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Saturday
Jul152017

Rinat Akhmetshin: Not a Russian or a Spy

First a little background: there was a meeting June 2016 where a Russian "government" lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya met with Donald Trump, Jr. to provide information about a supposed Clinton scandal. There was no information. Instead it was an attempt to influence Trump, Jr., and hopefully his father, on behalf on a Russian Oligarch against the Magnitsky Act which put up sanctions against her client. The meeting was a total bust. The reason I used quotation marks around government is that this is technically true, but misleading. Yes, she worked for the prosecutors office in Moscow, just as a promising attorney in the US might work for the Office of the New York prosecutors office. Would you describe this person as a government lawyer years after she went into private practice? You would not. I leave it to your imagination why the words "government lawyer" are being used on the various networks. If you think they would have the decency to use the word "former," you would be wrong. Veselnitskaya was not representing Russia, she was representing her client. 

But the talking heads and the politico class have a problem, there is no there there. So they had to expand their blathering. Besides the translator, there was a fifth person present, Rinat Akhmetshin. Here is how the New York Times talks about him:

While not, he insisted, an expert in the technical aspects of hacking nor, a spy, Mr. Akhmetshin talked openly about how he had worked with a counterintelligence unit while serving with the Red Army after its 1979 invasion of Afghanistan and how easy it was to find tech-savvy professionals ready and able to plunder just about any email account.

I quoted this because it can show how to lie through your teeth but saying nothing false. Rinat Akhmetshin, like every other Soviet young man, was drafted into the army for his two year hitch. So at about age 18 to 20 he served in the army from 1988 to 1990. Imagine the jobs he would have been given. Assuming he is telling the truth about where he was assigned, he would have been emptying the trash, and cleaning the toilets. Assuming that he is telling the truth about his departure rank of sergeant, he would not have had a job that might be described as an "intelligence" job; that would be quite a stretch. (There is no reason to conclude that Rinat is lying.) 

Note also the phrase, "the Red Army after its 1979 invasion of Afghanistan." Every Soviet young man would have served in the Red Army after 1979, if they were drafted after 1979! Why try to connect Akhmetshin with the Afghanistan invasion? 

I think that for years Akhmetshin might have said things that are technically true but misleading in order to benefit his consulting business. Or maybe he allowed others to draw conclusions and did not correct them. He is not a former spy or even a former intelligence officer. He was a GI Ivan who was drafted. 

What do I mean when I say that Rinat Akhmetshin is not Russian? He is not ethnically Russian. His first name tells us that. It is not clear exactly what his ethnic background is. Russian minorities tend to be concentrated in their traditional homelands. Rinat is either a Kazakh, a Kazakh Tartar, a Tartar born just north of Kazakhstan, or interesting enough in a Tatar born in Crimea. 

You might think, as an American, that such ethnic issues do not matter. You are being naive, even about America. In Russia it matters, it matters a lot. 

Here is what government sponsored Radio Free Europe said about him:

Barely registering in U.S. lobbying records, the 48-year-old Akhmetshin has been tied to efforts to bolster opponents of Kazakhstan's ruling regime, discredit a fugitive former member of Russia's parliament, and undermine a Russian-owned mining firm involved in a billion-dollar lawsuit with company information allegedly stolen by hackers.

Rather than being pro-Russian, his career seems to be centered on anti-Russian activities and lobbying as "Kazakhstan's ruling regime" is pro-Putin

Rinat Akhmetshin does not represent the Russian government, nor is he a former intelligence officer. When you hear otherwise, you are being played. 

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