SEE UPDATE BELOW REGARDING
“TWO BULLETS FOUND IN PILOT’S BODY.”
A high-ranking Russian law official believed to be the authority behind attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, who took part in the notorious Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr during the presidential campaign, has been killed in a mysterious helicopter crash.
Deputy prosecutor-general Saak Karapetyan – a long-time ally of President Vladimir Putin – died last night when his AS-350 came down in Kostroma region northeast of Moscow during an unauthorized flight.
Karapetyan had been in charge of Russian criminal investigations into the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK, and the deaths of Putin critic Boris Berezovsky and of dissident Alexander Litvinenko.
Deputy prosecutor-general Saak Karapetyan died in a helicopter crash overnight. He was closely tied to lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, of the Trump Tower meeting fame
Karapetyan also reportedly directed Veselnistkaya in her efforts to convince governments around the world to overturn anti-corruption laws targeting Russians passed after tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky was beaten to death in a Moscow prison in 2009 while working to expose a $230million fraud scheme in the country.
The US Magnitsky Act, championed by the late accountant’s client, American-born British financier and human rights advocate Bill Browder, was signed into law by then-President Barack Obama in 2012.
The law authorizes the government to sanction Russian human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the US.
It’s been widely reported that Putin has been aggressively pursuing a vendetta against Browder over the Magnistky laws, so much so that during the infamous press conference with Trump in Helsinki, Findland, earlier this year, he publicly accused Browder of committing tax evasion and contributing $400million to Clinton’s campaign.
According to reporting by The Daily Beast, in 2014, Karapetyian signed a letter sent on behalf of the Kremlin to an American court, refusing to help with a civil lawsuit concerning Magnitsky’s death.
It is believed the letter was composed with Veselnistkaya’s input.
On June 9, 2016 – five months before Election Day – Veselnistkaya met in Trump Tower in New York City with Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and others.
It has been alleged that then-candidate Trump’s surrogates agreed to meet with the Russian lawyer because they were promised compromising information about Clinton provided to Veselnistkaya by Kaarapetyian’s office, according to leaked emails of introduction.
Trump Jr has vehemently denied that the meeting had anything to do with ‘dirt’ on the Democratic candidate, instead claiming that its focus was Russian adoption policy.
Veselnistkaya has offered a different version of events, publicly claiming that she and Trump campaign officials talked about the prospect of overturning the Magnitsky Act.
‘[I]f we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it. I understand our side may have messed up, but it’ll take a long time to get to the bottom of it,’ she recalled Trump Jr telling her, in an interview with Bloomberg News.
The meeting in Trump Tower is currently at the center of special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and interference by the Kremlin in the 2016 election.
President Trump has repeatedly and vociferously denied colluding with Russian, calling Mueller’s probe a ‘witch hunt’ in countless tweets.
The helicopter crash that ended the life of Veselnitskaya’s suspected handler, Karapetyan, came just hours before four Russian intelligence officers were outed by the Dutch government as having tried to hack the global chemical weapons watchdog OPCW in The Hague in April, shortly after the Novichok nerve agent attack in Salisbury, UK.
It has today been claimed that ‘his death will resolve a number of very painful issues’ in the Russian government.
An anonymous insider posted on a channel on the popular Telegram messaging app called NeZygar that Karapetyan’s death ‘will stop leaks of highly confidential information to the West’.
The insider claimed it would specifically prevent leaks to the secret services of Britain, the US and Switzerland, and stop attacks on Putin’s security council chief Nikolai Patrushev.
NeZygar, a ‘blog channel’ has 93,000 subscribers and has previously proven to be a well informed insider.
Karapetyan was one of three people who died in the crash some 65 miles north east of Moscow last night.
The pilot who died, named as Stanislav Mikhnov, 54, was described as highly experienced in Russian media.
‘The wreckage of the helicopter was found near the village of Vonyshevo, the aircraft was burned,’ added an emergencies ministry source cited by Tass.
‘The debris of the crashed helicopter have been found. Three people died in that crash.
‘Their bodies were also found at the crash site,’ the source said.
The Investigative Committee has launched a criminal probe into the helicopter crash, it was announced.
UPDATED OCTOBER 7TH:
The pilot involved in the helicopter crash which killed one of Vladimir Putin‘s top prosecutors was found with two bullets in his body, it has been claimed today.
Deputy prosecutor-general Saak Karapetyan – a former MP and long-time ally of Putin – died Wednesday, died when his AS-350 helicopter came down in Kostroma region northeast of Moscow on Wednesday.
Natalia Veselnitskaya, 43, met with Donald Trump Jr, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner in Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.
Veselnitskaya led a pro-Moscow campaign to overturn anti-corruption laws imposing sanctions on key senior Russian officials and organisations.
The US Magnitsky Act, signed into law by then-President Barack Obama in 2012, authorizes the government to sanction Russian human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the US.
While overturning the law would have been Veselnitskaya’s main aim, leaked emails saw her claim that she had dirt on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, allegedly given to her by Karapetyan’s Prosecutor-General’s Office.
Before his death this week, Karapetyan had been in charge of the Russian criminal investigations into the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March.
He also led the investigation into the deaths of Putin foe Boris Berezovsky, and dissident Alexander Litvinenko – which both took place on UK soil.
There are also extraordinary claims he was a channel of leaks to British, US and Swiss secret services.
The shooting allegation is expected to increase speculation that the leading prosecutor was assassinated.
The official version is that the ‘overloaded’ helicopter crashed after clipping trees in Kostroma region, killing Karapetyan, his nephew Areg Arutyunyan, 47, pilot Stanislav Mikhnov, and another passenger Viktor Kopteev, 54.
But respected Moscow journalist Sergei Dorenko has bluntly accused the investigating authorities of a cover-up in seeking hide two bullet wounds to highly experienced 54-year-old pilot – and gun shot damage to the copter’s blade.
The claim that Mikhnov was shot immediately before the helicopter crash was made by Dorenko’s Govorit Moskva radio station and promptly denied by the Investigative Committee (IC) – in charge of probing serious crime.
Dorenko retorted: ‘We have the official version that the pilot mistakenly touched the trees and the helicopter fell to the ground.
‘But in fact I suppose that the pilot was good and did not touch any trees.
‘He did not take off at all.
‘He was shot with two bullets in the back before this.’
This leaves the possibility that someone else was at the controls when the helicopter took off and crashed – or that it was destroyed on the ground, killing all on board.
Dorenko said: ‘The IC decided that there were no gunshots…
‘So two 5.45 caliber bullets one of which broke through the pilot’s blade are not to be considered. Why?’
He insisted: ‘There are two 5.45 bullets in the pilot…. the blade is also pierced.’
Investigative Committee spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko had insisted:: ‘The information is not true.
‘None of those killed in the crash has any gunshot wounds.’
Reports say Karapetyan and his nephew Arutyunyan, 47, a senior customs official, were using the helicopter for a hunting trip.
The pilot landed near village Vonyshevo due to atrocious weather and the pair ordered a car to come and collect them.
Then they randomly met a villager Kopteev, who offered to show them the route to take a short flight to meet the car.
This is when the accident allegedly happened.
Kopteev’s relative heard the cracking of branches and the sound of the impact.
In the wake of the crash, there were anonymous claims from respected anonymous ‘Kremlin insider’ blogger nicknamed Nezygar suggesting that Karapetyan’s death will ‘resolve a number of very painful issues’ in the Russian government.
Among these ‘it will stop leaks of highly confidential information to the West’.
In particular Karapetyan’s death would prevent future passing of information to the secret services of Britain, the US and Switzerland, it was claimed.