Illarionov: Venediktov was interested in the conditions under which two well-known official of the Putin administration may not be included in the “Kremlin report”
Photo: Alexander Khomenko / Gordonua.com
January 29, the U.S. Treasury Department submitted to Congress the “Kremlin report”. Its open part is list of the 114 senior officials and 96 of oligarchs close to the “Russian regime” – published by the American business magazine. The report mentioned the Russian Ministers, assistants and advisers of President Vladimir Putin, the heads of Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as businesspeople with a fortune of more than $1 billion, according to Russian Forbes.
On January 31, the Atlantic Council expert Anders Aslund stated that the list was changed. According to him, initially the paper stated that the oligarchs and officials who have earned the status due to relations with Putin. At the same time, the Treasury Department’s assistant Secretary for public Affairs Tony Sayegh claims that the following list is close to Kremlin officials and businessmen “widely misunderstood”.
How to create a report, why much of the information was classified and what steps to expect from Congress in the near future, in an interview with “GORDON” said one of the participants of the working group on development of criteria for the identification of persons involved in the report, a former adviser to President Putin, senior research fellow, Center for global liberty and prosperity at the Cato Institute in Washington, political scientist and economist Andrei Illarionov.
In recent months, Washington has a lot of “walkers” who were interested in how to get on the list
– As work began on the “Kremlin report” and what role you played Andrei Piontkovsky?
– Once in July of last year Congress passed, and in August of the same year, President Donald trump signed the law №3364 “to combat the opponents of the United States to Iran, North Korea and Russia”, the US administration established an interdepartmental group, which includes representatives of the Ministry of Finance, State Department and National intelligence. The group began work on implementation included in the law instructions.
Special work was carried out for the implementation of article 241 of the law. It had to prepare a report which shall include the list of politically important figures close to the Russian regime and President Vladimir Putin, the so-called oligarchs, the state and parastatal organizations that make up the core of Putin’s political regime. The group was required to prepare a report within 180 days and publish it on 29 January this year. Moreover, the article cited a fairly detailed list of information that should be presented in the report. There’s also stipulates that the report may be closed part, which will not be published.
Some time after the beginning of work of the interdepartmental group to me and my colleague Andrei Piontkovsky asked to help in the development of criteria for the preparation of the report. We worked together with Daniel fried, a senior us diplomat now working at the Atlantic Council and an expert of the Atlantic Council Anders Aslund. We have prepared proposals on three criteria and seven groups of individuals that can be included in the report.
Our Andrei Piontkovsky position is of fundamental nature: we are engaged exclusively in the definition of criteria, identification of groups; we do not recommend and do not intend to recommend that American authorities or those of other individuals.
– Piontkovsky said that Washington was captivated by Russian oligarchs and their representatives, who are desperately looking for someone to agree…
– Indeed, in recent months, Washington has a lot of “walkers” who were interested in how to get on the list, what are the conditions for this. Public notable visitor was the editor in chief of “echo of Moscow” Alexei Venediktov, who two weeks before the publication of the report came to Washington to find out the contents of the document, including whether to make any changes to it, who would include in the list, who didn’t.
Although the contents of the report, he was not known in his speech at the Kennan Institute, he stated that the report he does not like. However, he asked to include in the list the name of one of the Deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, and at the same time was interested in the conditions under which two well-known official of the Putin administration may not be included in the report, what they should do to not get there.
– Can you tell the names of these officials?
Not yet. But the activity of Mr. Venediktov made an impression in Washington.
The public was shocked. But not from the blow inflicted by the publication of the “comic list”, and from understanding what a low quality of work demonstrated, the current us administration
– How do you perceive the situation with the publication of the report. Why is it not posted on the official sites?
– January 29, when the Kremlin froze in anticipation of the publication of the report was not published nor at nine in the morning, or 12, or even six o’clock in the evening when the working day has ended. It was published in 12 minutes before the expiry of the deadline at midnight. Publication occurred, but in a very specific way. Report no sites neither the Finance Ministry nor the state Department nor the National intelligence or the White house or some other public authority. Instead, the report conveyed in the form of a file to the media – Associated Press, Financial Times, Bloomberg. The media placed this document on their pages.
Frankly, this is very unusual, when an official document which is prepared by the Executive power on behalf of Congress, in the end, never officially published, but the secret is transmitted in the media.
Publication of the report provoked a storm of emotional comments – both in Russia and around the world. It became clear fairly quickly that the published text is a compilation of four lists: the upper parts of telephone directories of the administration of the President and government of Russia, 96 billionaires list of Forbes Russia (which as of 2017, had a fortune of $ 1 billion or more) and published in August 2017, the Agency RBC, the list of Directors of state companies. This list of RBC did not include several well-known managers of state-owned companies.
The document was prepared for publication with such speed that he was not able to check his data. And so it was, for example, Oleg Budargin, who in August 2017 has led PJSC “Russian grids”, but in September had already been dismissed. However, on January 29 he was in the list of important American political figures of the Putin regime and the oligarchs.
Illarionov: Nobody expected that the US administration is capable of such a step. Photo: Sergey Krylatov / Gordonua.com
Not surprisingly, after exploring the list went comments that it is trash, shame, discredit, and sabotage. Putin used the situation to declare that “the Kremlin list” directed against the entire Russian people. Of course, 210 people, even if they are not properly defined, do not represent the entire Russian people.
In the published report the names of people who, under criteria established by act No. 3364, in no way fall. For example, there is the head of the Federal archive Agency, doctor of historical Sciences Andrey Artizov. Not sure he often meets personally with Putin. To call such a person an important political figure, a member of the Putin regime, managing billions and making decisions about aggression in neighboring countries – is absurd. The list also was the head of the Federal courier service. He directs a group of officers, responsible for the operational transfer of important public information. In any state apparatus such people were, are and will be. The political part of the regime they are irrelevant.
In the list of so-called oligarchs are also a lot of ridiculous. The oligarchs and people with money – are different concepts. In the modern Russian language the term oligarch applies to a rich man, influencing government decisions. It is clear that all 96 people, with a billion or more, in principle, have no influence on political decisions. Moreover, the list includes people 10-15 years ago who went from Russia, including due to persecution by the Putin regime, who took the whole business or part of it.
In General, the list is a monstrous absurdity. Anders Aslund found out that at the last moment the present report, on which six months an employee of the inter-Ministerial group, was forbidden to publish. Instead, it took until the expiration of the deadline to create a new document. That’s it, and did. Aslund believes that this is sabotage. Apparently, the decision was taken at a level no lower than Minister.
The conclusion is simple: a meaningful comment on a published list is not. It was a joke. You can tell a bad joke. Although it is clear that in relation to the work of state bodies of the USA the term to use is not very convenient. Nobody expected that the US administration is capable of such a step.
The public was shocked. But not from the blow inflicted by the publication of the “comic list”, and from understanding what a low quality of work demonstrated, the current us administration. Some took it as a trick, which is something worth, what they do not understand. The fact that you can make public list of four to one and say: “This is the report created at the request of a law passed by the U.S. Congress”, this one is a nightmare to imagine. So to this list somehow cannot be taken seriously.
However, besides this joke, very unfortunate for the American administration, but very good for Vladimir Putin, there is a closed part of the report, which still was referred to the committees of Congress on the night of January 30. The Minister of Finance Steven Mnuchin in their responses, in Congress, gave this description of this document: report is “the result of extraordinary work”, contains a “detailed analysis”, and the size of his “hundreds of pages”. The description of a document similar to the same report, on which six months working interdepartmental group. But confirm if this is only possible when we get access to the document. And while he is not published to tell about it something meaningful, impossible.
Putin is a very valuable gift from all points of view. There is an opportunity to represent Americans as a total Russophobes for whom everything is alike Russian
– Administration of the President could say: the document is so serious that the disclosure is not subject. Why do we need to organize this circus and give the media a fake list?
– A law passed by Congress clearly prescribed the modality of its implementation: the report should be made public, but it can be (but not necessarily) closed part. Therefore, the administration was obliged formally to meet this requirement, and at least something to publish. Because at the last moment came a ban on the publication of the original document, worked six months, then had to frantically create what happened.
I confess that person before I could not imagine that this is possible. The report is not posted on the websites of government agencies. And this fact is a clear proof that the employees of these agencies do not perceive it seriously. For the sake of his reputation and professional honor they did not consider it possible to publish it.
– The appearance of the report in this form at the hands of the Russian authorities?
– Putin is a very valuable gift from all points of view. There is an opportunity to represent Americans as a total Russophobes for whom all Russians look the same, they say, for them it does not matter what people do, the main thing is that he is from Russia. Based on the published part of the report, this argument will not argue. This report brings only harm.
One of the objectives of law No. 3364 was to separate the sheep from the goats. To enable people working in public authorities of Russia and the government, as well as Russian businessmen keep a distance from Putin personally and his closest associates from the criminal and corrupt decisions of this regime. Instead, it is the opposite: for people far from the Putin regime, now there is no reason to distance themselves, because the American administration anoints them with the same brush. This report has already caused significant damage.
Illarionov: We see too many coinciding events. So the question that is so often asked in the last year – Who is Mr. Trump? – suddenly received new strength and new study. Photo: Alexander Khomenko / Gordonua.com
I would like to draw attention to one fact. January 30 held a speech trump an appeal to the Congress. In it, trump has mentioned Russia in the context of what the US has two rivals – China and Russia. It would seem that the very mention could demonstrate the administration’s attitude trump and himself to Russia today.
However, this performance was even a section dedicated to the sanctions policy of the United States. In this part of the trump talked about sanctions, which the administration applied to North Korea, Iran and Cuba and Venezuela. However, trump did not say a word about Russia and sanctions policy against it.
Especially spicy the absence of Russia in this part of the question looks because the law No. 3364 saying sanctions against North Korea, Russia and Iran. Speaking at the Congress, trump spoke at length about sanctions against North Korea and Iran (which are subject to the law), and also about sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela (which are not stated in the law), but he didn’t say a word about Russia, which occupies a Central place in the act.
This conspicuous absence of the Russian Federation in this part of the speech trump in the background of a conflict that arose with the publication of the open part of the report, has allowed some observers to conclude that the lack of mention of Russia in this part of trump’s speech may not have been accidental. If you remember that the trump from the very beginning did not hide their negative attitude to the law and was forced to sign it because the law is almost unanimously supported in Congress and the Senate, we can conclude that either the tramp or his staff took action, which was not the publication of the original report.
In addition, it should be mentioned that more than 20 congressmen and senators wrote a letter to the Secretary of state Tillerson with the requirement to give an explanation of why the law is not made 3364 not introduced sanctions against Russia, although the law obliges to do so until January 29.
Finally, it became known that three leaders of the Russian security services Sergei Naryshkin, Alexander Bortnikov, Igor Korobov, despite being under the previously imposed sanctions, visited Washington on the eve of the publication of “the Kremlin report.”
We see too many coinciding events. So the question that is so often asked in the last year – Who is Mr. Trump? – suddenly received new strength and new study.
– You called the publication of the open part of the paper “violation of the law.” Whether in the future this could be a reason for impeachment Trump?
– Not ready to comment. It is important to understand that impeachment is possible only when by a vote of the Congress. If the majority of its members do not support this idea, impeachment is highly unlikely, regardless of how to treat the work of the presidential administration.