Russia is now a center of palace intrigue, with allegations from Democrats that the Trump campaign may have coordinated with Russian intelligence to conduct election hacks, though zero evidence has been found to corroborate that loaded claim. Hackers believed to be connected to Russia did hack into the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta’s email account and that information was released on Wikileaks. At the same time, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange vociferously denies his source is Russian. Despite the allegations, a majority of Americans do not believe that the Russian interference campaign swayed the election. Even CNN found that most Americans don’t think that Russian interference swayed the election. It’s funny how in 2012, Democrats slammed Republicans for being out of touch about Russia, only to have them say four years later that they’re public enemy number one since Hillary Clinton lost in an upset election to Trump. Russian intelligence did have a concerted interference campaign, where they flooded social media with propaganda from trolls and state-funded media outlets. That’s not hacking, however.
Yet, while the so-called Russian hacking story continues to give Democrats sleepless nights, on the diplomatic front, things are a bit more unnerving. For starters, six Russian foreign officers have died. Some having been assassinated while others have met more mysterious fates - one of the diplomats was reportedly involved in the dossier that was part of an opposition research effort led by anti-Trump Republicans. Democrats later continued it. Axios had the butcher’s bill:
- You probably remember Russia's Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov — he was assassinated by a police officer at a photo exhibit in Ankara on December 19.
- On the same day, another diplomat, Peter Polshikov, was shot dead in his Moscow apartment. The gun was found under the bathroom sink but the circumstances of the death were under investigation. Polshikov served as a senior figure in the Latin American department of the Foreign Ministry.
- Russia's Ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died in New York this past week. Churkin was rushed to the hospital from his office at Russia's UN mission. Initial reports said he suffered a heart attack, and the medical examiner is investigating the death, according to CBS.
- Russia's Ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, died after a "brief illness January 27, which The Hindu said he had been suffering from for a few weeks.
- Russian Consul in Athens, Greece, Andrei Malanin, was found dead in his apartment January 9. A Greek police official said there was "no evidence of a break-in." But Malanin lived on a heavily guarded street. The cause of death needed further investigation, per an AFP report. Malanin served during a time of easing relations between Greece and Russia when Greece was increasingly critiqued by the EU and NATO.
- On the morning of U.S. Election Day, Russian diplomat Sergei Krivov was found unconscious at the Russian Consulate in New York and died on the scene. Initial reports said Krivov fell from the roof and had blunt force injuries, but Russian officials said he died from a heart attack. BuzzFeed reports Krivov may have been a Consular Duty Commander, which would have put him in charge of preventing sabotage or espionage.
- Ex-KGB chief Oleg Erovinkin, who was suspected of helping draft the Trump dossier, was found dead in the back of his car December 26, according to The Telegraph. Erovinkin also was an aide to former deputy prime minister Igor Sechin, who now heads up state-owned Rosneft.
Russia is no stranger to stories about their security forces killing former colleagues. In 2006, former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko died of radiation poisoning after polonium was found in his tea. Litvinenko had tea with two former intelligence agents prior to falling ill. The BBC reported that the evidence surrounding the murder points to a state-sanctioned hit, with President Putin probably signing off on it. Litvinenko was critical of Putin and the FSB; those involved with the case say may have provided the motive to kill him.