Growing Backlash in Kremlin
Part 5: Russa/USA growing backlash in Kremlin to DNC hacking and Trump support operations
This is the fifth part of a point-by-point review of the Russian dossier compiled by former MI6 agent, Cristopher Steele, which documents the internal political struggles inside the Kremlin to contain the fallout from the DNC hack revelations in the American press.
This report was filed by Steele on August 5, 2016, and it was able to accurately predict a growing discontent with Sergei Ivanov, Putin’s Chief of Staff, a full month before his sudden and unexpected firing.
You can read part 4 here.
Divisions and backlash in Moscow arose from the leaking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mails and the pro-Trump operations
Vladimir Putin’s chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, angry at the public relations fiasco created by the pro-Trump operations appeared to have launched into campaign to cover his ass. He believed the Kremlin team involved, led by presidential spokesman Dmitriy Peskov, had gone too far in interfering in foreign affairs with their “elephant in a china shop black PR”. Ivanov then claimed always to have opposed the handling and exploitation of intelligence by the pro-Trump operations team.
Ivanov then advocated that the only sensible course of action now for the Russian leadership was to “sit tight and deny everything”.
It appears that Ivanov’s attempt to cover himself did not work as President Vladimir Putin unexpectedly fired him in August 2016, a full month after this report was filed, which detailed heads were ready to roll in the Kremlin. Ivanov’s surprise firing is important to note because he was an ally of Putin long before he came to power, and was Putin’s deputy while at the the Federal Security Service, giving this report a good amount of credibility.
Moscow’s public reason for Ivanov’s sacking was to remove Putin’s staff who he believed was acting like peers and replaced them with a younger generation of unquestioning loyalists.
Dmitry Peskov was “scared shitless” that he would be scapegoated by Vladimir Putin
The Dossier explains that Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, was “scared shitless” that he would be blamed by Putin and the Kremlin and take the fall for the entire backlash against Russia for engaging in political interference in the U.S. election.
Sergei Ivanov made it known that he expected Peskov and the rest of the Kremlin to lay low, however the Dossier alleges Peskov involved himself in a failed attempt to interfere with a coup in Turkey to overthrow Turkish President Erdoğan, making things much worse for him.
While we don’t have any direct evidence of the political struggles inside of Russian intelligence, there has been reporting tying Russian involvement with the 2016 coup in Turkey.
- Russian intelligence intercepted plans to capture or kill President Erdoğan at the beginning of the coup, then alerted the President who fled.
Both stories add to the sense that some elements inside Turkey aimed to capitalize upon the coup to widen the distance between Turkey and its Western allies and commitments.
The Russian Prime Minister was openly refusing to cover up for Peskov and others involved in the DNC/Trump operations
The Dossier states the extent of disquiet and division within Moscow caused by the backlash against Russian interference in the US election was underlined by a second source, close to premier Dmitriy Medev. S/he said the Russian prime minister and his colleagues wanted to have good relations with the US, regardless of who was in power there, and not least so as to be able to travel there in future, either officially or privately.
There had been talk in the Kremlin of Trump being forced to withdraw from the presidential race altogether as a result of recent events
According to the first source, close to Ivanov, there had been talk in the Kremlin of Trump being forced to withdraw from the presidential race altogether as a result of recent events, ostensibly on grounds of his state and unsuitability for high office. This might not be so bad for Russia in the circumstances but in the view of the source, it remained largely wishful thinking on the part of those in the regime opposed to Peskov and his “botched” operations, at least for the time being.
While we may never know the in-fighting that occurred inside the Kremlin, but are aware there was talk in the Trump campaign after the release of the Access Hollywood tape release of Reince Preibus suggested Donald Trump should withdraw:
“You either drop out right now, or you lose by the biggest landslide in American political history”
However Preibus gave too much credit to Trump voters, who all found ways to defend or excuse sexual assault, among many other deplorable faults, because while Trump did not lose by the biggest landslide he won by one of the smallest margins of any president.
Again, because we don’t know the exact conversations in Moscow, we can’t know if the two are related, even if they fall within the same timeframe.
As with most of the Dossier, much remains unverified.
Read part 6.