Russia

The Man No One Remembers to Speak

By Andrej Mrevlje |

Sergey Kislyak, a 66-year-old Russian longtime ambassador to the U.S., feels isolated and perhaps even depressed. He spent so many years building his network, socializing, spending lavishly, and now everything has vanished. Evaporated. As The New York Times reports:

“For Mr. Kislyak, Washington is no longer the place it once was. It has become lonely, and he has told associates that he is surprised how people who once sought his company were now trying to stay away.”

What did I do wrong? the ambassador must have asked himself. I was nice and spoke well to everyone, went everywhere I needed to go. Why does no one remember me? Alexandra Petri in yesterday’s Washington Post published an ironic profile of the world’s most famous ambassador-the man who might single handedly bring down Trump’s administration. Perhaps the real reason why Kislyak might be getting depressed:

“He has spoken to senators.

He has spoken to generals, both regular and soon-to-be-attorney.

But as soon as he speaks his words vanish, as if they had never been.

No one can definitively state that they were in the room with him at any time. (This must create certain difficulties in his job as Russia’s ambassador to the United States.)

His name is Sergey Kislyak, and he is the Most Forgettable Man in the World.

Pictures of him show a corpulent replica of Nikita Khrushchev. But these pictures apparently correspond to a man that no one has ever met. No one he has ever met or talked to seems to remember him. Not Michael Flynn. Not Attorney General Jeff Sessions. No one. Dementors speak of him with reverence, as the mere allusion to his presence removes not only happy memories but all memories of any kind.

He has made many phone calls. But it is only with great difficulty that intelligence agencies were able to make any record of these calls. His voice, like a tree falling alone in a Siberian forest, never makes a sound.

The second he meets with anyone, this meeting vanishes from their memories and their testimony. After meeting with him, senators will shake their watches and say, “But Sofia, I was supposed to meet the Russian ambassador two hours ago!” and Sofia will say, “He just came out of your office, sir.”

He is a paradox of space and time.”

After Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn was sacked last month due to covering up his connection Kislyak, on Wednesday it was Attorney General Sessions’ turn. In December Flynn and the Russian ambassador allegedly discussed the sanctions Obama’s government imposed on Moscow because of Russia’s hacking of the Democratic Party, while Sessions met Kislyak last August and September at the peak of the presidential campaign the whole country was talking about the Russian hacking. Kislyak meeting with two of the most important officials of Trump’s campaign, who later became part of our current government, occurred at the most crucial time for the future Trump-Putin relationship. Like Flynn, Sessions has also conveniently forgotten that he met Kislyak-only to recall it later on vaguely. On Thursday, Sessions recused himself from investigations involving Russian hacking and other interference in the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s behalf. But since the uproar on the Trump-Russia relationship is growing and more information pours in while FBI investigation continues, we are not sure whether this government is about to lose the second important member of the cabinet. What else will come after this?

As I am writing this, USA Today is reporting the growing list of Trump’s associates and close collaborators meeting with the Russian ambassador. But what seems to be the cherry on the top of this cake is the name of the recently confirmed Secretary of Commerce billionaire Wilbur Ross. Ross has deep financial ties with business associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has partnered with three of them in Bank of Cyprus, an offshore bank where many of Russian oligarch are stashing and laundering their money. The United States Commerce Secretary is a shareholder of that bank. The details of this new dimension of Trump-Russia relations has been examined by James S. Henry and published by DC report.org.  There seems to be no mentioning of the Russian ambassador this time, but the report is full of interesting data like the “flight records of Trump’s campaign plane and a plane used by one of the oligarchs. During the campaign, the two planes often were at the same airports at the same time.”

With Attorney General Sessions abstaining from any further investigation related to Trump’s dubious relations with Russia, this material can become explosive, and very damaging to the president of the U.S. James S. Henry’s investigation has not yet reached the mainstream media, and as far as I know no member of Congress has made any reference to Henry’s investigation or otherwise openly requested to investigate Wilbur Ross’s partnership with Putin’s friends and their dirty business. What is curious though is the report on Wilbur’s hearing in the Senate. What is even more strange is that foreign paper – the Guardian that has to publish it:  

A group of Democratic senators have been waiting for two weeks for Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor who has served as vice-chairman of the Bank of Cyprus since 2014, to answer a series of questions about possible links between the bank, Russian officials, and current and former Trump administration and campaign officials. Ross also received a second letter on Friday from Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey with more detailed questions about possible Russia links.

But in a speech on Monday night, just before the Senate voted to approve Ross’s nomination as secretary of the commerce department, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida said the White House “has chosen to sit on” a written response by Ross to some of those questions even though Ross told the senator he was eager to release his response.

As they used to say in the old days: This White House sits on the keg of powder. This means it can explode at any time. Besides the stories mentioned the Obama administration’s methodic dissemination of classified information is already bringing some fruits. Judging by the quantity of the leaks this administration has no friends among the intelligence community. President Trump also managed to wake up American civil society. On the 15th of this month, another massive march is being planned for the White House. So, Ambassador Kislyak should not feel alone and abandoned. And yet, one can only hope that Kislyak will not get hurt by the obscure hand of the destiny, like many of his Russian colleagues in recent times.

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