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29 Oct, 2020 00:34

Trump-Russia tall tales traced to ‘drunk’ and disgruntled Russian, childhood friend of UK spy Steele’s primary source – report

Trump-Russia tall tales traced to ‘drunk’ and disgruntled Russian, childhood friend of UK spy Steele’s primary source – report

At least three major claims in the infamous ‘Russiagate’ dossier reportedly originated with a Russian PR executive angry with her company in Cyprus, a childhood friend of the primary sub-source for British spy Christopher Steele.

The ‘Steele Dossier’ played a key role in allegations that President Donald Trump somehow “colluded” with Russia in 2016, ostensibly because the Kremlin had a sex tape of him at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton. It was used as a pretext by the FBI to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page for a year, starting in October 2016. It was also eventually revealed that Fusion GPS, which paid Steele for the dossier, was itself paid by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign via the DNC.

Yet some of its most “bombshell” claims – that Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen met with “Russians” in Prague, that a Russian company called Webzilla was behind the DNC email hack, and that its boss Alexey Gubarev was a hacker working for Russian intelligence – apparently originated with Olga Galkina, a friend of Steele’s primary Russian informant.

The Wall Street Journal outed Galkina as 'Source 3' on Wednesday, on the basis of “interviews, law-enforcement records, declassified documents” and the identification by “a former top US national security official,” who remained anonymous.

According to their story, Galkina worked at a Cyprus affiliate of XBT Holding SA, a company owned by Gubarev and the parent of Webzilla. She was fired in November 2016, after one of her managers filed a police report in Limassol saying that she was “chronically showing up late to work, sometimes appearing drunk.” Shortly after that, Galkina reportedly implicated Gubarev and Webzilla in the DNC hack.

She was able to do so because she was a high school friend of Igor Danchenko, identified this summer as Steele’s primary sub-source (PSS). Danchenko and Galkina grew up together in Perm, a Russian city in the Ural Mountains. In his January 2017 interview with the FBI, Danchenko called Galkina – then still known as ‘Source 3’ – a “close, personal friend” whom he had helped financially over the years.

By this point, the FBI was aware that it had previously suspected Danchenko of being a Russian agent, but dropped the efforts to surveil him when he left the US in 2009 – never to restart them, for reasons unknown.

Danchenko has since publicly admitted being Steele’s source and insists the information he fed the spy was true and accurate.

“I have a longstanding relationship with most of my sources ... and have no reason to believe that any of them fabricated information that was given to me,” he told the Journal in a statement via his lawyers.

However, Gubarev has sued Steele for libel in UK courts, over the claim – apparently sourced from Galkina – that he was a hacking expert recruited by Russian intelligence under duress and that his company facilitated the DNC email hack. 

Another major “bombshell” in the Steele Dossier was the claim that Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen had a secret meeting with Russian spies in Prague, where they discussed paying the hackers and covering up their tracks. The claim came from Galkina, the Journal says. Cohen, who has since become a sworn enemy of Trump, has always maintained he had never been to Prague and that the accusation was fabricated. 

Galkina also named one Seva Kaptsugovich as someone involved in the “hacking” of the DNC. A man by that name is a notorious convict in Perm, and received a lengthy prison sentence on sex-crime charges in 2013, according to the Journal.

She does not appear to be the source for the dossier’s most explosive claim: that while in Moscow for a beauty pageant, Trump had been filmed by Russian intelligence having prostitutes urinate on him in the same bed where President Barack Obama once slept. 

Danchenko claimed to have “verified” that in interviews with the Ritz-Carlton employees, though the FBI interview revealed they said nothing of the sort, merely that they thought anything was possible. The original rumor came from 'Source 2.'

All of this is coming to light four years after the fact, as well as countless investigations, hearings, indictments and mainstream media stories dedicated to “Trump-Russia collusion” and “Russian meddling” in the US elections – at the heart of which was the Steele Dossier.

While some critics have pointed to Danchenko to claim the dossier was in fact “Russian disinformation,” at the end of the day it is a damning indictment of the FBI, US intelligence agencies, and mainstream journalists – all of whom fell for the tall tales spun by a mercenary British spy, relying on Russian drinking buddies who told him what he wanted to hear. 

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