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(43,174 posts)
Thu Mar 29, 2018, 05:58 PM Mar 2018

PART THREE: Assessing Russian propogandist Konstantin Rykov's pro-Trump "confession"

Last edited Wed May 2, 2018, 04:15 PM - Edit history (2)

**PART ONE can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210416264

**PART TWO can be found here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210416302

The real meat and potatoes of Konstantin Rykov's confession can be found in Part Two, which he posted on November 15, 2016, three days after Part One and one week after the U.S. Presidential elections. Here's the screen cap of the English translation of the confession:

Interestingly enough, Rykov doesn't tag Michael McFaul in this post like he usually does, but given the fact that McFaul was tagged in Part One, there's a good chance McFaul--and quite possibly US Intelligence--soon read this as well.

Rykov begins with a mission statement of sorts, saying "it was necessary to get everyone in the brain and grab all possible means of mass perception of reality", which pretty much sums up the Cambridge Analytica operations he goes on to describe. He also gives us an idea of his ultimate goal, which is to "create a political alliance between the United States, Russia, (and a number of other states) and establish a new world order." While I'll expound on Rykov's mindset later, for now I'll just say this is important because it shows that Konstantin Rykov wasn't just in this business to be a rabble rouser or internet prankster. He had a clear nationalistic agenda in his work.

So Rykov talks about how "it was necessary to 'digitize' all possible types of modern man" and claimed it was Trump himself who sought out "the special scientific department of Cambridge University."

When I first read this, I just assumed there was either a translation error or an error on Rykov's part and he meant Cambridge Analytica. While it had gone almost completely under the radar to that point, before Election Day there had been some reporting of the fact that the Trump campaign (and the Ted Cruz campaign before that) had enlisted Cambridge Analytica's services. However, none of the pre-election reporting went into any detailed reporting on Cambridge Analytica's actual methods in the 2016 campaign.

The first reporting on Cambridge Analytica's methods didn't come until early December 2016 when a German publication named Das published an expose, a month after the election and several weeks after Rykov posted his own confession about his alleged role in the 2016 elections. The Das article (which would remain fairly under the radar until the recent BBC report mirrored most of its contents) was subsequently republished by numerous sources, including by the Russian based Center for Strategic Assessment and Forecasts:


What Das (and later the BBC) reported on was that a professor from Cambridge University named Mikhal Kosinski had begun development of an Facebook App called "My Personality", which utilized "psychometrics" and supposedly was able to identify personal characteristics of a person based on their likes and dislikeson social media. Kosinski was then approached by another Cambridge University colleague, Aleksandr Kogan (a Russian national), who offered his assistance. Supposedly unbeknownst to Kosinski, Kogan was affiliated with SCL, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, and he used the app development from his work at Cambridge University for Cambridge Analytica to create their own programs.

Rykov then continues on to talk about how Trump paid $5 million to Cambridge Analytica for "targeted advertising." This fact--along with Cambridge Analytica psychometric focused work--had been reported prior to the election but had for the most part remained under the radar. Kosiniki and Kogan's roles were not reported on until the Das article came out in December 2016, suggesting at the very least that Rykov had some inside knowledge about the development of the system.

Rykov then talks about the initial actors involved in his campaign. Notably, he mentions both Wikileaks and what he calls "a pair of hacker groups." It's important to point out that it's still unclear what relationship--if any--Rykov had with the individuals involved in hacking the DNC's computers and subsequent leaking of selected material on Wikileaks. If we read his statement literally, however, he identifies a "pair" of groups, and two Russian hacking groups named Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear are believed to have been the culprits behind the hacking attack.

What's also interesting is that subsequent to the election, individuals associated with Rykov created a music video titled "Russian Hacker":

The video features news clips, footage from the presidential debate, and stars Konstantin Rykov's parter Maria Katasonova unveiling herself from a Guy Fawkes mask. The lyrics reference the Russian hacking of John Podesta's email as well as references to Bitcoin and dark money. A full translation can be found here:


Other than Donald Trump, the one person Rykov mentions by name in Part 2 of his confession is an associate, Mikhail Kovalev (who he tags into the post.)

If you look over Kovalev's Facebook postings, you'll find that he's about as big a fan of Donald Trump as you can find. While Rykov's take on Trump could be considered winking and cynical at certain times, there's no doubt that Kovalev has long been true believer on the Trump Train.

What's most astonishing about Kovalev, however, is that he published on his Facebook page what could only be described as a long and detailed chronology of his involvement in Konstantin Rykov's operation. Even more amazing is the date he posted this narrative:

November 7, 2016. Five days before Rykov starts on his own Facebook confession. And one day before the U.S. presidential election.

Kovalev lacks some of the dramatic editing skills Rykov possesses--his own confession is rather long and rambling, with over 3,000 words in total. I could post the screen caps of the post, but for the purposes of brevity, I'll just post the Facebook link, which can be easily translated within:


A few of the highlights:

* Kovalev says he was approached by Konstantin Rykov in July 2015 for what he calls a "secret conversation" about Donald Trump being elected president

* He launches into the up-and-down details of what he calls a "antisystem" underground campaign for Trump

*According to Kovalev, the first major coup of the "antisystem" came on October 17, 2015, when Donald Trump tweets a Washington Examiner article titled, "Putin Loves Donald Trump" along with the message, "Russia and the world has already started to respect us again." The Examiner article includes a lengthy profile on Konstantin Rykov, who it describes as being a "Kremlin mouthpiece." The tweet at issue is here:

*Kovalav is quick to point out how opinion of Russia by U.S. Republicans skyrocketed during the course of the campaign, with 85% of Republicans viewing Vladimir Putin as a strong leader (compared to 18% for President Obama) and only 27% of Republicans having a negative opinion of Putin, down from 66% just two years before.

*He describes essentially a win-win scenario for Russia regardless of who wins the election--If Trump wins, he would be "doomed to an alliance with Russia for the rapid achievements of his presidency." But if Trump loses, it would still "destroy the system" and the "weakened system would be less dangerous " for Russian interests.

* Kovalev says he was assigned in the project to work on Facebook in order to "seriously hamper the pro-active political environment" while also claiming he was "recruiting supporters."

*Towards the end of the post, he brags that he, Rykov and Maria Katasonova were solely responsible for "creating a wave of sympathy for Trump" before ending his post with a resounding "Glory to Russia!"

* In his very next Facebook post, he claims that Rykov, Katasonova and his next projects would be Austria, France, Germany, Ukraine and the Baltic States. A screencap of the post is here:

Turning back to Rykov's own Facebook confession, Rykov talks about the development of his Russian language website, trump2016.ru (tagline: "Make America Great Again" ). What's odd about this is the length of time and effort Rykov claims is necessary to launch what appears to be a rather mundane website (on the surface, it appears to be little more than a news aggregator listing trending stories.)

Instrumental to the website, Rykov claims, is the development of "a system of transferring tasks and information" impervious to detection from the NSA and other intelligence agencies, "how to make it so that even people who do not speak each other's language could exchange information faster than anyone, understand each other from a half-word, feel the trends and influence their development?"

This part raises all sorts of red flags. Why on the surface would a simple Russian language Trump website/news aggregator need an encrypted means of communication, unless it was actually serving as a front for a far more nefarious and covert purpose?

What's perhaps most interesting is when you consider how the recent BBC investigative piece revealed that Cambridge Analytica had recommended all of its clients use ProtonMail, an encrypted email service that deletes messages shortly after they have been read.

If one looks up the history of the development of ProtonMail, a clear timeline is set:


The Protonmail prototype was launched on May 16, 2014. It then went into significant beta testing for over a year. Finally, on August 13, 2015, the new and improved Version 2.0 of Protonmail was launched.

What's fascinating here is how Rykov provides the timeline for his own website launch. He claims it took about a year for programming an encrypted communication system. If Rykov started conceiving the website in 2012 or 2013, that means the initial development phase lasted through sometime in the first half of 2014. He then says it took over another year for "tests and revision" of this system. Finally, he says the website itself was launched on August 18, 2015.

Which just so happened to be five days after Protonmail's Version 2.0 was launched. Was development of Rykov's Trump Russia website tied in with the development of the Protonmail system hawked by Cambridge Analytica? And again, why in the hell would anyone need an encrypted communication system for something that is supposed to be a simple website? Rykov remains coy to that extent.

Rykov ends with the teaser that a day after the website was launched, he received a message from "Vladimir Volfovich." Who "Vladimir Volfovich" exactly was remains a mystery. Could it have been Vladimir Volfovich Zhironovsky, the Russian firebrand politician? Perhaps that might be the most logical answer, although it's unclear what role he would have played. Or was it some other Vladimir? Unfortunately, the promised Part 3 of Rykov's confession never materialized, or if it did, it was subsequently deleted, and we are left guessing as to how events unfolded for Rykov from August 2015 through November 2016.

So how much stock can we put into Konstantin Rykov's confession? It could just be boasting, but from an individual who has noted Kremlin connections and whose longstanding reputation has been burnished in playing underhanded games on the internet, there would seem to be a purpose for it all beyond mere bragging.

For now, we can only affirmatively say that Konstantin Rykov's confession speaks for itself, for whatever it's worth. However, an excerpt from the recent David Corn/Michael Isakoff book Russian Roulette, published in Mother Jones magazine seems to suggest that either Rykov or someone along the lines of Rykov was on the radar for US intelligence:

High fives in Moscow. In the weeks after the election, the intelligence community reviewed intelligence previously gathered and concluded by early December that the Russian operation had aimed not just to foment chaos but to elect Trump. As one administration official later explained, “We vacuum up a lot of intelligence that is not exploited in real time. Things sat in databases until queried. Not until after the election did analysts go into these databases and find a lot of stuff that changed the assessments. Plus, intelligence picked up certain Russians high-fiving after the election.”

So what can we affirmatively say that we definitely know about Konstantin Rykov? Here's the basic list:

1. He's a former member of the Russian Duma for Putin's United Russia party.
2. He's maintained close ties to the Kremlin since leaving the Duma.
3. On Election Night 2012, for whatever reason, he was obsessed about what Donald Trump was thinking and solicited input from his followers, including those who would later personally interact with Donald Trump and promote his candidacy even before he officially announced it.
4. Days after the 2016 election, he posts a "confession " on Facebook claiming he ran a social media campaign from Russia with the help of hackers, Wikileaks and Cambridge Analytica aimed at influencing US voters to elect Donald Trump as President.
5. His confession at the very least hints details about the Cambridge Analytica operation not known to the general public at the time.
6. His associate Mikhail Kovalev had posted a similar confession that supports this alleged operation just days earlier.
7. He claims the Russian pro-Trump website he developed required encrypted communication services for reasons not fully known.

That's the long and the short of what we know about Rykov, apart from all the speculation of what he might have done.

And that's the what. In Part 4 (probably my final part), I will be looking into the "why"--who Konstantin Rykov is, why he might have done what he did, what sort of other things he may have done (spoiler alert: there's at least one very suspiciously dead ex-friend), and why his overall motive seems to be a bit misunderstood.

**PART FOUR available here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210567354 **

8 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
PART THREE: Assessing Russian propogandist Konstantin Rykov's pro-Trump "confession" (Original Post) Tommy_Carcetti Mar 2018 OP
Tommy, thanks so much for putting this together n/t emulatorloo Mar 2018 #1
Thank you! I appreciate it! nt Tommy_Carcetti Mar 2018 #2
Hot Tip for KGOP republicans: it is doubleplusungood to... Achilleaze Mar 2018 #3
K&R PatSeg Mar 2018 #4
Thanks. nt Tommy_Carcetti Mar 2018 #6
In case anyone was curious: Kovalev's full Facebook post, translated to English: Tommy_Carcetti Mar 2018 #5
if Trump runs in 2020 he will win again 0rganism Mar 2018 #7
Kicking...Parts 4 and 5 coming up momentarily. nt Tommy_Carcetti May 2018 #8


(15,543 posts)
3. Hot Tip for KGOP republicans: it is doubleplusungood to...
Fri Mar 30, 2018, 07:47 AM
Mar 2018

...betray America...

...(and to betray the Ten Commandments for that matter - look up the parts about lying, cheating, etc. You'll be surprised!).

No need to thank me for the reminder. I'm just being a good American citizen.


(43,174 posts)
5. In case anyone was curious: Kovalev's full Facebook post, translated to English:
Fri Mar 30, 2018, 10:50 AM
Mar 2018

Including it in the original post would have been too much:


(23,944 posts)
7. if Trump runs in 2020 he will win again
Fri Mar 30, 2018, 01:00 PM
Mar 2018

he did it once, he can do it again: make the conversation all about him, suck up all the oxygen in the room, and no media outlet will dare challenge his obvious lies and uncouth behavior.

what's left to talk about when you can't cover truth or conduct? you cover Trump's policies, on Trump's terms. they are presidential, therefore Trump is presidential. the normalization will be complete and Trump will have another 4 years "in office" (aka golfing on our dime).

i wonder what life will be like under Putin's "New World Order"...

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