STUMP » Articles » Vladimir Bukovsky Makes the New York Times » 10 December 2016, 08:24

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Vladimir Bukovsky Makes the New York Times  


10 December 2016, 08:24

As a reminder about Bukovsky, who he is and what is up with him:

Claire’s latest update:

Update 27
Posted by Claire Berlinski
6 hours ago

I’ll be leaving this afternoon for London, and I’ll be in Cambridge tomorrow to watch the jury trial of Vladimir Bukovsky. He’s been charged with possessing child pornography on his laptop. Police were tipped off about the files shortly before Bukovsky was to testify in the inquiry into the murder (by Polonium-210 tea) of Alexander Litvinenko.

Claire has also changed the prospective title of her book to “Brave Old World: Europe in the Age of Trump”. I look forward to reading it when she finishes.


Here is the NY Times article, which is rather long, and is chock-full of substantive detail.

Foes of Russia Say Child Pornography Is Planted to Ruin Them

CAMBRIDGE, England — His indomitable will steeled by a dozen years in the Soviet gulag, decades of sparring with the K.G.B. and a bout of near fatal heart disease, Vladimir K. Bukovsky, a tireless opponent of Soviet leaders and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, is not a man easily put off his stride.

But he got knocked sideways when British police officers banged on the front door of his home on a sedate suburban street here early one morning while he lay sick in bed and informed him that they had “received information about forbidden images” in his possession.

“It was all very bizarre and disturbing,” Mr. Bukovsky said. “This is not normally the language of a free society,” he added, recalling how his old K.G.B. tormentors used to hound him and his friends over texts and photographs declared forbidden by the Soviet authorities.

The images sought by the British police, however, had nothing to do with politics but involved child pornography, a shocking offense in any jurisdiction. The officers hauled away a clunky desktop computer from Mr. Bukovsky’s study — a chaos of books and papers dusted with cigarette ash — and a broken computer from his garage.

In April last year, the veteran Soviet dissident, a onetime confidant of Margaret Thatcher, finally found out what was going on: The Crown Prosecution Service announced that he faced five charges of making indecent images of children, five charges of possession of indecent images of children and one charge of possession of a prohibited image.

The case was supposed to go to court in May in Cambridge but, after Mr. Bukovsky, 73, entered a not-guilty plea it was delayed until Dec. 12. This followed a prosecution request for more time to review an independent forensic report on what had been found on Mr. Bukovsky’s computers and how an unidentified third party had probably put it there.

“The whole affair is Kafkaesque,” Mr. Bukovsky said in an interview. “You not only have to prove you are not guilty but that you are innocent.” He insisted that he was the victim of a new and particularly noxious form of an old K.G.B. dirty trick known as kompromat, the fabrication and planting of compromising or illegal material.

Old-style kompromat featured doctored photographs, planted drugs, grainy videos of liaisons with prostitutes hired by the K.G.B., and a wide range of other primitive entrapment techniques.

Today, however, kompromat has become allied with the more sophisticated tricks of cybermischief-making, where Russia has proved its prowess in the Baltic States, Georgia, Ukraine and, according to American intelligence officials, in the computers of the Democratic National Committee.

Russia’s cyberwarriors serve a multitude of goals, including espionage, the disruption of vital infrastructure — as happened in Ukraine last year when nearly a quarter of a million people lost electricity after a cyberattack on three regional energy companies — the discrediting of foes and the shaping of public opinion through the spread of false information.

Character Assassination

Before becoming president at the end of 1999, Mr. Putin played a prominent role in a particularly spectacular example of this Russian specialty. As head of the Federal Security Agency, or F.S.B., in 1997, Mr. Putin won the trust of Mr. Yeltsin by helping to destroy the career of Russia’s prosecutor general, Yury Skuratov, who, after starting an investigation into Kremlin corruption, was disgraced on national television by the broadcast of a video that showed a man who looked like him in bed with two young women.

Mr. Putin certified in public that the man in the video, widely believed to have been arranged and then filmed by the F.S.B., was indeed the prosecutor general. Mr. Skuratov resigned. The corruption investigation ended. A grateful Mr. Yeltsin named Mr. Putin prime minister and then president.

For the Kremlin’s supporters, the verdict on Mr. Bukovsky is already in. On learning of the charges against him, Margarita Simonyan, the editor in chief of the state-funded television outlet RT, posted a sneering message on Twitter: “The Pedophile Plan: rape a child, sign up in the opposition, emigrate, expose the flaws of the motherland and all will be well. Or not.”

The idea that Europeans and Russian opponents of the Kremlin are sexual deviants with a taste for pedophilia is a strange but recurring theme in Russian propaganda. The Russian ex-wife of a Norwegian man gained wide attention in state media, for example, with fabricated claims, made after she lost a child custody battle in Norway, that her former husband dressed up their 4-year-old son in a “Putin costume” and raped him.

Foes of the Kremlin have sometimes picked up the same ugly club and used it to beat Mr. Putin, as did Alexander V. Litvinenko, a former K.G.B. agent who died in London in 2006 from poisoning by a highly toxic radioactive isotope. Four months before his death, which a British inquiry ruled was probably state-sponsored murder approved by Mr. Putin, Mr. Litvinenko published an article that, without any evidence, asserted that the Russian president was himself a pedophile.

Mr. Bukovsky, who was a close friend of Mr. Litvinenko, said he had strongly urged him not to publish. “I was very angry with him,” Mr. Bukovsky recalled, noting that in many ways Mr. Litvinenko, despite his ferocious hostility toward the Kremlin, still had the mind-set of a security officer and “could not understand the difference between truth and operational information.”

On the “dark web,” an area of the internet that requires special software and authorization codes to enter, suspected Russian hackers openly offer to plant evidence of pedophilia as a way to destroy an enemy.

“I’ll do anything for money,” promised an advertisement placed by a hacker who offered to ruin “your opponents, business or private persons you don’t like. I can ruin them financially and or get them arrested, whatever you like.” Boasting that it was possible to destroy both individuals and businesses, the hacker added, “If you want someone to get known as a child porn user, no problem.” He gave a price, denominated in Bitcoins, of around $600 per job.

Paulo Shakarian, the chief executive officer of IntelliSpyre and the director of the Cyber-Socio Intelligent Systems Laboratory at Arizona State University, said his team had analyzed the advertisement and concluded that it was probably posted by a Russian (or at least a Russian-speaking) hacker. He said the price was in the normal range of what hackers demand for character assassination.

No matter what the court in Britain decides, Mr. Bukovsky has already had his reputation — and, by association, that of other Kremlin’s critics — trashed in Russia. Russian state television, in a report on the case, described the dissident as “a lover of child porn.”

Mr. Bukovsky complained that European countries that expect clarity and follow rigid procedures easily fall prey to the dirty tricks of a regime that excels in hiding its tracks and creating confusion. “They are very good at using the West against the West,” he said.

Yes, I know that’s a long excerpt… and it’s still only about 50% of the article. Read the whole thing.

As I said in a prior post:

Though Putin and his gang have not (yet) been successful in murdering Vladimir’s body, they want to murder his reputation.

I am happy to see Bukovsky receiving high profile coverage and I hope he is vindicated. But though he may win his case, it may be that he is permanently smeared.


Russian hacking has been getting heightened attention lately:

Russia Hacked Republican Committee but Kept Data, U.S. Concludes:

WASHINGTON — American intelligence agencies have concluded with “high confidence” that Russia acted covertly in the latter stages of the presidential campaign to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances and promote Donald J. Trump, according to senior administration officials.

They based that conclusion, in part, on another finding — which they say was also reached with high confidence — that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.

Republicans have a different explanation for why no documents from their networks were ever released. Over the past several months, officials from the Republican committee have consistently said that their networks were not compromised, asserting that only the accounts of individual Republicans were attacked. On Friday, a senior committee official said he had no comment.

I wonder if some of that will be released later, when considered convenient to Russian purposes…. or held over Republicans heads …. or completely fabricated emails will be released later (that takes time to do).

Or, which I think most likely: there’s nothing but boring crap in the emails. Republicans have faced hostile media for many years, and have been the targets of various witch hunts, and thus know better than put anything dumbass in email.

The Election Is Over. The Probe Into Russian Hacks Shouldn’t Be:

FROM CLIMATE CHANGE denial to pizza-parlor pedophile conspiracy theories, 2016 has thoroughly shaken the groundwork of facts that Americans agree on. But there’s at least one story that the US can’t afford to let slide into the muck of conspiracy theories, fake news, and truthiness: whether the Russian government hacked America’s election.

On Wednesday, Congressmen Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) introduced a bill to create an independent commission to investigate Russian government involvement in the digital attacks that shook the presidential election this year. It’s an extensive list. Security experts have linked Russian actors to hacker breaches of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the emails accounts of Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, the voter rolls of Arizona, Illinois, and Florida, and a deluge of fake news. The 12-member commission, to be chosen by both Republicans and Democrats, would present their findings and recommendations for preventing future attacks in 18 months.

From Russia With…Very Little Doubt
For most of the cybersecurity and US intelligence community, the Russian government’s ties to this year’s electoral hacks are no longer up for debate. Security firms Crowdstrike, Mandiant and Fidelis all analyzed evidence of the DNC hack and agreed it was the work of two Russian intelligence agency hacking teams, using some of the same tools and techniques as earlier breaches by those groups. Despite the pseudonymous claims of a supposedly Romanian hacker taking solo credit, the files he or she leaked contained Russian-language formatting error messages. And in October, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence jointly issued a statement pinning the hacks on the Kremlin, writing that “only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

One more story: German security chief warns of Russian election hacking

A top German security chief warned Thursday that Russia could tamper with Germany’s general elections next year, saying the eastern power is threatening politicians and voting systems with cyberattacks and cyberespionage.

“Aggressive and increased cyber spying and cyber operations” are a growing risk to “German government officials, members of parliament and employees of democratic parties,” said Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a domestic security agency.

The goal, the intelligence agency said in a statement, is to “weaken or destabilize the Federal Republic of Germany,” especially the upcoming elections.

The agency said Russia is pouring money into misinformation campaigns. In many cases, state actors carry out cyberattacks “under the cover of being hacktivists,” the agency’s memo reads.

This may help reduce the effect on Bukovsky’s reputation, if it becomes more widely known that Russians not only hack into systems to get info, but also place false information in various places.

As I said, this trial starts on Monday, and I will be posting updates as they come.

Coverage from the Weekly Standard: Soviet Dissident Vladimir Bukovsky Set for Trial Monday

Please help Claire Berlinski cover this trial.

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