On February 10th, Representative Gerald Solomon (R-NY), chairman of the House Rules
Committee, sent a letter to the White House requesting information on the October 1993 meeting
between President Clinton and Russian mobster Grigori Loutchansky. Loutchansky, head of a
Vienna-based KGB front known as Nordex, is regarded by law enforcement and intelligence
agencies around the world as a drug smuggler, money launderer, and arms dealer. However,
according to the London Sunday Times, his conversation with President Clinton dealt with the
possibility of making Loutchansky a diplomatic intermediary in nuclear disarmament talks between
the U.S. and Ukraine.
Solomon's February 10th letter was his second request for information about Loutchansky, and so far the Administration has refused to cooperate. The congressman's next letter should expand his inquiry to include material about possible connections between Vice President Al Gore and Russian mobster Vladimir Gusinsky.
Russia's Wealthiest Man
In early February, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and his entourage visited Washington, DC to attend the semiannual meetings of the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technical Cooperation, better known as the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission (GCC). The GCC, which grew out of the 1994 Vancouver summit meeting between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin, is a forum in which U.S. Cabinet officials and their Russian counterparts can create a framework for joint ventures in space exploration, science and technology, defense conversion, environmental initiatives, public health issues, agribusiness, and economic development. The body could be described as a binational commission on U.S./Russian "convergence" -- and the nature of that convergence is personified in Vladimir Gusinsky, a shadowy Russian businessman who accompanied Chernomyrdin to Washington.
Gusinsky, a 44-year-old banking and media mogul, is considered in some circles to be Russia's wealthiest man -- and one of the top contenders for the title of "godfather" of the KGB-created Russian mafia. Until January of this year, Gusinsky was director of the powerful Moscow-based Most Bank. As commentator Georgie Anne Geyer observes, Most "was on the CIA's recent list of banks with Russian mafia connections." According to the February 6th Washington Times, U.S. diplomatic sources believe that Prime Minister Chernomyrdin "allowed Mr. Gusinsky to be the driving force in orchestrating his visit."
Gusinsky has a personal security force of more than 1,000 troops, many of them drawn from the KGB's Fifth Chief Directorate -- the branch of the secret police that carried out internal surveillance, political repression, and torture. Furthermore, one of Gusinsky's closest advisers is former KGB Deputy Director Filipp Bobkov, a Stalin-era Chekist. KGB critic Yevgenia Albats notes that "Bobkov is an especially revered figure in the KGB. He came to work for the organs in 1945, when [KGB head] Beria was still alive, yet survived Beria and eleven subsequent secret police chairmen. During the 1970s and '80s, Bobkov effectively became the KGB's real chairman...." Among Bobkov's special talents is a knack for fomenting ethnic and religious conflicts and staging acts of terrorism as pretexts for KGB crack-downs in the name of preserving "order."
Bobkov was supposedly cashiered from the KGB in 1991 after the Soviet attack on the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. Shortly thereafter he was involved in the August 1991 "hardliners' coup" against Mikhail Gorbachev. But rather than going before a firing squad or being thrown into prison, Bobkov turned up as an "adviser" to Gusinsky at Most Bank. Sovietologist Victor Yasmann, citing information published in the Russian press, writes that Bobkov "is the actual director of [Most Bank], which has close ties to Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin."
"Gusinsky's media contacts and his emergence as a banking mogul would not have happened without Bobkov's patronage," a Russian analyst explained to THE NEW AMERICAN. "He is a pure creature of the new criminal class in Russia. He came from the Komsomol [Young Communist League] background, and began his career in the Gorbachev era. He has no native business ability, and yet he is among the half-dozen or so wealthiest men in Russia now, at the age of 44. This is easy to understand once it is understood that the real man behind Gusinsky is Bobkov."
According to Yasmann, Bobkov and a select few of his KGB colleagues compose the "Moscow Narco- Group," an organized crime network that essentially controls money laundering and drug trafficking throughout the former Soviet Union. These KGB veterans "linked up with KGB men working in drug producing areas of Laos, Burma, Cambodia, and Korea, and with the KGB station at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam," Yassman writes.
Another key player in this KGB-supervised pipeline is Usman Imayev, known in some circles as the "Chechen Pablo Escobar." A graduate of Moscow's Patrice Lumumba University -- an academy of terrorism for Third World Marxists -- Imayev was the head of the Chechen central bank and human rights society and lead negotiator for the Chechen "independence" movement in talks with the Russian Federation. Although Imayev was captured by Russian troops in October 1994 and delivered to Moscow, he was quickly released and allowed to return to Chechnya -- where he used his connections to benefit Bobkov's drug-smuggling network.
Imayev has worked closely with Boris Agapov, vice president of the central Asian republic of Ingushetiya. Agapov is a former KGB lieutenant general who headed the intelligence directorate for the KGB border troops. A Russian analyst explained to THE NEW AMERICAN that Agapov "has very strong connections within Pakistan and Afghanistan from the Afghan war, including contacts within the mujahideen, as well as connections with drug dealers all across Soviet Central Asia. All these threads of drug smuggling lead back to Bobkov, and Gusinsky, once again, is entirely a creation of Bobkov."
It is through Bobkov's KGB network, and the Most Bank's financial clout, that the "Moscow Narco- Group" was able to become (in Yasmann's words) "a bridge between [the Soviet] regions and drug lords in Italy, Romania, Colombia, and Cuba. These former KGB officers thus took control of, and expanded, the drug route from Afghanistan via Chechnya and Russia to Western Europe and the United States."
A KGB Hit
"In the West," Yasmann concludes, "the mafia operates at the margins of public life, but in Russia, organized crime includes a significant portion of the Russian political elite and of the very people who are supposed to be fighting the criminals."
Once again, the KGB played a pivotal role in this turn of events. On August 23, 1990, Nikolai Kruchin, the Administrative Director of the Soviet Communist Party, issued a document entitled "Emergency Measures to Organize Commercial and Foreign Economic Activity for the Party," which envisioned using joint economic ventures with the West "to systematically create structures of an 'invisible' party economy...." A year later, KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov issued an order defining the agency's new mission as that of defending "economic reforms" against the new "criminal element" -- which in practice meant defending the "invisible party economy." By 1992, according to Yasmann, at least 80 percent of all joint ventures in the Russian Federation were either controlled or infiltrated by the KGB.
"Assassination is a tool of business competition" in Russia's KGB-dominated economy, according to the December 26, 1996 issue of Forbes magazine. Forbes describes the 1995 murder of Russian Business Roundtable founder Ivan Kivelidi "by poison (an obscure nerve toxin) applied to the rim of his coffee cup" -- a KGB-style "contract hit." "Such is the business environment today that the men at the top often have use for the shadowy army of killers and thugs who work further down in the scale of corruption, running prostitute and protection rackets. The old KGB, a gangster outfit itself, used to call this side of things 'wet affairs.' Every large business in Russia today has its own department of wet affairs."
Ties to Gore
Vladimir Gusinsky, the Komsomol-educated front man for the KGB's international drug network, is the perfect ambassador for this business community. Furthermore, according to the Washington Times, "Mr. Gusinsky, with the blessing of Yeltsin chief of staff Anatoly Chubais, has ... become an intimate of the Yeltsin government." Gusinsky apparently has attempted to cultivate ties with Vice President Gore as well. The Times notes that "there have been reports that Mr. Gusinsky was organizing a Washington gala [during his visit] with Vice President Al Gore to be the main guest, but a spokesman for Mr. Gore's office would say only that 'there is no party on the public schedule.'"
Whether or not Gore met with Gusinsky, the commission Gore co-chairs with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin has become a major conduit through which taxpayer subsidies are directed to joint economic ventures. Following a GCC meeting in Moscow last July, Gore and Chernomyrdin announced the creation of a $400 million lending facility in Russia that would be operated by the Chase Manhattan Bank and backed by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) -- that is, by American taxpayers.
During the February GCC session, Gore and Chernomyrdin met in Chicago with corporate leaders from Amoco, Motorola, Caterpillar, Cargill, and Archer Daniels Midland. According to a report by the Agence France Presse, Gore proudly pointed out that the Russian delegation included "communist and other anti-reform members of the Duma" who had come to the U.S. to explore the possibility of forging economic ties with American businesses.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the February GCC session ended with the signing of "a number of commercial contracts ... with the participation of OPIC and Eximbank [the taxpayer-supported Export-Import Bank] on the US side." Furthermore, according to Duma member Vladimir Medvedev (who was part of the Russian delegation), the GCC has "prepared the ground for establishing closer contacts between the U.S. Congress and the Russian Parliament on a practical basis."
Like Father, Like Son
One inevitable result of the convergence fostered by the GCC will be a dramatic increase in political corruption here. "If you think the Indonesians have been muddying up American morality with their 'generosity' to the White House, you haven't seen anything yet," predicts Georgie Anne Geyer, who warns that "in this shrewd and cunning new Russia, American na´vetÚ will hardly be rewarded."
But it is not "na´vetÚ" that inspires American business and political elites to embark on taxpayer- supported joint ventures with Russian gangsters; it is opportunism. If Vladimir Gusinsky symbolizes the new Russian business elite, the patron saint of American businessmen plunging into taxpayer-backed joint ventures in Russia would be the late Armand Hammer, Lenin's "path" to America's financial resources. Hammer was the first Western businessman to participate in KGB-controlled joint ventures in the Soviet Union. Designated the "Capitalist Prince" by the KGB, Hammer dutifully served the Soviets for seven decades and became the first -- and only -- American capitalist to be awarded the Order of Lenin.
Hammer's spectacularly corrupt career was aided in numerous ways by Senator Albert Gore Sr. of Tennessee, who was a partner in various Hammer enterprises for more than four decades. As Edward Jay Epstein documents in Dossier, his recent biography of Hammer, the elder Gore helped Hammer make connections with American Presidents and used his influence to help Hammer's Occidental Petroleum company gain access to foreign political leaders. But, most importantly, Gore's ties to Hammer deterred the FBI from pursuing an investigation of the industrialist as a Soviet agent of influence.
When the elder Gore retired from the Senate, his services to Hammer paid off handsomely: He received a $500,000-a-year job as head of Occidental's coal division. After the younger Gore was elected to the Senate in 1980, he continued a tradition begun by his father by inviting Hammer into the "senators only" section during President Reagan's inauguration.
Accordingly, it is appropriate that Al Gore Jr., whose family fortune was built in substantial measure by his father's contacts with a Soviet money launderer, would be co-chairman of an international commission intended to help the next generation of Armand Hammer-style "Capitalist Princes" develop contacts with KGB-dominated businesses in Russia.
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