Dead Russian Oligarchs and those Still Alive

Many mysterious deaths of Russian oligarchs have gained the attention of those following the wealth of Russians and Putin…

In part from Newsweek:

Two Russian oligarchs were found dead this week alongside their family in luxurious homes in Russia and Spain, with the two cases discovered within 24 hours of each other.

Both deaths are believed by police to be cases of murder-suicide, but the evidence supporting these theories is muddled by the fact that the events happened so close together, with the two oligarchs the last of several who have been found to have died by suicide since the beginning of the year.

The longer list includes Sergey Protosenya, Vladislav Avaev, Vasily Melnikov, Mikhail Watford, Alexander Tyulyakov and Leonid Shulman. Click here to read their resumes and reported death details.

There are many many more oligarchs that are for sure getting their affairs in order meaning hiding their assets and hiding themselves or are simply laundering their reputations…from whom and what is quite crazy too. They are paying for higher security of themselves and their families and their assets while some are making donations to Western entities to save face as well as to keep off of sanctions lists by many governments.

In part, an initial database of oligarchic donations to more than 200 of the most prestigious nonprofits in the U.S. — from museums to universities to think tanks. Recipients included some of the country’s foremost institutions, such as Harvard University, the Brookings Institution, and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. U.S. nonprofits even accepted funds from the richest oligarchs in Russia. Vladimir Potanin, considered Russia’s wealthiest oligarch, successfully donated to multiple significant U.S. nonprofits, including the Kennedy Center and Guggenheim Museum. And he didn’t stop at donations: Potanin managed to obtain seats on the Guggenheim’s board of trustees and the global advisory board of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank. All of this transpired despite Potanin’s “close” relationship with Putin and the fact that, as author David Hoffman describes in his groundbreaking 2011 book, The Oligarchs, Potanin acted as the “ringleader” for the oligarchs as they seized assets and political power in the mid-1990s. Read more here.

Then there is Hollywood A-Listers and those relationships with a number of Russian oligarchs….those celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jack Nicholson, Kanye West, Mariah Carey, Leonardo Di Caprio and Brad Pitt.

There is nothing wrong with these international relationships…right? Well, that is to be determined given who is part of illicit activities globally and that does take some real research. You see, Putin exploits oligarchs for political and monetary reasons and locations across the world include the United States, Turkey, Greece and Britain.

Alex Finley, a former officer of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, explains how sanctions that target Russian assets in the West can have a direct impact on President Vladimir Putin’s personal wealth. Finley tells Yahoo News, “Putin holds very little money actually in his own name,” but adds that he maintains his fortune through funds taken out of Russia by oligarchs and stashed in offshore tax havens and companies with anonymous ownership structures.

Oligarchs hold investment interests in real estate, metals, mining, telecoms, and technology and soccer clubs. New York, Miami and London are favorite locations for international real estate and of course there are those that have concealed their identities by making acquisitions through LLCs or offshore trusts.

Only a documentary can put it all in context but Hollywood types hardly have the guts to produce such a piece and then there are the questions of our own Federal government actually sanctioning all those that should be for various reasons due to the devastating invasion/war against Ukraine.











But there is a book, a real book that led to several countries adapting a new law called the Magnitsky Act…including the United States.


More about those Russian Oligarchs in the U.S.

We tend to have short memories but we have a chance to recall Russian operatives in the United States during all things RussiaGate. We learned that oligarchs clean dirty money and escape investigations generally through covert real estate transactions not only in the United States but especially in Britain.

With the sanctions…many of them are now scrambling and should be. Remember that Alfa Bank fake scandal tying Donald Trump directly to the bank servers?

OREANDA-NEWS Billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Peter Aven “in the near future” will resign from the board of directors of Alfa-Bank because of the sanctions imposed against them. Businessmen Alexander Galitsky and Sergey Matsotsky will leave the council together with them. On February 28, against the background of the ongoing Russian “special operation” in Ukraine, the EU blacklisted a number of businessmen, military personnel and public figures.

The press service of Alfa-Bank reported that the board of directors will be headed by the president of the credit institution Oleg Sysuev, who previously held the position of first deputy chairman.

Mikhail Fridman also resigned from the board of directors of Veon, the owner of the Vimpelcom mobile operator (Beeline brand). Friedman has been a member of the board of directors of Veon since 2010, 47.9% of the shares of Veon belong to LetterOne, which is part of the Alfa Group of Mikhail Friedman and partners.

After the start of the “operation” of the Russian army in Ukraine, Western countries imposed new sanctions. Among them are personal restrictions on high-ranking officials, including President Vladimir Putin. Also blacklisted were large businessmen, military, parliamentarians and cultural figures.

Earlier, The Secret wrote that the government would spend part of the National Welfare Fund to buy shares of Russian companies. In 2022, up to 1 trillion rubles will be allocated for these purposes.

While Britain is going after their own oligarchs in and around London…good ole’ Miami Beach has some work to do.

Barrons reports in part:

Altogether, Russian buyers accounted for just 0.8% of all foreign buyers who purchased U.S. residential property between April 2015 and March 2021. During that time, total purchases by foreign-born buyers accounted for just 1.8% of total existing-home sales. A little over half of the Russian purchases were all-cash deals, compared with 27% of overall transactions in January.

Florida was the most popular destination for Russian-born buyers, representing 29% of these deals. Georgia was next at 16%, followed by New York at 13%. But as the report notes, even within Florida these transactions represent a mere fraction of overall home purchases. Only 0.2% of the homes sold in Florida between July 2020 and June 2021 were bought by Russian-born individuals.


Sunny Isles, Florida, has long been an escape for Russia’s wealthy and elite, who have purchased so much luxury property in the area that it’s become known as “Little Moscow” and “Moscow by the Sea.”

sunny isles beachSunny Isles, Florida. Meinzahn/Getty Images

“They love to be here, and they like to spend their money and enjoy their life,” Lana Bell, a Russian real-estate agent, told the News Nation correspondent Brian Entin on Monday.

President Joe Biden issued sanctions this week that target Russia’s elite and their families and restrict the Kremlin’s ability to access Western financial institutions. Though people in Little Moscow have been worried the escalating Russia-Ukraine conflict will threaten their lifestyle and blacklist them from buying American real estate, Entin reported, Bell said it hadn’t been a problem. Experts told the Miami Herald’s Michael Wilner the sanctions in place were unlikely to have a strong effect in South Florida. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday showed the tensions were far from over.

“We are extending the reach of US sanctions to prevent the elites close to Putin from using their kids to hide assets, evade costs, and squander the resources of the Russian people,” a National Security Council official told the Miami Herald. “This is a new approach.”

Anders Åslund, a Swedish economist and the author of “Russia’s Crony Capitalism: The Path from Market Economy to Kleptocracy,” doesn’t think this will affect the Russian rich in the greater Miami region that Little Moscow is in. He told Wilner that the Miami Russians weren’t powerful enough to feel the sanction burn.

“These are comfortable people, rather than the top people,” he said.

Florida’s Russian rich

In Sunny Isles, condos can cost as much as $35 million. The most expensive home in the area listed on Sotheby’s is $13.9 million. It’s an area where the Trump brand is dominant, which The Washington Post reported was part of the appeal among Russian investors looking to move their money in the post-Soviet economy.

Jose Lima, a salesperson for the company that developed the region’s Trump towers, told The Post in 2016 that Russian speakers bought about one-third of the 500 units he sold. (While Trump doesn’t actually own the buildings, The Post reported, he licensed the use of his name there.)


Russia a No-Show at the International Court of Justice

We have heard that the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into Putin and being a war criminal. Not only is it on full display for more than a week, but his war crimes go back to the conflict in Syria. At least 39 countries have sent referrals to the ICJ regarding Putin’s full scale invasion of Ukraine. The ICJ is expected to fast track the investigation. This could get messy as Russia is not a member of the International Criminal Court and for that matter neither is the United States.

Putin has justified his invasion of Ukraine claiming genocide of Russian citizens as well as ongoing military hostilities. Yeesh.

Many don’t realize that many within Putin’s inner circle have not only turned on him, and have provided intelligence to the West including Ukraine to be able to take offensive measures especially in the matters of the assassination squads sent to kill the members of the Ukraine government including President Zelensky. Additionally, there are others within Putin’s orbit that have resigned and fled Russia for fear of prosecution which really means execution.

One of Putin’s lawyers, Alain Pellet resigned last week and described the reason to be the widely known fact that the Kremlin despises law…including international law. You can read his letter here.

The truth is, the ICJ should not begin or end with Putin as a war criminal, it should included the oligarchs and other Duma operatives that have enabled this war and the illegal activities associated with it including Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin.

Prigozhin is on the FBI’s most wanted list.


He has a long list of criminal charges against him including that troll factory that was located in St. Petersburg that interfered with the 2014 U.S. election process. He has ties to Indonesia and Qatar as well.

The UK is the first country to not only step up in cooperation with the ICJ but has a team that is working the critical task to preserve all evidence of war crimes including shelling location, types of missiles including cluster-bombs and the fact that Russia violated at least 2 cease fires after agreeing to humanitarian escape corridors in Ukraine.

(rather like a feeble Nuremberg trial)

So, what is the process of the International Criminal Court you ask? In part:

The court has 123 member states, but neither Russia nor Ukraine is a party. However, back in 2015 when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, Ukraine referred the conflict to the court for investigation. And there’s a provision in the Rome Statute — article 12.3 — which allows states that are not members of the court to refer a conflict and allegations of crimes to the court. But an investigation has to be triggered, and one way for that to happen is if one of the 123 member states asks the court to investigate. And it was just announced Thursday night that 39 states referred the Ukraine situation to the International Criminal Court for investigation. So, the prosecutor of that court announced that he is immediately opening up an investigation and will start collecting evidence. That investigation is also open into past crimes that could have occurred in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Why is it important for the court to begin investigating now, rather than waiting for the conflict to end?

Investigations and prosecutions are important even before cases are brought before the court because they bring attention to the crimes that are being committed, and to the victims of these of these crimes. So, even aside from what happens in court down the road, the act of investigating and framing what is happening and naming it is extremely important.

What types of crimes can the International Criminal Court investigate?

The International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over four types of crime: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and the crime of aggression. And there is no doubt that this is an act of aggression by Russia against Ukraine. However, the crime of aggression has a particular requirement, which is different from all the other crimes. It can only be prosecuted by the court if one member state commits an act of aggression against another. Since neither Russia nor Ukraine is a member, the crime of aggression here does not apply. So, the International Criminal Court is focusing on war crimes, and it will also consider crimes against humanity if they arise.

There is also an International Court of Justice. What role does it play?

The International Criminal Court investigates and prosecutes international crimes committed by individuals. The International Court of Justice resolves disputes between states. Ukraine has brought an emergency case before that court, which will be heard next week. The focus of Ukraine’s complaint is that Russia has used as one of its justifications — I’ll say, phony justification — for invading Ukraine the allegation that there is a threat of genocide against Russian nationals living in Ukraine. Ukraine says this is nonsense. The ICJ should rule that there is no such threat and that assertion cannot be used as a justification for the invasion.

Any real hope for justice on this? Not really.

$30 Million in Grants for Kits of Crack, Cocaine and Meth, no Really

Update –> There is a BIG mess going on in DC about how ‘crack pipes’ are part of the ‘safe smoking kits’….HHS Secretary and the White House are saying that crack pipes are not included in the distribution…yeah okay…but hold on fact checkers….upon doing more checking seems our own government was funding a crack pipe study in Mexico….you know that Dr. Fauci agency….now we may know where this all started.

This is the page regarding the crack pipe study we paid for in 2019 in Mexico. 

This is the screenshot in case it goes away…giggles: 

When government become an illicit drug distributor….a bridge too far?

Source: In the name of harm reduction, the substance abuse arm of the Health and Human Services Agency will begin providing funds to help distribute “safe smoking kits” for the consumption of various illicit drugs like crack cocaine and crystal meth.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA) has allocated roughly $30 million for a Harm Reduction Program Grant, which includes funding for syringe exchange programs, the opioid reversal drug naloxone, test kits to detect fentanyl and “safe smoking kits/supplies,” among other more traditional measures, like HIV testing and safer sex resources.

A grant program funded by the Biden administration will furnish syringes and “safe smoking kits” among other items as a means to advancing equity.

The deadline for the $30 million program is Monday, with the Department of Health and Human Services distributing funds to nonprofit groups and local governments. Among the items the grant will pay for are syringes and “safe smoking kits/supplies.”The kits will allow users to smoke crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, and other illicit substances. source

*** Per the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) website, the top paragraph reads –>

Drug Enforcement Administration

The Drug Enforcement Administration enforces the United States’ controlled substance laws and regulations and aims to reduce the supply of and demand for such substances.

Support for drug demand reduction and prevention programs through educational and other campaigns and initiatives including the Red Ribbon CampaignNational Takeback DayOperation Engage and One Pill Can Kill.

How does the Department of Justice of which the DEA is the authority square with this exactly? We now have local, state and the Federal governments contributing to the drug epidemic problem plaguing the whole country. Policymakers are just nuts and exactly how is this objective contributing to a positive outcome?

Article continues (…)

'Crack pipes is where we draw the line': Safe smoking kits ...

Harm reduction efforts, like testing for infectious diseases, needle exchanges and naloxone distribution programs, are nothing new, but providing federal taxpayer funds for paraphernalia used to smoke drugs is.


An HHS spokesperson reportedly confirmed to The Washington Free Beacon these “safe smoking kits” will provide pipes for the consumption of “any illicit substance” to reduce the risk of infection, which can potentially occur through cuts and sores.

Seattle previously distributed meth pipes to residents in 2015, according to Reuters, but it’s reportedly hard to tell the benefit such a program can have.

“It is plausible the intervention could be effective,” said Matthew Golden, a Seattle and King County disease control official and a University of Washington medical professor, when the program was launched. “It’s simply an unstudied idea.”

One nonprofit said it had conducted research which determined meth users would be less likely to inject the drug if given access to pipes, but there is little evidence to back up such a claim, Reuters reported.

San Francisco has handed out crack pipes as well, according to local reporting, where allegedly an estimated 25,000 people actively inject drugs.

The SAMHSA grant’s $30 million will be spread across three years, and the money will be prioritized for “underserved communities that are greatly impacted by substance use disorder (SUD).”

Other measures funded by the grant include harm reduction vending machines – including the contents to stock them, infectious disease test kits and medicines, vaccination services and wound care supplies.

The National Desk reached out to SAMHSA to see if the “safe smoking kits” will also be available at harm reduction vending machines across the country but did not receive an immediate response in time for publication. This story will be updated if a response is obtained.

Meanwhile, Microsoft Details the Russian Hack of Ukraine

The Windows maker’s Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) is tracking the cluster under the moniker ACTINIUM (previously as DEV-0157), sticking to its tradition of identifying nation-state activities by chemical element names.

The Ukrainian government, in November 2021, publicly attributed Gamaredon to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and connected its operations to the FSB Office of Russia in the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. Details.


Gamaredon APT Improves Toolset to Target Ukraine Government, Military |  Threatpost source

The Gamaredon APT was first spotted in 2013 and in 2015, when researchers at LookingGlass shared the details of a cyber espionage operation tracked as Operation Armageddon, targeting other Ukrainian entities. Their “special attention” on Eastern European countries was also confirmed by CERT-UA, the Ukrainian Computer Emergency Response Team.

The discovered attack appears to be designed to lure military personnel: it  leverage a legit document of the “State of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” dated back in the 2nd April 2019. Source

For this reason, Cybaze-Yoroi ZLAB team dissected this suspicious sample to confirm the possible link with Russian threat actors.


There are several outside government cyber experts that are reporting much the same as Microsoft as noted here.

Source: While Gamaredon has mainly targeted Ukrainian officials and organizations in the past, the group attempted an attack on January 19 that aimed to compromise a Western government “entity” in Ukraine, researchers at Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 organization reported Thursday. Gamaredon leadership includes five Russian Federal Security Service officers, the Security Service of Ukraine said previously.

Microsoft threat researchers released their own findings on Gamaredon in the blog post today, disclosing that the group has been actively involved in malicious cyber activity in Ukraine since October 2021.

While the hacker group has been dubbed “Gamaredon” by Unit 42, Microsoft refers to the group by the name “Actinium.”

“In the last six months, MSTIC has observed ACTINIUM targeting organizations in Ukraine spanning government, military, non-government organizations (NGO), judiciary, law enforcement, and non-profit, with the primary intent of exfiltrating sensitive information, maintaining access, and using acquired access to move laterally into related organizations,” the threat researchers said in the post. “MSTIC has observed ACTINIUM operating out of Crimea with objectives consistent with cyber espionage.”

Evading detection

Tactics used frequently by the group include spear-phishing emails with malicious macro attachments, resulting in deployment of remote templates, the researchers said. By causing a document to load a remote document template with malicious code—the macros—this “ensures that malicious content is only loaded when required (for example, when the user opens the document),” Microsoft said.

“This helps attackers to evade static detections, for example, by systems that scan attachments for malicious content,” the researchers said. “Having the malicious macro hosted remotely also allows an attacker to control when and how the malicious component is delivered, further evading detection by preventing automated systems from obtaining and analyzing the malicious component.”

The Microsoft researchers report that they’ve observed numerous email phishing lures used by Gamaredon, including those that impersonate legitimate organizations, “using benign attachments to establish trust and familiarity with the target.”

In terms of malware, Gamaredon uses a variety of different strains—the most “feature-rich” of which is Pterodo, according to Microsoft. The Pterodo malware family brings an “ability to evade detection and thwart analysis” through the use of a “dynamic Windows function hashing algorithm to map necessary API components, and an ‘on-demand’ scheme for decrypting needed data and freeing allocated heap space when used,” the researchers said.

Meanwhile, the PowerPunch malware used by the group is “an agile and evolving sequence of malicious code,” Microsoft said. Other malware families employed by Gamaredon include ObfuMerry, ObfuBerry, DilongTrash, DinoTrain, and DesertDown.

‘Very agile threat’

Gamaredon “quickly develops new obfuscated and lightweight capabilities to deploy more advanced malware later,” the Microsoft researchers said. “These are fast-moving targets with a high degree of variance.”

Payloads analyzed by the researchers show a major emphasis on obfuscated VBScript (Visual Basic Script), a Microsoft scripting language. “As an attack, this is not a novel approach, yet it continues to prove successful as antivirus solutions must consistently adapt to keep pace with a very agile threat,” the researchers said.

Unit 42 had reported Thursday that Gamaredon’s attempted attack against a western government organization in January involved a targeted phishing attempt.

Instead of emailing the malware downloader to their target, Gamaredon “leveraged a job search and employment service within Ukraine,” the Unit 42 researchers said. “In doing so, the actors searched for an active job posting, uploaded their downloader as a resume and submitted it through the job search platform to a Western government entity.”

Due to the “steps and precision delivery involved in this campaign, it appears this may have been a specific, deliberate attempt by Gamaredon to compromise this Western government organization,” Unit 42 said in its post.

Unit 42 has said it’s not identifying or further describing the western government entity that was targeted by Gamaredon.

No connection to ‘WhisperGate’ attacks

The attempted January 19 attack by Gamaredon came less than a week after more than 70 Ukrainian government websites were targeted with the new “WhisperGate” family of malware.

However, the threat actor responsible for those attacks appears to be separate from Gamaredon, the Microsoft researchers said in the post today. The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center “has not found any indicators correlating these two actors or their operations,” the researchers said.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last month suggested it’s possible that Russia might be eyeing a cyberattack against U.S. infrastructure, amid tensions between the countries over Ukraine.

Estimates suggest Russia has stationed more than 100,000 troops on the eastern border of Ukraine. On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden approved sending an additional 3,000 U.S. troops to Eastern Europe.