The latest event in the forensic probe of Spygate hasn’t gotten the play it would in the absence of violent riots being staged across America by the black bloc squads. Conservative media did duly note on Friday that, through the superb work of some Internet sleuths, the long-anonymous “primary sub-source” for the Steele dossier has been identified. That event was made possible by the release, in redacted form, of the PSS’s FBI interview in January 2017.
identification of PSS at https://t.co/TtYTdjBIj9 is about as certain as can be. I've crosschecked details and everything matches. Hans, FN, walkafyre have all checked it as well. So take it to the bank.
— Stephen McIntyre (@ClimateAudit) July 19, 2020
As laid out in this and related threads, the sleuths in question were able to narrow it down to Russia-born Igor Danchenko, a 42-year-old analyst and researcher who attended high school and got university degrees in the U.S., and has worked, among other jobs, at the Brookings Institution, where he collaborated with Fiona Hill of the National Security Council and House Ukraine testimony fame.
Danchenko is still in the U.S. on a work visa, according to research last week. His lawyer has reportedly acknowledged that he’s the PSS. So we have that point put to bed, and can be confident in reflecting that Danchenko, as much as Steele (if not more), looks in this story line like a red-jersey from Star Trek The Original Series. Not going to get much character development, except for the odd McGuffin detail, and escorted off-stage in the second act – by taking an artistic fall, if he’s lucky.
Identifying Danchenko, and perusing the visible portions of his FBI interview, did do something else important, however. I imagine it will spark additional thought processes for others, and I am only going to deal with one here. To date, the most significant thing Danchenko’s interview has done for me is flag the reference to his first “paid trip” assignment from Steele at Orbis Business Intelligence.
The paragraph on this is found on page 9 of the PDF document placed online the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The date of this expedition is blanked out, but based on what comes afterward, and the inference that this section of the interview is a largely chronological account, I’d estimate it was sometime between late 2010 and early 2012.
The interview records Danchenko saying that “his specific project involved inquires [sic] about a [redacted, apparently a type of company],” which Danchenko didn’t name. But the interest seemed to revolve around “the company’s owner, which he described as a former Russian senator and Duma deputy.”
As outlined in the notes, “It was a due diligence assignment, and he was meant to look for company/management links to organized crime and Russia’s regional and federal power structures.”
Now, the sleuth brigade determined that Danchenko was from the Russian city of Perm, which catches the attention as regards this particular inaugural assignment.
Even as a mere due diligence assignment, this one had to have some level of meaning for Steele. Former senators who own companies in Russia are not random figures.* It seems unlikely that Steele would send someone who had done relatively little work for him to do that kind of digging, if Danchenko didn’t bring something of his own to the table.
That’s one reason the name of a Russian we’ve met before, in seemingly tangential circumstances, is the one that popped up for me in pondering who this Russian company-owner might be. The timing would be right for him to be a former senator when Danchenko received this task (not the case for the handful of other possibilities I unearthed). This individual represented the Kirov Oblast east of Moscow.
And inside Russia, his base of commercial business operations, per se, is centered on the Chuvash Republic between Moscow and Perm.
The businesses are also a network of energy and manufacturing enterprises, which would be up Danchenko’s professional alley, at least based on his resume and extant research oeuvre at the time.
To dig on a company owner in this region Steele might well favor a native of Perm, or another of the hub cities in the region, over someone from Moscow, even if the fellow was rather lacking in intelligence-gathering experience.
None of this big build-up means I have the company owner identified correctly. There’s one detail that doesn’t fit, and that’s Danchenko’s statement that the owner, besides having been a senator, had also been a Duma deputy. This owner doesn’t have that elected office in his background. On the other hand, he has years of prominent, highly placed employment with the staffs and councils that support the Duma.
The crony to be named later?
In-depth researchers may have already discerned that I’m referring to Alexei Klishin. Klishin, a lawyer, is a crony of Joseph Mifsud and Mifsud’s attorney Stephan Roh – the crony who participated with both of them in a forum at Link Campus University in Rome just after the U.S. 2016 election (next link below).
Of equal importance, Klishin’s name was on two curious companies associated with Roh’s nuclear materials business, Severnvale. The companies were Darken Trading Limited, incorporated in Cyprus, and Neftinvest KV, a Russian company.
Scott Stedman, writing at Forensic News, has laid out the connection of the Klishin companies with an Ireland-incorporated shipping business originally called Severnvale Nuclear Trading Limited, which was formed in September 2006, not long after Stephan Roh bought the separate Severnvale company in the UK (which at the time traded in nuclear material for medical purposes) in October 2005.
I’ve traced how Roh’s Severnvale operation tracked quite exactly with the dates of Bill and Hillary’s excellent adventure with uranium in Kazakhstan and the U.S., including the all-important Hillary stint at the State Department. It continues to seem remarkable in the extreme that Roh purchased Severnvale in October 2005, on the heels of Bill Clinton’s visit to Kazakhstan in September 2005, and then Severnvale was ultimately dissolved in February 2013, 12 days after Hillary’s departure from Foggy Bottom.
That analysis was posted in December 2019. Then came this update. In January 2020, BuzzFeed reported a British court allegation that Stephan Roh controls about two dozen companies connected to the concealed assets of Mukhtar Ablyazov, a Kazakh oligarch with a rap sheet a mile long wanted in half a dozen countries. In this matter as in others, BuzzFeed consistently tries to link its reporting on Roh to Donald Trump.
But Mukhtar Ablyazov was, much more relevantly, one of the two partners in Kazakhstan who brokered the Frank Giustra UrAsia deal that inaugurated the Uranium One saga. That deal was the one greased by Bill Clinton in 2005. The connection BuzzFeed reports on thus makes it even less likely that the timing of Roh’s Severnvale venture was merely coincidental with the Clinton bookend dates on Kazakhstan and Uranium One. (As noted also in a 2018 article, Bill Clinton and Stephan Roh are acquainted, although it’s not clear how well.)
Fun with puns
There’s one other odd little aspect of this particular sub-saga that bears noting. A BuzzFeed investigative report in February 2019 revealed that another business of Stephan Roh’s, UK-incorporated Inverhold Limited, had abruptly changed its name in April 2018 to No Vichok Ltd.
The company in question never seemed to do very much, before or after the name change. But weeks before, in March 2018, the nerve agent Novichok had been used (reportedly by Russian GRU agents) to poison Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who were residing in Salisbury in the UK.
BuzzFeed questioned Roh on the matter, and recorded this response: “Roh suggested in an email to BuzzFeed News that the nerve agent attack was a western intelligence conspiracy, and the company was intended to do research.”
This seeming penchant for punning on company names might or might not be a little leg-pulling signature move. Maybe it means nothing. But let’s try this next one on for size anyway.
Followers of the Roh-connected Spygate sub-saga may remember that Severnvale Nuclear Trading – the shipping company in Ireland – changed its name in 2008 to Vinkins Holdings Ltd. To the anglophone ear, that just sounds like probably a Dutch or German name or some such thing, adopted sometime in the past into the family of names you might encounter in the British Isles. It’s unusual, but not so much that you’d really take notice.
In Finnish grammar, however, “vinkin” is one form, the genitive case, of a common noun, vinkki. If you anglicized the plural of the genitive, you’d say “vinkins” to signify more than one.
And what you’d be saying, in that pidgin Finnish, is “hints,” or “clues.”
Moreover, you could also concoct the first syllable of Vinkins from the full name of a Russian investment company we’ll meet below: Volzhskaya Investicionnaya Kompaniya (VIK). The company — VIK — has a direct and significant connection to Vinkins Holdings Ltd, and the fingerprints of Alexei Klishin all over it.
We’ll also see in a future article that the possibility of someone in this mix punning on a Finnish (and probably Russian) connection, ca. 2008, is not as remote as it might sound.
Meanwhile, back to Alexei Klishin. Darken Trading is of some interest to the 2016 story, with the latter’s entrapment of Trump-linked consultants-about-Europe in the energy business (i.e., Papadopoulos and Page). The Darken company seems to have relevance solely in that sense.
The Neftinvest connection, however, is the window into Klishin’s activities inside Russia: the ones Christopher Steele would have wanted Igor Danchenko to compile a dossier on (if Klishin is our man for that paragraph in the 2017 interview).
Even if Klishin wasn’t Danchenko’s assigned quarry, the rest of this still matters. Neftinvest the Russian company was owned by the Russian parent company VIK, which had ownership or significant (in some cases controlling) interest in a list of businesses in the Chuvash Republic (mentioned above). Note, however, what Scott Stedman indicated in his Forensic News piece: that Neftinvest KV was listed in a Vinkins Holdings business filing as a subsidiary of Vinkins Holdings. (And go ahead: ponder anew the linguistic origin of “Vinkins,” as discussed above.)
Those details, combined, turn out to solidify the Roh-Klishin connection at the center of a web whose strands reach to Uranium One, in all its implications, and Spygate in 2016.
The Klishin Connection
VIK was formed before Alexei Klishin was a senior principal-level player. But by the 2010 era, Klishin and his close associates in Klishin’s eponymous law practice, Klishin & Partners, were the majority owners of most everything in VIK’s portfolio. (See the next link, below.)
Unsurprisingly, as these things go in Russia, Klishin & Partners does a lot of business with the Kremlin. Klishin wasn’t wasting his time all those years in the precincts of the Duma; he was building cred in the power structure to be trusted with control of commercial businesses as well as legal expertise.
This Russian researcher (whose work can be verified with online searches, although they’ll make your eyeballs bleed) is the best one-stop source I’ve encountered. He appears to know Chuvashia extremely well. His opening points are about a power company called KT (for Kommunalnye Tehnologii), which has some relevance for our interest. Another brief reference to the company Khimprom (a chemicals company) is a topic of even more significant concern to us. The rest is fascinating reading.
I should observe before diving in that “Neft” means oil, so wherever you see it in an abbreviated name, the significance is that we’re talking about an oil-industry company. In general, VIK’s stable involves oil, chemicals, and retail energy. That’s one reason Igor Danchenko’s resume would in theory have suited him for a due-diligence dig on VIK.
Regarding the KT enterprise, the “Wrong Tariff” blog post makes the point that it was organized to operate the retail energy delivery of multiple power companies in the Chuvash Republic. That occurred in the mid-2000s. In that family of companies, one obtained a contract in 2017 to supply the Skolkovo technology village, the “Russian Silicon Valley” just outside Moscow.
This was the Russian state project into which Hillary Clinton had put so much time and effort during her tenure at the State Department. It was long past her departure from that post when the marginally Klishin-linked agreement was made between a Chuvashian company and Skolkovo. Indeed, there is not a great deal in this transaction to invest it with meaning for our purposes, other than one circumstantial factor that ties it to the other interesting topic in the Klishin-Chuvashia data set.
That factor is the connection with high-profile oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Vekselberg, one of the best-known Clinton Foundation donors, was the oligarch placed in charge of Skolkovo on its inauguration in 2010. And he played a major role in the saga of the Khimprom chemicals company, formerly a subsidiary of VIK: mentioned briefly in the “Wrong Tariff” post, and a key feature of the Klishin story line.
Vekselberg and the big payoff
It’s this feature that clamps bands of steel to the Clinton connection and 2016, and solidifies and enhances the Klishin connection as well. The highlights of the Vekselberg link are the timeframe in which he was working to acquire control of Khimprom from VIK – 2006-07 – and a specific element of what, with Khimprom, he was seeking control of.
The timing in itself is absolutely fascinating. But the nuts and bolts of Khimprom in that period were similarly significant. Although Khimprom’s industrial product may be comparatively anodyne, for the most part, one element of it at the time was what we might call super-whammadine: the JSC Khimprom Engineering subsidiary, which manufactured and installed gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment.
When the proposal was floated for high-powered Viktor Vekselberg to gain control of the gas centrifuge arm of Khimprom, the military establishment reportedly had the proverbial cow. Khimprom was the chief contractor for these services for the military.
The fascinating timing was bound to compound that. Consider what else was going on in 2006 and 2007. Yes: Frank Giustra was reaping the fruits of Bill Clinton’s exertions in Kazakhstan – to the chagrin of Vladimir Putin, who wanted control of Kazakhstan’s uranium for Russia.
Although Vekselberg’s main connection with the Clintons developed later (in the Skolkovo period, when he figured as a donor), he was involved in 2006 in a soured business deal with one of the Clintons’ biggest donors, Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk (see also here). It was also in 2006 that Vekselberg merged his aluminum company, SUAL, with the metals company Glencore owned by Marc Rich, beneficiary of the infamous pardon issued by Bill Clinton in January 2001. The Clintons took in large donations from multiple entities connected to Rich in the 2000s, making his commercial dealings a matter of enduring interest to them.
We can add into the mix the factor that Iran was busy stealthily building up a centrifuge manufacturing capability, and had lost the A.Q. Khan pipeline (in late 2003) since the last time Tehran and Moscow had had a serious chat about centrifuges in the mid-1990s. The years 2006 and 2007 were especially freighted in this regard, as it was precisely when the United Nations was deliberating the sanctions policy on Iran that defined the near-decade until the JCPOA was eventually implemented in 2016. In 2006, Russia and Iran renewed their enrichment liaison, Moscow sending then-Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Kislyak to discuss a joint uranium enrichment proposal with Iran, a venture interpreted in the West as a way to allay the concerns of the U.S. and EU-3.
(Don’t forget that Klishin’s crony Stephan Roh made his sudden nuclear move with Severnvale in the same period – and also seems to have had a direct connection to the action in Kazakhstan. So we can assume Klishin, who was a senator at the time and also the key principal for VIK’s residual control of Khimprom, wasn’t just off running coffee and doughnuts while Vekselberg, the Clintons, and a cast of Kazakhs and Canadians were engaged on the business nuclear.)
This was a period when whatever decision was ultimately made about the centrifuge industry, it was going to be Putin’s, and it was going to be about his vision and strategy. Bill Clinton helping the Canadian Frank Giustra buy Kazakh uranium out from under Russia was not pleasing to him. Vekselberg, meanwhile, was connected in the Kremlin, but Putin clearly had other ideas than letting Vekselberg have genuine control of the Russian military’s centrifuge supplier. The Khimprom centrifuge subsidiary wasn’t just important to the military; it was a vector-maker for foreign policy as well, with aspiring nuclear states like Iran and potentially others in the Middle East.
Starting in 2006, Vekselberg’s maneuver was fought bureaucratically inside Russia with environmental allegations about other Khimprom activities. This hash seemed to be settled in early 2007, when the new minister of defense, Anatoly Serdyukov, was accorded a seat on the Khimprom board of directors. By August of 2007, Vekselberg’s Renova investment company had gained a controlling interest in Khimprom.
But that arrangement didn’t last long for the centrifuge segment of the company. More maneuvers followed. And in 2010 – the year Russia’s Renaissance Capital paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a speech as the Uranium One sale hung in the balance – the gas centrifuge segment of Khimprom was handed over to another company whose name you will no doubt recognize: Tenex.
That would be the Tenex that figured so prominently in the Uranium One buyout, and whose American subsidiary, Tenam, was involved in rampant bribery and kickbacks – documented for Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein by an inside informant for the FBI – at the same time Hillary was signing off on the Uranium One sale to Russia. (Note also that the FBI informant documented Russian assistance to Iran’s nuclear program in the same period.)
The pattern … intensifies
Later in the Obama years, three interesting things happened. One was that Tenex, which had contracted since the end of the Cold War to supply uranium to U.S. companies under the “Megatons to Megawatts” disarmament program, extended some major U.S. contracts past the original expiration date of 2013. Two of those contracts were extended, respectively, to 2022 and 2026.
And by 2013, the Russians were no longer selling us the residual materials from their old weapons program. They were selling us newly mined and milled uranium. Basically, instead of bolstering our own uranium industry, we were paying the Russians to bolster theirs.
Setting this alongside the poorly conceived Uranium One sale, we can say of it at the very least that it’s not a deal Donald Trump would have made.
Another interesting thing was that in 2012, Tenex was reorganized by the Russians into a part of Rosatom, the state-owned nuclear industry enterprise that had bought out Uranium One. (Perhaps Putin was so intimidated by President Obama’s 2012 promise about being more flexible after the election that he felt an urgent need to consolidate control of Russia’s strategic industries, as a defensive precaution.) That put the centrifuge enterprise in the Rosatom fold, under the undivided control of the Kremlin.
And the third interesting development was that, within weeks of the announcement of the JCPOA with Iran in July 2015, Russia and Iran were talking openly about Russian support to Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing industry – which of course would involve the Tenex arm of Rosatom, and at least some in the circle of highly placed Russians who still had the Clintons on speed-dial. (Remember, this was before Hillary lost the 2016 election and became irrelevant.)
No one-offs in sight: This was continuing policy
Let’s be real here. This isn’t only about the Clintons. It was the Obama administration that did the heavy lifting to produce the 2015 JCPOA, and ran pallets of cash in a hostage-redemption scheme to keep Iran in a state of pretended compliance. It was the Obama administration that approved the Uranium One deal, and the contract extensions with Tenex that could better have been sunsetted to allow for more U.S. domestic sourcing of uranium.
It was certainly the Obama administration that controlled whether the intelligence apparatus of the U.S. government was deployed with nefarious stratagems and methods against an incoming president. None of that was ultimately Hillary’s or Bill’s call.
But one thing is clarified by the circumstances surrounding Igor Danchenko’s red-jersey role in the Spygate melodrama. It’s simply that there’s a reason why all these particular names and interests keep cropping up in the same place.
And people are wrong who say we already know in full what the reason was. Everything they list is too shallow and situational to justify or explain the entirety of the enterprise – the plot against America and American interests – that’s being slowly uncovered. It’s not just about the Clintons, and it’s certainly not just about the Clintons making money (or the Obamas, for that matter).
Determining that fundamental reason is what ought to drive us onward until every last rock has been turned over.
A policy long in the making
One other thing is also clear: Steele looks more and more like a bit player with each passing day. All these people being in the same place for the same reason aren’t just an artifact of the dossier’s narrative. The real-world story line involving all of them isn’t made up, and it long preceded what has been exposed through wirebrushing the dossier and the web around it.
That’s one reason for not dismissing the probability that it matters what else Steele had Danchenko looking into, prior to 2016. Steele and Orbis weren’t just doing random stuff between 2009 and 2016.
It isn’t proven that Danchenko’s early assignment from Steele was to snoop around Alexei Klishin. But Klishin was involved in 2016, regardless, as a bit player with a relevant story line. And if it was Klishin whom Danchenko was dispatched to check into, it’s a really good bet that that wasn’t at random, in terms of the later 2016 saga. It could very well have been at the request of one of our principals, for a purpose similar to 2016’s, through a suitable law firm cut-out like Perkins Coie.
The people connections were all in place before Danchenko ever appeared for his minor scene. Remember that Glenn Simpson knew Steele from before the period 2010 to 2012. And Simpson had run in Hillary-connected circles since at least 1994, when he married Mary Jacoby, formerly a Rose Law Firm intern and the daughter of long-time Clinton associate Jon E.M. Jacoby. Simpson and Fusion GPS had done opposition research against Mitt Romney for Obama during the 2012 election. They had sub-contracted for oppo work for Hillary herself in 2009, under a previous name.
And of course, Steele and the Fusion bench were about equally plugged in long before 2016 with the DOJ, FBI, and revolving-door personalities at the State Department and NSC.
All of the Americans and assorted Westerners, meanwhile, not only knew at the time the details of the Russian-linked events the public has only recently learned about from the 2000s and early 2010s – but a number of the individuals had a direct interest in them.
Take just one step back, and it looks incongruous to present Igor Danchenko (whose bland credentials had him doing things like attending a Russian-American friendship conference with, of all people, Pat Buchanan) as the super-secret sub-source in this mix. Hillary’s cell phone knew from Kremlin-connected power companies in the Chuvash Republic better than Danchenko did.
And that’s the real point about the dossier and Danchenko: not that Danchenko wasn’t a FISA-quality source (although he wasn’t), but that the dossier itself is just a big, manufactured red herring. The real action was what Obama and his cabal, and the Clintons and theirs, were doing. Alexei Klishin’s funky connection to Stephan Roh and a gaggle of run-down businesses in the Chuvash Republic is much more important to sorting that out than the dossier is.
* The more I see of Steele, the less impressed I must confess to being. It’s not too early to say we should also wonder who, exactly, would entrust Steele with ferreting out information on a subject like a former Russian senator who owns Russian companies. At this point, we probably already know who’s on that short list. Very possibly a government or government-connected client in the UK or U.S. who’s also in the cast of Spygate.