The Stupid, It Pays Incredibly Well

Hey, want to make $3,000 for one day’s worth of work? All you have to do is hit yourself in the head with a hammer a few times until you’re as stupid as this woman:

Better than chopped liver?

This is Hannah Lucinda Smith, and yes, you must always refer to her by all three names.

She’s an Englishwoman whose day job is working for The Times (UK), who sent her to Istanbul on assignment a few years ago. Apparently, she fell in love with the place (as well as Turkish “delicacies” like fried strips of liver) and decided to move there full-time.

Along the way, she claims that she became fluent in both Turkish and Arabic, something no English person has done since T.E. Lawrence, a man who spent the last years of his life hiding under a different name because of all the lies that he told during his time abroad.

At some point, The Times decided to expand its coverage of events in Turkey to include the migrant crisis that saw millions of displaced people enter Europe via Turkey. As such, Hannah Lucinda Smith’s “beat” got expanded to include “the Balkans”, an incredibly vague term that can sometimes refer to Romania and Moldova, which is how she first came to my attention.

Somewhere along the way, Hannah Lucinda Smith became a rabid anti-Russian fanatic, which is a very smart career choice these days. This month, she was paid $3,000 to write one of the dumbest fucking articles that I’ve ever read in my life, and I’ve seen some real doozies in my day.

We Don’t Need no Stinkin’ Google Mapses

I knew I was in for a bumpy ride by the title alone, which refers to cryptocurrency developments on the “Post-Soviet Frontier.” The term “post-Soviet” is self-explanatory, of course, but I still don’t know what “frontier” she’s referring to.

Of course, I doubt that she does either because her grasp of geography is extremely poor:

In Soviet times, the Kuchurgan electricity plant powered a swath of the empire from Romania to Ukraine.

Recently the station and its adjoining town—planned to Soviet perfection—has been a stop on the nostalgia tours that have boomed across eastern Europe off the back of the HBO series Chernobyl. Kuchurgan sits not far from the blast site, just inside Transnistria.

Say what, now?

Just down the road!

Kuchurgan is nearly 600 kilometers from Chernobyl, a journey that would take you at least eight hours to drive. Obviously, Hannah Lucinda Smith has never made that journey.

There’s graphite on the roof!

Furthermore, the definition of Chernobyl’s “blast site” is somewhat unclear. In 1986, the Soviet Union put the exclusion zone at just 30 kilometers.

But even the CIA’s own map of the radiation fall-out zone (see above) doesn’t include Kuchurgan. Furthermore, most of the radiation from Chernobyl drifted north and east into Belarus, not due south towards Kuchurgan.


All Hail King Trump

Hannah Lucinda Smith then goes onto explain that the Kuchurgan power station is (as well as other power plants across the former Soviet Union) providing electricity to server farms that are mining Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which is true.

But she really hates cryptocurrencies because they interfere with Trump’s efforts to crush Russia:

President Donald Trump wields the dollar like a weapon. Since 2012, the US has imposed more than 60 rounds of sanctions on Moscow as punishment for its annexation of Crimea and its meddling in the 2016 election… hammering Russian banks’ ability to do global business.

That’s a perfect opening for cryptocurrencies. They do away with the need for banks altogether, creating a network free from intermediaries where money can be passed unimpeded. What’s more, no banks means the US role of gatekeeper, along with the power of its sanctions, vanishes.

Yes, that’s right. All cryptocurrencies around the world are bad because they stop Donald Trump from “wielding the dollar like a weapon.” Try telling that to all the HODL monkeys crowding up my Telegram or, you know, UNICEF, the United Nations agency that helps little sick kids.

But Hannah Lucinda Smith doesn’t care about any of that. In her mind, if something helps Russia, or is possibly, kinda, maybe sorta linked to Russia, it’s automatically bad.

Your Daily Two-Minute Hate

Of course, Pridnestrovie, being allied with Russia, is automatically evil as well:

Marketed on the internet as a modern venture open to outside investment, Technopark [PMR’s cryptocurrency venture] appears to be in the flesh a closed, secretive enterprise run by cronies of the Transnistrian and Russian states.

In Moldova, on the other side of Transnistria’s Russian-guarded de facto border, Sergiu Tofilat, a banking adviser turned anti-corruption campaigner, has unpicked the threads of Technopark and its investors to reveal the scale of Transnistria’s cryptocurrency mining ambitions—and possible links to the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016.

Ah, yes, the best place to get accurate information is from a man who gets paid by the European Union to spout propaganda, even though neither he nor his employer (“Watchdog”) ever discloses this information.

No, I’m not going bald. Why would you say that?

You also might remember Tofilat’s organization for the time when they called up a “personal friend” at Facebook to shut down a number of pro-Plahotniuc accounts during February’s parliamentary elections in Moldova in order to boost support for the EU’s preferred candidates: batshit crazy Maia Sandu (now Prime Minister) and the oligarch Andrei Nastase (now Deputy Prime Minister).

But I digress.

Back to Tofilat’s fantasies:

“It [Pridnestrovie’s cryptocurrency enterprise] is a money-laundering operation first of all,” he tells me in a cafe in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, on a balmy Friday evening.

Tiraspol stands to add $15.5 million to its coffers. Meanwhile, that extra capacity [power output from the Kuchurgan power station] will allow $55.6 million in cryptocurrency to be mined inside Transnistria.

That quote is followed by a long piece about the eternally-debated issue of “who pays for gas, and how much” that I won’t get into here. But absolutely nobody is disputing that, yes, Kuchurgan is definitely converting natural gas into electricity which is powering some cryptocurrency mining in Pridnestrovie.

Infographics make me feelz smarter

Still not quite sure how this is “money laundering,” though.

But it’s the next section of Hannah Lucinda Smith’s article where things go full crazy train.

We’re Gonna Need Some More Red Yarn

Buckle up, campers!

Tofilat has obtained documents suggesting that GoWeb, an entity owned by a former Russian state employee, imported $8.7 million in mining equipment into Transnistria in January 2018, a month before the region passed its cryptocurrency law.

GoWeb also established a cryptocurrency mine in Romania in early 2016 — the same time that, according to the Mueller report, Russian military intelligence was mining there in order to pay the Clinton email hackers.

Personally, I believe that “the Russians hacked Clinton’s email” is pure bullshit and a conspiracy theory on par with the time cube.

But even assuming that the official American government narrative about Russian interference is 100% true, Hannah Lucinda Smith is very, very confused.

To begin with, the “Russian hackers” didn’t mine any cryptocurrency in Romania. They used Bitcoin to pay a Romanian company to register a website that was then used to publish the leaked emails:

The pool of bitcoin generated from the GRU’s mining activity was used, for example, to pay a Romanian company to register the domain through a payment processing company located in the United States.

That’s the exact quote from the U.S. Department of Justice, by the way.

The leaks were published by a hacker called “Guccifer 2.0” who, just like his namesake, told the world that he was Romanian, so it’s no surprise to me that he/they used a Romanian registrar company (cheekily called “THC Servers”). Interestingly enough, the owner of THC Servers was never contacted by the FBI.

Furthermore, the Mueller Report (warning: huge PDF) does not mention “GoWeb” at all, nor does it say anything about where the Bitcoin that “Guccifer 2.0” used was mined.

So where is all this craziness coming from? Because it certainly isn’t coming from the Mueller Report or the American government.

Apparently, from Tofilat’s diseased mind.

Yes, GoWeb is a cryptocurrency mining company (it’s quite public knowledge). And yes, they have a mining operation in Romania (as well as several other countries).

But there’s never been a credible accusation by anybody that GoWeb was the company that mined the Bitcoin used by Guccifer 2.0 or that GoWeb is in any way related to the “Russian interference” in the 2016 election.

Paging Carrie Mathison to the White Courtesy Phone

Despite a complete lack of evidence whatsoever, Hannah Lucinda Smith took Tofilat’s bait to build the ultimate tinfoil hat conspiracy:

Chaika, the Russian oligarch who has talked of investing millions of rubles in Technopark, is the co-owner of Innovatii Sveta, a company that has huge contracts with the Russian state.

His business partner is Oksana Diveykina, wife of Igor Diveykin, a former Russian intelligence operative who the FBI claims met with Carter Page, an American energy investment adviser who had lived in Russia from 2004 to 2007, and a decade later became a Trump adviser.

According to a heavily redacted report released in July 2018, Page and Diveykin met in Moscow in 2016, while Page was visiting to give a talk at an economic forum, and discussed creating a dossier of “kompromat” on Hillary Clinton. Page denies ever having met Diveykin.

Let’s review:

  1. Chaika once talked about investing in cryptocurrency mining in PMR.
  2. Chaika’s business partner in a totally unrelated business is a woman named Oksana Diyevkina.
  3. Oksana’s husband is Igor Diyevkin.
  4. Diyevkin (may have) met with Carter Page.
  5. Page once worked for Donald Trump.
  6. Page and Diyevkin (may have) discussed making problems for Hillary Clinton.
  7. Someone mined some Bitcoin somewhere and paid a Romanian company with it to register a website called DCLeaks.
  8. The DCLeaks website published Hillary Clinton’s emails.
  9. A Russian company called GoWeb mines Bitcoin in Romania and maybe also Pridnestrovie.

Putting all these dots together…

“So the question is,” Tofilat says, “is this just about stealing money, or is it a Russian intelligence operation?”

The stupid, it really does burn.

The rest of Hannah Lucinda Smith’s article is one long paranoid rant about how Russians might do all kinds of evil things with their sneaky, unregulated cryptocurrencies and how unfair it is that they can fight back against Trump’s sanctions, the guy they supposedly mined Bitcoin in Romania for in order to help him win the 2016 election.

Guns, Germs, and Steroids

Despite getting paid up to $12,000 for her tinfoil hat conspiracy theories, Hannah Lucinda Smith failed to get even the most basic facts right.

To wit:

Yes, that is a real statue of Lenin in central Tiraspol. But it sure as hell isn’t the “Presidential Palace.” The signage out front, written in three different languages in large gold lettering, clearly identifies it as the “Supreme Soviet” or Parliament.

Cui pingit pictorem?

If you look at the caption, the photograph used in Hannah Lucinda Smith’s article in Wired Magazine was taken by Julia Autz, a German woman who has a Pridnestrovie fetish of her own.

Julia Autz is from Germany and doesn’t speak Russian. And, of course, neither does Hannah Lucinda Smith. So how did they get around Pridnestrovie and take all those pictures and interview all the people for their article?

By hiring this steroid-guzzling dipshit as their “fixer”:

Truly, the manliest of all men

Yes, he’s so proud of that “Orgasm Donor” shirt that he’s posted several pictures of it on social media:

This sad sack of a human being calls himself “Tim Tiraspol” and grew up in the United States. Twenty years ago, he tried to “make it” it in Hollywood but never got any closer than assistant to the director’s assistant on a TV mini-series.

Later on, he made his way to this part of the world but still hasn’t managed to learn any Russian (or Romanian or Ukrainian) except for a few phrases related to steroids, guns, and girls, the only three topics that he cares about.

Nonetheless, “Tim Tiraspol” has been leading tours in Pridnestrovie (and Moldova and Ukraine) for years. Sometimes, he works as a fixer for respectable media organizations like CBS News and Wired Magazine, but other times he serves as a pimp for foreign visitors.

Someone’s obviously never been IN a sex shop before…

Regrettably, Pridnestrovie does not have any policies or laws in place for the accreditation of tour guides, which is how this guy has gotten away with his horrifically misogynistic behavior for so long.

His shitty website, which hasn’t been updated since 2016, contains plenty of offers for “free vodka and parties with hot girls” in Tiraspol, and his Facebook feed is littered with godawful shit like this:

In case you’re thinking of hiring him, beware that “Tim Tiraspol” advertises that he has a hostel where you can stay in town, but that was shut down by the authorities several years ago. Instead, what you’ll get is the “privilege” of staying in a tiny, one-room apartment that was built 50 years ago.


7 thoughts on “The Stupid, It Pays Incredibly Well

  1. Hello,
    I have seen that you’re using a portrait photograph, for which I am the sole copyright holder, and haven’t credited (or more importantly, haven’t paid) me a licensing fee.
    The portrait is of journalist Hannah Lucinda Smith.

    Please let me know where I should send my invoice.


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