Anyone have any idea who that Moscow widow was, who handed Hunter Biden $3.5 million?
When Hunter Biden took that $3.5 million in money transfers from Yelena Baturina, Russia's richest woman, the media lapsed into sudden incuriosity — very bizarre, given that it spent four years yelling about President Trump and his supposed "Russian collusion."
Here was real Russian collusion, and the blue checks went blue screen. Miranda Devine at the New York Post has some excellent observations on that here.
The corruption-watchers in the U.S. government, though, didn't — bells and alarms went off, which is why a record of this activity, obtainable by the Senate in its damning interim report, is there at all. According to the New York Post:
Hunter Biden received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Elena Baturina, the richest woman in Russia and the widow of Yury Luzhkov, the former mayor of Moscow, Senate Republicans revealed in their report on the younger Biden's work in Ukraine.
Baturina is referenced in the 87-page report, which was released Wednesday, addressing her payment to Biden's investment firm in early 2014.
"Baturina became Russia's only female billionaire when her plastics company, Inteko, received a series of Moscow municipal contracts while her husband was mayor," it said in providing background on the businesswoman.
Was this just any Russian oligarch that young Hunter Biden with his dad as vice president, took the big payment from?
Nope, it was a person associated with political corruption and lots of pocket-lining. Take a gander at who her now late husband was:
In 2010, the Guardian reported this:
The US ambassador to Russia claimed that Moscow's veteran mayor Yuri Luzhkov sat on top of a "pyramid of corruption" involving the Kremlin, Russia's police force, its security service, political parties and crime groups.
The 74-year-old has subsequently been sacked as mayor by President Dmitry Medvedev, after the Kremlin-controlled media broadcast allegations of corruption aimed at him and his billionaire wife, Yelena Baturina, who heads a construction company called Inteko. The couple have vehemently denied the accusations as "total rubbish" designed to make Luzhkov "lose his balance".
In a leaked secret cable sent in February, the US ambassador John Beyrle gives a forensic account of Moscow's "murky" criminal world, alleging a shadowy connection between bureaucrats, gangsters and even prosecutors.
According to Beyrle corruption in Moscow was "pervasive". "Luzhkov is at the top of the pyramid," he claimed. He told the US state department: "Luzhkov oversees a system in which it appears that almost everyone at every level is involved in some form of corruption or criminal behaviour."
Russia's well-developed system of bribe-taking was ubiquitous, Beyrle said. In the absence of laws that worked, Luzhkov — as well as other mayors and governors — paid off "key insiders in the Kremlin". Officials had even been spotted entering the building carrying large suitcases, presumed to be "full of money".
What was his relationship to Vladimir Putin? Mostly a rival, given his power as Moscow mayor for 18 years and presidential ambitions of his own. They often were in opposing camps. But at the same time, Putin domesticated him, learning his craft of leverage on Yuzhkov's head, a style of Chicago politics that can only be said to be on steroids. Dawisha says he learned to use muscle from the tactics of Russian mafiosos back in St. Petersburg, internalizing it deeply, learning that the only way to deal with corrupt and powerful rivals was with a boot on their necks.
According to Karen Dawisha, in her book Putin's Kleptocracy:
Little by little regional governors lined up behind Putin's candidacy. Even Luzhkov, who had been a candidate, withdrew to support him. Despite this, the Kremlin signaled to governors that their failure to support Putin would likely have very disastrous results. For example, the report on the elections by the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe noted that shortly before the election, the Ministry of Internal Affairs' Investigation Committee demanded all documents related to housing construction in Moscow in 1999, an area where there had been numerous reports of corruption involving Luzhkov and his wife, Yelena Baturina. If Kremlin officials were going to go after Luzhkov, they could go after anyone who showed independence.
Yelena Baturina, who gave Hunter Biden the big cash, is absolutely famous for corruption.
According to her Wikipedia page, the U.S. ambassador to Russia in 2010 laid it out like this:
According to secret cables published by WikiLeaks, the US ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle, reported allegations that Baturina had links to major criminal groups, particularly Solntsevskaya Bratva. The full text of the cable makes clear that Mr Beyrle is simply repeating gossip and allegations conveyed to him by journalist Sergei Kanev. Beyrle writes, 'Kanev told us that Luzhkov's wife, Yelena Baturina, definitely has links to the criminal world, and particularly to the Solntsevo criminal group'. Beyrle stated that her husband Yury Luzhkov sat on top of a "pyramid of corruption". "Luzhkov oversees a system in which it appears that almost everyone at every level is involved in some form of corruption or criminal behaviour," wrote Beyrle. "Analysts identify a three-tiered structure in Moscow's criminal world. Luzhkov is at the top. The FSB, MVD and militia are at the second level. Finally ordinary criminals and corrupt inspectors are at the lowest level." Beyrle also suggested that much of Luzhkov's business empire had been acquired using municipal finances to invest in "less than transparent" projects with former Soviet republics. The couple denied the accusations as "total rubbish".
Click on that link to the Solntsevskay Bratva mafiya — and be grossed out.
According to the Moscow Times:
Another feature of his: Luzhkov always sued those who offended him and always won — thanks to the Moscow justice system that he kept in his back pocket.
Luzhkov described his wife, Russia's richest women Elena Baturina, as a "talented entrepreneur." This phrase became famous as everyone knew she received billions in state construction contracts in the capital.
Now what was going on in 2014 and 2015 when these wire transfers were happening four and five years after the Wikileaks and surely with young Hunter's if not old Joe's knowledge of them?
Luzhkov and his wife had been ousted from power by Putin's puppet successor Dmitri Medvedev for insubordination. Baturina took much of the fortune abroad, investing in hotels, real estate and green energy, an Obama administration hobbyhorse in its picking winners-and-losers economy. There also was the Kremlin's invasion into Crimea, which was Luzhkov's hobbyhorse, and Luzhkov was still in Russia at the time. The Senate report also says that the money went into a venture with Chinese ties, which adds another odd thread.
So it's very much a question of what the Moscow billionaire with the huge power-boss husband got for their $3.5 billion to Hunter Biden, son of the U.S. vice president.
Knowing how they worked, they didn't just fling money around for nothing in return, they both practiced a brutal Chicago-style-cubed politics over there with cash and muscle subject only to Putin's greater power. They got something, they were happy in Moscow at their prized catch of the U.S. vice president's son for a mere $3.5 million, possibly on Putin's muscled string, or possibly in some kind of bid to put Putin at bay, it could have been either.
Given the way the game is played in Russia, it sure as heck wasn't about the simple making of money.
What the heck was the ignorant and drug-disgraced, stripper-and-hooker-addicted Hunter giving them in return? We don't know and now the media is keeping the desired silence. The only thing most likely is that they were giggling in Moscow when they bagged this wastrel younger son of the most powerful vice president on earth, and on their own terms. The game in Russia is power, fortified by cash.