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The Kremlin pursues attempts to legalize Crimea annexation. Moscow has been generous in funding European lobbyists who launch Putin’s narratives into the information space and set up sorry events. Putin takes away from taxpayers – ordinary Russians – whatever there’s left in the budget just to sponsor Russia’s imperial ambitions.
From cold Norway…
Of the latest scandals there’s one regarding a conference on the annexed Crimea, scheduled to be held in the capital of Norway, Oslo, March 27. It is organized by a local “People’s Diplomacy – Norway” NGO, but we you study the CVs of its head and members, it becomes clear that it is just as far from the people and Norway as it is from diplomacy. Although, if we talk about Russian diplomats, in particular, Maria Zakharova, Russian foreign ministry’s spox, who was quoted as saying that: “wings have historically been an obstacle for us to crawl”, “diplomacy combined with the Russian Aerospace Forces does wonders”,”the hunt for Russian witches announced [in the EU]”, anything can happen.
Anyone can attend this pseudo-conference; the price tag is NOK 150. Given the prices in local stores, the ticket fare hints that the organizers are also ready to even pay extra to everyone who comes to this rally of Russian witches (now and hereinafter – a reference to Maria Zakharova). According to the organizers, in 2019, some hundred people were willing to spend time in a warm location and have a cup of coffee at the expense of generous Russians, so we are yet to see how many people will attend this year (probably, this depends on the weather). But it’s unlikely that many will come over, given these nice warm days we’ve been seeing lately, and organizers will fail to gather a crowd of Norwegians like they did for the meeting with Vladimir Putin in Cherepovets.
Head of the “People’s Diplomacy – Norway” NGO is Hendrik Weber, a seemingly ordinary Norwegian, but a Russian witch at heart. Despite the fact that the West has repeatedly condemned the annexation of Crimea and military operations in eastern Ukraine, including officially, for example, in the PACE Resolution on the status of the monitoring group of January 30, 2020, Weber regularly visits the annexed Crimea and occupied areas of Donbas. As a law-abiding European, he diligently does his job for Putin’s, or rather the Russians’ money he’s paid – that’s while many in Russia have long been struggling to get by. The guy even uploads photo reports on his personal Facebook page.
The participants of the announced conference “Crimea in a geopolitical perspective” also seem to be no less odious. In particular, it’s Glen Disen, who gets paid by Russian patrons under the pretext of delivering lectures at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow; Evgeny Avramenko, correspondent with the Russian Federal News Agency, who in 2019 received the award from the Russian defense minister; and Olen Betong CEO Atle Berge, who for eight years has lived in Murmansk, where one of his plants was located, working with NOVATEK. At least one participant in this Sabbath got into a little trouble though – head of foreign relations at the Crimean Federal University, Alexander Mashchenko, was denied a visa as he failed to provide a Ukrainian biometric passport. Instead, he presented a Russian passport, issued in the illegally annexed Crimea, which is not recognized by the Schengen zone member states.
…To sunny Cyprus
We’ve got to admit that “People’s diplomacy – Norway” is just a drop in the bucket. There are many such organizations in Europe, and more are yet to be set up. Only a few of them got into a spotlight so far, exposing their true face, either because of their own stupidity, or due to a combination of circumstances, like the row between the FSB and the GRU, or the pressure of Russian handlers. For example, in the summer of 2019, Russian “witches” in Cyprus intensified their dirty work. The odious Crimean Noble Assembly represented by its leader, Mr Ushakov, the illegitimate State Historical and Archaeological Museum Reserve “Tauric Chersonesos”, with the support of the “Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Crimea”, ex-Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Muradov, and the incumbent Ambassador, Mr Osadchy, and the Russian Orthodox Church, launched active efforts in Cyprus, hoping to get at least some EU recognition.
Ushakov, a Muscovite who surfaced in the occupied south of Ukraine as early as 2014, actively participated in all this profanation. He trace is spotted everywhere: in the Noble Assembly of Crimea, the Cultural Heritage of Crimea” Fund, and the Tauric Chersonesos Museum Reserve. Ushakov organized exhibitions at the holy sites of Crimea for the Cypriot Orthodox Church in order to direct the flow of Cypriot tourists along pilgrimage routes. He became a representative of the “Union of Descendants of the Russian Nobility – the Russian Noble Assembly” in Cyprus, and on its behalf tried to set up in Cyprus the so-called cultural center “Crimean House in the EU”, which was later renamed to become “Club of Friends of Tauric Chersonesos”. There’s a lot more to tell about Ushakov’s “exploits”, like, how, through bribery, manipulation and blackmail, he lobbies the recognition of Crimea annexation in Cyprus, launching various “Trojan horses”, but this is the topic for a separate piece.
…And from there to Brussels
Another striking example is the founding of the Tavrida International Association, headquartered in Brussels. According to the head of the working group on international legal issues at the Permanent Mission of Crimea to the President of the Russian Federation, Mr Molokhov: “In the future, the Association is called upon to become actually the European representation of Crimea, while the inclusion of lobbying structures in the official register will allow it to legally protect the interests of the peninsula in the European Union and will help improve investment climate and the implementation of relevant business projects on the peninsula.” “Starting this fall , the representation of Crimea at international sites will be seriously boosted. Delegations from Crimea intend to take part in a number of meetings of international organizations, at which [they intend] to convey the real situation on the peninsula. The world must know the truth.”
In short, we should recall that Mr Molokhov was the lawyer of financial pyramid MMM founder Mr Mavrodi, who, according to various estimates, deceived up to 10 million people, scamming them of $70-80 billion.
And now we are witnessing this vigorous activity throughout Europe – from the pseudo-conference “Crimea in a geopolitical perspective” to pilgrimage routes. There are many Putin agents in the West, but all of them have two things in common. Firstly, sooner or later they all finish badly, and secondly, Putin is guided by Stalin’s “a weasel won‘t get you far.” An vivid example is France’s Marie Le Pen, who did not live up to expectations and now must pay back her Russian handlers as much as EUR 10 million.