This story has been ongoing for around a week, but continues to develop, and has the makings of a juicy political scandal.
Back-story: Later this month, local and regional elections are to be held in 24 regions of the Russian Federation. Including the region of Kostroma, where the political party PARNAS (formerly headed by Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated; now headed by Alexei Navalny) has been permitted to register to run for seats.
The story broke on 4 September when a Russian blogger named Kirill Strelnikov posted a video on his youtube channel, showing Navalny and his PARNAS entourage (which turned out to be Leonid Volkov and Ilya Yashin) hanging out in a trendy bar-cafe named “Dudka” in the city of Kostroma.
Where, just one table away [cue sinister spy music], sat the American Ambassador and HIS entourage.
Inquiring minds, for starters, wanted to know what Navalny (who is under house arrest and not supposed to leave Moscow) was doing in Kostroma. (Which is WAY out there, look it up on a map.) But that’s a minor point. This is Russia, after all. And Navalny IS the head of a political party which is running for office in regional elections.
Strelnikov’s video showed a “no ties” meeting (i.e., very informal, everybody in t-shirts and jeans, nobody wearing ties, in case I have to explain that) between Navalny’s team, and a team of American diplomats.
Strelnikov reported that he barged up to the table and attempted to question the American delegation [see the video attached to the piece], after which bouncers threw him out of the cafe.
Here is another version of that breaking story, which includes a vid of Strelnikov, being interviewed by LifeNews.
More details emerged as the story grew. The American guest turned out to be none other than Bradford Bell, First Secretary of the American Consulate in Moscow. Bell had previously distinguished himself in the Balkans, where he helped split Kosovo away from Serbia. This high-ranking diplomat had travelled, apparently, all the way out from Moscow to Kostroma, to meet with Saint Alyosha. Suspicious minds assumed they were discussing electoral strategy for PARNAS.
A few days later, 8 September, the same blogger, Strelnikov, published this video, showing the hotel in which Bell was staying during his visit to Kostroma. The name of the hotel is «Московская застава» (“Moscow Outpost”).
Navalny was photographed leaving the hotel at a discrete hour of the morning (4 September 6:27 AM) – see 1:19 minutes into the vid – Navalny is accompanied by a man who I think is Leonid Volkov, but I’m not sure, plus 2 girls. And then a couple of hours later (9:05 AM), the American diplomats were also photographed leaving the hotel. The photographer also made sure to snap pics of their automobile and plates. This is pretty good spy stuff!
Next: Approaching Navalny at a political rally, Strelkinov aggressively demands to know what he was doing in that particular hotel. Navalny: “I was SLEEPING.”
Strelnikov then did some research with the hotel, and found they had no record of Navalny registering at the hotel (at least under his own name). At 3:00 minutes in, we see Strelnikov interviewing the girl at the hotel front desk (whose face is blurred out, but you can still tell that she is beautiful).
Since Navalny was not registered under his own name as a guest at the “Moscow Outpost”, and yet was there until 6:00 in the morning, this leaves one and only one logical conclusion:
Navalny, Bell, and their friends had a SLUMBER PARTY – yay!