Russian whistleblowers turn on Putin — but can they be trusted?

Anna Nemtsova reports: Only a few months ago Denis Voronenkov and Maria Maksakova were two of the brightest stars in Moscow’s political firmament, trying to improve the system from inside, but very much a part of it. They rode in luxurious cars, dined with the Kremlin’s elite at expensive restaurants, vacationed in Paris and Cannes. Both were members of the Russian parliament, the Duma. He was a colonel in the Russian military — a veteran of the military prosecutor’s office — as well. She, a classic Russian beauty, was a diva at the Mariinsky (Kirov) opera. The couple lived the good life in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. But then the system chewed them up and spat them out.

Now they are whistleblowers — defectors hunted by Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, who have found asylum in Ukraine. And they say they are ready to open up in court about the inner workings of the Putin establishment.

For the moment, at least, they say they do not know about Russia’s dealings with Donald Trump or his associates, even if the information they supply to the Ukrainians might help indirectly to find out more about the many questions surrounding the new American president and his team and their contacts with Russian intelligence. As intel analysts like to say, building a full picture is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle; sometimes the holes can tell you as much as the pieces. [Continue reading…]

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