details about Snowden's time in Hong Kong. It's as if the Russians -- or some German faction? Or WikiLeaks? -- are trying to see just exactly what people know or don't know so they can tighten up their alibis.
I've even heard some goofs claim that the reason Snowden doesn't speak to the Russian press is because Putin had promised from the get-go that he wouldn't do anything to "sheer this hairless pig" to supposedly harm his "partner" the US. This is utter balderdash. Especially now, with the war in Ukraine and sanctions and the Russians even intercepting our jets. Snowden was never so hairless and the reason he isn't featured may have to do with another practical consideration: his message resonates too much with the Russian surveillance state.
Snowden and his journalist friends don't have a single valid case where the NSA surveilled people wrongfully. But in Russia, there are tons of such cases, starting with Nemtsov, whose cell phone was hacked and spilled over LifeNews to discredit him, and who was going to be featured on NTV, just like other opposition leaders who were trailed with surveillance cameras. When the FSB bugs your phone, it ends up on YouTube, as it did for Victoria Nuland and the Estonian Prime Minister. When the NSA bugs Merkels phone -- if they did so at all, and we only have Appelbaum's word for it! -- we don't know what the hell she said! Difference.
3. The Russians are in the State Department and White House Servers
Which brings me to the White House hack. Yes, it's a hack, and Soldatov, like so many others of the hacker and Internet guru mindset, tries to invoke the specialist's understanding that it "isn't really a hack" because "a server wasn't touched." Oh, nonsense. The definition in the CFAA of a hack is "unauthorized use of a computer." Just because someone uses social engineering to get you to click on something as if "you did it to yourself" doesn't mean it isn't a hack. Of course it's a hack because it is unauthorized access that you didn't wish someone to have. This is basic, and the sophistry that geeks persist with here is just criminally-minded, I'm sorry. It is a hack. It is hacking.
How do they now it's the Russians? Well, they do, but they aren't going to tell you. That's how it works. When you're hacked, you don't tell what you know about the hacker so that you can prevent/catch him better. Usually in these cases Russians give themselves away either by actual Cyrillic letters, or stilted English in the patterns Russian speak, or Russian names, or Russian URLs.
Here, Soldatov -- as with the Nemtsov murder -- tells us on the one hand that it is a very sophisticated operation, maybe even by groups who knew what would work from inside knowledge -- he mentions pro-government youth groups although it's not clear if he means such people were in exchanges in the US -- but on the other hand, those people who hacked the opposition were just wannabees. when he invokes the hack of the opposition, he can't bring himself to say it's the FSB. Here he says that it's kids -- maybe paid for by some government organization -- and script kiddies who are unsophisticated so they write "FSB Squad" on their messages.
Except...if a government organization paid for it, it's still a government-orchestrated hack. And what government organization is interested in hacking the White House? Intelligence, of course, not the United Russia Party which is kind of a concoction anyway. The real FSB is not beyond setting up skiddies in a meta way to say "FSB Brigade" to look like they aren't, really, you know?
4. The Russians have not told us everything about the Tsarnaevs.
Really, the most interesting thing in Soldatov's interview is this:
The first thing we need to understand is that the FSB never tried to tip off the FBI about these guys. The FSB actually requested information from the FBI and the CIA but they failed to provide the reasons for their information requests so the intelligence cooperation went nowhere. Then, after the bombing happened, everybody started to say it’s all about warnings and intelligence sharing. But the Americans saying this fail to realize that the FSB is not very keen to provide any kind of intelligence to foreign services. As far as I remember, only once, in 2003, just after FSB and FBI directors signed a special memorandum of understanding, did the two services conduct a joint investigation. It was a sting operation, in fact. The FSB provided a fake surface-to-air missile launcher to a guy who was caught, but the whole thing was very low-level and unimpressive. It was fake missile launcher. This became a showcase for FSB and FBI cooperation, but it was meaningless.
Do the U.S. and Russia work effectively together on anything intelligence-related?
To be frank, we had some progress in only one field—organized crime. That was more about FBI and the Interior Ministry of Russia. The problem now with the FSB specifically is that they fail to divide their jurisdictions. It would be much more useful to have FSB’s department of counterterrorism to deal directly with the FBI. That’d be much easier and understandable. Instead, there is no division of labor. The main contact person in the FSB provided for FBI to help with the investigation of the Boston bombers, for instance, was Sergei Beseda, the same guy who a year later was exposed by the Ukrainian security services as a Russian FSB general who was in Kiev on February 20-21, 2014, during the Maidan Revolution. This was the same guy put in charge with talking to the Americans about terrorism!
Also, there was a spy story in May 2013 when an U.S. diplomat, Ryan Fogle, was accused of trying to recruit a FSB officer inside the counterterrorism department. It just doesn’t help, and there’s no trust between the agencies.
The FSB allowed the FBI to travel to Dagestan to investigate the Tsarnaevs. But this was politically motivated. The FSB wanted desperately for the Americans to provide support for the upcoming Sochi Olympics. And it worked. Russia got support from the U.S., and from Britain, which offered technical support for security measures in Sochi.
When the FSB is interested in getting international support, they’re happy to do these things, but it never lasts. No one is interested in developing a relationship with the American security services because that could ruin your career if there’s a major rift in relations—such as with Crimea and Ukraine.
Let's fill in some dots here:
o the Dagestani anti-terrorism center leaked information to Novaya Gazeta which I translated last year in which they said Tamerlan met with people who were assassinated by Russian anti-terrorist agents. When were they going to tell the FBI that?
o The FBI chief at the time, Robert Mueller, came to Moscow to investigate the Boston bombers. Ryan Fogle was on the delegation that went to Dagestan. They didn't get very far there evidently. When Fogle tried to follow up with his counterpart on this case, he found himself set up in this ridiculously fake way in which there were a number of odd things. So -- no cooperation.
In sum, there's a lot we don't know about these four serious issues -- Snowden and his guards, the White House hack, the Nemtsov murder, and Tamerland Tsarnaev's time in Dagestan -- and they may come together in one agency or not, we don't know, and more research and probing has to be done on all these topics to shed more light on these subjects. So far, what we have is a lot of admixtures to the topics and it is not clear why.