Naftasib anyone?

The Washington Monthly notes this fascinating story in the Washington Post.

The U.S. Family Network, a public advocacy group that operated in the 1990s with close ties to Rep. Tom DeLay and claimed to be a nationwide grass-roots organization, was funded almost entirely by corporations linked to embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to tax records and former associates of the group.

During its five-year existence, the U.S. Family Network raised $2.5 million but kept its donor list secret. The list, obtained by The Washington Post, shows that $1 million of its revenue came in a single 1998 check from a now-defunct London law firm whose former partners would not identify the money's origins.

Two former associates of Edwin A. Buckham, the congressman's former chief of staff and the organizer of the U.S. Family Network, said Buckham told them the funds came from Russian oil and gas executives. Abramoff had been working closely with two such Russian energy executives on their Washington agenda, and the lobbyist and Buckham had helped organize a 1997 Moscow visit by DeLay (R-Tex.).

The former president of the U.S. Family Network said Buckham told him that Russians contributed $1 million to the group in 1998 specifically to influence DeLay's vote on legislation the International Monetary Fund needed to finance a bailout of the collapsing Russian economy.

The Post goes on to trace a strong connection between Delay, Abramoff, and "Marina Nevskaya and Alexander Koulakovsky of the oil firm Naftasib". Read the post story for full detail.

So Oil Drummers, here's your chance to do a little muck-raking. What do we know about Naftasib? I'm happy to negotiate anonymity with industry insiders if necessary...

Authorities Drive Themselves Into the Corner
By Marina Pustilnik The Moscow News

The Yukos affair draws to its logical conclusion. New bidders for the oil company or its main production asset, Yuganskneftegaz, appear like mushrooms after the rain. But the government seems to have no way of selling Yugansk without either losing face or relinquishing control to a foreign company

Snip ......

NaftaSib, which is a much less public structure, was more tight-lipped about its offer to the Russian authorities. According to the information that was leaked to the Russian media by several sources close to both Yukos and Sibneft shareholders, NaftaSib sent its offer to the Russian government at the end of July, but no public announcement was made. NaftaSib company has been around for a while, and was originally linked to ex-Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. In recent years it has switched its allegiance to the Russian Emergencies Ministry. The Emercom company, which is basically a trading arm of the Ministry, holds joint ownership of several projects along with NaftaSib and makes no secret of this cooperation. According to the media sources, NaftaSib has sent a letter to the Presidential administration offering to pay $8 billion of Yukos' tax debt in return for a controlling stake in the company.

Snip ......

August 5 (1997)

    House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) goes to Russia on a "fact finding" trip bankrolled by influence peddlers tied to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The trip is part of a lobbying effort to promote Chernomyrdin among conservative leaders in Washington, paid for by Chelsea Commercial Enterprises Ltd., headquartered in the Bahamas but whose principals reside in Moscow. Washington lobbying operations are run from Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, a large law firm registered since February with the clerk of the House as a paid agent of the Bahamian company to "generate support for [the] Russian government's policies" of what it calls "progressive market reforms" and for bilateral trade.

    The Moscow portion of the DeLay trip is sponsored by A.O. NaftaSib, a Russian oil company tied to Chernomyrdin. NaftaSib describes itself as "a major shareholder" in Gazprom, and says that two of its "largest clients" have been the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). According to its promotional literature, "NaftaSib met all of the needs for oil products for the Black Sea Fleet, the Baikal Military district and the 14th Army located in Moldavia [sic] from 1992 to 1995." One of the escorts in Moscow is NaftaSib Executive Vice President Marina V. Nevskaya, whose NaftaSib biography describes her as having taught at the Military Diplomatic Academy. The Military Diplomatic Academy is a training school for GRU military intelligence.

Talking Points Memo
August 23, 2005

Snip ......

NaftaSib is a Russian oil and gas company which apparently underwrote a six-day "fact-finding" trip to Moscow that DeLay took with Abramoff in 1997, during which the two met with NaftaSib executives for reasons that remain unknown. The trip and DeLay's meeting with NaftaSib officials was widely reported earlier this year. What I never saw was any follow-up on additional evidence released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on June 22 that shed some additional light on Abramoff's relationship with NaftaSib, and on the company's true nature.

That evidence included an eye-popping 2001 email between Abramoff and a Russian man named Vadim. The email concerned the purchase of paramilitary equipment, apparently including night vision goggles, that Abramoff intended to send to his Israeli West Bank settler friends.

Snip ......

A further murky corner of where oil politics is leading the US and the UK is given by the brave former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray who was appalled at the by the behaviour of the US backed Government of Islam Karimov and spoke out to the great displeasure of the UK government.

He wrote a book about it but was banned from including documents that give the lie to US claims of not using foreign countries to carry out its torture for it and UK foreign secretary Jack Straw's denial of use of information so obtained. At very real risk of imprisonment he has put the documents on the web here

To protect our oil-bloated way of life we support the foulest of regimes and let those that object die in agony.

This is where peak-oil is leading us.

"To protect our oil-bloated way of life we support the foulest of regimes and let those that object die in agony.

This is where peak-oil is leading us."

Exactly so.

And the question still:   What does this Russian "company" gain by dropping a million on Delay & Co.?

The long Washington Post article on Naftasib that appeared 12/31/05 would seem to be a watershed in the ongoing investigation of Republican Congressional corruption. If I know anything about Washington (I worked there for four years in places like Brookings and CBO) that article has rendered DeLay radioactive among fellow Republicans and destroyed his remaining chance to reassume a post in the official Congressional leadership. His only chance to avoid a long prison term would be to inform on other Congressmen. Given the way the Republicans openly extorted campaign funds from corporate donors through the K Street Project, it is highly likely that there are many Republican Congressional recipients of illegaly obtained --or at least unethically obtained -- funds. Given DeLay's position as chief Republican Congressional campaign fundraiser, DeLay knows who all of them are.

The article established three especially damning facts about DeLay. The first is that Tom DeLay apparently switched his vote to favor the IMF bailout of Russia because of funds received by Naftasib. In other words, he sold his vote to lobbyists in the pay of a foreign power, in this case, Russia. The second is that DeLay's wife was on the Naftasib payroll for three years at $3,200 per month while doing essentially no work. This article also seems to establish that Russian oilmen were happy with Tom DeLay's work and were looking for unorthodox, sub rosa ways to pay him for that work.

I am reminded of a famous article filed by Bernstein and Woodward in the Post, in which it was said that John Dean "probably lied" about the destruction of evidence committed by then-acting FBI director L. Patrick Gray. The article left Dean completely exposed to prosecution. Dean then left his post as effective commander of the Watergate coverup and turned state's evidence instead. That article led directly to Nixon's resignation.

We may be seeing the unraveling of the Republican political machine, right here, in real time.