Tag Archives: Kremlin

Mystery death of ex-KGB chief linked to MI6 spy’s dossier on Donald Trump

An ex-KGB chief suspected of helping the former MI6 spy Christopher Steele to compile his dossier on Donald Trump may have been murdered by the Kremlin and his death covered up. it has been claimed.

Oleg Erovinkin, a former general in the KGB and its successor the FSB, was found dead in the back of his car in Moscow on Boxing Day in mysterious circumstances.

Continue reading Mystery death of ex-KGB chief linked to MI6 spy’s dossier on Donald Trump

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Alexei Navalny: Russian opposition leader ‘found guilty’

Russia’s main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has been found guilty of embezzlement, local media report.

A judge is still reading the verdict in the city of Kirov, but news agencies said it was clear in his remarks that Mr Navalny had been convicted.

Even a suspended sentence would bar him from running for president next year.

An outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, Mr Navalny has denied the accusations, saying the case is politically motivated.

Continue reading Alexei Navalny: Russian opposition leader ‘found guilty’

Kremlin critic in coma was ‘poisoned by undefined substance’

A prominent Kremlin critic and Russian opposition figure who has been in a coma since last week has been diagnosed with “acute poisoning by an undefined substance”, his wife has said.

Vladimir Kara-Murza, 35, who works for Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia foundation, had been in Russia to screen a documentary film about his friend Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader and former deputy prime minister who was gunned down near the Kremlin in 2015.

Continue reading Kremlin critic in coma was ‘poisoned by undefined substance’

Ex-Miss Hungary claims married Donald Trump invited her to his Moscow hotel room

Watch how Donald Trump ‘invited ex-Miss Hungary to his Moscow hotel room in 2013

A married Donald Trump supposedly invited a Hungarian beauty queen to his hotel room after attending the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, according to a newly unearthed interview that has surfaced amid the publication of an unverified dossier alleging that the President-elect engaged in “perverted” sexual acts during the very same trip.

Continue reading Ex-Miss Hungary claims married Donald Trump invited her to his Moscow hotel room

Hungary suspends gas supplies to Ukraine

Darshava gas facility in Ukraine, man with manual wheel operating valve

Hungary’s gas pipeline operator, FGSZ, says it has suspended delivery of gas to neighbouring Ukraine “indefinitely”.

Ukraine has been receiving gas from Hungary, Poland and Slovakia since Russia cut off supplies to Ukraine in June in a dispute over unpaid bills.

Ukrainian state gas firm Naftogaz confirmed the stoppage, saying it was “unexpected and unexplained”.

FGSZ said it had acted to raise the flow of gas to Hungary, due to an expected increase in demand.

With winter approaching fears are mounting that Ukraine will be unable to heat homes and power industry without Russian gas.

Russian and Ukrainian energy ministers are meeting in Berlin for EU-brokered talks, aimed at heading off such a crisis.

Relations between the former USSR’s two most populous countries soured after the overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian President, Viktor Yanukovych, in February.

Europe's pipeline network

Russia subsequently annexed the Crimea region from Ukraine and was accused of fomenting a bloody insurrection in two of its eastern provinces.

Earlier this year Gazprom and Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of consequences if EU member states went ahead with deliveries to Ukraine to replace Russian supplies.

Russia says EU states are contractually forbidden from re-exporting gas to Ukraine while Brussels insists that such “reverse flows” are legal.

‘Energy blackmail’

Hungary’s move came three days after a meeting in Budapest between the head of Russian gas giant Gazprom, Alexei Miller, and Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban.

Prime Minister Orban has been critical of EU sanctions on Russia and has maintained a closer relationship with Moscow than his western European neighbours.

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller (L) and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak wait for the start of gas talks between the EU, Russia and Ukraine in Berlin, 26 SeptemberGazprom CEO Alexei Miller (L) and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak wait for the start of gas talks between the EU, Russia and Ukraine in Berlin

Gazprom agreed on Friday to boost supplies to Hungary, Reuters news agency reports.

“Hungary cannot get into a situation in which, due to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, it cannot access its required supply of energy,” Mr Orban said on Hungarian state radio.

European Commission spokeswoman Helen Kearns said on Friday: “The message from the Commission is very clear: we expect all member states to facilitate reverse flows as agreed by the European Council

“There is nothing preventing EU companies to dispose freely of gas they have purchased from Gazprom and this includes selling this gas to customers both within the EU as well as to third countries such as Ukraine.”

Naftogaz urged its “Hungarian partners to respect their contractual obligations and EU legislation”.

“Neither EU countries nor Ukraine should be put under political pressure through energy blackmail,” Naftogaz said on its website.

Russian warning

It is hoped that Friday’s talks will establish a basis for an interim deal over energy.

The deal could involve the EU buying enough Russian gas to safeguard Ukrainian and European supplies during the winter months, at roughly market prices, according to Reuters.

However, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak insisted in an interview published on Friday that re-exporting Russian gas to Ukraine is illegal and could lead to some EU states going without fuel shipments from Gazprom.

“We hope that our European partners will stick to the agreements,” he told Germany’s business daily Handelsblatt (in German).

“That is the only way to ensure there are no interruptions in gas deliveries to European consumers,” he said.

In June, Russia cut off all gas supplies to Ukraine after Kiev failed to settle its debt with Gazprom.

Gazprom had sought $1.95bn (£1.15bn) out of a total claim of $4.5bn.

The Russia company said Ukraine had to pay upfront for its future supplies.

The issue of gas supply has dogged relations between Russia and Ukraine since the break-up of the USSR, with Russia seeking new export routes for its gas which would bypass Ukraine. EU supplies have been hit twice in the past decade because of the dispute.

The Kremlin has been accused of using Russia’s leverage as a major gas supplier for political ends in its international relations.

The Mafia Ruling Ukraine’s Mobs

Organized crime helped Putin grab Crimea, and may open the way for him to take more of Russian-speaking Ukraine.

DONETSK, Ukraine—I was talking to some young black-clad pro-Russian agitators at a checkpoint they’d set up on the outskirts of this city in eastern Ukraine when a shiny black Mercedes pulled up a few yards away. Some of the men from the group walked over and stuck their heads into the car. I couldn’t see who the capo was, couldn’t hear what orders he was giving, but the scene was like something from a movie about the mob. Nobody wanted to say who that was in the car. Nobody wanted to repeat what he’d said.Such scenes are increasingly common in this contested part of Ukraine near the Russian frontier. “Bosses are starting to appear on the fringes of the protests, they are middle-aged, older and better dressed than the younger men who are in the vanguard of the protests,” says Diana Berg, a 34-year-old graphic designer. The grassroots agitation in favor of Russia has become less spontaneous and more focused in recent days.Before and since Russia’s move to annex the Crimea, many who favor the pro-European government in Kiev have argued that these “bosses” might be provocateurs from Russia’s FSB intelligence service or Spetsnaz special forces infiltrated into Ukraine to orchestrate pro-Russian sentiment. But Berg, an organizer of the pro-Ukrainian rally last week where pro-Russian thugs stabbed a student to death, says there’s a different and in some ways more frightening explanation: the ominous hand of organized crime.A public prosecutor, who declined to be named in this article for reasons of personal safety, says local hoodlums are operating among the pro-Russian protests in the restive eastern Ukraine, helping to direct them on the instructions of Kremlin-linked organized crime groups. He points the finger specifically at the notorious Seilem mob, which has been closely tied over the years to ousted Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, a onetime governor of Donetsk, who is now in exile in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

“We have already seen organized crime working hand-in-hand with the Russians in Crimea,” says the prosecutor. In that breakaway Black Sea peninsula, Moscow helped install former gangland lieutenant Sergei Aksyonov as prime minister, and his background is well known. Aksyonov and his Russian separatist associates share sordid pasts that mix politics, graft and extortion in equal measure and together they helped steer Crimea into the Russian Federation. Police investigations leaked to the Ukrainian press accuse Aksyonov of past involvement in contract killings. Back in January 1996, Aksyonov was himself injured after his car overturned on the Simferopol-Moscow road during a shootout.

“Why should it surprise you,” the prosecutor in Donetsk asks, “if the same dynamic [as in Crimea] is playing out here? … Maybe there are Russian intelligence agents on the ground, but Moscow through crime networks has an army of hoodlums it can use, too.”

The international media were late to pick up on Crimea’s toxic nexus of organized crime, political corruption and politics. But across post-Soviet Ukraine the three have long been regarded as interchangeable and inseparable. And the eastern and southern parts of the country are the worst of all. “Political corruption is ingrained in eastern Ukrainian political culture,” the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, noted in a 2012 study.

The three regions most notorious for the closest relationships between gangsters, oligarchs and politicians—Crimea, Donetsk and Odessa—were the most resistant to the Euro-Maidan revolution that led last month to the ouster of Yanukovych. And now all three regions are at the forefront of the pro-Russian fight-back against the new national leaders in Kiev.

Taras Kuzio, a research associate at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta, who wrote the Jamestown report, says the internal political turmoil in Ukraine should be viewed through the lens of the hand-in-glove relationships between politicians, mobsters and the so-called “red directors,” managers-turned-businessmen who are steeped in the ways of Soviet-style public sector corruption and deal-making.

The red directors also have their protégés: men such as billionaire Dmytro Firtash, the gas-trading mogul who was arrested by Austrian police on suspicion of mob activity earlier this month following Yanukovych ‘s ouster. Nor are the ties limited to the Ukraine. Their tentacles embrace Moscow: Firtash has joint business ventures with Russian billionaire Arkady Rotenburg and his brother, Boris, close friends and judo sparring partners of President Vladimir Putin. The Rotenburg brothers, not coincidentally, are prominent on a U.S. sanctions list announced Thursday by President Barack Obama to target  Putin cronies.

The symbiosis of politics, organized crime and unscrupulousbiznesmeni developed quickly in Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union in much the same way as it did in Russia. The ambitious, the greedy and the powerful lunged for the huge profits that could be made. The state was disintegrating. The big industries – energy, mining and metals – were being privatized, and may the most ruthless man win. “Individuals such as Yanukovych, Aksyonov and their Donetsk and Crimean allies literally fought their way to the top,” says Kuzio. In Donetsk, Yanukovych as governor “integrated former and existing organized criminal leaders into his Party of Regions,” says Kuzio.

In Crimea, “every level of government was criminalized,” according to Viktor Shemchuk, who served for many years as the chief public prosecutor in the region. “It was far from unusual that a parliamentary session in Crimea would start with a minute of silence honoring one of their murdered ‘brothers,’” Shemchuk recalled in a December interview with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a consortium of investigators and journalists tracking developments throughout Eastern Europe.

Donetsk was no different. A March 2006 cable from the US embassy to the National Security Council – one of several on Ukraine released by WikiLeaks—noted that Yukanovych’s Party of Regions was a “haven for Donetsk-based mobsters and oligarchs” and had commenced an “extreme makeover” with the help and advice of U.S. political consultants, including “veteran K Street political tacticians” from Washington D.C. and a onetime Ronald Reagan operative, “hired to do the nipping and tucking.”

According to the cable, Yanukovych was “tapping the deep pockets of Donetsk clan godfather Rinat Akhmetov.” Now supposedly Ukraine’s wealthiest oligarch, Akhmetov has been keeping a low profile in these early post-Yanukovych days, staying out of the limelight and issuing inoffensive statements on how important it is for everybody to get along.

Another US embassy cable from then-Ambassador William Taylor in September 2007 drilled down on how Yanukovych was centralizing Donetsk crime and political and business corruption in his party – something he would go on to do on an even larger national scale when he was subsequently elected as President in 2010. After Yanukovych became president, according to Ukrainian officials, more than $20 billion of gold reserves may have been embezzled and $37 billion in loans disappeared. In the past three years, they claim, more than $70 billion was moved to offshore accounts from Ukraine’s financial system.

The Americans have sent teams of experts to Kiev to help Ukraine’s interim leaders follow the money. “We are very interested in working with the government to support its investigations of those financial crimes,” U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt told reporters last week, “and we have already, on the ground here in Ukraine, experts from the FBI, the Department of Justice and the Department of Treasury who are working with their Ukrainian counterparts to support the Ukrainian investigation.”

Many of the financial crimes are likely to trail back to Moscow. Yanukovych confidant Firtash (the gas mogul picked up in Austria) admitted during a December 2008 meeting with then-US Ambassador Taylor that he had entered the energy business with the assistance of the notorious Russian crime boss Semyon Mogilevich, who, he said, worked with Kremlin leaders.

“Many Westerners do not understand what Ukraine was like after the break up of the Soviet Union,” Firtash told the ambassador. When a government cannot rule effectively, the country is ruled by “the laws of the streets,” he said.

That’s still the rule. The old order has much to fear from reform and change and will do all it can to preserve its wealth and power—and its best bet for that to happen is to look to Russia.

For precisely that reason, rights campaigners and reformers in Ukraine’s interim government are racing against time to uncover as much of the mob story as possible. An anti-corruption panel headed by Tetyana Chornovol, an investigative journalist who was nearly beaten to death in December for her reporting, is starting in earnest to recover billions of dollars of stolen money and piece together the financial crimes of the Yanukovych regime.

The Daily Beast learned something about these operations first hand when a team from the organized crime police raided a discreet boutique hotel in downtown Kiev where this correspondent was staying.  According to the police the hotel is owned by Eduard Stavitsky, Ukraine’s former energy minister. He is now believed to be in hiding in Russia. The police searched all the rooms looking for any Stavitsky documents and combing through financial records. As one of the investigating officers told me, “We need to move fast before the cover-ups start.”

Putin’s propagandists not known for ethics

Russia doesn’t have the highest standard of living or the best democratic institutions, to say the least, but many believe it is a world leader in one field – propaganda.

Since President Vladimir Putin began consolidating the country’s news media under his control in 2000, the Kremlin’s indoctrination machine has not stopped growing.

While previously it was more subtle and nuanced, Russian propaganda has become more outrageous and in-your-face since Ukraine’s EuroMaidan Revolution, which ousted President Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22, and the Kremlin’s March annexation of Crimea. Now it resembles Josef Stalin-era rhetoric as the last independent media are being squashed.

The pursuit of truth is not on the agenda. Demonization of Ukraine is now the main focus of the Kremlin’s propaganda, with Ukrainian events accounting for the bulk of news coverage.

While previously a key task of state-controlled Russian television was to vilify the opposition, now a major goal is to label major Ukrainian politicians as “fascists,” without pointing out the relatively low support for far-right groups among the Ukrainian population or the presence of neo-Nazis among Russian-backed insurgents.

Kremlin propagandists have also tried to present the war in eastern Ukraine as being orchestrated by the United States while ignoring Russia’s direct involvement in support of separatists.

The intensification of propaganda has coincided with an economic slowdown in Russia. To boost support for the regime during the slump, Putin is now trying to create an “alternative reality” in a fashion similar to the Soviet period, Russian political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin says.

“Soviet people got used to living in two parallel realities. They were poor in objective reality but, in a virtual reality, they felt powerful,” he said. “The worse the objective reality, the better the reality created by propaganda.”

Creators of that reality have been very flexible in their ethics and principles, with the only constant being their loyalty to the powers that be.

“These people don’t have any views,” Russian journalist and writer Viktor Shenderovich told the Kyiv Post. “They read their views in their bosses’ eyes. If the Dalai Lama comes to power, they’ll become Buddhists.”

Propagandists might even genuinely believe that whoever infringes on their material interests – such as the opposition, for example – are enemies of the country, Oreshkin said.

“For them, the country is a cash cow. They don’t see a difference between the homeland and this cash cow,” he said.

Dmitry Kiselyov

One of the major pro-Kremlin journalists, Dmitry Kiselyov, first dabbled in propaganda when he worked on Soviet television in the late 1970s to 1980s.

But in the early 1990s, when freedom of speech was introduced, he became an opponent of censorship and was fired after refusing to present a censored report on the clashes between the Soviet army and protesters in Lithuania in January 1991.

“Often people seen on television screens can’t be called journalists,” he said in one of his shows in 1999. “Often they are just propagandists. A journalist’s task is to show the true proportions of the world, the whole picture.”

Shenderovich said he had met Kiselyov in 1995, when he appeared to be a stylish Westernized man and enjoyed flaunting his foreign wife.

However, in the 2000s, Kiselyov became the Kremlin’s propagandist par excellence.

He moved to Ukraine in 2000 and became the host of a talk show and chief editor of the news department on Ukrainian television channel ICTV, which was controlled by Viktor Pinchuk, the son-in-law of pro-Russian President Leonid Kuchma.

Kiselyov was then accused of whitewashing Kuchma amid a major scandal in which the president was suspected of ordering the Sept. 16, 2000 killing of journalist Georgy Gongadze. He was fired in 2003 after the channel’s staff met with ICTV chief executive Alexander Bogutsky and accused him of distorting facts.

Kiselyov then moved back to Russia and started working at Rossiya-1, a state TV channel. He has been the anchor of the Vesti Nedeli news program since 2012 and chief executive of the state-owned Rossiya Segodnya news agency since 2013.

In 2013 to 2014, Kiselyov spearheaded a media campaign to demonize the Ukrainian revolution and post-revolution authorities. In his shows, separatists in eastern Ukraine have been invariably presented as noble “freedom fighters,” while the Ukrainian government is consistently labeled as the “junta” and “punitive squads.”

Kiselyov has often been accused of factual distortions or direct lies about Ukraine. In early December 2013, he reversed the chronology of events in Kyiv, saying that the clashes between police and protesters on Bankovaya Street on Dec. 1 preceded the crackdown on Maidan Nezalezhnosti on Nov. 30.
But his masterstroke piece of propaganda came out in March, when he told his audience: “Russia is capable of turning the USA into nuclear dust.”

Kiselyov was not available by phone or e-mail for comment.

Arkady Mamontov

Unlike Kiselyov, who has called himself a “liberal,” Mamontov, another Rossiya-1 host, has positioned himself as a conservative and an advocate of Russia’s military might.

In 2012, he went to great lengths to depict the Pussy Riot punk band, which was jailed for singing an anti-Putin song at the Christ the Savior Cathedral, as a lethal threat to Orthodox Christianity, routinely calling them “blasphemers” and “possessed.” Citing John Chrysostom, a Constantinople bishop, he said in one of his shows that, “once you see a blasphemer, you should beat him.”

Mamontov also claimed that Pussy Riot was being financed and orchestrated by exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky and the U.S.

Mamontov has been accused of ignoring the argument that Pussy Riot never insulted God in their song and only criticized Putin. Nor has he ever covered the wealth and alleged corruption of Orthodox clergy, including Patriarch Kirill, amid major scandals linked to his Breguet watch and luxury apartment in central Moscow.

Vladimir Solovyov

Vladimir Solovyov, also a host on Rossiya-1 television, is subtler than hardline propagandists Kiselyov and Mamontov.

From time to time, he has criticized some of the government’s policies but only to a certain extent. He still mostly toes the party line and is viewed by analysts as the more liberal pillar of the Kremlin propaganda machine.

Initially his shows tended to present two opinions – the pro-Kremlin one and that of moderately opposition-leaning people. Criticism of the Kremlin was toned down, however, and popular opposition leaders like Alexei Navalny were banned from the shows.

However, as Kremlin propaganda became more virulent after the Ukrainian revolution and the annexation of Crimea, the space reserved for opposition viewpoints drastically shrank, and now Solovyov’s show mostly presents pro-Kremlin views.

Solovyov denied, however, that he was a propagandist, saying that only those who had not listened to his radio and television shows can label him as one.

“Who cares what fools say?” he said by phone.

Solovyov added that it did not make sense to accuse him of propaganda after Valery Boyev, an official of the presidential administration, filed a libel lawsuit against him in 2008.

Margarita Simonyan

While the trio of Mamontov, Kiselyov and Solovyov target the domestic audience, Margarita Simonyan is in charge of the Kremlin propaganda machine’s foreign façade. She has been the editor-in-chief of English-language television channel Russia Today since 2005, and the chief editor of the Rossiya Segodnya news agency since 2013.

Simonyan, a fluent English speaker whose task is to send Putin’s message to the outside world, is more sophisticated than those catering to locals.

She has denied that the government dictated content to RT, but earlier this year she presided over an exodus of foreign journalists who left the channel because of what they saw as extremely biased coverage of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian site Stopfake.org, which specializes in debunking Russian propaganda, said that some of the most blatant cases of lies and manipulations came in reports about the crash of Malaysia Airlines’ MH17 flight. RT accused the Ukrainian army of shooting down the airliner, saying the rocket was aimed at Putin’s plane, for example.

Simonyan was not available for comment by e-mail or phone.

Stephen Cohen

Stephen Cohen, a scholar of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University, is also spreading the Kremlin’s message abroad.

Cohen might be described as “an agent of influence” – a KGB term used to describe opinion leaders in the West who lobbied the Soviet Union’s interests, Oreshkin said. Some of them were paid for that, while others were motivated by ideological reasons, he added.

Cohen represents the part of the American left that used to admire some aspects of the Soviet Union and transferred their allegiance to Putin, who has increasingly appealed to the Soviet legacy. While Cohen criticized some Soviet policies, he was an ardent fan of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika and a vehement critic of anti-communist President Boris Yeltsin.

In 2008, Cohen asserted that Putin “ended Russia’s collapse at home and re-asserted its independence abroad.” He has paid little attention to problems with free speech, freedom of assembly, rule of law and separation of powers in Russia, as well as to pervasive corruption that has only worsened since Putin came to power.

Cohen has also accused Ukrainian authorities of “war crimes” while ignoring numerous reports on kidnappings, torture, rape and murder by pro-Russian insurgents.

Sergei Kurginyan

Another admirer of the Soviet Union is Sergei Kurginyan, a theater director and political activist.

He was an informal advisor to the Politburo, the Communist Party’s management body, in the late 1980s. Kurginyan subsequently supported a pro-Soviet coup attempt in 1991, and backed the parliament, controlled by communists, in its violent standoff with Yeltsin in 1993.

This, however, did not prevent him from throwing his support behind Yeltsin before the 1996 presidential election and authoring the “Letter of 13,” an address by Russia’s most powerful tycoons in support of the president.

Kurginyan experienced another U-turn in the 2000s, when he became a vehement critic of Yeltsin and the tycoons. From 2011 to 2013, Kurginyan organized numerous rallies in support of Putin, describing Russia’s anti-Kremlin protest movement as an attempt by the West to organize “an Orange Revolution” in Russia similar to the Ukrainian revolution of 2004.

In the past few months Kurginyan was caught on video visiting with rebels in eastern Ukraine to consult them on strategy and coordinate supplies and aid from Russia.

A spokeswoman for Kurginyan said he was not available because he was on a business trip.

Alexander Dugin

While Kurginyan looks to the Soviet empire as the “golden age,” Alexander Dugin is an Orthodox Christian monarchist who idealizes the times of the Russian Empire.

Dugin’s extreme version of Russian Orthodox conservatism has been widely ridiculed.

In 2010, he became a target of jokes after publishing a video in which he says that shaved men represent a “purely hellish sodomite type” and that shaving is effectively tantamount to castration.

“Whoever puts a razor to his beard shall be damned and shall burn in hell,” he said. “Love for beards can even lead a person to heaven… For modern Orthodox conservatives, a man without a beard is no man.”

In 1980, he joined a neo-Nazi group called “the Black SS Order,” according to Russian news agency Stringer. This did not prevent him from claiming recently that he supported a pro-Russian anti-fascist movement fighting against Ukrainian Nazis.

In 2003, he became the leader of the International Eurasian Movement, which aims to integrate Russia with former Soviet republics into a superpower called the Eurasian Union.

Dugin has advocated Russia’s territorial expansion and the resurrection of the Russian Empire, saying that an independent Ukraine was a key obstacle to this.

“Ukraine’s sovereignty is such a negative phenomenon for Russian geopolitics that it can easily provoke a military conflict,” he wrote in the Foundations of Geopolitics, first published in 1997. “Ukraine as a sovereign state with such territorial ambitions is a great threat for the whole of Eurasia… Strategically, Ukraine must become Moscow’s southeastern projection.”

Since the war in eastern Ukraine began in April, he has repeatedly called for killing Ukrainians.

“Idiots should be purged from Ukraine,” he wrote on Facebook in August. “A genocide of cretins is the obvious solution… I don’t believe that these are Ukrainians. It’s just some bastard race that emerged from sewer manholes.”

In an interview with Abkhazia’s Anna News in May, he said he was ashamed of his own Ukrainian blood and wanted it to be “purged by the blood of scum – of the Kyiv junta.”

“As long as the scum is in Kyiv, Russian people… can’t exist peacefully. Either (Kyiv) should be destroyed and built anew, or people should come to their senses,” Dugin said. “Kill, kill and kill! There should be no talk anymore!”

A spokeswoman for Dugin told the Kyiv Post by phone that he did not talk to Ukrainian media and that he was abroad.

Alexander Prokhanov

Writer Alexander Prokhanov, one of Russia’s most prominent Stalinists, is also an advocate of reviving the Russian Empire. He espouses a kind of mysticism based on Russian cosmism, a philosophical and cultural movement of the early 20th century.

Even when Putin pursued largely liberal economic policies, lambasted by many leftists, Prokhanov abstained from harshly criticizing the president, believing the ruler’s authority to be sacred.

In 2002, Prokhanov wrote a book called Mr. Hexogen, in which the ‘Chosen One,’ a character based on Putin, is presented as a sacred image of power and turns into a rainbow.

The novel is rife with Soviet and religious symbolism, with Lenin’s corpse in the mausoleum guarding the Kremlin from the subterranean Serpent.

Prokhanov is also well known for his pompous and flamboyant oratory.

“Militiamen who had just come from Novorossiya ascended the top of the hill and scattered earth from Savur-Mohyla, which had just been freed from cruel punitive squads,” he wrote earlier this month in his Zavtra newspaper. “The people sang praises and rejoiced, seeing that the sacred land of martyrs is being united with the Russian land.”

While routinely accusing Ukrainian authorities of terrible atrocities, Prokhanov has consistently praised the regime of Joseph Stalin, whose death toll is estimated at millions of people.

Speaking with the Kyiv Post by phone, Prokhanov agreed that he was an “apologist for the Kremlin.”

“I’m definitely not an apologist for the Supreme Rada or (Ukrainian President Petro) Poroshenko,” he said.

Addressing accusations that he supported Stalin’s repressions, he said, “other people say I’m the most merciful person, and a child’s tear is more important for me than any ideological differences.”

Dmitry Tsorionov, aka Enteo

Like Prokhanov, Orthodox activist Dmitry Tsorionov, also known as Enteo, believes Putin’s power to be sacred on religious grounds.

He has participated in numerous attacks on Pussy Riot’s supporters, LGBT protests and contemporary art venues as part of the Kremlin’s crackdown on dissent.

Enteo, a Christian fundamentalist and a vehement supporter of Patriarch Kirill, the leader of Moscow Patriarchate, believes that “all authority comes from God.”

He told the Kyiv Post that he respected Putin but denied that he was an apologist for the Kremlin. He said, however, that any government, including Putin’s, was sacred if blessed by the church.

On Sept. 7, he delivered a lecture that addressed the following questions: “Is Vladimir Putin God by nature or only by grace? Can one worship Vladimir Vladimirovich as God on earth?”

In Russia, it seems, there is no shortage of those who already do.

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