Com­pro­mis­ing ma­te­rial ap­pears fre­quently in Rus­sian pol­i­tics

The Progress-Index - - OBITUARIES & NEWS - By Jim Heintz

MOSCOW — Blurry video of highly placed men en­gag­ing in sex­ual acts, au­dio record­ings of in­flu­en­tial fig­ures pro­fanely in­sult­ing their nom­i­nal al­lies — in Rus­sia these ap­pear enough that a spe­cial word has evolved: “kom­pro­mat,” or “com­pro­mis­ing ma­te­rial.”

In the wake of un­sub­stan­ti­ated al­le­ga­tions that Rus­sia has gath­ered kom­pro­mat against Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, Krem­lin spokesman Dmitry Peskov brushed them off as an at­tempt to un­der­mine po­ten­tially im­proved U.S.-Rus­sia ties once Trump takes of­fice.

“The Krem­lin does not en­gage in col­lect­ing com­pro­mis­ing in­for­ma­tion,” he told re­porters on Wed­nes­day.

But such ma­te­rial has shown up in Rus­sia for decades. Re­cent ex­am­ples of kom­pro­mat of­ten support Krem­lin in­ter­ests or ap­pear via me­dia be­lieved to have close ties to Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Some no­table ex­am­ples:

Vic­to­ria Nuland

As demon­stra­tions against Ukraine’s Rus­sia-friendly Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych spi­raled in Fe­bru­ary 2014, an au­dio record­ing emerged ap­par­ently of Nuland, an as­sis­tant U.S. sec­re­tary of state, and U.S. Am­bas­sador Ge­of­frey Py­att dis­cussing which op­po­si­tion lead­ers Washington would like to see as prime min­is­ter.

The record­ing’s ini­tial re­lease was pre­sented as ev­i­dence of open Amer­i­can in­sti­ga­tion in the tur­moil. But what at­tracted much of the at­ten­tion was Nuland’s ob­scene dis­missal of the Euro­pean Union, whose en­voys the U.S. re­garded as in­de­ci­sive and slow­mov­ing in the cri­sis.

The record­ing was widely be­lieved to have been made by Rus­sia. Nuland her­self called it “im­pres­sive trade­craft.”

Mikhail Kasyanov

Kasyanov was Putin’s first prime min­is­ter be­fore be­com­ing one of the more prom­i­nent fig­ures in Rus­sia’s be­lea­guered and frag­mented op­po­si­tion. His party was run­ning in last year’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tion and he also has been seen as a pos­si­ble dark horse chal­lenger to Putin in the 2018 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

In March 2016, grainy video was broad­cast that ap­peared to show Kasyanov and a woman iden­ti­fied as an op­po­si­tion ac­tivist hav­ing sex and speak­ing dis­mis­sively of other op­po­si­tion fig­ures.

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