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Bloomberg says U.S. officials were just handed ‘highest-level Kremlin insider in recent memory'
American officials secured Vladislav Klyushin’s extradition from Switzerland last month on charges of insider trading, but journalists at Bloomberg say the Russian tech tycoon might also have access to documents relating to the Russian military’s operations abroad, including Moscow’s campaign to hack Democratic Party servers during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the attempted chemical poisoning assassination of former spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter in the UK in 2018. According to the U.S. indictment, Klyushin’s I.T. firm, M13, worked for the Russian presidency and federal government. Bloomberg’s sources described Klyushin as “the highest-level Kremlin insider handed to U.S. law enforcement in recent memory.”
Klyushin’s “importance to Moscow,” says Bloomberg, was evident when Russian negotiators added his name to a potential prisoner swap with the United States that would have traded former U.S. Marines Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed for arms dealer Viktor Bout. “That derailed the potential exchange,” sources told Bloomberg.
Update: Jonathan Franks, a spokesman for Trevor Reed’s family, accuses Bloomberg of “lazy” reporting, saying that the news outlet never contacted the Reed family for a comment about his supposed involvement in Moscow’s demands regarding Klyushin. Echoing what a U.S. National Security Council spokesperson told Bloomberg, Franks told Meduza that Reed and Klyushin “aren’t linked,” arguing that officials in Moscow have been “trying to launder narratives on [Reed’s] case through unsuspecting Western reporters for a long time.”
There are some indications that Klyushin facilitated his own extradition to the United States. When the Swiss Supreme Court rejected his appeal against his extradition to America, his lawyer had a couple of days to file another “last-ditch” appeal with the European Court of Human Rights. But his attorney in Switzerland, Oliver Ciric, “filed that request in a way that took days, rather than hours,” says Bloomberg. (He reportedly declined to fax or email the paperwork.) “That led three of the people close to the Kremlin and Russian security services to conclude that Ciric may have facilitated a transfer to U.S. custody on his client’s instructions,” says Bloomberg. At the same time, Ciric reportedly told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that his legal team had “urgently filed” the application.
Vladislav Klyushin’s company, M13, provides services to the Kremlin and Russia’s federal government for monitoring the news media and online social networks. He’s also rumored to be the former owner of the popular political gossip Telegram channel Nezygar. Bloomberg says he received “a medal of honor” from President Putin in June 2020.
Bloomberg’s report also claims that Russian cybersecurity entrepreneur Ilya Sachkov, who “was close to Klyushin,” provided the U.S. with information that helped identify a dozen GRU agents accused by American officials of hacking DNC servers. Federal agents in Russia arrested Sachkov in September 2021 on treason charges, though the exact nature of his alleged criminal activity remains unknown due to the case’s classified status.
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