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By John Helmer, Moscow

Anne Applebaum has been paid unaccountably large sums of money, according to official yearly income declarations by her husband, the ex-foreign minister of Poland, Radosław Sikorski. According to the annual reports required of Polish Government officials and members of the Polish parliament, the Sejm, Applebaum received a US income of $20,000 in 2011. Two years later, in 2013, this had jumped to $565,000.

Applebaum, who writes and lectures as an expert on Russia and Ukraine, did not earn the money from her US publishers, while Sikorski’s reports claim the money was unrelated to his activities as a foreign minister. The income was earned instead, he says, from “honoraria for books, articles and lectures”. According to Applebaum’s spokesman, she claims the right of privacy not to explain where the money came from, or why.

Sikorski, described in Foreign Policy magazine of New York, as “fighting to get a wishy-washy continent to stand up to Russia”, and “at the center of the Ukrainian revolution since before it began.”, was replaced at the foreign ministry in Warsaw in September. This followed press leaks of his scatological table-talk about American and British leaders; their refusal to appoint him to posts he sought at NATO and the European Union (EU); and the transfer of Poland’s prime minister Donald Tusk to the presidency of the European Council in Brussels. For Sikorski’s record, read this.

sikorskiSikorski was voted Marshal (speaker) of the Sejm (right) on September 24. But this week he faces removal from the new
post following his claim to have heard President Vladimir Putin discussing with Tusk the division of Ukraine with Poland.
He has subsequently retracted and apologized, claiming “my memory failed me… Sometimes a man can overstep the mark, and this is what happened in this case. I’m especially sorry for putting Mr Tusk and my predecessor in an awkward position.” He did not apologize to Putin.

The Sejm will hold a no-confidence vote on Sikorski shortly. There is speculation in the Polish government and media that Sikorski is suffering from drug-related illness.

Applebaum, a 50-year old from Washington, DC, married Sikorski in 1992. They have lived together in London, Washington, and Warsaw. On her website she describes a number of full-time journalism jobs she no longer holds. She reports publishing two books, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956, in October 2012; and Gulag: A History in 2003; both were issued by Doubleday in New York. Applebaum describes her current employment as a columnist for the Washington Post and its web offshoot, Slate.com; and as a programme director at the Legatum Institute in London. For more on Legatum, click.

According to Polish law, Sikorski has been required to sign and file a multi-page questionnaire detailing his annual income, residential and other assets, investments, bank accounts, along with two cars and a motorcycle. On March 31, 2011, reporting as foreign minister Sikorski declared: “żona otrzymuje honoraria za książki, artykuły i wykłady”. This means “[my] wife is receiving honoraria for books, articles and lectures”. The disclosure can be found here. No money value was disclosed.

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Eight months later, when Sikorski filed his parliamentary disclosure for the same period, he reported that Applebaum held shares in the Washington Post Company, which he estimated to be worth $8,000. He didn’t mention Applebaum’s income or other earnings.

On March 2012, Sikorski signed a new ministerial declaration covering the year 2011. Applebaum’s Post shares had gone up in value to $10,000, he said, and Applebaum’s income was revealed for the first time. The last line of Section VII, on the final page, reveals that Applebaum had two income streams: one from the US produced $20,000 for the year, and a second from the UK produced £150,000. Sikorski doesn’t say what activities Applebaum was paid for.

The first is likely to reflect the modest pay rates for Washington Post and Slate opinion pieces. The new British payment appears to be Applebaum’s salary following her appointment as director of political studies at the Legatum Institute. The Institute spokesman Cristina Odone refuses to say when Applebaum commenced. A press release from Legatum indicates that this was in May of 2011; the archive link remains but the original text of the press release has disappeared. If Applebaum’s £150,000 was Legatum pay for eight months, the annual equivalent sums to £225,000.

Sikorski appears not to have considered the possibility or the perception of conflict of interest — that someone wishing to influence him in the conduct of his foreign minister’s duties might give money to his wife. There’s no evidence someone did. Sikorski reports what his wife received, but he doesn’t identify the source or the gainful purpose.

During 2012 Sikorski’s official report claims Applebaum earned £215,000. Just above the motorcycle disclosure, this can be found on page 4, Section IX, last line. This report also reveals that Applebaum’s US income had jumped tenfold to $200,000. There is no sign that Applebaum’s opinion-piece output at the Post or Slate increased significantly in frequency or value from the year before. The London School of Economics reported at the time that she had been appointed a visiting professor for the academic year, 2012-2013, but the university must have paid in pounds, not dollars. 2012 was also the year Applebaum’s Iron Curtain book was published in New York.

Because of the time lag in Sikorski’s filings, the income declaration for 2013 wasn’t signed until March 31, 2014. This time Sikorski reveals that in addition to the motorcycle and the his and her-cars, he has added an “antique organ”. On a near to last line he also reveals that Applebaum’s London salary dropped to £140,000. From the US, however, he says Applebaum received $565,000. (The aggregate comes to more than $800,000.) Unless Jeffrey Bezos, the Amazon owner who bought the Washington Post Company in August of 2013, paid Applebaum a personal premium sixty times greater than her shares were worth, there is no explanation for this good fortune. The Post has not disclosed how much per share Bezos paid the majority shareholder, the Graham family.

Maria Gatti, a sales director at the Post, said yesterday she is “not familiar with Ms Applebaum’s compensation as she works for Slate. We syndicate her column to four (five?) publications for little money. Can I send your request to my legal team?” The lawyers have yet to respond.

iron curtainApplebaum reports that her Iron Curtain book was doing well in 2013, at least among specialist readers, winning “the Cundill Prize for Historical Literature, the Duke of Westminster Medal, and an Arthur Ross Silver Medal from the Council on Foreign Relations. It was also shortlisted for the National Book Award and the Pen/Faulkner Award.”

Doubleday, which is now an imprint owned by the Random House conglomerate belonging to Bertelsman and Pearson Plc, publisher of the Financial Times, said it can’t find the publicist assigned to Applebaum’s book. Angie Venezia, Doubleday’s senior publicist, was asked whether the publisher would estimate the sales or royalties for Applebaum’s book. “I am really not at liberty to discuss sales figures,” she said. Did the book sell well? Venezia refused to say. Does this mean sales were poor? Venezia cut the telephone line.

At Legatum Odone was referred to the Sikorski income disclosures and asked to say what part comes from Legatum “for gainful contributions to the Legatum programmes”, and how much, more or less, is the institute paying Applebaum in 2014, compared to previous years. Odone was also asked to speak for the institute and for Applebaum “to demonstrate that her receipt of $565,000 in 2013 was for her gainful activity – activity unrelated to her husband’s activity — what was (were) the source(s) of that income for 2013? For 2014?”

Odone is an intimate friend of Applebaum, according to the record she printed of Applebaum’s involvement in Odone’s marriage with Edward Lucas, a reporter for The Economist. Lucas is the recipient of a Polish state award from Sikorski. He has told Economist readers Sikorski is “a future president [of Poland].”

Odone has replied to the income questions by saying: “You realise I’m sure that we can’t disclose salary details. Anne is entitled to privacy like all our employees.”

piperIn the absence of an explanation of where so much money has suddenly come from, Polish sources say they suspect that in 2012 the US Government restarted the financing of think-tanks, academics, books and journalism to produce anti-Russian material, which was once a feature of psychological warfare campaigns during the Cold War. That history, including the names and records of the Anglo-American literary establishment which was on the take, can be found in the London publication, Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War by Frances Stonor Saunders.

An example of these efforts is a publishing conduit in Amsterdam which was funded by the CIA for thirty years, called the Alexander Herzen Foundation. Its task was to assist in the smuggling out of the Soviet Union of manuscripts from dissidents, and to publish and promote them in both Russian and English. The foundation started in 1969, and reportedly closed down in 1998. Fifteen years later, a foundation of the same name has begun handing out fresh money for the same regime-change purpose. According to The Interpreter, a website launched in New York by Michael Weiss in 2013, it “aspires to dismantle the language barrier that separates journalists, Russia analysts, policymakers, diplomats and interested laymen in the English-speaking world from the debates, scandals, intrigues and political developments taking place in the Russian Federation.”

WeissWeiss (right) reveals that his operation was “made possible by a seed grant from the London-based Herzen Foundation and a grant from the New York-based Institute of Modern Russia, of which the journal is a special project. The Institute of Modern Russia continues to fund the project. The Institute of Modern Russia is a registered 501 (c) (3) non-profit in the United States, dedicated to the advancement of democratic values and institutions in the Russian Federation.”

The Herzen foundation, which closed in Amsterdam, may not be quite the same entity that has now reopened in London to give money to anti-Russian publications and reporters. The Institute of Modern Russia has its own money, and according to the Russian corporate practice, the man in charge signals where the money comes from. This is Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s son Pavel. The institute says it has tax-exempt status in the US because it is a “nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization—a think tank based in New York. IMR’s mission is to foster democratic and economic development in Russia through research, advocacy, public events, and grant-making. We are committed to strengthening respect for human rights, the rule of law, and civil society in Russia. Our goal is to promote a principles-based approach to US-Russia relations and Russia’s integration into the community of democracies.”

Pavel Khodorkovsky (below left) is president and chief executive. He is also on the institute’s board of trustees, which includes Margery Kraus (right), founder of a Washington public relations and regime promotion company, APCO Global.

Kraus&Khodorkovskiy

The Khodorkovsky entity says it is working with Legatum and Applebaum to “jointly commission a series of studies to analyze the challenges of Russia’s transition from the former Soviet Union. The first paper of the series was a study of Russia’s postmodern dictatorship, and following works were dedicated to corruption issues in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova. All these papers became the basis for panels in London and Washington, DC (the latter co-sponsored by the National Endowment for Democracy).”

That last outfit is a conduit for money from the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The costs of their current spending on the Ukraine civil war have been documented in closed-door hearings in Congress, reported here.

Weiss is the same man who wrote in Foreign Policy magazine in April, promoting Sikorski’s claim that Russia was about to invade Ukraine. At the same time Weiss also proposed Sikorski as “possible successor to Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign-policy chief.” Weiss is the same man who appears in the Legatum panel Applebaum convened last week in London on her disinformation, er Russian disinformation.

On Applebaum’s left (arm), Weiss is covering his mouth. To his left is Peter Pomerantsev, who is titled by Legatum “journalist and Documentary Producer”. For more on Pomerantsev and the publications which print him, click.

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On Applebaum’s right are two Ukrainian experts on Russia – the US Ambassador in Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, and a Ukrainian foreign ministry official named Oleksander Scherba. Scherba is also a specialist in placing op-ed pieces in newspapers for US readers. In this recent one, he called for US military intervention against Russia: “it’s awfully nice that the killer, Putin, who murders Ukrainians, will then suffer financially. But is this it? Is this supposed to be leadership? What happened to America’s values?”

Good question. Follow-up: Did Scherba’s American values mean the five hundred and sixty-five thousand American values which Applebaum accepted last year, and the extras for this year which Sikorski has yet to report to the Sejm?

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