This piece was originally published in EU Today.
The meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, as well as previous events, once again led to the media questioning the nature of the relationship between the two leaders. It should be noted that the actions of Trump himself, as well as of the Russian side, provided additional grounds for discussion of this topic.
So, after his provocative behavior at the NATO summit, where Trump demanded from the allies that they spend more on their defense than the agreed to 2% of their GDP, the American president in an interview called the European Union“America’s main foe.” So, in response to the CBS Evening News journalist’s request to name the “biggest foe globally right now“, Donald Trump named the European Union first – as he claimed, for “what they do to us in trade.” The list of enemies of the American president was not limited to this, and on Sunday, on the eve of the summit with Putin, he reiterated that “much of the media is the enemy of the people,” thereby continuing his fight against the key allies of the United States and the main institutions of American democracy, for which he has more than once received praise from analysts close to the Kremlin.
Meanwhile, during the preparation for the presidential summit, the Russian media did not hide the fact that it was Russia that was leading the way in future negotiations. On July 13, a researcher of Russian propaganda, Olga Lautman, drew attention to the fact that the Russian news agency TASS had already laid out the schedule of the forthcoming meeting, earlier than the American media had learned about it. Another American information analyst, Paula Chertok, noted the statement made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that the summit was held at the request of the United States, while noting the Russian side’s caustic hint about “polite people” – an expression that became a symbol of Russian aggression in Ukraine.
On a wave of all these events, the leader of the Democratic minority in the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said on July 12 that she wanted to know exactly which levers of influence Moscow has on Trump.
“What do the Russians have on Donald Trump, politically, financially and personally?” The Democratic leader asked.
Earlier suspicions that the American president is afraid of Vladimir Putin because of the compromising information that Moscow has on him were expressed by the former CIA director John Brennan. This statement was made after Trump, contrary to the recommendations of his closest associates, congratulated Vladimir Putin on taking office. Assumptions about the nature of possible compromising material were also voiced in the American press a few years earlier. In the famous report of the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steel, for example, it is noted that the hidden FSB cameras recorded the exact nature of the fun that Trump was having with the prostitutes in the presidential room of the Moscow hotel Ritz-Carlton in 2013.
The Russian opposition politician Vladimir Milov believes that the compromising evidence on Donald Trump was being accumulated by the Soviet KGB at least since 1987. He expressed this opinion in an interview I conducted with him for the report “Strength and weakness of Russian special services” in January 2017, shortly after an archival article from 1988 about the visit of Donald Trump to the Soviet Union in 1987 appeared in the American media.
“It turns out that ‘our comrades’ have been closely ‘following’ Trump for over 30 years and the dossier they have on him certainly comprises many-many volumes. In addition, at that time, Trump was married to a Czechoslovak woman who spoke Russian, which also offers good conditions for recruitment,” Milov suggested in his commentary. Indeed, according to the materials of the article, this visit was personally organized by the USSR ambassador to the United States Yuri Dubinin and VAO Intourist, and during the trip Trump met with high-ranking members of the Politburo. Of course, in the Soviet Union, no meeting at such a high level could take place without the KGB approval.
American journalist Jonathan Chait went even further and suggested that Trump was recruited by Russian special services, and Vladimir Putin is not so much his colleague but a handler. Tom Nichols in his article in Politico magazine softened the wording somewhat and noted that it would be more correct to think of Trump not as an enlisted agent, but as an investment by the Russian authorities. At the same time, he spoke highly of Chait’s article in the part where it describes the specific connections between Trump and his entourage with Moscow. In addition, Trump’s long-standing connections not only with Russian officials and businessmen, but with the leaders of the Solntsevo OPG, were described in detail in the investigation by the French journalist Anastasiya Kirilenko in April this year.
Be that as it may, one fact remains indisputable: the Russian special services really do organize observation of every foreigner of interest to them, and this practice was equally common both in the Soviet era and today. At the same time, compromising evidence is one of the favorite methods of recruiting by the KGB/FSB. Let us recall the numerous “Anatomies of protest” and other products of Russian propaganda, whose consistent attributes are recordings by a hidden camera planted in a cafe or in a hotel room, audio recordings of phone conversations, financial reports and other “evidence”collected through total surveillance of both foreign guests and their Russian contacts.
In January 2017, The Insider published an investigation into the methods by which special services film compromising video in hotels. The journalists managed to interview one of the curators of a major Moscow hotel where foreigners often stay, and he explained in detail how hotel employees are recruited, how the maids are instructed to seduce customers, where camcorders are installed, and which units are responsible for “directing” the footage. Of course, such a curator exists in the hotel Ritz-Carlton. In the article, The Insider also talks about how the FSB and GRU officers own whole brothels and use prostitutes to work in salons and saunas.
We managed to find an exclusive source, who personally participated in the search for girls used in the preparation of compromising material. We are talking about the already mentioned in previous articles Felix Kubin – a refugee from Russia, now living in California. During his time in Moscow, Kubin carried out separate assignments for Bashir Kushtov, who is described as a high-ranking enforcer working for the Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev, but who also had connections with the counterintelligence service of the FSB. Then, Kubin exposed some of the provocations organized by Kushtov in an interview with the Russian opposition journalist Alexander Sotnik, after which he requested political asylum in the United States.
Earlier, Felix Kubin told me in an interview how Kushtov asked his acquaintances to make a deadly poison that could instantly kill a person even with the slightest touch or with no contact at all, as well as solvents capable of carrying poison under the victim’s skin. However, this was not the only instruction given by the enforcer to his civilian assistants. In an exclusive interview with our site, Kubin described how the special services selected girls to seduce the necessary “targets.”
“My friend personally participated in the selection of prostitutes – as far as I know, to rope in some governors who were visiting Moscow. I know for sure that the girls were selected to seduce high-level officials and Russian politicians, but, perhaps, to work with foreigners too – I just have not been told about it. The level of girls and the amount of payment depended on the level of the “object”. For Russian targets, the search for girls was conducted on dating sites, on Rambler and other Internet servers. Often, models were recruited. I knew one guy who specialized in models and had a list of suitable candidates. I do not remember his last name, but I know that he participated in shooting porn films “Provincial Stallion” and “Victim of the Hitchhiking”. I remember that different suppliers poached each other’s models, and there was a case where one such “specialist” was almost murdered by his “competitor”, Kubin recalls.
According to him, for lower-level “targets”, girls were recruited from provinces or, in worst-case scenario, from St. Petersburg, so that after completing the “task” a member of the world’s oldest profession would immediately return home. At the same time, for “targets” of the highest level, provincial beauties were not good enough. According to Kubin, elite Moscow prostitutes were involved in such cases, and special services did not skimp on payments.
“The selection of the girls was very thorough. They needed first class, and it could only be provided by women who were paid thousands of euros for sex. We didn’t need empty-headed bimbos, but high-class, intelligent women who could provide such services knew their worth. These women often refused, saying that they were already earning enough. Most likely, they were afraid that they would be killed after completing the assignment, as unnecessary witnesses. Then the FSB tried to raise the price, and the offers reached ten thousand dollars for one time – of course, if the girl was really worth that much. Sometimes girls were told that as a result of their efforts, a person would sign the necessary contract, and then they would regularly receive royalties from this contract. However, many were still afraid, and it was very difficult to find someone, as I remember. My friend boasted that the FSB had allocated him a separate budget for networking with the prostitutes so that he could attempt to persuade them. In especially important cases, it was the price that made the difference” Kubin said.
According to the immigrant, the special services acted not only in those hotels that were under their constant supervision, but they also selected others, especially in cases where an enlisted prostitute had the opportunity to lure the next “provincial stallion” to the right hotel.
“The FSB did not use its corporate apartments for such purposes. Most often they found hotels that were popular with lovers, and in most cases did not even notify the hotel management. Their main problem was installing the cameras, so their batteries wouldn’t go dead. This is exactly what my friend was doing: he would find a power source, or he would secretly connect the camera to a power outlet, he handled the technical part,” Kubin confessed.
In short, knowing the specifics of the tactics of the Russian special services and, to put it mildly, Donald Trump’s propensity for lecherous behavior, it is not difficult to believe that the facts set forth in the Christopher Steel dossier correspond to reality. If we add to this the fact that the Soviet KGB would never organize the visit of an American businessman at the highest level if it wasn’t interested in him, one can agree with Tom Nichols that the KGB, the FSB, and subsequently the Kremlin initially viewed Trump as a promising investment, which, as further events showed, paid off in full.