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The Kremlin’s Balkan Gambit: Part I

March 4, 2017

By Christo Grozev

This is part I of our joint investigation with the Russian investigative magazine The Insider into a series of active measures, hybrid warfare and false-flag operations in the countries of the Balkans that appear to have been orchestrated by Russian individuals in close coordination with the Kremlin. You can read the Russian version of this part of the investigation here.

***

Bosnia and Herzegovina, September/October 2014:

On 2 October 2014, a short announcement appeared on the website of the Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The matter-of-fact alert was titled “Entry of nationals of the Russian Federation” and read:

“In order to objectively inform the public on the entry of citizens of the Russian Federation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we inform you that in the period from 25 September to 2 October 2014, 144 citizen of the Russian Federation entered the republic via the International border crossing of Raca, as follows: on 25.09 (11 persons), 26.09. (36 persons), 27.09 (24 persons), 28.09 (24 persons), 29.09 (5 persons), 30.09 (40 persons) and 1.10 (4 persons). All persons satisfied the requirements for entry into Bosnia and Herzegovina, were not wearing uniforms and military artefacts, and among them were women and men of different age groups.”

This odd news item was the police’s attempt at calming the public, after local media had reported an unusual number of burly Russian men, all dressed in Cossack uniform, popping up in the tiny Balkan country in the weeks leading up to presidential elections on October 12. More alarmingly, the nation’s Federal TV had identified some of the Cossack visitors – in particular their leader, Nikolay Djakonov, as having led a paramilitary Cossack unit during the accession of Crimea earlier that year.

Now, more than a hundred of these same men, wearing the same uniforms, were all heading to Banja Luka, capital of Republika Srpska – the 1.2 m-people, Serb-majority entity that together with the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, makes up the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The purported reason for the Cossacks’ arrival was to take part in a folklore performance on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. However, local media quickly discovered that none of the sheep-skin hatted dancers seemed to know when the planned performances were going to be, nor how long they planned to stay in the country. Nor, for that matter, could they dance. The Cossack delegation was accompanied by knyaz Zurab Zhavchavadze, the monarchist son of a former Russian Imperial Guard commander, and director of the Russian charity fund Basil the Great. The fund, along with the RS Ministry of Culture, were the official organizers of the Cossacks’ visit to the Federation.

The Ministry of interior of the Republika Srpska had recommended to the Cossacks not to register as visitors with the Bosnian-Herzegovina authorities, but to make their way quickly to Banja Luka. Some of the arriving Cossacks crossed the border in vehicles owned by Republika Srpska special police forces, and were stationed at the special police training barracks in Laktasi, near Banja Luka. The public behavior of the men was also reminiscent of that of the so-called “polite people” popping up in Crimea in the weeks before the annexation – they made their presence ostentatious but refused to talk to the media. The only person who responded to media questions was their leader Djakonov. “We are not spetznaz”, he said to TV cameras with a smile, “We just don’t like media attention”.

The nationalist, outspokenly pro-Russian president of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, had recently declared his intent to hold a secession referendum in case he wins the elections. Just two weeks earlier, he had travelled to Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin. In a public transcript of their Sept. 18 meeting, Putin had declared his unqualified political support for Dodik, and promised to defend Republika Srpska from unidentified “disrupters” of the Dayton accord. During the visit, Gazprom signed an agreement with Republika Srpska (“RS”) – bypassing the central Sarajevo government – for linking the republic to the ill-fated South Stream, then still in the proverbial pipeline. Dodik, in turn, thanked Putin for the meeting – their second one in 2014, with a third one coming up shortly in Belgrade just days before the RS election – and promised Putin the republic’s unqualified support for Russia. “We may be small, but our voice is loud”, said Dodik. A loud, pro-Russian European voice in the months following Crimea’s annexation was a rare commodity, and Russia treasured each one it could get. Pre-election polls in Republika Srpska were indecisive, with the chances equally split between the pro-Russian, separatist Dodik, and opposition leader Ognjen Tadic, who was running on a platform for change and against separatism.

On election day, Oct 12th, after casting his vote for himself at 15:10, Milorad Dodik was driven directly to the secluded posh Kalderra Hotel, a 15-minute ride from Banja Luka. There, he met his wealthy and influential Russian guest. That guest had arrived to Republika Srpska to make sure that elections went the right way for Russia; and he had the right experience for the job. He had planned, prepared and funded three referendums abroad earlier that year – in Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk – and they had all turned out as required. And in each case, the Cossacks currently loitering the streets of Banja Luka had been a key component of his plan. His name was Konstantin Malofeev.

 

 

Leader of Cossacks in Banja Luka, Nikolay Djakonov (second left on left photo) at Donbass Veterans Congress, 4 November 2016, At President Hotel in Moscow

Malofeev’s close associate and former DNR Prime Minister Alexander Boroday (left) with Putin’s adviser Vladislav Surkov (center) at same event

 

Putin’s adviser Surkov (Center), together with Russian neo-Nazi volunteer in Donbass Alexey Milchakov (second from left), Boroday (fourth from left), and others. This and previous two photos were provided by Ukrainian hakctivists to Informnapalm.

Five months earlier that year, Malofeev was placed on the EU sanction list for his material support for the separatist insurgency in Eastern Ukraine. He had been one of the initial ideologues and organizers of the annexation of Crimea, and had recruited, financed and supervised at least two of the key on-the-ground Russian mercenaries and leaders of the separatist insurgency in Eastern Ukraine – Col. Igor Girkin and Alexander Boroday. While all of Malofeev’s initiatives in Ukraine were, formally, privately organized and funded, intercepted phone calls between him and his lieutenants on the ground in Ukraine, as well as hacked email correspondence, showed that he closely coordinated his actions with the Kremlin, at times via the powerful Orthodox priest Bishop Tikhon whom Malofeev and Putin (in their own words) share as spiritual adviser; at other times via direct coordination between Malofeev and Putin’s advisers Surkov and Glazyev, but also via Malofeev’s close collaboration with RISS – the Kremlin-owned Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, chaired by former KGB/SVR Gen. Leonid Reshetnikov. In addition, a recent email hack that we have reviewed suggests that at least one employee of Malofeev’s participated in non-public sessions of the Russian government.

Malofeev’s employee and former “DNR Prime Minister” Alexander Boroday (far left), with paramilitary commander Nikolai Diakonov (far right), at a Donbass Volunteer Congress in Rostov, Russia; photo taken on 10-10-2016

By mid-2014, a clear pattern had emerged: the Kremlin used Malofeev as the initiator and proxy-funder of active measures – including military special operations – in Ukraine, providing full deniability to Russia in case the operation failed. In case the operation succeeded – as was the case with Crimea – the Kremlin would ultimately take credit.

By October 2014, the time had come to test this private-public partnership further from home, in Republika Srpska.

Malofeev’s charity fund, in coordination with Dodik, organized the Cossack’s “commemoration” trip. In response to media questions, the Russian embassy in Sarajevo said it was not competent to comment on the Cossacks’ visit, providing a cloak of deniability. Malofeev sent his close associate, Knyaz Zhavchavadze, to mind the paramilitary group in Banja Luka.

Fifteen years earlier, Zhavchavadze had mentored the then teen-aged Malofeev during his entry into the Russian monarchist movement, and he was now running the billionaire’s Orthodox charity organization: Basil the Great Fund. Zhavchavadze had been involved in the preparation for the Crimea annexation and subsequent insurgency in Donbass, and, according to this interview, appears to have recommended Girkin to Malofeev for future undefined “joint efforts” back in 2013, based on lavish praise he had heard regarding Girkin from FSB generals during the Chechen wars in 1996-97, where Zhavchavadze claims to have travelled together with Bishop Tikhon.

On October 7th 2014, Alexander Dugin, the extreme-right, expansionist ideologue on Malofeev’s payroll who had played a key role in recruiting Russian volunteers for the war in Eastern Ukraine, emailed Malofeev a draft for an article in which he outlined Russia’s national interest in steering events in Republika Srpska towards Dodik’s victory, with a subsequent referendum for secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and ideally, (after overcoming Serbia’s president Vucic opposition) – unification with Serbia under the rule of the newly minted Serbian national hero Milorad Dodik. The article (which was discovered in a hack of Dugin’s emails in 2015) referred to the arrival of “polite Russian people” in Banja Luka ahead of the elections, and implied that their role was to prevent any unfriendly outcome from the elections. Dugin further prophesied that the expected secession and unification of Serbia would lead to upheaval and re-orientation towards Russia of other predominantly Christian-Orthodox countries in the region, such as Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia and Greece.

Dugin’s warning was published in several Serbian-language and Russian websites in the days preceding the election, as was seen from Dugin’s emailed report on channels of dissemination on Oct 11., the day before the election.

Despite the assumed electoral impact of the meetings with Putin, the Cossacks loitering around Republika Srpska, and Dugin’s implicit warnings, the outcome of the elections in Republika Srpska was close. While the early vote count suggested a slim lead for Milorad Dodik by a few thousand votes, the final results would not be known until two weeks later.

As seen in a recent mail dump leaked by Ukrainian hacker group CyberJunta, on October 23th 2014, Ms. Alena Sharoykina, publicly an anti-GMO activist and CEO of Malofeev’s TV channel Tsargrad TV, and privately Malofeev’s project manager for false-flag operations in Eastern Europe, emailed an urgent task to one of her agents whom Malofeev had been financing to plant disinformation and organize pro-Russian and anti-Ukraine rallies in CEE. The agent’s name was Alexandr Usovsky, a chronically penniless, Belarus-born struggling novelist, and member of a number of Russian extreme-right nationalist organizations (including the infamous NSO-North which was responsible for at least 27 hate-motivated murders”. Usovsky appears also closely linked to European Neo-Nazi parties, whose assistance he generously offered to Malofeev, who in turn was seeking for agents of influence (or proxies of disruption) in Europe. Usovsky frequently offered Malofeev the cooperation of the Polish neo-Nazi party OWP, Ľudová strana Naše Slovensko in Slovakia, as well as with the outlawed paramilitary arm of Jobbik in Hungary, Hungarian Guard. He often began his emails to his closer friends “Sieg Heil”.

Sharoykina’s email to Usovsky was titled “Republika Srpska”, and instructed Usovsky to conduct a “small special operation” – a controlled leak into the Polish news space of Malofeev’s secret hotel meeting with Dodik on election day.

Email from Sharoykina to Usovsky, requesting leak of photo of Malofeev meeting Dodik on election day, via bloggers in Poland

The leaker was to imply the hypothesis that the billionaire’s arrival to Banja Luka was linked to the presence of Russian spetznaz in guise of Cossack dancers, and that he was there to oversee a Crimea-like scenario in case of negative electoral outcome. Sharoykina sent Usovsky the paparazzi-style photo of Malofeev and Dodik and asked that it be leaked as well.

Dodik and Malofeev, election day

Usovsky chose to distribute the message via his trusted contact Dawid Berezicki, functionary of the extreme-right anti-Semitic Polish People’s Party.

Usovsky reports back to Malofeev’s associate that he sent a proposed text for the leak, and asked him to choose ideally a “liberal blogger” as a leak destination.

What the motivation for this controlled leak was, is hard to determine with certainty. One possible explanation was that the outcome of the election was still uncertain, and Malofeev wanted to send one last warning shot that unless the slim gap in vote count is in Dodik’s favor, a Crimea scenario is ready to be activated. Another hypothesis, proposed to us by Alexander Sytin, former senior researcher at RISS, is that the leak was intended as a signal specifically to Poland, where at that moment both Malofeev and Putin’s adviser Surkov independently courted and funded pro-Russian politician Mateusz Piskorski. Yet a third hypothesis is that Malofeev was trying to raise his own profile vis-à-vis the Kremlin, and thus needed maximum “credit” given to his Republika Srpska role by foreign media.

Whatever the goal was, putting the Cossack dance troupe in action (other than the psychological impact of 143 menacing, uniformed Russian men roaming the streets on election day) was never required. On October 28th, the final vote tally showed that Dodik won the election by just under 7000 votes. Dodik thus retained control in Republika Srpska but lost the simultanous elections at the state level, both in the election for the three-member presidency (where his candidate was defeated by the opposition leader Ivanic) and in the general election (where opposition parties narrowly overcame Dodik’s SNSD, and later joined the state level coalition). As a result, Dodik lost most of the influence he had before on state level institutions.

Bellingcat and The Insider separately attempted to obtain comments as to the purpose of the leaked emails – and the underlying intent of the Cossacks’ arrival to Banja Luka – from Ms. Sharoykina and Mr. Usovksy. Mr. Usovsy initially told Bellingcat that he never worked for, or received funding from Konstantin Malofeev to conduct pro-Russian false-flag activities or political engineering in Eastern Europe. He told Bellingcat that Mr. Malofeev was a “saint man whose only international activities are related to assisting the Orthodox church”. However, in an interview with The Insider, Usovsky did admit to receiving funding for operations in Central and Eastern Europe from Konstantin Malofeev “in the period May-October 2014”, and subsequently one small tranche from “Malofeev’s assistant”, presumably Sharoykina. Following 2015, Usovsky claims he was able to “scrape small donations” to assist his extreme-right friends in Europe from “various private high-profile individuals”. He declined to provide names, but his emails indicate that he tried to raise funding for pro-Russian political engineering in CEE from both Kremlin and Duma officials, and from private high-net worth individuals. In an illuminating exchange between Usovsky and Sharoykina, he asked her advice on whether to request funding from a particular Russian entrepreneur, Vassiliy Boyko. Ms. Sharoykina replies “He has problems with law-enforcement. He may wish to reabilitate himself. Give him a try”.

This piece of advice is significant in that it comes from Malofeev’s associate. Konstantin Malofeev himself was the center of a number of legal issues, among which investigations over defrauding the state-owned bank VTB of more than $220 m, and separately for vote-rigging a regional election; all of which seemed to have been absolved as of early 2014.

Ms. Sharoykina initially denied any connection between the email address identified in the leak and herself, and insisted that neither she, nor Konstantin Malofeev had any involvement with “operations in Eastern Europe”. When confronted with an email from Usovsky that spells her full name in full, she abruptly discontinued further communication.

***

Several months following the elections, in June 2015, freshly re-elected Milorad Dodik awarded Konstantin Malofeev, Leonid Reshetnikov, and Putin’s adviser and close friend of Malofeeev, Igor Shtegolev, Orders of Njegos – First Degree for contribution to the “formation of the Republika Srpska”.

President Dodik awards Gen. Reshetnikov the Order of Njegos – Ist Degree; 29-6-2015

In 2016, Dodik held an unconstitutional referendum for instituting a separate state holiday for RS, and has since pledged to hold a referendum for secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018; both actions in furtherance to the plan laid out in Dugin’s memorandum from October 2014. These actions have landed him on the US sanctions list. Republika Srpska’s small voice against Europe and the US, and in favor of Russia is as loud as ever before.

 

 

In Part 2 of this investigation Bellingcat and The Insider review evidence for the role of Konstantin Malofeev, Kremlin’s think-tank RISS and GRU in the failed coup attempt in Montenegro.

Christo Grozev

Christo Grozev is lead Russia investigator with Bellingcat, focusing on security threats, extraterritorial clandestine operations, and the weaponization of information. His investigations into the identity of the suspects in the 2018 Novichok poisonings in the UK earned him and his team the European Prize for Investigative Journalism.

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68 Comments

  1. s.

    Greatest summary of the latest situation of the Balkan states.
    I look forward to the Part 2, of course!

    Reply
  2. stranger

    Just a phantasmagoric mixture of half truth with half lie. Especially this passage:
    “the hypothesis that the billionaire’s arrival to Banja Luka was linked to the presence of Russian SPETZNAZ IN GUISE of Cossack dancers, and that he was there to oversee a Crimea-like scenario in case of negative electoral outcome. ”
    It’s interesting where author gets such hallcinogenic mushrooms to clearly see the truth behind simple and boring reality?
    What could 124 dressed in fancy hats clowns do in the case of a wrong outcome of elections? To threw their fancy hats in the air?
    All the article tells about various levels and kinds of Russian nationalists and neona3is and their foreign colleagues in Eastern Europe. Yes those marginal nationalists (in Russian meaning neona3i) exists but are not popular in Russia.
    Some billionaire-nationalist asks to distribute his picture with Dodik via a Polish blogger so that he will be mentioned in broad range of western mass media. So? He just wanted a personal fame may be? Occam tells. Some small and larger nationalists implement their whatever intrigues. But where is the hand of Kremlin in all of that? Just a substitution of meaning when chaotic actions of various levels and kinds of nationalists are presented as if a crafty Kremlins campaign. That’s an unfair trick. Why to invent an alternative reality?

    Reply
    • stranger

      Sorry, not even 144: “among them were women and men of different age groups.” ? Palmface

      Reply
      • Black Star

        You are trying to discredit a well-researched, factual article. You try to do that without using a single piece of evidence. Do you actually believe a single word of your own opinions, given that you yourself best know that you have no proof to back your own opinions?

        Reply
        • stranger

          Read the article please. It makes an impression of “well-researched factual” until you read it. Actually it is not. Once you understand the facts presented and logic implied, you would agree with me. But you need to spend some time to carefully read and understand.

          Reply
          • Yuri

            No, actually it is well researched if you REALLY read it and think about it deeply. You are just not spending enough time on it. Once you do, you will agree.

          • stranger

            I did, it is not, please reread actually both Russian and English versions and related links from the Russian version, since they are somewhat different. You would see that the article failed to prove its thesis and the logical chain has a lot of gaps filled by the weird perverted fantasies of the author.

          • Yuri

            No, you did not read it carefully enough. And you clearly have English comprehension issues. If you study more, some day you will understand the article and its logic.

          • stranger

            I’ll tell you more, I’ve read both versions, including the Russian one and related links. Russian version is more detailed and gives some external links. The English one is contracted and looks even more paranoid. Foreigners who understand nothing about Russia would buy everything.

          • Yuri

            If you really think about it, these articles are just a drop in the ocean. It’s already clear that Putin and his cronies are liars and crooks. I mean anyone who is paying any attention would not trust anything they do. Continue with sanctions, isolate, make sure they don’t start another Crimea, and wait.

          • Mad Dog

            Off topic, but so what. Just want to express condolences for the needless deaths in St. Pete….No one should die like that, another silly tragedy.

  3. Cody Johnson Jr

    Those fiendish Russians. Knowing we are wise to their ‘green men’ ruse, they now disguise their agents as Cossack dancers!

    What’s next, ballerinas?

    Reply
    • stranger

      Those cassocks are what they are: just dressed clowns with fancy hats. They are not Green Men. Green Man were 20-thouthand Russian Black Sea contingent with camouflage, munition, weapon, vehicles and strict organization. See any video from Crimea who was called Green Men. The article failed to show the connection between those clown and Russian government. From their email exchange it follows rather that the government is not interested by their schemes. They most probably act on their own. Why to invent complex unconfirmed by evidences conspiracy theories? Yes I understand that the article in cumbersome mixture of different topics and looks trustworthy. It took me several times to read the article and the somewhat different Russian counterpart to understand the logic. When understood it’s clear that the logic chain from the Kremlin/government to that billionaire Malofeev is no shown, the chain to those dressed clown is not shown, the connection of Malofeev picture with the dressed clowns is ever unclear. There are more conspiracy guesses than facts. But yes the article is complex may be intentionally, it is not seen at the first glance.

      Reply
      • Yuri

        Yes, we all remember what Putin and Lavrov said about their Crimea intentions first. And how “they are not there”, etc. There is actually no need to really research anything at this point – why would the same crooks and liars suddenly become trustworthy?

        Reply
        • stranger

          Where did I say about Putin or Lavrov or that we need to trust their words? Reread carefully please.

          Reply
          • Yuri

            Where did I say you said anything about Putin or Lavrov? Please re-read my comment yourself.

          • stranger

            “Yuri – March 19, 2017″
            Yes, we all remember what Putin and Lavrov said about their Crimea intentions first… There is actually no need to really research anything at this point – why would the same crooks and liars suddenly become trustworthy?”

          • Yuri

            Exactly. I did not say YOU SAID anything about them. It is I who said that Putin and Lavrov are liars.

    • stranger

      But I agree ballerinas would look nicer, dancing Swan Lake at the astonished parliamentarians. Then the group of ninja behind their backs silently crawling and capturing the parliament! Got it!

      Grozev, ballerinas with ninjas!! Exactly!! Russian government financed them, who else?

      Reply
      • Dr. Da

        Got it! Slava bogu!
        Yes, you are a programmer. Yes, you are right. No problem. No need for hysteria.
        Yes, the bots are after you. Yes, they will be faster than you. Yes, they will replace you.
        But hyperactivity doesn’t help. Call your colleagues, call for help. As a team you may tweak this conversation and make it look real. That will be much harder for the bots.
        Don’t lose hope – there is always a way out. Good luck!

        Reply
        • stranger

          I apologize, but do you feel well, call 911 and tell them your story, they will deliver you where is appropriate, you’ll feel better.

          Reply
          • Dr. Da

            No need to apologize – work is work
            By the way, you don’t have to reply, you have already over-fulfilled your quota on this one. But, of course, better double check

            P.S. And please update your database, 911 doesn’t work in most places on this planet

          • stranger

            One more ins@ne, where are you all coming from? Let me guess… Ukraine? Tell us please what emergency number works in your country 103? – Ukraine?. So call your number, so difficult to guess, they will bring you to a physiatrisic ward, where is an appropriate place for you. You will rave on Putin there with your all other buddies.

          • Dr. Da

            Tip 1: Avoid words of Greek origin
            Tip 2: This thread is dead – your programming skills are needed elsewhere
            Tip 3: Hope that your supervisors don’t assess your efficiency

          • stranger

            “Tip 2: This thread is dead – your programming skills are needed elsewhere”
            Is this the reason why the hordes of your aggressive Ukrainian and/or NAT0 trolls have left this place?! Do you remember the bacchanalia or even orgy of aggressive pro Ukrainian trolls here one-two years ago? Those trolls had nothing clever to say, but they attacked personally any commenter who dared to tell own independent view not aligned with their agenda. Don’t you remember? Look through the archives.
            So that is why they all were given an order to retire and left this site, isn’t it? You are too late here. Please run away after them.

          • Dr. Da

            Wow – you’re working this site already for two years. Molodyets!
            How many others do you have on your schedule?
            (Take care not to waste too much of your precious programming time on this article.)

          • stranger

            So you speach Russian, my little pathetic Ukrainian troll, listen here: брысь отсюда.

          • Dr. Da

            Relax, tomorrow is Sunday.
            You’re getting tired – already in my first post it reads “Slava bogu!”
            Funny that you think that only Ukrainians know Russian

          • stranger

            Ukrainians are also noticeable by awful manners and attacking commenters rather than tackling the topic. Don’t you understand Russian? I said: брысь отсюда, нечисть

          • Dr. Da

            Geroy truda! Working even on Saturday night / Sunday morning. Go on, you’ll get a medal one day. (and then the bots will take your job anyway…)

  4. stranger

    Looking at Grozev picture under the article, the old saying comes into mind:
    Smile, gentlemen! All the stupidest things in the world are done with serious faces. :)))))
    Brilliant confirmation 🙂

    Reply
      • stranger

        Oh yeah, right. But I unfotunaterly work as programmer and would not donate them a penny.

        Reply
        • SirFatty

          You “work” for a living? Yeah, right.

          You’re “employer” wouldn’t be too happy since you seem to spend a lot of time posting on this site. Perhaps you should focus on your “work”.

          Say hi to Vlad for me.

          Reply
          • stranger

            I work for a living w/o any quots. And must admit this site has been taking too much time and emotional energy. I cannot and frankly don’t want already to write here.
            Your insinuation I know someone Vlad – are your usual lie as many other liars paranoids here who see Putin behind every bush. Like a Pagan Cult to explain every deeb of nature by Putin. Boring already, you are so not original, repeating just usual mind cliches as if you are all zombiefied there with the same brain press form, fat boy.
            Bye bye, fat boy, the only think you didn’t lie, I cannot waste so much time here.

      • Cody Johnson Jr

        bellingcat has plenty of funding, they dont need stranger’s money. bellingcat is funded by the billionaire George Soros among others.

        Reply
      • stranger

        Funded by that investor Soros who is infamous to break up British Pound together with all Bank of England by a FX speculation for USD against GBP and earned $1 billion on that. Google if you don’t believe me.

        Anybody, urgently tell Higging to beware! Soros may come to take his money back as he’s already done that time! He always comes baack!

        Reply
        • Cody Johnson Jr

          I guess Higgins will be ok as long as he churns out a couple of recycled InformNapalm articles every month.

          Easy money really.

          Reply
          • stranger

            I’m afraid he would need to burn thouse articles to warm up. And use papers by direct purpose.

          • Mad Dog

            this kind of fake news is straight out of RT. almost word for word. Soros is accused of funding bussed in protestors, the uprising in Ukraine, the missing MH aircraft in Asia, the destruction of the Twin Towers and of course Belling Cat. Good work guys, you can join forces with Breitbart news and enjoy some nice fascist chat time.

          • stranger

            What I’m saying about Soros is based on Higgin’s interview to a nice looking and smart daughter of killed Boris Nemtsov, Zhanna Nemtsova on a Deuitch mass media, I believe DW. Even Nemtsova hinted, “dear Higgins, don’t you pay too much attention to Russia”. And Higgins had to excuse, “we have nothing against Russia, Russia is just an easy prey for us”. He unambiguously stated that the Bcats are financed by the Open Society Foundation among other funds. Looking at the web site of Open Society Foundation you can easily see that George Soros is their founder and the chairman. But, may be in wrong? Find their interview and check yourself.

          • Yuri

            But then again RT is funded by Russian government, which is clearly much worse than being funded by Soros.

      • stranger

        Hotzl, you mean that are we, who are conducting the real investigations of provided articles in the comments?

        So that is the site of investigations and debunking of fakes indeed. But the debunking of the new crap we are proposed to buy on this site. And we, commenters really produce the auditorium.

        Hm, interesting idea, but then Bcats should pay us, commenters, right?

        Reply
  5. stranger

    It’s always useful in the case of international tensions to refer to the history.

    March 3 – the national holiday of Bulgarian their Independence Day. Year 1878 on that day, Russian Empire allied with Slavic brother nations of Serbia and Chernogoria gives a battle to Turkish Ottoman Empire for Bulgaria, which had been under the rule of cruel and Islamic Turks from 1396. Russia helps to liberate Bulgaria and grant it independence.

    March 2017 Bulgarian Christo Grozev returns the debt to Russia plus interest.

    You are asking why this is so disgusting place on the net…

    Reply
    • stranger

      Well, to the best of my understanding there is no a single entity of Cossacks now. Different people can call themselves so and/or wear fancy hats. Historically, yes, that was military nations which lived in a free and dangerous areas on the border between Poland (now Ukraine), Russia and aggressive and barbarian Tatars. Nowadays that is strongly watered down.

      Reply
      • Feanor

        You are partially incorrect. Cossack organizations have official status in Russia and have ties to the Russian government. The exact nature is a tad murky but the wikipedia article Registered Cossacks of the Russian Federation is a good starting point if you’ve never heard of them (which is hard to believe given that you live in Russia). So while yes, strictly speaking, anyone can dress up in traditional Cossack garb, there’s a difference between putting on a costume and being part of a recognized paramilitary formation with a definite rank structure and uniform.

        That having been said, we also have to look at Cossacks as a social movement, and the role they’ve played in various conflicts across Eastern Europe in the post-Soviet years. The persistence with which they crop up in everything, from Georgia to Serbia, from Transnestria to Donbass, suggests that there’s more then just a clever plan by Putin at work. If anything one might argue that the social movement is genuine and the Russian government uses it for its own ends.

        Reply
        • stranger

          Well, I’ve read wiki. First of all the Cossack movement started long time ago. The first rehabilitation of Cossacks as suffered from soviet policies nation (or whatever it is) appeared even in the late USSR. In the years of total decay and chaos in 90s, Cossack movements reappeared from the bottom, from self organization of those people. The first Cossack groups were officially registered in 1997-98, the times of sluggish Yeltsin presidency. I guess, since Cossacks were loyal to the state historically, the state tried to use them or at least to have them at its side better than at the opposite side. Nowadays I believe Kremlin is playing with Cossacks and it’s a question who uses whom. In anyway it is wrong to think that Kremlin invented or created Cossacks to serve it, or it’s a Putin ‘clever plan’.
          I still don’t think all Cossacks are equally Cossacks and suppose there are many branches and unrelated groups.
          By their nature and history they observe the military traditions of their ansestors. Which probably explains their interest in all military conflicts at ex USSR region, which were A LOT, due to ethnicity mostly by all the perimeter of USSR. But again they have nothing to do with the cause of those conflicts.
          Are there any evidences, that as you said “Cossacks play a role in the Eastern Europe”? I’ve seen none so far. Or moreover that they are subordinated to Kremlin? None again. The article above is a piece of laugh and in no way proves any purpose or relation of fancy hats at Balkans.
          From my personal perception I believe there are different kinds of peoples who call themselves Cossacks and I don’t understand that movement and don’t feel nice about having a kind of such mirror semi-official organizations.

          Reply
          • Feanor

            Sorry but Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, and Serbia, are all in Eastern Europe. Arguably so is Georgia. Who they are subordinated to is another story. Either way their performance in the current Ukrainian war was lackluster to put it mildly, and in the 8-8-8 war they were more of a hindrance then a help to the Russian Army. It’s also interesting to note that to the best of my knowledge, Cossacks didn’t play any significant roles in the conflicts across Central Asia, despite the plethora of opportunities and the definite interest Russia has in Central Asian affairs.

            Either way, who or what exactly was involved under the guise of “Cossacks” in this case is hard to tell. I merely wanted to make sure that it was understood that Cossacks are far more then some historic figures. They’re very much alive and kicking though the role they play in Russian affairs is different today.

          • stranger

            Well, usually post soviet states are barely called Eastern Europe, even though geographically all Russia up to Ural Mountains is Europe. Eastern Europe is rather called Poland, Czeks, Balkans, Baltics.
            But thank you for your note on the Cossack organization in Russia, it was curious to read it on wiki. Nevertheless that in no way adds
            any credibility to the article above, because the logical chain in the article is very poor itself.

        • stranger

          I suppose russia is a big country and Kremlin tends to play with different self organized groups to more or less control them, other than pushing them into the underground opposition. The same concerns Chechnya, which many people are not happy with. But that is believed to be better than it could be otherwise.

          Reply
  6. Cody Johnson Jr

    Hey, I donated to Bellingcat for their outstanding journalism and look forward to receiving my Bellingcat mug, poster, and Molly Crabapple silk screen print art.

    Just kidding.

    Reply
    • stranger

      Just wonder can negative amount be donated, a la fines? If I don’t like they lie and slandering of Russia.

      Reply
  7. stranger

    Frankly, Russia should learn to sue mass media and internet media for lie and unconfirmed data presented as facts. And hire and support layers by oil money. All small slanderers would go bankrupt on their lawyers and court trials.

    Reply

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