We Need To Talk About Nigel...
While we are now living in the wake of a complex hybrid offensive, an Alternative War which saw Russia deploy a new range of psychological and cyber weapons with the assistance of far-right relationships cultivated over years, this is not a blockbuster movie.
There have been indictments in the US and more will come while, in the UK, we see a long-term pattern of fluffed action being repeated – we're currently responding to an act of war, as defined within NATO, with a Culture Committee and the inadequate system of fines provided by the ICO and the Electoral Commission.
However, there will be no sudden revelation. No photographs of those involved in compromising positions with escort girls swimming in pools of Roubles.
The most we will ever see is a contaminated crime scene, so it's time for a reality check. Russia 101, for the sake of everyone.
"Without even referring to The Moscow Rules directly, the appropriate way to conclude here is to paraphrase Fleming's Goldfinger which nods to them: "Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.""
Russia has never cared for finesse because they have never needed it. They know full well that we know what they did, but they know our responses are bound in rules, whereas their actions are not. This isn't a case of boxing against someone with one arm tied, this is a heavy-weight fighting a toddler. Russia regards the CIA as 'Boy Scouts' and their opinion of Britain is, in essence, that we are little more than a troop of Beavers. Russia taunts and mocks and dares because it knows it holds the cards and always has.
What Russia cares about is you not discovering exactly how they did it, from espionage to poison. The more muddied the water, the better, because it means they may be able to use the same method another time.
Putin's Kremlin was built upon the KGB and the blood of organised crime and they began a cleanup operation at each stage of success. So what we are left with is a bland, forensic investigation which we do not have the domestic capability to effectively investigate.
At least not at a state level, because the stakes for a government are simply too high. Even if they proved it beyond doubt, they are bound by the realities of a disheveled, inadequate defence and a dance of skeletons which would turn from closet-shaking rattles to an earth-quake fit to finish the job Guy Fawkes once failed to do.
If the Whips can take down a cabinet with a small spreadsheet, imagine what the best pro-active foreign intelligence service in the world would have amassed in the way of Kompromat over the years.
So the only response to come is the one hamstrung in part by the crucially successful efforts of Russian disinformation: the media, now marred by the endless yells of Fake News.
But people like me are what we have, and people like us are going to continue to do our best to bring you what trace evidence remains. Journalists are one of the few things Putin's Kremlin fears because we are not bound by the rules of the Boy Scouts, we are apolitical, and the public interest is the only thing we serve.
This is why journalism conferences in Putin's Russia are graveyards. If the truth can't be killed, those telling it can be.
The Useful Idiots:
A useful idiot has long been defined as: “a propagandist for a cause the goals of which they are not fully aware, and who is used cynically by the leaders of the cause.”
The phrase has made it into the Oxford Dictionary Of Euphemisms and has been the subject of much debate in the Dictionary of Espionage – it is derived from the term Useful Fool, attributed without official records to Lenin. Michael Prell, writing in his Underdogma, commented: "The term Useful Idiot is largely attributed to Vladimir Lenin, who reportedly used it to describe Soviet sympathizers among the ranks of Western media and intellectual elites."
Mona Charen, a right-wing writer with a strongly Russian narrative, wrote about Lenin's alleged origin of the term, writing: "Lenin is widely credited with the prediction that liberals and other weak-minded souls in the West could be relied upon to be 'useful idiots' as far as the Soviet Union was concerned."
"Nigel Farage, former UKIP leader and MEP, Arron Banks, UK donor and backer of Leave.EU, and Andrew Wigmore, a Belizian diplomat and endeavour partner of both, are the best known of the Useful Fools in the United Kingdom."
"Though Lenin may never have actually uttered the phrase, it was consistent with his cynical style. And... liberals managed, time after time during the Cold War, to live down to this sour prediction,” she added.
All this sounds familiar these days.
And we do have some specific examples of Useful Idiots. They occupy well-known positions in our daily politics and were instrumental in the Brexit vote before tying themselves more publicly with the Trump administration.
Nigel Farage, former UKIP leader and MEP, Arron Banks, UK donor and backer of Leave.EU, and Andrew Wigmore, a Belizian diplomat and endeavour partner of both, are the best known of the Useful Fools in the United Kingdom.
All of them are currently under investigation or scrutiny in some way or another, in the both the United States and the United Kingdom – whether it be by the FBI under the Mueller inquiry, the EU over funding frauds, the police because of Breitbart payments to UKIP, the ICO over Leave.EU's data use and sharing arrangements, or by the Electoral Commission over their receipt of services from controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica and Banks's own finances.
They are deeply embedded in the establishment of fake and alternative news, proactively working with Steve Bannon – senior in the Trump Administration, Breitbart, and Cambridge Analytica – Russia's state-led outlets RT and Sputnik, and have even created their own platform, Westmonster.
Alongside this, they are also connected through the use of their own social media bots and Russia's, to push their messaging – which also ties them to InfoWars – and will become central in the growing calls for inquiries into Russian interference in Brexit.
Currently they have doubled-down against any allegations of impropriety, suggesting that the Russia angle is a dead-end which will vindicate them, while more closely aligning themselves with the Russia outlets and the Russian state.
These are predictable games, and play precisely to everything we know about Russian tactics for denial. However, it's apparent these particular useful fools are not only cocky but justifiably so: they also understand Russia 101 and the likelihood of escaping a headline-friendly bombshell which will undo them completely.
Thankfully, however, useful idiots are not always as exceptional as they may believe. Time and time again, in fact, we have seen they are ultimately disposable from the point of view of those in Russia who utilise them.
Because of this, it is much easier than it may first appear to make a conclusion as to whether or not they have been working with Russia, even in the absence of smoking guns.
The full statement by Yakovenko, for example, and its use by Leave.EU as part of their official response to allegations of Russian collusion indicates a relationship which extends beyond accidental or a simple matter of mutual appreciation.
It also carried a veiled message, highlighting a distaste for journalists which is recognisable not only in terms of Russia itself but reflected in the rhetoric of Britain's useful idiots many months before the public and parliamentary mood reached the critical mass of now.
And, of course, the connections to Russia for both UKIP and Banks himself have run deeper than just this for some time. By proxy bringing more Useful Idiots into the equation.
As with all things relating to espionage, however, nothing is ever as simple as it may appear. If it was, we wouldn't need spies in the first place.
Banks is married to Ekaterina Paderina, known as Katya. She came to the UK in the 1990s from Eastern Russia on a student visa and in November 1998 met and married a retired merchant sailor twice her own age. With the authorities suspicious of a sham marriage, she faced deportation and turned to Michael Hancock, the Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South at the time. Despite her marriage lasting just three months, she successfully obtained the right to stay and married Banks in 2001.
Hancock denied assisting Paderina with her visa application, but her then-husband made a statement that: “The immigration authorities suspected it was a sham marriage, but then a restaurant owner who had a Russian girlfriend offered to introduce us to Mike Hancock and he said he would help get everything sorted.”
He states they visited the MP at his constituency office in Albert Road, Portsmouth, where: “Mr Hancock asked me if I thought there was any future in the relationship but he agreed to help.”
“I came home once and discovered Mr Hancock in my conservatory with Katia. They looked very cosy and I was very suspicious. I told him I didn’t like him visiting my wife when I was not there and he became very defensive and angry,” he added.
Hancock was eventually dismissed from the Liberal Democrats in 2014, but not before a curious case involving another Russian had been played out.
One of Hancock's parliamentary aides, Katia Zatuliveter – a Russian national - and her friend were questioned by authorities at Gatwick Airport on a return flight from Croatia in August 2008. She had first met the MP in Strasbourg while working for the Council of Europe and began working for him the same year.
Between 2008 and June 2010 Zatuliveter was the secretary to the All-Party Group on Russia chaired by Hancock, which gave her not only access to MPs but a legitimate reason to be in communication with the Russian state. Westminster sources have previously stated she was, in effect, running the Russia group herself – which defined its purpose as to “maintain regular contact with the Russian Duma and Federal Council; to facilitate political exchanges between the two countries.”
According to The Times, reporting at the time of Hancock's removal from the committee: “Members of the group were concerned at Mr Hancock's position after he argued for a softer response to the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB officer who was poisoned with radioactive material in London in 2006.”
Despite Hancock's claims nothing untoward was occurring, Zatuliveter was identified as a potential spy by MI5 when routine surveillance linked her to another person with close links to the Russian Embassy in London. The associate was suspected of working for the SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence service. She was subsequently arrested on suspicion of espionage and detained pending deportation.
Her arrest came just as the Illegals Program, a spy ring of female sleeper agents, was uncovered in the United States. A scandal which involved a confirmed Russian agent and then British Citizen, Anna Vasil'yevna Chapman - who pled guilty to conspiracy to act as a foreign agent and was deported and also banned from returning to the UK afterward. On her return to Russia, she gave evidence against a KGB double-agent and went on to become a Russian media presenter. The spy ring was targeting the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton – details now more pertinent than ever.
Through 2010 and 2011, Hancock robustly defended Zatuliveter, but former Council of Europe's colleagues went on record that through the 2000s Hancock would come to their regular private gatherings with a series of young Russian and Ukrainian women. Witnesses saw his assistants using the computers of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, as password protected system to which they knew the credentials.
During the fallout Hancock denied claims by Mátyás Eörsi, a Hungarian parliamentarian and member of the group, that he had failed to declare all of his visits to Russia, claiming he couldn't count them up as his passport had "fallen into the sea".
Eörsi also stated in August 2010: "He [Hancock] is the most pro-Russian MP from among all of the countries of western Europe. You just have to read his speeches. When it came to debates on Putin, freedom of the media or the war with Georgia, Michael always defended Russia. Among the Liberal bloc in Strasbourg we were all stunned by his position. According to him, Russia really is a fully-fledged democracy."
The eventual case against Zatuliveter collapsed and the tribunal ruled that her relationship with Hancock – which lasted four years – had been “enduring and genuine on both sides.” Her case hinged on a diary, produced on the first day having been “forgotten” about which described her affections as simply immature.
The details, however, are fascinating. She first met Hancock in April 2006, while chaperoning an EU delegation, and eventually succumbed to his requests for her company when he returned to Moscow in June 2006. She started working for him as an aide and eventually passed a vetting-procedure granting her a parliamentary pass in 2008.
When pressed on her intentions, she claimed love at first sight, and when pressed on Hancock's value to the Russian Intelligence Services due to his position, she said: “I don’t know how you imagine a Russian girl would have heard of the defence select committee or what it could be.”
It appears she may have had some idea, as the hearing uncovered she had affairs with two other men in influential positions, one which pre-dated Hancock by two years.
In 2004, chaperoning another Russia-EU conference, she met a Dutch diplomat referred to as “L”. While he did ask her to dinner, on a whim she caught a train to Moscow to meet him, admitting to the Tribunal that she did not tell him she was coming. After they had sex and he had to leave the room for work, she insisted on staying so, in her own words, the diplomat “took everything he possibly could from the room” before leaving.
When her affair with Hancock came to an end in April 2010, Zatuliveter began a relationship with “Y”, a member of NATO staff she met in London. During MI5 questioning, she was shown a picture of “Y” and asked bout electronic correspondence “attempting to extract information” from him about a previous NATO at which then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was present.
“They said they couldn’t care less because I had already extracted information from him and…the harm had already been done,” she told the tribunal, explaining she had called off the affair.
On the balance of probabilities, the panel concluded she wasn't a spy and she was freed.
Oleg Gordievsky, a former KGB-colonel who ran the agency's London bureau before defecting told the Daily Mail during the scandal that Zatuliveter was a “very conscientious worker for the Russian Intelligence Services who passed them the most important military secrets. She caused more damage than all other KGB agents put together. She was the strongest and most useful KGB agent for the last 30 years.”
He concluded she was more effective than Anna Chapman and added: “It is big. For four years she has been making copies of military documents and bringing them to the [Russian] embassy.”
While Banks has always been highly dismissive of any links to Russian spies – and indeed mocked them, not least by buying Katya a private number plate which reads XM15SPY – times have changed and, in fact, have led him through apparent disdain to engender his own direct links to the Russian embassy.
This is where the obfuscation falls away like scales, but before explaining this, UKIP itself – to which Banks is the major donor – has married itself to the Kremlin in other ways during the period spanning from Zatuliveter's arrest to the present day.
Gerard Batten is a UKIP MEP, first elected in 2004. A founding member of the right-wing party, he was the first Party Secretary from 1994 to 1997.
Batten was appointed a member of the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Security and Defence in July 2004, and shortly afterward was also appointed UKIP's official spokesman on Security and Defence. He has been a vocal opponent of the European Arrest Warrant and a supporter of both Julian Assange and Vladimir Bukovsky.
Batten is a curiosity, not least because his name comes straight up on a Google search in an internal UKIP email from 2010, in which he is asked to comment on the Hancock/Zatuliveter scandal.
In of itself, this is expected – a suitably qualified politician commenting on a story – but one source close to UKIP's leadership, who wishes to remain anonymous for security reasons, recalls: “Zatuliveter has met with Batten too. Both of them in his office, in a closed-door session.”
It is unclear whether this meeting took place before or after her period in the detention centre.
The sender of the email, Gawain Towler – once the party’s chief press officer and at the time a senior aide to Nigel Farage – was later the subject of his own scandal when, in 2013, he accidentally sent an SMS to one news reporter saying: “They have called and I expect a snapper and a female journalist (of some form of ethnic extraction) at Piccadilly,” while referring to Kiran Randhawa, a British Asian journalist.
Batten's special interests in Russia are long-standing, as are his direct connections to Russian figures and controversies. He has been close to KGB figures for a number of years and became linked to the Romano Prodi scandal relating to the attempted 1981 assassination of Pope John Paul II.
In April 2006, Batten went on record to identify Alexander Litvinenko as the former FSB officer identifying Prodi as the KGB's "man in Italy" and publicly called for an inquiry. Specifically, he gave evidence that Litvinenko had been informed by FSB deputy chief General Anatoly Trofimov numerous KGB agents were active among Italian politicians. A Brussels based news outlet, EU-Reporter, ran a story at the time, also saying: "another high-level source, a former KGB operative in London, has confirmed the story".
At the time Prodi was running for re-election amidst a full inquiry into Soviet infiltration of Italy during the cold war led by Senator Paolo Guzzanti. Interestingly, the commission was disbanded in without any concrete evidence given to support the original allegations of KGB ties to Italian politicians. One man, Mario Scaramella, was arrested in late December 2006 and charged with libel and illegal weapons' trade, after wiretaps of phone calls between Scaramella and Senator Guzzanti were published by the Italian press. The recordings showed the pair had planned to discredit various political opposition figures through claiming they had ties with the KGB.
Despite Batten's call, Prodi won the election with his centre-left party and, as Litvinenko was dying later that year, the new parliament instituted a commission to investigate the Guzzanti inquiry as it had “manipulated the KGB story for political purposes.”
Scaramella met with Litvinenko just before the former spy met his two murderers.
Since gaining asylum in the UK in 2001, Litvinenko had moved relatively freely, despite an alleged plot to assassinate him which has been documented as being initiated in 2002. He worked with British and European security services identifying Russian state and criminal activities.
Just over six months after being publicly outed by Batten, Litvinenko fell ill when he was poisoned with polonium-210. He died on the 23rd of November 2006 and following an eventual public inquiry, which concluded in January 2016, it was formally recorded that Litvinenko's murder was an FSB operation, probably personally approved by Vladimir Putin.
"Batten's is a story of contradiction and complication. Because of his position, he was well-informed on the risks to any constituent exposing KGB operations."
On hearing the news, Batten told BBC News: “I'm shocked. I'm very saddened at Alexander's death. He was a very likeable man. I got on very well with him on the occasions I met him and spoke to him on the telephone. I think that what's very concerning about this is the accusation that the Russian secret services were involved in this. I had a conversation at the weekend with Mario Scaramella, the man that Alexander was meeting in the sushi bar on 1 November, and Mario was himself in fear of his life. He was going off to hospital to have a check to make sure that he wasn't contaminated in any way, and what he told me was one of the reasons he came over to speak to Alexander is because another ex-KGB contact that he had warned him that his life was in danger, Alexander's life was in danger, and that two other named people were also in danger.”
Batten, squarely, found himself in the middle of what appears to have been a dangerous and bitter war between factions of the former KGB, aligned with central players, and his stances are peculiarly at odds which some of the activities against Russian mafia crime in the EU. Namely the European Arrest Warrant, which was the centrepiece of his relationship with Julian Assange.
Litvinenko had also befriended a number of Chechen exiles while in London and even converted to Islam in solidarity. (He was buried in a lead-lined coffin with Muslim rites).
Batten has also set himself at odds with Islam, however. One example is in his essay published in the November/December 2006 edition of right-wing circular Freedom Today that: “Successive governments have refused to accept the threat posed to our society by Islamic fundamentalism and extremism and to take the necessary measures to meet it head-on. We should esteem our own values of freedom, free speech, and liberal secular democracy and start defending them. One of the most important reasons that extremism has flourished in Britain is because of the funding it receives from abroad.”
Batten's is a story of contradiction and complication. Because of his position, he was well-informed on the risks to any constituent exposing KGB operations.
Did Batten out Litvinenko for reasons we do not yet understand? appears to be a question that has never been asked, yet it seems pertinent given the circumstances.
On a plain reading, Litvinenko's murder timeline appears directly related to his naming in the Prodi affair.
But the curiosity does not end with one of the most famous murders in British history.
Pavel Stroilov worked as an aide to Batten and co-authored The Inglorious Revolution with him – a book about “how membership of the European Union has subverted the English Constitution and how the people can set themselves free” which was published in 2013.
Stroilov is described in the book's bio as a “Russian journalist, historian and political exile living in London. He has smuggled secret Soviet documents to the West and was granted political asylum in London.”
Stroilov's story is odd. Nonsensically odd.
"According to the article, Stroilov has 50,000 documents on his computer. He claims that these are unavailable to researchers, a claim that the article repeats. In fact, the vast majority of these documents have been available to researchers for at least the past decade."
He claims to have fled Russia in the early 2000s with 50,000 previously unseen documents from the Gorbachev Foundation archives. How he came to work for Batten appears to be his connection to be through his friend, Bukovsky. However, despite numerous right-wing articles there really isn't much on Stroilov – which you may expect as he stole some of the KGB's prized history.
Academics are generally dismissive too.
Writing a cutting riposte for the LSE to Stroilov's 2010 coverage in a right-wing publication City Journal, an outlet of the conservative Manhattan Institute, Artemy Kalinovsky exclaimed bewildered exasperation. “According to the article, Stroilov has 50,000 documents on his computer. He claims that these are unavailable to researchers, a claim that the article repeats. In fact, the vast majority of these documents have been available to researchers for at least the past decade. I worked in the Gorbachev Foundation Archives (GFA) in 2006, 2007, and 2008, and was able to see the available notes taken at Politburo meetings, Chernaiev’s diary, various papers written by Gorbachev aides, and some memorandums of meetings and telephone conversations (memcons) between Gorbachev and foreign leaders. The only time documents were withdrawn was when they were being prepared for publication by the GFA; even then, after explaining that I was working on a PhD thesis and did not want to spend my entire life in grad school, I was given access to the documents. The one exception is some of the memcons of conversations with foreign leaders – for reasons that are not quite clear, many of these were kept from researchers. Even the memcons, though, have been included in the excellent volumes the GFA has been releasing over the past several years, including one on the German question, several editions of the Politburo notes, and a series approaching 15 volumes of what seems to be the GFAs entire collection. Cherniaev’s diary, one of the treasures of the GFA’s collection, has also been published.”
Stroilov's own agenda is even more telling in his own words.
Being interviewed for a piece in Romania's Hot News in 2009, Stroilov entered into a now quite familiar diatribe, telling reporters about “what Gorbachev called Common European Home. And Francois Mitterrand called it European Confederation.”
He outlines what appears to be a plan for Russia to integrate with Europe peacefully, saying: “It was based on the old Cold War idea of ‘convergence’: that is to say, Soviet Union and East Europe were to become more and more democratic, while West Europe would be more and more socialist. And when it finally merged, it would result in a kind of moderate socialist utopia. The United Socialist Europe, that’s basically what it was. Gorbachev and Mitterrand were talking all the time of how to make their Common Socialist European Home. The transformation of the European Community went wrong because, of course, the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia never entered the European integration. But the plan has a lot of impact even on today’s Europe, because basically, the EU is a moderately socialist structure of this kind.”
Reading the article, it's hard to grasp what Stroilov's views are, other than he is against Russia/EU integration.
This is supported further by another odd publication, originally released in 2004, entitled: “EUSSR: The Soviet Roots Of European Integration,” which he co-authored with Bukovsky.
The publication is one of the most blatant pieces right-wing propaganda you are ever likely to find and does not hide its agenda from the outset. The introductory note has to be seen to be believed.
Under Chapter 4, which is headed “Other Forces From Hell,” the core message of the book crystallises. It reads: “all the talk of opposing US influence in Europe, all the pretence at creating European counterbalance to the remaining superpower sounded more like propaganda than a real goal to the EU.”
The reasons for the UKIP affiliation of both of these Russian nationals are clear. They appear to openly detest the European Union.
Chapter 6 is best described as the justification of Vladimir Putin's Russia and the book reads like a supporting work for Dugin's Future of Geopolitics.
And this, in part, explains why Stroilov was able to take thousands of documents from a KGB archive and leave the country untouched: his agenda suits that of the Kremlin, and the myth of theft appears to have been little more than a smokescreen providing legitimacy.
Documents seen also show that he had no real objections to turning to RT for media coverage for Batten's causes and UKIP insiders have claimed Stroilov hung around London's embassy and even brought FSB into UKIP's offices regularly. All of which would be peculiar for a man on the run from the Russian state for the theft of secrets.
But again, their story is one of contradictions.
Bukovsky's history paints him as an anti-communist dissident, and he even stood against Putin as a candidate in 2008, however, despite being deported from Russia in the 1970s, he never lost his citizenship and was pardoned by Yeltsin in the 1990s. But then there is Assange.
Most recently, Bukovsky has come to the attention of British police and is being prosecuted for Paedophilia offences.
"Much as with Litvinenko's connections to UKIP, we are left with more questions than we are answers, and Batten is placed front and centre in another Russian security service conflict situation."
In 2015, the Crown Prosecution Service and Police charged Bukovsky with sexual offences after prohibited images were found on his computer. His trial commenced in December 2016 in Cambridge, where it transpired he was accused of 11 counts of “making and possessing indecent images of children,” charges he denies.
According to the prosecution case, Bukovsky started downloading images in the late 1990s, claiming he was conducting "research into the issues of control and censorship on the internet", and told investigators "his initial curiosity turned into a hobby, rather like stamp-collecting". Bukovsky has described the accusations as “absurd” and claims the tip-off about the images was passed through Europol from Russian security services.
The trial was halted after one day as Bukovsky was hospitalized with pneumonia, though it is rescheduled for the 19th of January 2018. A bizarre addition to the case is that Bukovsky lodged a legal claim for £100,000 in defamation damages against the CPS, a case which failed in October 2017.
Both Bukovsky and Stroilov also jointly penned a book allegedly based upon Litvinenko's personal diaries and writings. In it, they told about the friendship between Litvinenko and oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who was eventually found dead with a ligature around his neck – a story which generated wild rumours of him being executed by Western security services as he was about to expose a plot to oust Putin. Another story which makes no sense when set in context.
Much as with Litvinenko's connections to UKIP, we are left with more questions than we are answers, and Batten is placed front and centre in another Russian security service conflict situation.
UKIP insiders have also claimed Batten once asked Berezovsky for £250,000 during a gathering at his Surrey mansion, but the request was not met with a positive response.
It's clear, even for someone outside of the security services, that Batten presents a somewhat unique combination of intelligence risk and opportunity. A perfect hub for the focus of Russian intelligence services, whether wittingly or otherwise. A near perfect Useful Idiot – a category into which Bukovsky may have once fallen and expired, but Stroilov does not appear to.
Pavel Stroilov is not a question which can be answered yet, but his story is anomalous enough to warrant a well-justified feeling something is not quite right.
And this leads us to the relationship between Bukovsky, Batten, and Assange.
Before beginning with the Assange issue, however, it is prudent to state the obvious: Julian Assange remains the accused in a Swedish rape investigation and the only reason he has not been subject to due process is that he went into hiding under diplomatic protection.
Though this is repeatedly misrepresented, and Assange himself even claimed a 'victory' when the European Arrest Warrant was withdrawn, the simple truth has always been publicly available from the Swedish prosecutor herself: aside from Assange being arrested and interviewed, all other evidence has been gathered.
On the 19th of May 2017, the lead prosecutor Marianne Ny said: “Almost 5 years ago Julian Assange was permitted refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has resided ever since. In doing so, he has escaped all attempts by the Swedish and British authorities to execute the decision to surrender him to Sweden in accordance with the EU rules concerning the European Arrest Warrant. My assessment is that the surrender cannot be executed in the foreseeable future.”
According to Swedish legislation, a criminal investigation is to be conducted as quickly as possible. At the point when a prosecutor has exhausted the possibilities to continue the investigation, the prosecutor is obliged to discontinue the investigation.
“In our judgment, Mr Assange is on the facts before this court "accused" of the four offences. There is a precise description in the EAW of what he is said to have done. The extraneous evidence shows that there has been a detailed investigation."
“At this point,” Ny continued, “all possibilities to conduct the investigation are exhausted. In order to proceed with the case, Julian Assange would have to be formally notified of the criminal suspicions against him. We cannot expect to receive assistance from Ecuador regarding this. Therefore the investigation is discontinued.”
“If he, at a later date, makes himself available, I will be able to decide to resume the investigation immediately,” she added.
Also, considering the case has never been to trial, the High Court decision in July 2011 which rejected Assange's appeal against the application of a European Arrest Warrant set an important precedent as regards the use of condoms and conditional consent. A precedent which did not bode well for Assange's proposed defence in Sweden.
In fact, reading the full judgment reduces a number of the myths surrounding the Assange case to ashes, along with one of the pillars of his defence to the warrant: that he had not actually been accused of an offence.
“In our judgment, Mr Assange is on the facts before this court "accused" of the four offences. There is a precise description in the EAW of what he is said to have done. The extraneous evidence shows that there has been a detailed investigation. The evidence of the complainants AA and SW is clear as to what he is said to have done as we have set out. On the basis of an intense focus on the facts he is plainly accused. That is. [sic] as Lord Steyn said, decisive,” the judges wrote.
“As it is common ground that a criminal investigation about someone's conduct is not sufficient to make a person an accused, a further way of addressing this broad question is to ask whether the case against him has moved from where he can be seen only as a suspect where proof may be lacking or whether there is an accusation against him supported by proof...Plainly this is a case which has moved from suspicion to accusation supported by proof,” they added.
“In England and Wales, a decision to charge is taken at a very early stage; there can be no doubt that if what Mr Assange had done had been done in England and Wales, he would have been charged and thus criminal proceedings would have been commenced. If the commencement of criminal proceedings were to be viewed as dependent on whether a person had been charged, it would be to look at Swedish procedure through the narrowest of common law eyes. Looking at it through cosmopolitan eyes on this basis, criminal proceedings have commenced against Mr Assange. In our view therefore, Mr Assange fails on the facts on this issue,” the judgment concludes.
Under Swedish law, a matter of procedure is a final interview before final charges are made. So, rather than a suspect, Assange is, in fact, the accused. He has never won anything, just evaded justice and is also wanted by the British police, because he was bailed to live at a fixed address under the proceedings with a bond set at £200,000 and left the address for the Ecuadorian Embassy.
A further appeal by Assange was rejected in May 2012 as being without merit.
Working together, Batten and Bukovsky involved themselves in Assange's legal case as “Interveners”, instructing UK lawyer Paul Diamond.
Leaked emails have shown UKIP had been actively supporting Assange since 2011.
The Farage-led Europe of Freedom and Democracy group even tabled a motion attacking “the possible abuse of the European Arrest Warrant for political purposes,” when the law was used to trigger Assange’s extradition over Swedish rape allegations and, on RT, Batten labelled the extradition proceedings against Assange as “legalised kidnap.”
One new email seen shows Batten submitting questions from a Dr Mezioso to both the European Council and Commission on the 15th of February 2011 and Stroilov, replying, nudging Batten towards RT for press coverage of the intervention.
“I look forward to future revelations about what western governments are up to.”
Batten has appeared frequently on RT, the Russian state television broadcaster and UKIP insiders claim he was consistently paid a substantial fee – something Batten denies. His declaration of interests document lodged with the European Parliament does not feature any additional income declarations.
In one document about the Assange case, written by Batten and dated Tuesday the 11th of January 2011, he stated: “I have come to the view our own government is the enemy of our own people.”
“I look forward to future revelations about what western governments are up to.”
It seems the stage for UKIP's developing role in later world events had been set for a long time and Batten wasn't a lone voice.
By the 4th of February, Batten was seeking a meeting with Assange via his lawyer, Mark Stephens, writing: “So far, UKIP London has been only British political party to openly support Mr Assange fight against EAW and his freedom of speech, and we would very much like to continue doing so.”
Leaked minutes of the meeting on the 10th of February, first reported by Business Insider, show Batten promised to table a motion in support of the WikiLeaks founder in the European Parliament and that UKIP offered a joint video press conference in Brussels. The Mezioso email came five days later.
By the 21st of February 2011, UKIP's Steven Woolfe was setting up a donor event, the UKIP City of London Business Forum on the 23rd of March 2011, at which Batten and Stephens spoke out on the Assange issue. One email from Farage's assistant confirms he also spoke with Stephens at the event.
Batten attended Assange's 40th Birthday in July 2011 and UKIP insiders claim Farage was also present.
While Batten had clearly placed UKIP in the ideal position for the exploitation of Useful Idiots, Farage took the opportunity and capitalised upon it, eventually unravelling himself by the time 2017 came along.
Following a ‘dump’ of CIA data on the WikiLeaks site in March 2017, security analysts began to draw conclusions that Assange’s site was, in fact, a full-blown Russian interest.
"the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had already confirmed there was “high confidence that Russian military intelligence relayed material to WikiLeaks.”"
Dr Andrew Foxall, director of the Russia Centre at the Henry Jackson Institute openly stated: “Wikileaks has secret Russian intelligence but hasn’t disclosed anything remotely sensitive about Russia. He [Assange] has taken a consistently pro-Russia stance.”
Though Assange denied the claims, speaking from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Foxall added: “The documents contained 75,000 redactions. These were codes that would also affect Russia’s security because some of the data was relatively fresh, it is unlikely it had been in the pipeline for a while. And Assange’s team is small. The logical conclusion is that the data was given already redacted. This was the work of a sophisticated team, and it fits entirely into a pattern of behaviour demonstrated by Russia in the past.”
In fact, in January 2017, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had already confirmed there was “high confidence that Russian military intelligence relayed material to WikiLeaks.”
During the 2016 Trump campaign, Roger Stone was accused by John Podesta of having prior knowledge of Wikileaks publishing his private emails which had been obtained by a hacker. In fact, before the leak, Stone tweeted: “It will soon the Podesta's time in the barrel,” and five days prior to the release he did it again, writing: “Wednesday Hillary Clinton is done. #Wikileaks.” Breitbart News, the Robert Mercer and Steve Bannon disinformation channel, also published a subsequent denial by Stone, in which he claimed he had no advance knowledge of the Podesta e-mail hack or any connection to Russian intelligence.
The thing was, I had already established a link between Russia, disinformation, Wikileaks, Trump, and Brexit, and found clear evidence from intelligence agencies that Wikileaks was known as a Russian operation.
Stone became a gift which kept on giving, and he presented none other than Nigel Farage.
During a speech on the 8th of August 2016, Stone said: “I actually have communicated with Assange” and referred to an “October surprise” coming via the Wikileaks site. He also stated that, while he had never met or spoken to the site’s founder, the pair had a “mutual friend” who served as an intermediary.
The same day the speech was given, Stone was tweeting about a dinner he had with Nigel Farage, who was, of course, seen visiting Assange in March 2017 and had always refused to give reasons for the meeting.
"It transpires, however, Farage had indeed met Yakovenko. On the 13th of May 2013, according to the Russian Embassy's website."
In May 2017, Farage changed tack and told Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper he visited the Ecuadorian Embassy for “journalistic reasons, not political reasons” before cutting the questions short, saying: “It has nothing to do with you. It was a private meeting.” What set him off, according to the reporters, was when they directly asked if he was working for Russia.
In response to questions about his 2013 meeting with Russian Ambassador Yakovenko, which he initially claimed not to remember, Farage began ranting at the reporter: “I think you are a nutcase! You are really a nutcase! Brexit is the best thing to happen: for Russia, for America, for Germany and for democracy.”
It transpires, however, Farage had indeed met Yakovenko. On the 13th of May 2013, according to the Russian Embassy's website.
Again, Farage had appeared repeatedly on RT, eventually being knighted on the channel in 2017 and offered his own show – which he turned down. UKIP insiders, however, claim Farage was paid up to £2,000 per appearance – something he has not responded to and RT deny, in a fashion.
However, Nigel's own declaration of interest in the European Parliament shows he has been raking in over £5,000 a year as a media commentator since 2010. Though the total amount is not specified, this gives us a baseline of at least £35,000 over the last seven years. He had appeared no less than 17 times between 2010 and 2014 alone.
The car-crash interview with Die Zeit came shortly after Wikileaks had dumped material aimed at influencing voters in France to vote against Emanuel Macron and side with the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen – whose deep financial and political ties to Russia were already exposed.
Farage was openly supporting Le Pen during her campaign and was backed up by Leave.EU and Banks’ alternative media site Westmonster. Farage had also personally used his LBC radio show to broadcast a repeat Assange's denial of Russian involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and their presidential nominee Hilary Clinton during the US election.
"In the same month as Farage’s Broadcast, senior officials in the CIA completely contradicted both of them, saying the leaked DNC material had been traced to Russian GRU officials and “handed off to Assange via a circuitous route” in an attempt to avoid detection of the original source."
In January 2017, Farage told his listeners “[Julian Assange] is absolutely clear that all the information he has got is not from Russian sources.”
In the same month as Farage’s Broadcast, senior officials in the CIA completely contradicted both of them, saying the leaked DNC material had been traced to Russian GRU officials and “handed off to Assange via a circuitous route” in an attempt to avoid detection of the original source.
That route was a hacker known as Guccifer 2.0 who, between 2016 and January 2017, publicly stated they were not Russian but Romanian. However, despite stating they were unable to read or understand Russian, metadata of their own emails showed a Russian-language-only VPN was used. In addition, when pressed to use the Romanian language in an interview with reporters, Motherboard noted they “used such clunky grammar and terminology that experts believed he was using an online translator.”
On the DNC email hack and subsequent leaks, one long available declassified intelligence report states: “Guccifer 2.0, who claimed to be an independent Romanian hacker, made multiple contradictory statements and false claims about his likely Russian identity throughout the election. Press reporting suggests more than one person claiming to be Guccifer 2.0 interacted with journalists.”
This conclusion was, of course, logical and followed previous findings of extensive state-sponsored Russian hacking now well determined and the questions around Guccifer being a Russian asset with a fake identity. The content of the DNC leak reviewed in the report was taken from e-mail accounts targeted by the Russian GRU in March 2016 and appeared on DCLeaks.com starting in June. The intelligence agencies stated the GRU relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks.
According to the analysts: “Moscow most likely chose WikiLeaks because of its self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity.” They noted that documents published WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries and, in early September 2016, Putin had said publicly it was important the DNC data was exposed to WikiLeaks, calling the search for the source of the leaks a distraction and denying Russian state-level involvement.
Importantly, the report also confirmed the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet, RT, had actively collaborated with WikiLeaks. According to the CIA, RT’s editor-in-chief visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in August 2013, where they discussed renewing his broadcast contract with RT. This was also reported in Russian and Western media. The Russian media, however, subsequently announced RT had become “the only Russian media company” to partner with WikiLeaks and had received access to “new leaks of secret information.”
RT, the CIA said, had also routinely given Assange sympathetic coverage and provided him with a platform to denounce the United States – support mirrored by Nigel Farage, who also has those close links with RT and who had also visited Assange, as I separately established.
According to the CIA, the election-related disclosures and disinformation more broadly reflected a pattern of Russian intelligence using hacked information in tailored influence efforts against targets such as Olympic athletes and other foreign governments. Such efforts, they confirmed, have included releasing or altering personal data, defacing websites, and releasing emails.
A prominent target since the 2016 Summer Olympics was the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), with leaks assessed to have: “Originated with the GRU and that have involved data on US athletes. Crucially, however, the report accurately identified Russia collected information on some Republican-affiliated targets but did not conduct a comparable disclosure campaign. Russia’s state-run propaganda machine — which I knew was comprised of its domestic media apparatus, outlets targeting global audiences such as RT and Sputnik and a network of quasi-government trolls — contributed to the influence campaign by “serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences,” the report stated. The same pattern was evident in both Brexit and the French election.
“If you triangulate Russia, WikiLeaks, Assange and Trump associates the person who comes up with the most hits is Nigel Farage...he’s right in the middle of these relationships. He turns up over and over again. There’s a lot of attention being paid to him.”
State-owned Russian media also made increasingly favourable comments about Trump as the 2016 US general and primary election campaigns progressed, while consistently offering negative coverage of the Clinton campaign. On the 6th of August 2016, RT published an English language video called Julian Assange Special: Do WikiLeaks Have the E-mail That’ll Put Clinton in Prison? and an exclusive interview with Assange entitled Clinton and ISIS Funded by the Same Money.
The most popular English language video about the then President-elect, called “Trump Will Not Be Permitted to Win,” featured Julian Assange and had over two million views. According to the intelligence report, Russia used trolls as well as RT as part of its influence efforts to denigrate Clinton, and this effort amplified stories on scandals about the Democratic candidate and the role of WikiLeaks in the election campaign.
The FBI also came out at the start of June 2017 and declared Nigel Farage a person of interest in their Trump-Russia probe.
One source in the Bureau told the Guardian: “If you triangulate Russia, WikiLeaks, Assange and Trump associates the person who comes up with the most hits is Nigel Farage...he’s right in the middle of these relationships. He turns up over and over again. There’s a lot of attention being paid to him.”
In a statement, Farage said: “This hysterical attempt to associate me with the Putin regime is a result of the liberal elite being unable to accept Brexit and the election of President Trump. For the record, I have never been to Russia, I’ve had no business dealings with Russia in my previous life and I have appeared approximately three times on RT in the last 18 months. I consider it extremely doubtful that I could be a person of interest to the FBI as I have no connections to Russia.”
Assange has since left little doubt he is acting for Russia, and Farage has stayed closely aligned throughout. Most recently, Assange has been supporting Russian interests in Catalonia and has also declared his support for Calexit, a movement Farage and Banks aligned themselves with, in March 2017.
The final nail in the coffin is the indictment of George Papadopoulos, a Trump Aide, whose timeline confirms Russia hacked the DNC, and that the Kremlin interacted directly with Trump's campaign and Julian Assange.
The indictment confirmed a joint intelligence service report and the US government has recently announced a series of charges are to come for Russian officials involved in the hacking and leaking.
The links between Farage's UKIP and the Trump-Russia inquiry are endless and even lead into the newly released Paradise Papers, but it is Assange and the Trump campaign which also brings Farage and the Leave.EU figures back to Russia in another way: Cambridge Analytica. Trump's data firm who claimed to have approached Julian Assange for the leaked emails around the time the FBI posted a picture of Papadopoulos in London, just around the corner from the Ecuadorian Embassy.
The Leave.EU campaign and the central figures Nigel Farage, Arron Banks, and Andrew Wigmore, worked with Cambridge Analytica – who are now being examined by the Trump-Russia probe – though they have since started to deny the collaboration.
The co-operation is, in fact, subject to not one but two inquiries in the UK as well, with both the Electoral Commission and the Information Commissioner's Office investigating.
While Cambridge Analytica itself is under the spotlight, along with its shady management (Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer), their activity beyond Trump and Brexit is no less interesting.
“This may help Russia on the European gas market. Qatar’s tanker fleet is barred from using regional ports and anchorages, posing a threat to the country’s LNG supplies."
In the last few days events in Saudi Arabia have taken a turn which was unexpected by many, however, the writing was on the wall a long time ago when the inexplicable Qatar crisis began in the region. What we now know, however, is that Cambridge Analytica acted to support Russian interests in the region, having been engaged as a Foreign Agent to promote “Blockade Qatar.”
The crisis saw Russia taking the side of Qatar in a move designed to exert pressure on European gas supplies using its long-term allies Iran and Turkey to assist.
RT was swift to provide context at the time, writing: “This may help Russia on the European gas market. Qatar’s tanker fleet is barred from using regional ports and anchorages, posing a threat to the country’s LNG supplies. Traders are worried Saudi Arabia and allies would refuse to accept LNG shipments from Qatar, and that Egypt might even bar tankers carrying Qatari cargo from using the Suez Canal, despite Cairo's obligation under an international agreement to allow the use of the waterway. If LNG supplies are disrupted, Europe will have to buy more gas from Russia.”
Qatar had not long completed a purchase of significant shares in Rosneft, Russia's state-owned fossil fuel company. Rosneft is a client of Trump cyber-security lead Rudy Giuliani’s law and consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, which is also tied to close Putin allies at Alfa Bank. Investigative journalist Grant Stern has written about the Rosneft deal, saying: “Circumstantial evidence strongly indicates that President Donald J. Trump and his campaign associates brokered a massive oil privatization deal, where his organisation facilitated a global financial transaction to sell Russian Oil stock to its Syrian War adversary, the Emirate of Qatar.” The Emirate of Qatar was another Giuliani client.
Trump hosted a Qatari state-run business owned by the QIA, the buyer of Rosneft shares in the deal, in the Manhattan Trump Tower for many years. Carter Page, who acted as a gopher in the transaction, was working directly for Trump at the time. Having flatly denied meeting any Russian officials in 2016, Page later contradicted himself as it emerged he met Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador, during the Republican National Convention. Kislyak is both a spy and recruiter for Russian intelligence, according to intelligence officials.
According to Andrey Illarionov, Russian economist and former economic policy advisor to the Russian President, Putin has been aiming to target Qatar and brand them as terrorists since 2015. The Kremlin wished to target “military, infrastructure and energy sites in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.” At the time, the FSB announced it was offering a 50 million US dollar reward to anyone who could provide evidence about links to terrorism in the country, in order to justify an intervention.
Illarionov specifically highlighted the pressure such a move would place on NATO allies by increasing oil prices.
Once upon a time, one piece of a story like this would have been dismissable, standing alone. It isn't standing alone though. Neither in the past nor in the present. A denied link to Russian interests is not where the story of Britain's useful idiots ends.
Only on the 25th of September 2017, Andy Wigmore had taken to Twitter and, by what he said, you may have assumed all investigations were finished and a clean bill of health had been granted to Leave.EU, kicking every conclusion to the contrary into the long grass.
Wigmore wrote: “That's not illegal - paid them no money so broke no rules as the @ElectoralCommUK will happily confirm.”
On calling the Electoral Commission to have this confirmed, the response wasn't quite the one Wigmore indicated would be received.
"In Wigmore's words they are: “Part of Goddard Gunster - splitting California for starters and a dozen referendums.”"
A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission, having consulted senior colleagues, confirmed: “The investigation into Leave.EU is still ongoing and due to this we cannot comment on specifics. But Leave.EU remain under investigation.”
Just to be sure, the ICO was also contacted, who provided the following update on their inquiry: “Our investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes, announced by the Information Commissioner on 17 May, remains ongoing. We intend to publicise our findings later this year.”
So, there was no clean bill of health, but Wigmore carried on talking to others on Twitter, including Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr, where yet more spilled out when she put questions to him. It appears Leave.EU is actively diversifying worldwide.
In Wigmore's words they are: “Part of Goddard Gunster - splitting California for starters and a dozen referendums.”
This was intriguing news, and though Wigmore was asked directly if they were involved in Catalonia, the Kurdish independence referendum, or others, he has not yet replied.
Catalonia, we now know, was a target of Russian interference. First came the deployment of Russian asset Julian Assange, acting as a disruptive force true to the distinct pattern in all previous Russian activity. And, latterly, more direct engagement has become clear, as publicised by the EU STRATCOM team – who are part of Europe's defences against Russian disinformation war. Kurdish independence was also on the radar, in particular due to Russia's installed leader Edrogan already threatening military intervention. Of course, Farage himself had also become involved as a supporter in the AfD's shocking and chaotic rise to the Bundestag - another operation of Russia which we knew about in advance.
All of this happened on the same day Farage spoke at an Alabama rally, endorsing a controversial candidate alongside former Trump strategist Steve Bannon – head of Breitbart and once a board member of Cambridge Analytica.
Since then, Cambridge Analytica has been eyeing up China – with Bannon in tow – and, most curiously after months of denials have decided using psychographics or psychometrics in elections is okay after all. So they are back to talking about it and admitting they do it.
"Enabling somebody and encouraging somebody to go out to vote on a wet Wednesday morning is no different in my mind to persuading and encouraging somebody to move from one toothpaste brand to another," said commercial VP Richard Robinson, at an advertising seminar in September.
I contacted Goddard Gunster, asking whether or not Wigmore's claim was true, what they are doing, what the company is called, where it is based, and where it is operating. As yet, the PR firm, who specialise in elections, has not yet replied.
But we do know that Farage, Banks, and Wigmore signalled their involvement in Calexit in March 2017, which leads them back to Russia directly once again.
"UKIP has long been a nexus for Russian intelligence activity – and a clear target – since the very early days. And the ties when set together allow only one conclusion to be drawn: Farage's party, and all of its Useful Idiots, have been acting in Russian interests for years and continue to do so."
Farage, Banks, and Wigmore were hired by Gerry Gunster and Republican Scott Baugh in early 2017. At the time, Banks said of the plan: “It would be portrayed as the Hollywood elites versus the people, breaking up the bad government,” a now very familiar narrative.
“We were saying that people said the same about Brexit — and we just went and did it,” he added.
The trio attended several events in Orange County two weeks ago where they helped raise £800,000 in donations for the campaign.
Wigmore claimed in press interviews that wealthy technology and agriculture capitalists in the liberal state felt “left out” since Reagan had left the White House in the 1980s. He said: “This has been done before with West Virginia and Virginia and North and South Dakota, so it can work.”
It was obvious Russian trolls were deployed on the social media support of Calexit – something re-affirmed in a recent BBC broadcast now the world is catching up. The same trolls supported both Trump and Brexit, working in tandem.
And, due to the Senate hearings taking place in the US, we now know not only the level of Russian deployment on Social Media, but the cash values attributed to psychometric adverts and messaging. There is also extensive evidence suggesting the Trump Campaign was sharing it's targeting data with the Russian state.
What's clear, taking into account all of the evidence is that UKIP has long been a nexus for Russian intelligence activity – and a clear target – since the very early days. And the ties when set together allow only one conclusion to be drawn: Farage's party, and all of its Useful Idiots, have been acting in Russian interests for years and continue to do so.
The State Actor:
One key area which needs to be understood, to show the true nature of the problem and highlight the grave implications, comes from RT, the Russian state broadcaster with whom Farage and company have become closely associated.
Annex A of a declassified CIA report, which draws the conclusion Vladimir Putin himself ordered interference in the 2016 US election, is specifically dedicated to RT.
"a Kremlin-directed campaign to undermine faith in the US Government and fuel political protest. The Kremlin has committed significant resources to expanding the channel's reach, particularly its social media footprint."
The CIA report introduces RT with the following description: "RT America TV, a Kremlin-financed channel operated from within the United States, has substantially expanded its repertoire of programming that highlights criticism of alleged US shortcomings in democracy and civil liberties. The rapid expansion of RT's operations and budget and recent candid statements by RT's leadership point to the channel's importance to the Kremlin as a messaging tool and indicate a Kremlin-directed campaign to undermine faith in the US Government and fuel political protest. The Kremlin has committed significant resources to expanding the channel's reach, particularly its social media footprint."
The network also runs a successful operation in Britain, on which Farage, Batten, and others have appeared. The CIA state that "a reliable UK report states that RT recently was the most-watched foreign news channel in the UK" and highlights that the US incarnation "positioned itself as a domestic US channel and has deliberately sought to obscure any legal ties to the Russian Government."
"We actually want to take back control of our country, our democracy and our lives.’ That’s what happened."
The CIA assesses that in the run-up to the 2012 US presidential election, RT intensified its critical coverage of the United States. "The channel portrayed the US electoral process as undemocratic and featured calls by US protesters for the public to rise up and "take this government back."
"In an effort to highlight the alleged "lack of democracy" in the United States," the CIA report states, "RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised third-party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates. The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a "sham"."
Much of this content is also recognisable in respect of RTs coverage of UKIP and Farage himself.
On the 28th June 2016, for example, Farage appeared on the channel just after the Brexit referendum saying, "Oh, gosh! Who would’ve believed it? Who would’ve believed that despite all the threats and bullying from the international community, President Obama, the OECD, [British Chancellor of the Exchequer] George Osborne, the Bank of England… who would’ve believed the British people would have the courage to say: ‘No, no, no, no. We’re not listening. We actually want to take back control of our country, our democracy and our lives.’ That’s what happened."
The narrative is almost an exact resit of US content aired by RT over a number of years - featured in the CIA report - including a documentary about the Occupy Wall Street movement where the network framed a fight against "the ruling class" and described the current US political system as corrupt and dominated by corporations. RT advertising for the documentary featured calls to "take back" the government.
Speaking to a source from with the Occupy movement, they raised specific concerns dating back years as regards Julian Assange and his associates making payments within the movement for information, culminating in visits from the CIA who had concerns over Russian targeting of activists.
The core message connections in Farage's narrative and the RT generic push are extensive, with the US personified as an undemocratic union of self-interest. Farage has appeared on RT peddling much the same message about the EU with clips dating back to 2011.
"RT is a leading media voice opposing Western intervention in the Syrian conflict and blaming the West for waging "information wars" against the Syrian Government." Farage has also mirrored this position for some time."
Interestingly, the report notes that "RT runs anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health," stating "this is likely reflective of the Russian Government's concern about the impact of fracking and US natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom's profitability."
Farage has consistently been for fracking, reaffirmed in this 2016 clip from the BBC, though he and the party have been broadly dismissive of other renewable energy projects which would reduce the UK's reliance on imported fuels.
Campaigning in Grimsby in 2015, he claimed that by 2020 people would be paying a "20% surcharge on their electricity bill just to subsidise the renewable industry." He added: "So I have to say, I think in 10 years' time there won't be a renewable industry, we will have rethought the whole thing," speaking to BBC Humberside.
By early 2017, the Russian position was seeing heavy lobbying efforts to reduce the reduction of subsidies for renewable energy production. The Russian government has lowered its target for wind generation between 2021 to 2025 by 250 MW to 3.351 GW and has halved its goal for small hydropower plants.
The CIA report also states "RT is a leading media voice opposing Western intervention in the Syrian conflict and blaming the West for waging "information wars" against the Syrian Government." Farage has also mirrored this position for some time.
The CIA report also refers to the years before 2011, saying "in an earlier example of RT's messaging in support of the Russian Government, during the Georgia-Russia military conflict the channel accused Georgians of killing civilians and organizing a genocide of the Ossetian people. According to Simonyan, when "the Ministry of Defense was at war with Georgia," RT was "waging an information war against the entire Western world".
In 2008, Farage was supporting the Russian position in a BBC interview.
Even in 2012, the CIA captured the truth of RT's position. "In recent interviews, RT's leadership has candidly acknowledged its mission to expand its US audience and to expose it to Kremlin messaging," the report states. However, it notes the RT leadership "rejected claims that RT interferes in US domestic affairs."
The CIA meticulously document comments by RT Editor in Chief Margarita Simonyan, who claimed in popular arts magazine Afisha "It is important to have a channel that people get used to, and then, when needed, you show them what you need to show. In some sense, not having our own foreign broadcasting is the same as not having a ministry of defense. When there is no war, it looks like we don't need it. However, when there is a war, it is critical."
The report states, "according to Simonyan, "the word 'propaganda' has a very negative connotation, but indeed, there is not a single international foreign TV channel that is doing something other than promotion of the values of the country that it is broadcasting from." She added that "when Russia is at war, we are, of course, on Russia's side," adding that "RT's goal is "to make an alternative channel that shares information unavailable elsewhere in order to "conquer the audience" and expose it to Russian state messaging."
Simonyan, the CIA outline, has close ties to top Russian Government officials, especially Presidential Administration Deputy Chief of Staff Aleksey Gromov, who reportedly manages political TV coverage in Russia and is one of the founders of RT.
"Simonyan has claimed that Gromov shielded her from other officials and their requests to air certain reports. Russian media consider Simonyan to be Gromov's protege and Simonyan replaced Gromov on state-owned Channel One's Board of Directors. Government officials, including Gromov and Putin's Press Secretary Peskov, were involved in creating RT and appointing Simonyan. According to Simonyan, Gromov oversees political coverage on TV, and he has periodic meetings with media managers where he shares classified information and discusses their coverage plans. Some opposition journalists, including Andrey Loshak, claim that he also ordered media attacks on opposition figures," the report states.
"According to Simonyan, the Russian Government sets rating and viewership requirements for RT and, since RT receives budget from the state, it must complete tasks given by the state,"
According to the CIA, the Kremlin staffs RT and closely supervises RT's coverage, recruiting people who can convey Russian strategic messaging because of their ideological beliefs.
"The head of RT's Arabic-language service, Aydar Aganin, was rotated from the diplomatic service to manage RT's Arabic-language expansion, suggesting a close relationship between RT and Russia's foreign policy apparatus," the report states.
"RT's London Bureau is managed by Darya Pushkova, the daughter of Aleksey Pushkov, the current chair of the Duma Russian Foreign Affairs Committee and a former Gorbachev speechwriter," the report also states.
"According to Simonyan, the Russian Government sets rating and viewership requirements for RT and, since RT receives budget from the state, it must complete tasks given by the state," the report adds.
"According to Nikolov, RT news stories are written and edited "to become news" exclusively in RT's Moscow office," the CIA also state.
The Annex concludes that "RT hires or makes contractual agreements with Westerners with views that fit its agenda and airs them on RT."
According to the CIA, "Simonyan said on the pro-Kremlin show "Minaev Live" that RT has enough audience and money to be able to choose its hosts, and it chooses the hosts that "think like us," "are interested in working in the anti-mainstream," and defend RT's beliefs on social media."
Interestingly, the report adds that "some hosts and journalists do not present themselves as associated with RT when interviewing people, and many of them have affiliations to other media and activist organizations."
As the US Senate inquiry has continued, RT has been declared a state actor and even Twitter has off-boarded their advertising. The US Department of Justice also requested that RT register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
The prolonged, deep Russia ties, and the in party expertise provided by Batten, leaves little doubt that UKIP was fully aware of who and what they were dealing with. Yet they chose to maintain and even enhance their relationship with the Russian state. This appears to be choice, not an accident.
The Bland Truth:
The warning signs have been there, in public, for a very long time.
Even in 2015, UKIP was the head-line act voting against a motion for 'Foreign' funding of European political parties.
Gabrielius Landsbergis, a Lithuanian Conservative, called for an end to “business as usual” with Russia, seeking an end to “Russia´s support for and financing of radical and extremist parties in the EU” following a meeting of neo-Nazis in St Petersburg earlier that year. The Front National, lead by Farage's friend Le Pen, had received millions in loans from Russia at the time.
Ukip MEPs including Farage, Patrick O’Flynn, and Tim Aker voted against the measures, as did Marine Le Pen and members of Hungary’s Jobbik.
One Ukip spokesperson defended the stance, saying: “UKIP does not support interference by the European Commission in any aspect of funding for British political parties. UKIP supports the laws which are already in place in the UK which prohibit foreign funding of political parties.”
UKIP is not, however, to be taken at this word.
The Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe, a UKIP-controlled EU Parliamentary group, was asked to return over one-hundred-and-seventy thousand Euro after officials uncovered a breach of the rules arising from the alliance pouring money into the United Kingdom’s 2015 general election and the Brexit referendum. UKIP spent the EU funds on polling and analysis in constituencies where they hoped to win a seat in the 2015 general election, including in South Thanet – a seat contested by Farage.
The party also funded polls to gauge the public mood on Brexit, months before official campaigning began.
The EU report on the misspending concluded that “these services were not in the interest of the European party, which could neither be involved in the national elections nor in the referendum on a national level. The constituencies selected for many of the polls underline that the polling was conducted in the interest of UKIP. Most of the constituencies can be identified as being essential for reaching a significant representation in the House of Commons from the 2015 general election or for a positive result for the leave campaign.”
It is known that Russia had interfered in the 2015 general election and foreign powers were involved in cyber attacks during Brexit.
The EU report also concluded there were “a substantial number of activities for which financing ought to be considered as non-eligible expenditure,” in respect of spending on polls around the Scottish and Welsh elections in 2016.
Having already uncovered quite a substantial labyrinth of companies which utilise surveys and polling to harvest and trade in data, some of which were directly linked to UKIP, Donald Trump, and Arron Banks, the conclusions reached by the EU were set in a much clearer context.
Farage responded to the EU report, then as interim leader of UKIP, saying: “We are in an environment where rules are wilfully interpreted as suits. I’ve understood absolutely the rules. This is pure victimisation.”
"It may well transpire that Banks' mystery millions came from loans from Mellon, personally estimated to be worth £850 million who made “spectacular amounts” of money in Russia during the 1990s"
Speaking to the Guardian after Brexit, Banks repeated much the same line, saying: “We were just cleverer than the regulators and the politicians. Of course we were,” adding they “pushed the boundary of everything, right to the edge. It was war.”
The ADDE as a whole went on to be denied two-hundred-and-fifty thousand Euro in grants for failing to follow the rules and, as a result of the EU inquiry, the parliament told me the group declared itself bankrupt in the wake of it.
Arron Banks, UKIP's primary donor and backer of Russian mess Leave.EU, is now facing a further inquiry by the Electoral Commission into whether he received foreign funds during Brexit and used them to illegally finance Brexit campaigning.
UKIP are also under further fire as whistleblowers have raised concerns they were being paid directly by Bannon's Breitbart during the Brexit campaign.
Farage and Banks continue to deny any financial wrongdoing or financial links to Russia, but this isn't really relevant. However, it is worth noting that – because of Wigmore's own Instagram posts – both he and banks can be linked to Conister Bank in the Isle of Man and Jim Mellon.
It may well transpire that Banks' mystery millions came from loans from Mellon, personally estimated to be worth £850 million who made “spectacular amounts” of money in Russia during the 1990s, against a backdrop of significant violence providing a harsh environment for anyone to create wealth.
In the 90s, Boris Yeltsin expressed his concern that Russia was becoming a “superpower of crime” and, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the old-school tattooed mobsters of the so-called vorovskoi mir and their vor v zakone leaders were succeeded by a new generation of avtoritety (“authorities”).
These are hybrids: gangster-businessmen who were able to enthusiastically take advantage of crash privatisation, legal anomalies, and state incapacity which characterised Yeltsin’s era.
One former, senior commander of the police in Moscow said at the time: “These were days when we knew the bandits had not just money and firepower on their side, but they had a better krysha [meaning “roof” and referring to political protection in Russian slang] and we just had to accept that.”
There was, according to academic studies, a very real fear the country could become, on the one hand, a failed state, and on the other, a very successful criminal enterprise. It became the latter. The 1990s saw organised crime spread like cancer, evolving until, by the end of the decade, a series of violent local, regional, and even national turf wars to establish territorial boundaries and hierarchies were coming to an end.
The wealthiest avtoritety partnered with the vast resources of their oligarch counterparts, who had used the collapse of the old state to seize control of markets and assets. They were also joined by some small groups within the military and security structures, motivated by both perverse nationalism and their own personal interests, who acted as provocateurs aiming for a renewal of Russian state power. This is how they all came together, in the end, to put a stop to constant disorder and build something new from the ashes.
"criminal gangs were used to ensure a Putin vote while disrupting opposition campaigns. The genesis of managed democracy."
Even before Vladimir Putin was elevated to acting president in 1999, then confirmed as Yeltsin’s successor in 2000, the battles were ending and, while criminals at first feared Putin was serious about his tough law-and-order rhetoric, it was soon understood his offer was a new contract with the underworld.
Gangsters could go about their business without a systematic crackdown, on the condition it was accepted the state was the “biggest gang in town and they did nothing to directly challenge it.” The underworld complied and, so the story goes, “indiscriminate street violence was replaced by targeted assassinations; tattoos were out, and Italian suits were in; the new generation gangster-businessmen had successfully domesticated the old-school criminals.”
“This was not just a process of setting new boundaries for the criminals; it also led to a restructuring of connections between the underworld and the ‘upperworld’, to the benefit of the latter,” wrote one academic, Mark Galeotti, adding: “Connections between these groups and the state security apparatus grew, and the two became closer to each other. The result was not simply institutionalisation of corruption and further blurring of the boundaries between licit and illicit; but the emergence of a conditional understanding that Russia now had a nationalised underworld.”
In short, the gangsters were expected to comply with the requests of the state and, during the Second Chechen War, for example, Moscow was able to persuade Chechen gangsters not to support their rebel compatriots.
The same thing, it is alleged, recurred during the 2011 State Duma elections – where criminal gangs were used to ensure a Putin vote while disrupting opposition campaigns. The genesis of managed democracy.
The Public Interest:
The body of evidence is clear and we don't need a smoking gun because we have the bullet fragments, the gunshot wounds, and the shell casings. This is how you solve crime in the real world: by assembling the evidence and putting a case before the appropriate authorities. In this case the public.
Nigel Farage and Gerard Batten have worked openly for years with a state actor, RT - a direct arm of Putin's Kremlin and have actively pursued policy positions which are in the Kremlin's interest.
"Sources within the intelligence community with direct knowledge of Banks and Farage have indicated they travelled to Russia at the behest of the Kremlin and Kompromat material may exist as a result of the trip."
They, Leave.EU, and UKIP, along with the additional key figures Andrew Wigmore and Arron Banks, find themselves embedded in a network of Russia state assets, working toward similar goals having apparently presented themselves as easy pickings and Useful Idiots.
Sources within UKIP have long claimed Batten and Farage were regularly in the company of Oleg Shor, a Russian embassy attaché believed to work for the FSB, and that RT staff, including Laura Smith, were regular visitors.
In his own account of the Brexit campaign, Banks describes meeting “a shady character called Oleg” while at UKIP's annual conference in September 2015. “He was introduced to us as the First Secretary of the embassy – in other words, the KGB's man in London,” wrote the UKIP donor, who went on to say he was invited to a private meeting with the Russian ambassador Alexander Yakovenko. “Our host wanted the inside track on the Brexit campaign and grilled us on the potential implications,” Banks recorded in his memoir.
Sources within the intelligence community with direct knowledge of Banks and Farage have indicated they travelled to Russia at the behest of the Kremlin and Kompromat material may exist as a result of the trip. The FCO has not replied to requests for further information and it is their policy not to communicate on matters of intelligence operations.
After recent calls for a UK Russia inquiry, Banks released a statement in which he added: “My sole involvement with the ‘Russians’ was a boozy six-hour lunch with the ambassador where we drank the place dry (they have some cracking vodka and brandy).”
Though they have been savvy and Trump was seen as a blessing, the Trump-Russia inquiry has confirmed RT as a Kremlin operation, and this leaves them undone. No plausible deniability remains. It doesn't matter how they were paid or even if they were because the evidence and the benefits in kind tell the full story which has been staring us in the face for years.
"Farage has not responded to any of these questions and neither of them has replied to questions asking if Farage had ever been to Russia, who he met, who he was with, and what he did there."
Batten was asked how many times he had appeared on RT between 2010 and the present, if he was paid, and if the fee was £2,000. He was also asked how many times RT staff had visited his offices, what he could explain about Stroilov and who was Oleg.
He responded via a spokesperson, who said only: “He has been on RT number of times over the last 10 years or more and has never asked or received any money whatsoever.”
Farage has not responded to any of these questions and neither of them has replied to questions asking if Farage had ever been to Russia, who he met, who he was with, and what he did there.
RT responded to questions via a spokesperson, saying: “RT never paid either of them for their appearances. We cannot comment on whether any compensation was provided by independent production companies.”
Leave.EU and the Russian Embassy have made their joint response clear.
Without even referring to The Moscow Rules directly, the appropriate way to conclude here is to paraphrase Fleming's Goldfinger which nods to them: "Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an enemy action."
We've needed to talk about Nigel for a very long time, and now we can reasonably conclude that Farage and those around him are assets of the Kremlin.
With that overdue conversation put to bed, perhaps it is time we had the grown-up discussion about Russia which should have started in 2016 when we still had a complete crime scene.
And if the skeletons need to dance in Westminster, the time has come to let them Barynya.
"We've needed to talk about Nigel for a very long time, and now we can reasonably conclude that Farage and those around him are assets of the Kremlin."