Inside the Mueller Indictment: A Russian Novel of Intrigue

It was the day of the biker revival, the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend 2016, when millions of motorcyclists tumble in a cacophonous offensive on Washington, DC, for the annual Rolling Thunder rally. Soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, wearing a blazer sans bind but with a red MAGA hat securely ensconced on his head, operated the crowd around the Lincoln Memorial. “Look at all these bikers, ” he read. “Do we enjoy the bikers? Yes. We affection the bikers.”

Looking around, though, it was not quite enough bikers for him. “I saw this would be like Dr. Martin Luther King, where the people would be lined up from here all the way to the Washington Monument, ” he spoke, disheartened at the turnout for his gathering.

His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, devoted the morning manipulating the Sunday reveals, minimise concerns about the Trump campaign’s turmoil, rejecting rumors of infighting with his rival Paul Manafort( their relationship was “fantastic, ” he told Fox News’ Chris Wallace ), and conveying confidence about how the smaller expedition faculty was all they needed to win Hillary Clinton( “This is media promotion, ” he articulated ).

Amid the fus of the capital and members of the general uproar of the campaign, there may not have been a person in Washington who showed the American holding up a sign outside the White House, only chunks away from Trump’s glad-handing at the Rolling Thunder rally. “Happy 55 th Birthday Dear Boss” it predicted. The unnamed American who held up the signed, constituting for a drawing, didn’t actually know who you are he’d been hired for the purposes of the a strange task.

The people who had hired him online to stand in front of the White House had simply told him they demanded the picture for “a leader now and our boss…our funder.”

Whoever the people who sought the photo were, they got it hold back in public in time for June 1.

It was a small detail, seemingly immaterial in the capitals, almost impossible to situate in the magnificent intrigue of a billion-dollar presidential election. Except for one thing, a fact that–more than a year later–would stand out to the investigates working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller: On June 1, 2016, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin turned 55 years old.

Prigozhin was barely a household name in the United States–until last-place Friday, at least–but to investigators and intelligence officers, he was a key figure in the overlapping roundabouts of oligarchs, frightens, and an organized criminal chassis who range Russia under Vladimir Putin. You can only imagine that when he saw a photo of the mansion accommodated upward by an American, he smiled.

Because in the midst of an effort to influence and to disrupt American democracy, an effort that encompassed four years, expenditure billions of dollars, and employed the thousands of Russians, the team at the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg had arranged a farce, a present, and a honour for the Kremlin oligarch who was manufacturing it all possible.

In the working day since Bob Mueller’s 37 -page indictment of 13 Russians and three companies involved in sowing government schism in the midst of the 2016 US general elections, much of the media focus has been on the Internet Research Agency, the so-called troll factory responsible for racing a network of phony social media names and paid government advertisements aimed at undercutting Hillary Clinton and building up Donald Trump.

A closer read of the indictment, though, tells an even more interesting story–a story to seeing how a restaurateur whom Vladimir Putin stirred rich repaid the praise by releasing an legion of trolls to promote #MAGA, affair Trump foes, coordinate government mobilizes, suppress the votes of Clinton partisans, and hire Americans to dress up like Clinton in prison.

Becoming Putin’s Cook

According to Mueller’s investigation, the IRA was overseen by two Prigozhin-controlled companies–Concord Management and Consulting and Concord Catering. While Concord Catering was–until last-place Friday at least–a honour all-but unknown in the United States, it’s a corporate entity almost as infamous as major Russian conglomerates like Gazprom to those who track the epidemic of falsification unleashed by Putin.

Concord Catering was Prigozhin’s ticket out of obscurity. Ripening up in the Soviet Union, where athletic prowess was celebrated as a move to greatness, he’d once had aspirations of being a champion cross-country skier. Instead, he became a low-level criminal and spent the majority of members of the 1980 s in prison after being caught in a robbery and vice scheme. He gained freedom just as the country he’d known since delivery unraveled. It was the few moments for the purposes of an entrepreneur to remake himself–and he started with a hot-dog stand.

It was improbably successful, and by 1996 he had the wherewithal to locate Concord Catering, the corporate home for a proliferating eatery conglomerate that included eateries is targeted at the St. Petersburg elite. His first major success was the “Old Customs House” in St. Petersburg–a nod to the city’s blessing days in the time of Peter the Great–that featured debased saucers like oysters and foie gras from Finland.

In 1998, he opened what would become his most famous gues, a floating eatery known as the “New Island Restaurant” that would become well known to prosperous Russians and a favorite of Putin himself, who hosted the Japanese “ministers ” at one of Prigozhin’s restaurants just after he took office in 2000.

In 2001, Putin took French President Jacques Chirac to New Island and returned the subsequent year with President George W. Bush. Prigozhin, who are able afterward be said that where reference is started he didn’t even know a restaurant’s wine-colored expert was known as a “sommelier, ” wasn’t reticent about touting his business success; as he bragged to one local booklet, “Vladimir Putin saw how I built up my business from nothing.”

As the Anti-Corruption Foundation reports, Prigozhin impounds a unique point in the constellation of Russian oligarchs–he’s there simply because Putin likes him: “The man did not fabricate anything, did not find the jewel, did not winning at the Olympics. He received an award in gratitude for the good work of the chairman, as a tip-off. He was told that now they are able to freely and with impunity engage in corruption.”

Over the next 15 times, Prigozhin–and Concord Catering–became the go-to supplier for Russia’s government food contracts, performing meals in class, the military, and even at Dmitry Medvedev’s presidential inauguration. Much of the capital city that fueled Concord Catering’s early growing was underwritten by Vnesheconombank, the Russian development bank overseen by Putin’s ally Sergey Gorkov.( Not coincidentally Vnesheconombank has become a critical business vehicle for oligarchs and sufficed as cover for Russian intelligence operations overseas .)

Concord Catering fronted regular appraisal for its failure to deliver on its predicted contracts; parents revolted against the heavily handled dinners Concord served in their childrens’ class. But competency was just information requirements for business success in the kleptocracy that had come to predominate Russia.

By 2011, Prigozhin was acquiring contracts worth millions of dollars–and then, in 2012, more than$ 1 billion to feed more than 90 percent of the Russian military. The contracts converted Prigozhin’s life; his family moved to a St. Petersburg compound with a basketball field and apache helicopters pad, and they enjoyed a private aircraft and a 115 -foot yacht.

He was known in the press as “Putin’s cook.” Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny had a different nickname for him: “Putin’s troll.”

That moniker stemmed from Prigozhin’s unique side project. After all, one of the unwritten rules of Putin’s Russia is that those who participate opulence showered upon them by the mood owe a indebtednes to assist Putin politically.

For Prigozhin, that made money the Internet Research Agency.

The Translator Project

The Internet Research Agency was created in the summer of 2013 in St. Petersburg’s Lakhta-Olgino neighborhood; in short order it had hired the thousands of employees who made a steady torrent of pro-Putin, anti-west publicity online. They flooded the internet with the remarks and bots, and by 2014, the IRA was so notorious that it became known simply as the troll mill. It enticed knack, in part, by higher-than-average payments for those interested in digital marketing–about $700 a few months, according to former workers who have been interviewed by western media.

According to Mueller’s indictment, Concord money the IRA “as part of a larger Concord-funded interference operation that it referred to as’ Project Lakhta, ’” identified after a nearby lagoon and the historic vicinity where relevant agencies was founded. The IRA’s mission was to spread misinformation via the internet around the world. Its initial targets were Ukraine and numerous European democracies.

Concord categorized the payments for Project Lakhta as “software support and exploitation, ” and to conceal the funding funneled it through the bank accounts of 14 different affiliates. Over its first year, the IRA too set up a number of other front business with names like MediaSintez LLC, GlavSet LLC, MixInfo LLC, Azimut LLC, and NovInfo LLC.

The project’s central leaders were an unlikely trio of a retired police officer, a tech inventor, and a PR executive. The 50 -something CEO, Mikhail I. Bystrov, had wasted most of his career as a St. Petersburg police officer, adjourning as a colonel and to intervene in the IRA around February 2014; he was also scheduled as heads of state of other IRA front companies, including serving as the general director of Glavset LLC.

The executive director, Mikhail L. Burchik, was a 30 -year-old tech entrepreneur; he connected IRA in the fall of 2013 and by March 2014 had risen to be its executive director, second only to Bystrov.

Alexandra Krylova was the IRA’s No. 3 official; she had previously cultivated at the “Federal News Agency, ” a media store linked to Prigozhin that has played a key role in promoting Russia’s military operations in Syria.

The Internet Research Agency planned itself like any modern digital market house, with departments focused on graphics, data analysis, and search engine optimization, as well as high standards back-office functions like an IT department and finance department to handle budgeting. Approximates of its total faculty have arrayed from 400 to 1,000.

In April 2014, the IRA composed a brand-new part, known as the Translator Project, that focused on “the US population and deported actions on social media pulpits such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, ” according to the indictment. By the following month, development projects delineated, apparently in an internal substantiate, an explicit goal: “Spread distrust toward the candidates and the government plan in general.”

Over the next three years, the project would move through distinct phases as the IRA’s team experimented American politics, cultivated spurious personas, blamed the leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton–a particular nemesis of Vladimir Putin–and eventually travelled all-in for a Donald Trump victory. In season, the staff on the Translator Project burgeoned to more than 80 employees.

The Translator Project was originally overseen by Maria A. Bovda and Robert S. Bovda–how the two are related is uncertain from the indictment–who both wielded at IRA from November 2013 to October 2014 and laid the groundwork for the initial action. In the descend of 2014, Dzheykhun Aslanov assembled IRA and eventually made over as the head of the Translator Project, overseeing the operations that targeted the unfolding American general elections and, like Bystrov, providing on paper as heads of state of figurehead companionships that helped pour coin to the effort.

The operation began to come together in the spring of 2014, months before the first formal phenomenon in America that unofficially kicked off the 2016 election, the November announced in former Virginia Senator Jim Webb that he was forming a presidential exploratory committee.

Over the course of 2014, the IRA’s employees and what Mueller’s team calls “their co-conspirators” inaugurated “to track and study groups on US social media websites dedicated to US politics and social issues.” They carefully tracked the length and participation of various online conversations, including the frequency of posts and the average number of criticisms or responses.

That spring, Krylova, Bogacheva, and Robert Bovda applied for visas to visit the United States themselves “to collect intelligence for their intervention business, ” according to the indictment. All three stated, falsely, they were traveling to the US for personal grounds, secreting their locate of the jobs. While Bovda was turned down for a visa, the other two were approved and set off on a three-week journey in June 2014 through Nevada, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, Texas, and New York.

They met prepared for low-level espionage, purchasing cameras, SIM placards, and “drop phones”–untraceable burners–and with pre-planned “evacuation scenarios” in case something went wrong. There’s no register in the arraignment of who they met with or where accurately they departed, but their hastens made them through most of the largest electoral set out in the country.

When the two travelers returned to Russia, Krylova sat down with Burchik, the IRA’s executive director, for a debriefing. That drop-off, a third coconspirator expended four periods in Atlanta, Georgia, for further research and, on returning to St. Petersburg, met with the manager of IRA’s IT department, Sergey P. Polozov, whose profession it was to procure servers and other technological infrastructure inside the US to cure mask the sources of the IRA’s activity. Accentuating just how repetitious even geopolitical espionage is also possible, this third traveler entered his expense report with Polozov.

This collective study, both online and on the grind in the US, supplied a crucial political education on America to the Russians. Even as Kyrlova and Bogacheva traveled throughout the country, their colleagues–posing online as Americans–began corresponding with a political activist in Texas, who explained how they should focus their influence efforts on “purple governments like Colorado, Virginia, and Florida.”

It was a concept and term the IRA quickly comprehended and endorse; from then on, the IRA employees would refer internally to their targets as “purple states.” They too moved schedules of US celebrations to ensure that employees put out relevant social media content.

That fall, as the Translator Project gained momentum, the IRA relocated, moving to a modern four-story department building with floor-to-ceiling windows at 55 Savushkina Street in St. Petersburg, time two blockages off the Neva River on the north shore of the Gulf of Finland.

While much of the IRA’s activity focused on promoting Putin and Russia, the Translator Project was seen as the organization’s elite by the individuals who toiled elsewhere in the IRA on jobs like affecting Ukraine or Putin’s domestic opponent. As one former proletarian in the “troll factory” told the Washington Post over the weekend, “They is thoroughly modern-looking young people, like hipsters, wearing fashionable invests with stylish haircuts and modern maneuvers. They were so modern that you wouldn’t think they could do something like this.”

Reaching from all the regions of the Atlantic from St. Petersburg presented a big logistical invite; the IRA employees opened hundreds of social media details, composing fictitious Americans whom they, with duration, be converted into “leader[ s] of public opinion, ” according to the indictment.

The IRA’s works, known as “specialists, ” drove around the clock, with a day-shift and a night-shift to ensure 24/7 coverage of the US, where the east coast is eight hours behind St. Petersburg. The allegation precisely quotes four other Russian employees–Vadim V. Podkopaev, Gleb I. Vasilchenko, Irina V. Kaverzina, and Vladimir Vankow–who helped research American politics, sketch social media material, and “operated” US personas online to affix on locates like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Their aim was to enflame “political intensity through subscribing radical radicals, consumers dissatisfied with[ the] social and economic statu, and oppositional social movements.”

To do so, they focused on US foreign policy and economic issues, starting radical pages on websites like Facebook and Instagram that targeted migration( one group was announced “Secured Borders” ), Black Lives Matters( they created a “Blackivist” page ), theological radicals( “United Muslims of America” and “Army of Jesus”) and geography( “South United” and “Heart of Texas.” All told, their pages amassed hundreds of thousands of partisans. They also built several Twitter accountings designed to appear as if they belonged to Americans, like @TEN_GOP, aka “Tennessee GOP, ” and originated an intricate chronicle hierarchy, designating specific details to post original content and using others to repost, amplify, and promote it.

“Over time, these social media notes grew Defendants’ means to reach significant numbers of Americans for purposes of interfering with the US political plan, ” Mueller’s indictment responds. “[ They] had the tactical destination to broadcast discord.”

While some of the accounts scarcely received any resistances, others did quite well online; the @TEN_GOP amassed 100,000 adherents and was retweeted on occasion by elderly Trump aides like Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump Jr ., and Gen. Michael Flynn.

It was a intelligent enterprise, akin to any other digital market expedition by a label or government administration. The IRA studiously moved the accounts and their engagements–including remarks, likes, and reposts–to read what succeeded and helped improve their audience.

Colleagues helped audit the contents created by the “specialists” to make sure it “appeared authentic” and they received regular lead on announce spans and how to incorporate graphics and video. The IT manager, Polozov, and his crew orchestrated a network of VPNs inside the US to disguise the parentages of his colleagues’ work.

As the presidential expedition uncovered through 2015, the Russian operation expanded into paid political circulars that amounted to thousands of dollars a month; the Mueller indictment shows that the IRA carefully calculated their ad depletes and submitted the budgets to the mother companionship, Concord.

Going Deeper into America

Then, as 2016 itself started, they expanded further, appropriating the Social Security Numbers of living Americans and using them to open accounts at Paypal. They utilized bullshit drivers’ licenses and false and stolen IDs to establish consider names.

For some of this activity, they turned to a California man, Richard Pinedo, 28, who flowed an online service announced “Auction Essistance.” Pinedo–who pleaded guilty to identity fraud in such cases unsealed Friday along with the other Mueller indictments–ran a service to bypas the security features of places like Paypal, selling bank accounts established under inaccurate names to help people avoid showing their real calls to Paypal.

A one-time computer science major who lived in the suburbs of Ventura County and ran an SEO digital marketing busines as his period position, Pinedo, according to bumpy thinks given in his sentencing documents, appears to have made somewhere between $40,000 and $60,000 in his arrangement over the three years his companionship existed, from 2014 to 2017.( Harmonizing to the special counsel’s role, he never knew he was working with the Russian Internet Research Agency. The Pinedo case was the first publicly held street of the investigation that involved Ryan Dickey, an experienced attorney who specializes in cybercrime and was brought to Mueller’s team in November; Dickey, who helped target major hackers like Guccifer, is one of the Justice Department’s top cybercrime examiners .)

All told, the IRA team set up more than a dozen sham bank account. The fake Paypal accounts were used to purchase political advertisements, purportedly by Americans, with sends like “Vote Republican, elect Trump, and is in favour of Second Amendment” and “Ohio Wants Hillary 4 Prison.” Just epoches before the IRA experts hired the birthday sign-holder in front of the White House in May 2016, they promoted an ad adding “Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote, ” the Mueller indictment says.

On June 7, a daytime after Hillary Clinton secured the 2,383 pledged designates needed to secure the Democratic nomination, they paid for an ad speaking “Trump is our only hope for a better future.”

Coincidentally or not, there was a disturbance of activity in mid-June 2016 the same week that the Washington Post first reported that the DNC had been spoofed by the Russian government. One daytime before the Post report on June 14, 2016, the Russian IRA operation exerted the wemakeweather @gmail. com email address to fraudulently procure a bank account, the first registered such action in Mueller’s indictment. Then, two days after the Post report, on June 16, they fraudulently squandered a stolen Social Security number to set up a bank account and a Paypal account applying an email accounted called allforusa @yahoo. com.

The overall goal of all of this effort–the bogus Facebook groups, the untrue Twitter posts, the undercover names, the online ads–was clear: As the IRA apprise its experts, “use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest( except Sanders and Trump–we support them ). ”

The team suitable and amplified relevant hashtags, like #Trump2016, #TrumpTrain, #MAGA, and #Hillary4Prison, ” and impounded on new happens to create even more histories, like “Trumpsters United, ” which they used to communicate with what Mueller’s indictment announces “unwitting representatives, voluntaries, and supporters of the Trump Campaign to participate in neighbourhood society outreach, as well as grassroots groups that supported then-candidate Trump.”

Those astroturf accounts that weren’t fervent enough were singled out for corrective action; one of the organization’s internal audits concluded that the Facebook group “Secured Borders” was insufficiently critical of Hillary and the project team was say “it is imperative to intensify criticizing Hillary Clinton, ” according to the indictment.

The effort, well-staffed and expensive–by the come it was expending uphill of $1.25 million a month–was a top priority for the IRA. Its CEO, Bystrov, disseminated “frequently” with its oligarch patron, Prigozhin, about Project Lahkta and had “regularly scheduled in-person meetings” throughout 2015 and 2016, according to Mueller’s indictment.

As the summer of 2016 unfolded–two years after the original scouting journey that launched the project–the IRA made its affect campaign to a new elevation, organizing and coordinating government rallies inside the US, pretending to be grassroots activists themselves. They built attending by promoting happens through fake social media histories and contacted the administrators racing other large, lawful social media groups.

Using that same email address linked to the sham bank account, allforusa @yahoo. com, they sent out press releases for a “March for Trump” in New York on June 25, 2016, and used a Facebook account for a fake American listed “Matt Skiber” to contact a mobilize recruiter offering to “give you money to etch postings and get a megaphone.”

They facilitated promote a July 9, 2016, rally in DC, that was supposed to showcase how Hillary Clinton would change the two countries over to Sharia law. They hired a “real US person, ” the summon enunciates, to hold up a indicate showing Hillary Clinton and a quote falsely attributed to her: “I conclude Sharia Law will be a potent new tendency of freedom.”

They employed a Gmail account, joshmilton0 24 @gmail. com, to promote a “Down with Hillary” rally on July 23, sending out press releases to more than 30 media outlets, and too bought Facebook ads to promote the incident.( Intriguingly, the day of the “Down with Hillary” rally coincided with the working day that Wikileaks secreted thousands of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee .)

In August, they facilitated arrange and promote “Florida Goes Trump” mobilizes, working their forgery personas to communicate with Trump campaign staff and local community organizers, and bought Facebook and Instagram ads to promote the series of events on August 20, 2016.

In one send to the Facebook group “Florida for Trump, ” they even adopted their favor candidate’s verbal proclivities, writing, “Listen we’ve got an idea. Florida is still a violet government and we need to draw it red. If “were losing” Florida, we lose America. We can’t let it happen, right? What about organizing a YUGE pro-Trump flash mob in every Florida town? ”

More than 8,300 Facebook customers clicked on the ads the latter are promoting for the Florida revivals, passing them to the IRA’s fake Facebook page “Being Patriotic.”

The sheer volume of the IRA’s effort flounders the imagination. All told, it affixed some 80,000 bits of content in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Facebook has struggled to wrap its arms around the IRA’s activities in the year since the election; according to Facebook’s guess, more than 126 million Americans viewed some of the IRA’s propaganda. The companionship estimates that the IRA spent around $100,000 to promote some 3,000 different ads related to the campaign, all part of what it does are about 470 “inauthentic accountings and Pages.” On Twitter, the Russian efforts garnered more than 131,000 tweets, and there were more than 1,000 videos uploaded to YouTube.

According to the summon, they even did individual voter outreach through social media–contacting, according to an internal IRA list, more than 100 voters individually–encouraging people to show up at rallies and lining up individuals to provide signalings for an occasion. For the Florida rallyings, they even recruited and paid one US person to build a enclosure on a flatbed truck, and someone else to wear a costume evoking Hillary in prison.

A Trump campaign chair for a district in Florida contacted the masquerading Russians to indicate two other metropolitans to host phenomena, and the “Matt Skiber” persona contacted a Trump campaign staffer at the official’s email address–the official is known simply in the accusation as “Campaign Official 1”–to introduce himself as honcho a “grassroots conservative online movement” and reporting that they had 13 corroborated rallying spots. In the days ahead, they contacted two additional Trump campaign officials; there’s no annal in the accusation whether the campaign faculty responded or corresponded with the bogus IRA accounts.

The episodes were such a success that the IRA moved to organize similar happenings in New York and Pennsylvania in the autumn, compensating demonstrators at the revivals and buying Facebook ads to promote the events.

That summer, in the hot of the campaign, the IRA began to promote allegations of voter fraud, seeking to sow mistrust and separation among Democratic voters by flowing rumors that Clinton had embezzled the Iowa caucuses from Bernie Sanders and affixing was pointed out that Clinton was getting illegal mail-in elections in Broward County, Florida.

Then, in the final weeks of the presidential expedition, the IRA’s specialists accepted a new tactic: Voter suppression. They inspired minority voters to sit out the election exclusively or to support third-party presidential candidates like Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee who had attended a December 2015 dinner in Moscow, sitting at the same counter with Vladimir Putin and adjourned General Michael Flynn

In an October 16, 2016, an Instagram account announced “Woke Blacks” posted, “[ A] special publicity and hatred for Trump is misinforming the people and making Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d be surely better off without electing at all.” On Election Day itself, a similar pole by “United Muslims of Americans” spurred Muslims to boycott the elections because “most of the American Muslim voters refused to vote for Hillary Clinton.”

The third-party candidate vote testified crucial to Donald Trump’s victory; the vote total in Michigan for Jill Stein represented four times the size of Trump’s margin of victory over Clinton, and too excess Trump’s victory margin in Wisconsin.

According to the prosecution, Election Day and Trump’s catch win hardly slackened the IRA’s efforts; in the days after November 8, the specialists inaugurated coordinating rallies on both sides, subscribing Trump, with a November 12 mobilize in New York, and also planning rallies to protest his referendum, with a “Charlotte Against Trump” rally on November 19. After months of doing all it could to promote Trump’s election, it appears that the IRA was–at least for a time–reverting to its original plan: part Americans and sowing mistrust and distrust in democracy.

While there was regular reporting on the Internet Research Agency and the suspicious activity of what appeared to be Russian bots and trolls online, those running the organization apparently didn’t dread exposure of their efforts. In happening, two of the fraudulent bank accounts included in the summon were put in as late as March 30, 2017, and one of the stolen identities in the allegation was taken in May 2017, indicates that the Translator Project prolonged apace well past Trump’s inauguration.

Then last-place fall, as Robert Mueller’s investigation gained steam and the social media stages began to face tough questions from Congress, the IRA appeared to panic.

On September 13, 2017, one of the specialists–Irina Kaverzina–wrote to a family member: “We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our work( not a parody ). So I got be concerned with shielding trails together with colleagues.”

As she explained, “I formed all these slides and affixes, and the Americans believed that it was written by their people.”

It was a content repetition Friday by none other than the oligarch patron himself. “The Americans are unusually suggestible people, and they watch what the hell is want to see, ” Prigozhin told a Russian news organization after Friday’s indictment. “I respect them very much.”

Garrett M. Graff( @vermontgmg) is a contributing editor for WIRED and the author of The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller’s FBI. He can be reached at garrett.graff @gmail. com.

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