Standart News

Enquiry THURSDAY, 13 March 2008

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Russia's Special Services Involved in Campaign Against Chernoy


According to Russia's news agency Stringer, the Russian special services are involved in the smearing campaign against Israeli Deputy PM Avigdor Lieberman and businessman Mikhail Chernoy.
Russia's special services are very uneasy about the journalistic enquiry on the case and the complications it might cause.
Last Sunday, the police arrested ultra-nationalist Avigdor Eskin and private detectives Rafi Pridan and Aviv Mor, in whose homes the policemen found materials proving the illegal activity of the special services, which includes unauthorized and illegal use of wiretapping and violations of the privacy-protection law.
According to the Haaretz newspaper, the law enforcers confiscated files downloaded from the Internet, video clips and reports of special agents who had been shadowing Mr. Chernoy and some other people. Reportedly, the files contain detailed information on Chernoy's business, his holdings in foreign countries, his ties with businessmen from the former USSR, his personal and business conflicts. There is even information on a book about Chernoy, written by a Russian journalist at the request of people from the circle of Oleg Deripaska, which will soon be published in Russia.
The Israeli police said that most probably a Russian oligarch, competitor of Chernoy, had ordered the wiretapping operation.
According to Stringer's news writer, this is only the top of the iceberg.
In the course of the journalistic investigation it transpired that some Russian oligarchs, former business partners of Gusinski, Nevzlin and Chernoy, had set up an alliance against the three with a view to defend their business interests by warding off any legal claims on the part of their former partners and at the same time trying to get considerable tax alleviations from the Russian state. The first stage of the operation was carried out with the tacit agreement of the special services. Gusinski and Nevzlin were political rivals to the Kremlin and, as to Chernoy, he is not exactly a friend of the power-vested in Russia, the article reads. To save face the special services guised the otherwise sheer settling of scores as a campaign, part of the patriotic program Sootechestveniki (Compatriots).
The aim of this initiative is to impose influence over the Russian-speaking diasporas abroad. The easiest way to effect this is to discredit their political and business leadership, especially those who refuse to "toe the line." In Israel these are politicians Anatoly Sharanski and Avigdor Lieberman and businessmen Gusinski, Nevzlin and Nevzorov.
The anonymous ex-colonel of the Russian military intelligence, permanently residing in Israel has become "The Distributor" in this campaign. Alexey Drobashenko, a close friend of Oleg Deripaska, finances the operation. At the initial stage, the private eyes of Israeli Matara investigation office were hired for consultants. Yoram Hessel, former head of the foreign affairs department in Mossad, established the agency. He was also the chief of Mossad in Washington. The key objective of Matara was to shadow the listed people, monitor their influence in Israel and find out what are their soft spots. Very soon, however, Hessel gave up, as he realized that cooperation with the special services of Russia would mar his reputation. Yet, the contractors of the operation have already mapped out their attack strategy on the basis of the collected data. The main target in the smearing campaign against the three businessmen was to question the legality of their Israeli citizenship and eventually deprive them of it.
It was then that Israeli detectives, Mor and Pridan, were hired. Avigdor Eskin and David Edelman became the coordinators. Eskin is an ultra-nationalist activist, who served a term in jail for terror attacks organization (in particular for plotting to throw a pig's head into the Al Aksa mosque in
Israel.)

Read more about Eskin and the smearing campaign against the Russian businessmen in Israel in Standart's next issue.

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