Mon 6 July 2020

Kseniya Kirillova hears warnings from a dissident former Russian politician, whose father is a close friend of Vladimir Putin, of renewed attempts to subvert democracy.

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An Unwelcome Guest

On 30 May American President Donald Trump suggested postponing the Washington G7 Summit this autumn because of the COVID-19 epidemic. He also suggested inviting, besides the permanent members, the leaders of Russia, Australia, South Korea, and India.

Russia was excluded for the informal G7 club in 2014 after the annexation of the Crimea. Since then the US President has more than once made efforts to return Moscow to the ‘Big Seven’ but each time was opposed by the leaders of the other governments.

According to Olga Litvinenko, her father is one of the people lobbying for Russian interests in the UK.

His latest initiative was no exception. At the beginning of June a representative of Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the British Government does not support the inclusion of Russia in the G7 group. The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, agreed.

Russian political exiles agree with these Western leaders and emphasize that any Russia’s inclusion in exclusive political clubs not only provides internal legitimacy to the Kremlin but also supplies it with the tools to undermine western democracies and persecute its own dissidents.

Putin’s Dissertation and the St Petersburg Coffers

Russian exile Olga Litvinenko — no relation to the former FSB agent and whistleblower Alexander Litvinenko assassinated in 2006 — currently lives in London and has experienced the efforts of the Russian system to “get to her” abroad. 

In 2010 Olga abandoned Russia together with her four-month-old son, Misha, in the wake of a conflict with her father, the Rector of the Mining University in Saint POletersburg, Vladimir Litvinenko, who is believed to be a close friend of Vladimir Putin, and three times headed his electoral headquarters in Saint Petersburg.

According to Olga Litvinenko, her father was the actual author of Vladimir Putin’s dissertation. In 2006 employees of the Brookings Institution in Washington determined that the dissertation was plagiarized in large part from the work of William King and David Cleland, Strategic Planning and Policy, published in 1978.

Olga Litvinenko claims the conflict with her father began when she was a member of St. Petersburg Parliament from 2007 to 2011.

“Father was very unhappy with me.  In particular, he asked me to take part in so-called ‘work on the budget of Saint Petersburg’ so that he and his accomplices would get a significant part of the budget for their private business projects. I categorically refused, which my father considered ‘betrayal.’ In his eyes I ‘went against the family,’ which meant I could no longer be considered his daughter,” explained Olga in an interview with the Byline Times.

The situation was complicated by the fact that Olga already had a daughter at the time, Ester-Maria. Being separated from his long-awaited granddaughter because of his daughter’s ‘disobedience’ clearly did not fit into the plans of Vladimir Litvinenko.  According to Olga, he simply took custody of the girl and tried to get her son, as well. 

Fearing to lose her second child, Olga went to Poland in 2011. She married a Polish citizen and had two more children. In the meantime, Vladimir Litvinenko declared that Olga had been kidnapped which permitted him to freeze her accounts in Russia and confiscate her property. Six of her assistants on the City Council were convicted under various criminal statutes — all fabricated crimes, according to Olga.

For all these years there was no possibility for the woman to see her eldest daughter, and she has no idea even of how she looks. According to her testimony, Vladimir Litvinenko continues to tell the girl that he is her father. Olga regularly records emotional videos to Maria in the hope that sooner or later they will somehow meet.

Treaty Violation

On 5 May of this year Olga managed to prove in the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) that the Russian authorities violated the principles of property protection by seizing her property in Saint Petersburg in connection with a “kidnapping case.” She says this was a farce.

“I spoke many times on the telephone with the investigator and told him that no one abducted me. The investigator knows perfectly well where I am and when I lived in Poland. He went their to get the testimony of my husband,” she explained.

“Revenge” from the Russian side followed not long after the victory in the ECHR. On 12 May, Olga received a summons to appear before an Investigative Committee in case of the murder of a certain A.N. Livshits.

“Such a person actually died in 2005 when I was 22 years old. At that time, I was working at the university for my father, and it’s possible I saw him a couple of times. But now, I can’t even remember who he was. By the way, this is not the first time my father has used law enforcement against me. In 2018, when the ECHR agreed to consider my case, Prosecutor Karpenko told me if I did not stop seeking justice in the Western courts, he would institute criminal proceedings against me,” says Olga.

Olga Litvinenko emphasizes that the fabrication of criminal activities and the attempt to arrest and extradite political exiles, to exploit Interpol, is not the only way the Russian authorities violate international law.

“Now more countries understand that Russia can produce fabrications even on economic grounds that in fact conceal political persecution. However, there are international agreements of mutual governmental assistance on civil and family matters that have also been ratified by Moscow.  Russian authorities do not hesitate to exploit them to ‘punish’ those they find objectionable – for example, trying to take away property or children. And the more Western countries accept Russia as a full member of the ‘European Club,’ the fewer reasons they have to refuse to enforce the unjust decisions of Russian courts,” fears the political exile.

London — The Hub of Money Laundering

Olga Litvinenko also notes that various Russian oligarchs are actively trying to turn Great Britain into a hub for money laundering and the promotion of Moscow’s interests.

In early November last year, a scandal broke out in the British press over the government’s suppressing a secret intelligence report on Russia’s alleged attempts to influence elections and the referendum on leaving the EU. The Times claimed that the report mentions nine Russian Conservative Party donors, and named three of them. The others have yet to be published.

According to Olga Litvinenko, her father is one of the people lobbying for Russian interests in the UK.

“There is now lobbying in London for the commercial interests of a company in which my father Litvinenko holds an interest, FosAgro. My father received shares of this company at about the time the former owner of this company, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was arrested and sent to prison” she told Byline Times.

“Further, in 2019 at the Russian Embassy in London, the Institute for Materials, Minerals, and Miningsigned a cooperation agreement with the Rector of the Mining University of Saint Petersburg — Litvinenko.  On 26 May, they agreed on the organization in Great Britain for a Centre for Competency Assessment in the mineral resources complex.  I am certain that all of this will come down to another debasement of activity,” she claims.

The daughter of Vladimir Litvinenko also mentions that her father was one of the beneficiaries of the annexation of the Crimea, having officially received property on the peninsula.

“It was for the annexation of the Crimea that Russia was expelled from the G7. However, Vladimir Litvinenko, as one of the actual participants in the occupation not only was not placed under sanction, doesn’t hide the fact that he is creating special structures intended to bring western technology into Russia in violation of existing sanctions. One might only imagine how much all of this activity could grow should Russia be re-admitted to the ‘Big Seven’”, Olga Litvinenko says.

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