Just four days after the 2016 presidential election, a Russian politician and internet entrepreneur took to his Facebook post to brag, or possibly confess, about how Russia used “two hacker groups,” social media and the data-dumping site WikiLeaks to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton and win the White House, The Washington Monthly reported last week.
The man who made the posts, Kremlin propagandist Konstantin Rykov, may even have a connection to the supposed Trump “pee tape” described in the Steele Dossier, the private intelligence document alleging deep ties between Trump and Russia.
The Facebook posts by 38-year-old Rykov — a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party who formerly held a seat in Russia’s Duma, or parliament — also discuss collaboration between Russians and the data firm Cambridge Analytica, which was hired for the Trump campaign in June of 2016 by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and is often credited with playing a key role in Trump’s voter-targeting social media operation.
Rykov’s posts were made on November 12 of 2016, just four days after the election and before the role of Cambridge Analytica became widely known. Forbes Magazine published an interview with Kushner in which he discussed the role of Cambridge Analytica in Trump’s data operation 10 days after Rykov’s posts appeared on Facebook.
The role of targeted social media posts created by Russian government propagandists has become the subject of congressional hearings only in recent months. But Rykov has a long history as a propagandist for Putin, creating a large network of pro-Putin blogs as far back as 2007.
Rykov posted a photo of himself with a portrait of Putin and the caption, “On the side of good,” on his Facebook page as well.
Rykov’s Facebook posts, in the original Russian but with automated translations available, may be viewed at this link, and at this link. Rykov was an outspoken supporter of Trump’s bid for the White House at least since March of 2016, when he posted a call to “help the old brigand,” meaning Trump, on his social media accounts.
“Trump is the first member of the American elite in 20 years who compliments Russia,” Rykov said in the earlier posting. “Trump will smash America as we know it, we’ve got nothing to lose. Do we want the grandmother Hillary? No.”
Rykov is also reported to be associated closely with another Russian cyber expert and entrepreneur, Artem Klyushin, whose social media accounts revealed that he attended a Trump campaign rally in Iowa in 2015, at time when Trump was widely believed in the United States to be running a kind of novelty candidacy with no chance of winning the November 2016 election.
Klyushin’s wife, Yulia Alferova, was a primary organizer of Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe beauty pageant in Moscow and accompanied Trump for much of his stay there that November, even posting a photograph of herself with the future candidate. In that post, made in January of 2014 — 18 months before Trump declared his candidacy — Alferova appeared to already know that Trump would run for president and even win.
— Alferova Yulya (@AlferovaYulyaE) January 22, 2014
What is the possible “pee tape” connection? It was during Trump’s brief stay in Moscow that, according to allegations in the “Steele Dossier,” the “pee tape” incident took place, in which Trump is said to have hired prostitutes to perform a urination show for his enjoyment in a Moscow hotel room.
In addition to his role as a pro-Putin propagandist, Rykov began his online career as an internet pornography entrepreneur who also founded Dosug, an online brothel that has been described as an Uber-like service for hiring prostitutes.
In March of 2016, around the same time that Rykov posted his call to “help the old brigand” Trump, Klyushin posted images from what he described as a “secret meeting” also attended by Rykov, who is seen in the below photo taken by Klyushin, with his hands over his face.
Секретное совещание… Идеология сверхпотребления более опасна для нас,чем идеология тоталитаризма.Ищем альтернативу pic.twitter.com/AuW0meEMx1
— АРТЕМ КЛЮШИН (@ARTEM_KLYUSHIN) March 1, 2016
In his Facebook posts, Rykov says that “two hacker groups” took part in the Russian effort to help Trump win the election. United States intelligence and private cybersecurity experts have identified two hacker groups, labeled “Fancy Bear” and “Cozy Bear,” as responsible for the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign that took place during the presidential campaign and caused political damage to Clinton.