I fully understand why Donald Trump has praised Vladimir Putin in the past while calling President Obama "weak," "a disaster," "unfit to serve"  but has dialed back his praise for Vlad and Russia lately given current allegations of Russian meddling and influence.  After all, when American banks won’t finance your massive debt why not accept loans from a bank under investigation by the U.S. for laundering money or a Cypriot bank that is run by Russian oligarchs?  And what about that mansion down in Palm Beach bought by a Russian businessman that Trump flipped and gained $40 million in a couple of years?  Not such a bad deal, right?  It’s also been a tad surprising to me that it seems – and I do mean “seems” or “appears” – since there is no “evidence” - that all?  nearly all?  a whole bunch? of Trump’s circle of friends and Team Trump advisors have financial ties to Russian organizations as well as have a habit of forgetting meetings they’ve had with Russian officials?

None of this is very surprising.  But what is surprising is the silence from Trump supporters and voters around the mess that we find ourselves in after Russia “influenced” our Presidential election.  While U.S. foreign policy has waffled back and forth after the collapse of the Soviet Union back in 1991 and the U.S. government has cooperated with Russia on nuclear issues, for example, but by and large the United States does not consider Russia an ally of ours.  Since Putin’s ascension as leader of Russia, there have been disturbing reports of Putin critics suddenly winding up dead in some Moscow back alley.  Or on a public sidewalk. Or in London.  Then, too, it’s been no mystery that Russia has a long history of messing around in its sovereign neighboring states including the Ukraine and Crimea. 

There is the latest case of a Russian agent posing as a reporter from France’s LeMonde newspaper attempting to kill – assassinate – Amina Okuyeva and her husband, Adam Osmayev, under the guise of conducting an interview with the pair.  The husband/wife team is well known in the Ukraine, they are ethnic Chechens, both having battled Russian financed troops in the Eastern Ukraine.  The dapper dressed, French accented bogus reporter, Artur Denisultanov-Kurmkayev, while the three were being driven to the interview site, pulled a gun, shot Adam in the chest a couple of times but hadn’t bargained on the possibility that Amina might be armed.  She was.  As the in-car struggled ensued, Ms. Okuyeva pulled out a gun from her coat pocket and shot Artur, thereby ending the assassination attempt.  All three survived. 

By way of background, Adam Osmayev was arrested in 2012 when the Russian government accused him of trying to kill Vladimir Putin.  He was arrested in the Ukraine but extradition to Russia was blocked by the European Court of Human Rights.  Released from prison after the Ukrainian revolution in 2014, (see below for a fascinating account) the couple earned wide praise for their activities fighting in the Eastern Ukraine to stop Russia’s Crimean style takeover.  Mr. Osmayev heads up a Chechen fighting unit there. 

This assassination plot is only the latest in a series of attempted and successful plots that have played out since Putin became Russia’s leader.

Boris Nemtsov 2015

Boris Yefimovich Nemtsov was a Russian physicist, statesman and liberal politician opposed to the Putin Government.
He was shot four times in the back by an unknown assailant metres from the Kremlin, just hours after urging the public to support a march against Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Boris Berezovsky 2013

Boris Berezovsky was a Russian billionaire who fled to Britain after falling out with Mr Putin. While in exile he threatened to bring down the Russian president by force.
He was found dead inside a locked bathroom at his Berkshire home, with a ligature around his neck, in an apparent suicide.

Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova 2009

Human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov represented journalists (including murdered reporter Anna Anna Politkovskaya) who found themselves in hot water after writing articles critical of Mr Putin. He was shot by a masked gunman near the Kremlin.

Anna Politkovskaya 2006

Anna Politkovskaya was a Russian journalist who was critical of Putin, accusing him of turning his country into a police state in her book Putin's Russia. She was murdered by contract killers who shot her at point blank range in an elevator in her building.

Sergei Yushenkov 2003

Artur Denisultanov-Kurmkayev
Sergei Yushenkov was a Russian politician shot dead as he tried to gather evidence proving the Putin government was behind the bombing of a residential apartment block. He was killed with a single bullet to the chest just hours after his organisation Liberal Russia had been recognised by the Justice Ministry as a political party.

There are many, many more examples. 

There is a New York times piece this morning that describes the fake LeMonde reporter’s attempt to assassinate this couple in the Ukraine. 

So Trump and Trump Team favors a nation that invades sovereign nations because their leader thinks that “they should be a part of Russia” and critics of that country’s leader have a nasty habit of winding up dead and not from natural causes.  This is to neglect Russia’s internal affairs where Putin and his circle of business buddies have virtually stolen the nation’s vast resources and created vast wealth for themselves at the expense of the Russian people.    

Because Putin wields near dictatorial power in Russia, there is no doubt that he will remain in power.  But, for us Americans, the question is: will Trump?

This remains to be seen.

Be Careful Out There In Trumpland. 

PS: There is an excellent Netflix documentary (it was nominated for an Academy Award) about the Ukrainian Revolution of 2014.  It is well worth your time if you’re interested in how a people’s revolution can take place.  It's called "Winter On Fire."  


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