Recently the Washington Post revealed that Republican Congressman Tom DeLay, the powerful Majority Leader from Texas, paid a visit to our beloved Moscow in 1997. Well, he didn't exactly "pay" a visit -- instead, it was paid for by a shady Russian firm called NaftaSib, who sponsored DeLay's 5-star trek by washing the cash through an American lobbying firm.
NaftaSib wanted what all companies want: to buy a politician's votes. And boy did their cash deliver! As the Post noted, following the trip DeLay broke with his fellow right-wing Republicans and voted with Democrats for legislation that NaftaSib considered in its interests. The trip is causing DeLay problems not just because the way it was funded violates House rules, but also because of who his Russian benefactors are.
NaftaSib, whose offices are located on Khrusheskii Pereulok near the Kropotkinskaya metro station, made news in the English press only once before. Last year, in a highly-touted effort to rescue Yukos, Menatep honcho Konstantin Kagalovsky made a public appeal to arrange $8 billion in financing to cover the oil company's back-tax debts in return for a controlling stake. This was known as a "friendly" if futile offer, from Menatep's point of view at least, and was designed more as a PR stunt to shame the Kremlin than anything. Yet practically the same day, NaftaSib also went public offering the exact same deal to the Kremlin -- $8 billion in return for a controlling stake in Yukos -- that sent shivers down the spines of Yukos management and its Menatep shareholders.
NaftaSib's line of business is as shady as it is menacing. It is involved in oil, refining, contracts, bizarre veksel buyback deals with regional governments, security (as in protection-security, not stock-security) and it once co-owned an oil production unit with Orenburgneftegaz. More importantly, NaftaSib is deeply tied into the MChS, the Emergency Situations Ministry, which is headed by Sergei Shoigu, a key architect of the pro-Putin Edinstvo Party and its Duma victory in 1999. The MChS was also the ministry in charge of "clean up" at the scene of the controversial apartment bombings in 1999 that helped propel Putin to power.
One NaftaSib-MChS joint venture company was officially involved in the Iraq oil-for-food program, and was later accused of having helped finance Saddam Hussein while he was in power. NaftaSib names as its biggest clients the Defense Ministry and the Ministry of Interior, and its top managers reportedly have strong silovik backgrounds.
NaftaSib, which claims to be a large shareholder in Gazprom, was also said to be "close" with former Prime Minister Victor "Mr. Gazprom" Chernomyrdin, who was accused of widespread corruption and possible involvement in the Bank of New York money laundering scandal, in which billions of dollars were stolen from IMF funds disbursed to Moscow. DeLay reportedly met with Chernomyrdin on his NaftaSib-financed trip. And DeLay supported the continued disbursement of aid money to Russia, thanks to this vacation.
While all of this spells S-C-A-N-D-A-L with a capital "SCANDAL" and lot of dashes in between the letters, it also spells something else dear to the hearts of eXile readers. "Par-Tay." That's right, we're talking a whoopin' good time here, folks. Why? Because Tom DeLay was in Moscow for SIX DAYS. That's 6 (SIX) DAYS. You do the math. Take America's most scandal-plagued politician from its most corrupt state, surround him with a posse of sleazy Washington lobbyists, and put him on an all-expenses trip to Sin City itself, to be escorted by -- well, it would be enough for just any old Russian to escort DeLay to make this trip wild, but make it the cream of the mega-scary/corrupt Russian elite, and folks, you have a recipe for a genuine debauch.
Sadly, the Post article leaves out most of the details of DeLay's six-day romp through Moscow. All we learn is that it cost a lot of money, that DeLay "dined at expensive establishments," and that he played some golf. Tchya, right. And we just go to Night Flight for the good food.
Our pack of investigative sleuths scoured Moscow for evidence of Rep. DeLay's infamous romp, and after sniffing through a lot of crumpled receipts, used condoms and sticky Bibles, we came across a goldmine: the actual diary notes that DeLay kept during his vacation. We won't tell you how we got them, but let's just say that the Russians never lost their art of gathering information.
Here, then, are excerpts from the transcribed diary notes of Tom DeLay's Moscow Vacation
Feeling great. Edwin and Jack [Abramoff] and me were welcomed right at the airport gate by the Naftits folks Marina and Alex. Alex is the president of the company and Marina is either his deputy or secretary. These folks are really good folks, even though they're Russian. Took us to our hotel in a Mercedes Benz. I ask Alex and Marina if they ever drive American pickup trucks. They said they didn't. I say it's really something you oughtta try, driving around in a pickup. They agree and say they will have to try it sometime. I gave em each a copy of the Bible. They were very grateful and said that they were deeply religious people. I asked Marina which her favorite book is. She said "all of them." Alex agreed.
...We check into our hotel at the Radisson. Everyone speaks English, which is good because it means I can yell at them and they'll understand. Went the whole car ride without yelling at anyone. Kinda painful, like holding in a piss after drinking a case of beer. Tried it out on the bellboy. Yelled at him why the TV wasn't already turned on to CNN. Told him I'd have him fired. He really apologized a lot. Good kid. I gave him a tip, a Hershey's bar, then called my aide Edwin and had the kid fired. Brought lots of Hershey's bars and sticks of gum with me to Moscow. These poor people, it pains me to think what 70 years of communism did to them.
...Studied my Russian phrasebook. Hard to remember the words. It's always good to say "thank you" in the local language. I learned it after trial and error. It's "sopeezda." Funny word.
...Jack [Abramoff], Edwin and me went into the hotel lobby and drink Coca-Colas. There were some shady characters in there. Jack struck up conversation with a man from Cheechnchong, apparently it's a resort somewhere. Never heard of Cheechnchong, but the man was Mexican looking. Hope he doesn't promote drug use. Jack said the man might want to talk business. He was very interested in promoting democracy and free markets, though I do not think he has been saved by our Lord. He didn't have a business card but he did leave a charitable contribution with Jack in a paper bag. Nice fellow. I'll have to see what those people in Cheechnchong need.
...Evening. Marina and Alex pick us up at the hotel and take us to very fancy restaurant, Maxim's. We talk about US-Russia relations and agree that it's a good thing we're friends now. Then in walks in this very heavy guy, he's the Prime Minister of Russia. His name is Victor Chairman or something like that. He likes to tell jokes. So do I. He tells me a joke about a CIA officer in the Soviet Union who gets caught cuz he's black. That's a good one! I tell him a joke about a farmer's daughter. He laughs. I ask him if he has accepted Jesus into his heart. Victor says he has, that he always was a devout Christian. He asks me how much my watch is worth. He gives me the Bulgari watch off his wrist as a gift. He doesn't know what it's worth, poor fellow, but I take it because it promotes friendship between peoples.
They tell me that without money from the IMF, OPIC and the World Bank, it will be difficult to spread democracy, freedom, and the word of Christ in Russia. I listen carefully. Then Mr. Chairman says another joke about black people. Funny joke, the punchline is something like "two negroes and then a barrel of cucumbers," but it's funnier in the original Russian.
Victor explains that there is a natural gas company called Gazbomb or something, and he says it's worth a trillion dollars. I feel sorry for him, that he has to lie like that. So I give Victor a Hershey's bar.
He asks me what I need. I tell him that what I need is to help the people of Russia by helping to spread free markets and the Word of Christ. "How much does that cost?" he asks me. I say that in America, we servants of the people do not take money for favors. I then lecture Victor, and he is very impressed. He says, "I did not know. You are so honest in America." Then Jack and he step away to talk about charities in America. Before he goes, I give Victor a stick of gum. He says thank you, and I say, "No, sapeezda." He looks at me shocked. I realize he's impressed by my Russian. He says, "So Peezda?" and he laughs knowingly. We bonded right there. "So peezda, haha!" He says, "No money, you want a speezda! Haha." I say, "That's right. Thank you Victor, and sopeezda to you and everyone."
For some reason we're quickly cleared from the restaurant. We go not far away to a Swedish nightclub for cocktails. It's called "Night Flight." Lots of very pretty women inside. I think they know who I am because they all keep looking at me. Several girls try talking to Jack and me. Jack is very religious, but he decides to take off his yarmulke because he says it's considered a rude custom.
Victor introduces me to a woman named Natasha. She says she's a student and would like to get to know me. I offer her a Hershey's bar. She laughs and takes it. An hour later, Victor, Jack, Edwin and I are joined by Victor and about a dozen guides whom he hires from Night Flight to guide us around Moscow. Our first excursion is a trip to what they call a "barnya." We all have to go in, strip down naked, and sit in a big sauna area. It is an excellent place to discuss business and Jesus. I ask Victor what is his favorite book in the Bible, and he said he likes all of them. Russians are so religious! Then a problem arises because the guides come into the barnya with us wearing only towels.
...Natasha sits next to me. I ask her if she believes in free markets, and she does. She loves capitalism and wants to see America some day. I tell her that in Houston we have many large churches and all the toilet paper in the world. She is so impressed! I ask her if she plays golf. She doesn't, but is very interested. So I tell her a few golf stories, which she finds fascinating.
Victor kept wanting me to drink vodka with him. Jack took me aside and said, "Tom, you must respect local customs. These people are ready to help us fight against liberal extremists in our own country. The least you can do is drink some vodka with him."
I am so ashamed to admit that I did imbibulate. That is all I will write for now.
I wake up with an awful hangover. The Lord is punishing me. For some reason my guide is already in my hotel room. She's wearing a bathrobe and just getting out of the shower.
...I get on my knees and pray. I force the temptress to pray with me. Then once we're done I cast her out of my hotel room. Call the security too, and make sure that this devil is caste into a fiery lake of Hell. They say that there is no fire to throw her into, and suggest a river nearby. I say, "Behold, I have heard the Lord's voice! Of course, take her to the river and wash away her sins!"
They ask me, "You want so she will never be found?"
"Of course, take the sins away forever!" I yell.
It is a triumphant moment because God has given me my strength back!
Jack, Edwin and I are escorted by Marina and Alex to a golf course. They tell me it is an expensive golf course and the only one in Russia. I give each Marina and Alex a Hershey's bar and two sticks of gum. ...[Three hours later] we meet Alex and Marina in the clubhouse. They tell me more about the difficulties to spread free markets, and explain that they want to arrange World Bank financing for an oil products contract. Now this is the kind of talk I like! I tell them "sapeezda" for being so patient, and they act embarrassed. But for some reason they stop talking business and say they can take us to a barnya.
"Oh no, not again," I say. But Jack insists we do it. He says, "Tom, we're really close to lining up charity contributions which will benefit the decent hardworking Americans in your district." The Lord's work is not easy.
We go to a barnya about thirty minutes away. They bring in twenty young guides, all of them young girls with towels. They are so poor that they cannot afford to give their guides anything more than towels. I talk to two guides, Natasha and Nada or something like that. I give them each a Hershey's bar and a roll of toilet paper.
I take one drink and ask the Lord to keep me strong. He tells me that He will protect me, so I imbobulate more of the vodka. I must walk through the fire in order to defeat my inner demons. Gave out two more Hershey's bars. Then I walked through the fire.
Woke up late afternoon in dacha complex hotel room. Feeling very depressed. I know I have done wrong, Lord. Please forgive me. Please forgive me!
...Went out for golf with Jack, but my game was off. Lord punished me on the fifth hole, when I shanked a chip wide right of the green.
Jack tells me about all the meetings lined up that night. I don't care. "Jack, I have sinned," I said. He tells me that my sins will be washed away soon.
Already nighttime. Marina and Alex introduce us to someone named Chewbakus. Tall guy with red hair who speaks excellent English. I like this man. He wants to talk about IMF credits with me. All I can think about are my sins. We are joined at the table by several other Russian businessman. Some guy named Beerzski, short little Jew who hits it off well with Jack. I feel sorry for this Beerzski because his English isn't so perfect, and offer him two sticks of gum. ... I need a guide, many guides. How to tell them? Then I remember the magic word: "Sopeezda." I say it twice. "Sopeezda! Sopeezda!" It's like that cartoon my kids used to watch where the turtle says "Help, Mr. Wizard!" Beerszki understands me right away. He takes me to a private club called "Dolls." They let in Americans free with their passports. I can see this club is a beacon of democratic values.
I don't wake up until nightfall. We have a fine dinner at a restaurant called "Mario's." Local embassy rep joins us. I'm at the table with IMF reps, World Bank rep, someone from Exxon, says he knows me from Houston. ...
We leave Mario's and head to an American-style bar in the center of town. It's called the "Hungry Duck." I like that name. The club is full of promising pro-American youths who are resisting old Communist ways. Several freedom-loving young Russian girls are dancing on the bar top. The IMF rep and World Bank rep hoist me up. Turns out these girls are guides. O sweet Jesus! They strip their tops off and strip my top off. Great music, song called "Alice" which I love. Just as they're undoing their short skirts, IMF rep says to me, "You know Tom, Russia really needs to keep the aid money flowing. Otherwise democracy and Christian values are in danger."
I tell him to get the fuck away from my guides or I'll strangle him with his own shoelaces. "And I won't make it a slow death either, you sleazy fucking prick," I tell him.
Vodka, whiskey, liquor...One guide falls off the bar top and cuts her lip. We go into a booth near the back, where awful things happened. Left club at 7am.
I wake up around midnight. I don't want to move from my bed. Order a burger and fries from room service. Yell at the room service kid. Then I feel awful, give him a Hershey's bar.
"Sopeezda," I say to him. He blushes. "Sopeezda!" I say. He blushes and runs out. I follow after him. Bastard is stonewalling me. I head down to the lobby bar. "Sopeezda! Sopeezda!" The guards comfort me. I scream "Sopeezda!" and create a scene. They tell me they understand, and lead me up to my room. About thirty minutes later, after praying, there's a knock on my door. Two guides are there waiting for me. They enter my room, and we discuss golf and charitable contributions.
... time to leave Moscow. I think they are lying. So much work to be done here. Need to expand free markets, need to secure democracy!
I will not record the events on how I was rustled into the aircraft. Let's just say that I put up a good fight and that there are a few Russian folks with very sore balls.
Back to D.C. There are no guides in D.C. Only what we Americans call "women."
On the ride to the airport, Marina and Alexander ask me if I have learned enough on this fact-finding tour to see to it to vote properly on the issue of aid disbursement to Russia. I say, "Sapeezda." But I say it with a heavy heart. Little did I know that even on the road to the main airport, you can find guides. They are standing like angels on the side of the road. Alex gives Jack some money, and Jack gives the girls the money, and then the girls join us at the Novotel Hotel next to the airport. They do not speak English, but they do like my Hershey's bars... I'm going to sleep now for awhile. Put my diary on the hotel desk and sleep...