The mysterious story of David Djuberga, fake Pentagon expert in Russia
“Senior Pentagon analyst for Russia, Lieutenant Colonel David Jewberg” (David Jewberg) led a popular Facebook page. He was regularly quoted by the Ukrainian and Russian media as a Pentagon expert on issues related to Ukraine and Russia. He seemed real, not a fictional person, named David Djugberg. Some well-known Russian oppositionists often quoted David Dzuberga as a respected analyst and personal acquaintance in real life. But in reality, David Djugberg is a fictional character associated with a group of people in the United States, primarily with a well-connected American financier, Dan K. Rapoport.
It was Rapoport who wrote under the name “David Djugberg” - this was said by a well-known expert on Russia, David Satter and other sources. Bellingcat in Washington. His friends and colleagues helped him in maintaining fake Rapoport; for example, the photos of university buddy Rapoport were used as photos of Dzuberga, and some friends of Rapoport, living in Washington, wrote about Dzhuberg as about a real person.
Den K. Rapoport - the former owner of the house, which in January 2017, was sold to Ivanka Trump. He worked in the financial sector in Russia in 2000-x, and after that, according to media reports, began to actively support the Russian opposition. At the end of 2016, he moved to Kiev. According to recent reports, he works in the financial sector in Ukraine. According to the legal experts with whom we consulted as part of this investigation, the person or persons behind David Dzuberg created fake IDs, posing as a federal official with a Pentagon employee ID card. The Department of Defense and the US State Department denied the existence of David Djuberga, saying that they never had a person with that name working for them. Rapoport has repeatedly denied that he is the author of "David Dzuberga" and did not recognize that "Dzuberg" - a fictional character.
Who is David Jooberg?
In April, 2016, the Ukrainian news site Dialog.ua introduced his readers with David Dzuberg - “a military man, an analyst, a specialist in military history and an officer in the US Army, a political consultant to the US Department of State, the US Department of Defense and an analyst on national security issues.” Next, “Dialogue” describes the biography of Dzuberg, including his parents (Tammy and Joe, both from Lyndhurst, Ohio), education (graduated from the John Miller school in 1988 g) and his career (served in Somalia, Yemen, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq ...). According to "Dialogue", Lieutenant Colonel Dzuberg rose in the US Army to Senior Analyst in Russia in the US Department of Defense.
From spring 2015 to autumn 2017, Dzuberg led a popular Facebook page mainly in good (albeit “with an American accent”) Russian, sometimes publishing posts in English. His Facebook account first appeared in May 2015 of the year. He very quickly gained popularity. Then, almost 3 a year ago, President Obama reacted rather restrainedly to the Russian aggression in Ukraine, which peaked in February 2015 during the fighting for Debaltseve. Many Ukrainians and Russian opponents of Putin wanted to see a tougher US response to the actions of the Kremlin through either direct actions (increased sanctions, arms supplies to Ukraine, etc.), or heightened rhetoric. Dzuberg, who positioned himself as a source of information directly from the Pentagon, seems to have satisfied the last request.
Djuberg's profile LinkedIn created a sense of certainty - because LinkedIn Dzuberg was “connected” with various well-known experts on Russia, including the former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, a famous American expert on Russia and the historian David Satter, an eminent Kremlinologist Marc Galeotti, a journalist France Media Agency Dmitry Zaks and many others. In addition, his profile in LinkedIn contained laudatory recommendations from Dzuberg's various skills from other users, which also gave the appearance of authenticity.
Information reflected in the profile of "Dzuberga" in LinkedIn attended and on his page on Facebook. The latter also presented photographs of an imaginary Pentagon employee.
On Dzuberg's Facebook page, the “about me” section indicated the following:
“I’m a veteran of the US Armed Forces, a descendant of the Russians, I’m writing history, truth facts, everything that RosGosSmi hide from Russians.”
On Facebook, David Djugberg unequivocally indicated that he was “the senior analyst for Russia in the US Department of Defense,” although he subsequently “resigned” from this position shortly after the election of Donald Trump.
To reveal the truth hidden from the Russians (which, according to Dzuberg himself, was his goal), he publicly ridiculed pro-Kremlin bloggers and ordinary users, and also massively added opponents of the Kremlin to friends on Facebook. In the meantime, on his page that was gaining popularity, the publication of analysts on various issues, primarily related to Russia and Ukraine, continued.
Ksenia Kirillova, Russian journalist who moved to the USA, became one of the first witnesses of Dzuberg's takeoff and growth of his influence, as well as interest in him primarily from anti-Kremlin activists and oppositionists in the United States.
In an interview in the framework of this investigation, Kirillova said that in 2015, “all” members of a close circle of Russian opposition in the US talked about David Juberg, a new Pentagon official who is actively opposing Putin.
Kirillova said that in the 2015 year, she, who lived in the United States at that time for just one year, it was difficult to build contacts with recognized American experts in her field (Kremlin studies and propaganda). Her new friends, including other representatives of Russian opposition circles, pointed her to Dzuberga.
According to Kirillova’s description, Dzuberg was a very effective counter-propaganda tool at the height of Kremlin disinformation campaigns.
"(In 2015 year) David Djugberg enjoyed the great support of various individuals ...
Sometimes he published materials that well covered the situation in Russia under Putin. He was not supported because the public is so stupid. He enjoyed the support of smart, decent people who used his materials in their own disputes with pro-Putin users. ”
"David Djouberg" won the favor of many Russian oppositionists and Ukrainians, when summer xnumx wrote and urged its users to send a letter to the Facebook management urging the company to deal with the allegedly pro-Kremlin bias of its moderators:
“Americans value freedom of expression. Facebook is an American company created to provide open communication between users from all over the world. Therefore, we hope that you practice the same values and support the Truth, Justice and the American way of life. Because of this, we are perplexed and frustrated by the lack of a visible reaction on your part. With the deepest respect, we urge you to appoint several POLITICALLY-NEUTRAL Russian-speaking moderators to review all blockages of popular Russian-speaking bloggers in order to ensure the fair application of the same FB Community Standards to all users.
This is a letter that was originally signed by Juberg and edited by the popular Russian-speaking American blogger Alexander J. Flint, soon became viral.
This letter and its effectiveness were praised on Facebook by several popular critics of Putin, for example Glory Rabinovich(Russian-American financier and blogger with almost 25 000 subscribers on the FB) and Alexandra Sotnika (opposition journalist and activist with almost 100 000 subscribers to the FB). Slava Rabinovich even called Dzuberga his "friend."
About the same time, Konstantin Borovoy, a veteran of the Russian opposition policy, a former deputy of the State Duma, and now the head of the liberal party "Western Choice" She urged Ekaterina Skorobogatovu, who, according to media reports, previously worked on Facebook as a development manager in Russia and the CIS, add "David Djuberga" to the list of "untouchables" on this social network. In other words, he was supposed to receive protection from the ban, along with other accounts of influential critics of Putin on Facebook. Borovoy's post, with a reference to Dzuberga, was seen by an audience of almost 150 000 people subscribed to the page of this Russian opposition figure. The post itself received more 1000 likes and more 600 reposts.
Subsequently, in October of the same year Borovoy solemnly shared the newsthat he "has the opportunity" to pass on to Mark Zuckerberg a list of "opposition activists who have been blocked by Kremlin trolls." The list included, and "David Jooberg."
Dzuberga's Facebook campaign and his reputation in the ranks of the Russian opposition gave an amazing result: a conference call with Facebook managers. According to Facebook's Djuberga post, in August 2016, he participated in a conference call with “Head of World Content FB”, “Head of Eastern Europe” and others.
According to Dzubergu, during a phone call, he told Facebook about the allegedly pro-Kremlin bias of the social network, after which he was asked to submit a list of unfairly blocked accounts. In a post from Dzuberga contained a screenshot of the message with an invitation to a conference call, which he allegedly received from Facebook. According to Juberg's post, telephone conversations with Facebook went through 1 August 2016 of the year with the help of a conference service Blue Jeans.
Thanks for waiting. Are you ready to talk with us this Monday, 1 August at 6: 30 evenings in North American Eastern Time? If yes, please confirm this by email. Meeting details: Telephone: +1 408 7407256
Enter ID meetings: 446119116
Facebook did not respond to requests for comments on Borovoy’s statements regarding the list submitted to Zuckerberg, as well as about “David Juberg” as a whole. Ekaterina Skorobogatova, whom Borovoy mentions, is currently working as a development manager. WhatsApp. She did not respond to several emails asking for comments.
Unusual name, stolen face
Although the name "Dzuberg" seems ridiculous, it did not seem at all to be the author of the page and the Ukrainian media who wrote about the "representative of the Pentagon." For example, Dzuberg published photographs of several ID cards, although on none of them are the first three letters of his last name visible.
Notice that Virginia’s driver’s license is not signed (it must be in the empty space between the name and "Endorsements / None").
On another Photo Joberg's Facebook documents show the name and last name of the “Pentagon employee”:
These ID cards are similar to samples that can be found on the network, such as the US Army ID card. on ft. Drum in new york:
Dzuberg did not hide his face - in photos on social networks he is visible in various situations - on rest, in military uniform, at official events, etc.
However, in fact, in these photographs, not “David Jooberg”, but a Texan Steve ferro. As described further in this investigation, Ferro is a university pal of Dena C. Rapoport.
As can be seen from the following Facebook profile comparison, “Dzuberg” clearly uses the photo of Steve Ferro: the same person and dog are visible on the photo of Steve Ferro on Facebook from 2012 of the year.
The photo of various ID cards shared by David Jooberg also shows Ferro's face. Below is a comparison of Ferro's face on the state of Virginia’s driver’s license, photographed by Juberg, and two photos of Ferro from Facebook.
In the case of the Pentagon ID, the Ferro / Dzuberga face is clearly deformed and digitally processed. On the ID card, it is clear that Dzuberga / Ferro's ear is deformed, as is his cheek.
Obviously, Steve Ferro's name is not David Dzuberg, so it is unclear exactly how “Dzuberg” received these ID cards. In particular, it is unclear how the Pentagon ID card was obtained or created, especially since the creation of fake federal ID cards is clearly illegal.
Further study of the identity of Steve Ferro and how his photos were in the account of David Dzuberga, is given further in this investigation.
Dzuberg settles in the Ukrainian media
As mentioned at the beginning of this investigation, the Ukrainian news site Dialog paid most attention to Dzuberga, publishing more than ten articles with descriptions of his posts on Facebook (at the time of publication, Dialogue did not respond to a request for comment on the regular coverage of Dzuberga posts). However, one article from another site had the greatest effect in the Ukrainian media.
In November, 2015, the popular Ukrainian news site Obozrevatel.com опубликовал an article based solely on a statement on the David Jooberg Facebook page. The article entitled “10 days is enough: The Pentagon officer described in detail the plan for losing Russia in the war with NATO” received more 211 000 views and thousands of reposts in social networks.
Dzuberg's statements about a possible scenario of a war between Russia and NATO, which formed the basis of this article, in subsequent years have surfaced in many other articles.
In an article on the Ukrainian site Obozrevatel.comas later in other articles, the post of Dzuberga was quoted without any verification. Often it was just repost without cuts. Below, we present fragments of this widely spread article by the Observer, which has become one of the milestones on Dzuberg's way to the Ukrainian and Russian media, and is also a good example of the style of Dzuberga's many posts on Facebook:
“In the event that Russian President Vladimir Putin ventures in direct confrontation with NATO, the confrontation between the Alliance and Russia will last no more than 10-20 days, and there will be no one to sign the surrender of the Russian Federation. The Pentagon officer, a descendant of Soviet émigrés David Jooberg, who published on his page on the social network Facebook, is convinced of this. corresponding to the post, accompanied by a visual infographic showing the balance of power of the Russian Federation and NATO ... "
The following article contains a long quote by Dzuberg:
“I was repeatedly asked to write my forecast of a potential war of the Russian Federation with NATO. I am writing only about what is in public sources. At the Pentagon, where I work today, there are plans for war with all countries of the world. But more detailed plans for a war with unstable and aggressive regimes. These plans are carefully drawn up and constantly adjusted, sometimes with my participation. A potential war with Russia will not be like the war with Iraq in 2003. Although the Russian Federation is about the same size of the army and the same level of technological development. Only Iraq had a disciplined and experienced army. And there was no drunkenness and theft.
It is a war of 2% of world GDP against 50% of world GDP. Annual military budget of $ 80 billions of RF versus $ 800 billions of NATO. Rifle against the laser. Even if Putin dares to make a nuclear strike (I think he dares), and even if half of the Soviet missiles take off, the United States is well protected by missile defense. The only risk is a submarine near the borders, and then we believe that we will have time to intercept.
First invisible bombers will arrive (B-2 STEALTH), bombed military sites and factories. New electro-magnetic drones CHAMR (CHAMP) and forever pulse turn off all electronic in major cities. All welcome to the Middle Ages. Putin’s gang will either run away (DPRK, Iran, Syria, Venezuela) or like rats will hide in a bunker. The whole war with Russia will last 10-20 days after the first NATO attacks. Nobody will see the NATO soldier before the capitulation of the Russian Federation. One question The Pentagon is very worried about who will sign the surrender agreement?
All the old servants of the people on trial or lustration. There will be no corruption under our control. We will help the defeated Russians with food (again), medicine, infrastructure and technology. Print your country in the 21 century. After we razzombiruem most of the population of Russia, after about a year or two, we will help organize fair elections. After the election of the legitimate government of the Russian Federation, we will leave you about a thousand advisers to help and prevent the next Putin or Stalin from coming to power. They will also help to develop the infrastructure, the army, the police, and state institutions. When you are ready to govern, we will leave your country and in the future we will be allies and partners. We will do the same as we did with Italy, Germany, Japan, Korea, Panama and Afghanistan, with Iraq and Libya did not work. And then the whole world will be friends with a peaceful and rich Russia. You will become a rich country when you pay for the war with NATO, Yukos, Ukraine and MH17. ”
For a year after the appearance of the “Observer” article, Dzuberg enjoyed considerable popularity in various Ukrainian media, for example DSnews.ua (about the Facebook post on Dzuberg about the waste of Russian natural gas and Apostrophe.ua (comment by Dzuberg on the inability of Russia to supply new Armata tanks to the troops).
In October, 2016, Ilya Ponomarenko, who, by his own admission, was a novice journalist at that time, was a member of Ukrainian publications. Gazeta.ua and Krajina magazine, decided to interview Dzuberg by e-mail about the Russian-Ukrainian war in the Donbass. As part of this investigation, Ponomarenko told us that Dzuberg was considered to be a reliable source in the Ukrainian media. Ponomarenko explained why, in October 2016, it was reasonable to consider Dzuberga a serious source: he had a detailed biography without visible contradictions, a lot of photos, his stories seemed plausible, he constantly published interesting posts about the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, and also declared personal connections with famous experts in Russia. In other words, as Ponomarenko explained, “everything that was of particular interest to our audience.”
Ponomarenko admitted that later, after the interview, he began to doubt the personality of Dzuberga. Nevertheless, according to Ponomarenko, he considers the interview "a good salvo in the information war against Russia." With the approval of his editor, Ponomarenko conducted an interview with Dzuberg by e-mail and published an article based on this talk site Gazeta.ua October 4 2016 year.
This is an interview with Dzuberg, which is presented in the article as «a senior analyst at the US Department of Defense, "covers a wide variety of topics - from the conditions for the provision of American lethal weapons to Ukraine to the official position of the Pentagon regarding events in eastern Ukraine. The subject of a possible NATO war with Russia, placed in the title of the article Gazeta.ua (“NATO’s Protoss Rosia Kapitulyu for 10 Days”) is the same quote that provided Juberga with a breakthrough in the Ukrainian media in 2015 using the Observer article.
Dzuberg noted interview with Gazeta.ua on Facebook on October 6 2016 g .:
“I do not speak Ukrainian yet, but I hope that my interview in Russian was translated correctly.”
The interview with Ponomarenko left no doubt that Dzuberg spoke on behalf of the Pentagon. Although some of his statements could hardly be heard from the majority of Pentagon representatives (especially about 10 Days), in general, Juberg presented a mainstream, consensus Western view on events in Ukraine and Russia. In particular, the following very standard, although in some cases and somewhat biased in favor of Ukraine, views were cited:
On the transfer of American weapons to Ukraine: "Ukraine needs to develop mechanisms to control the use of lethal weapons from the United States."
On military reform: "Ukraine should invest in the development of professionalism at all levels of the armed forces."
About the unforeseen consequences of the Russian aggression: "Having invaded Ukraine, Putin only strengthened the influence of NATO in Europe, destroyed his own economy and isolated Russia."
On Putin’s strategy: “Do not expect progress on the Minsk agreements. Putin is waiting for a new administration in the United States. ”
On the future of the Crimea: "Crimea itself will return to Ukraine when Ukraine becomes prosperous."
However, although on the whole Djugberg expressed a rather innocuous opinion, it was his statement about NATO’s 10-day war with Russia that attracted the attention of various media in Ukraine and subsequently in Russia. At the same time, his allegedly sensational statement was not at all a sensation - it was taken from a post on Facebook a year ago, about which the Observer had already written.
This interview was successful in terms of views, and therefore Gazeta.ua published in the following days a few more articles based on interviews with Dzuberg. For example, in an article published October 6 ("Pentagon officer commented on the future of the occupied Donbass") Talked about comments Dzuberga regarding the future of the occupied territories of the east of Ukraine. Another article published the same day (“NATO will fight no more than 20 days with Russia - Pentagon analyst"), Was devoted exclusively to the scenario of the war of NATO with Russia.
The Ponomarenko interview caused a new surge of interest in David Djouberg's page, especially because the official “Pentagon representative” spoke about the rapid end of the NATO war. October 13 2016 on TSN.ua (site of one of the leading Ukrainian TV channels) article was published entitled "The war of Russia and NATO: how it will be". It was published in the TSN blogs section, and the author was Set "David Djugberg, Senior Analyst for Russia, US Department of Defense" - at the same time Dzuberg appeared the author's page on the site. The TSN blog post was adapted from the Facebook post of Dzuberga (“My original text was slightly modified, but the essence remained,” wrote Juberg on the day of the TSN blog post).
The Gazeta.ua interview and a post on the TSN blog caused a new surge in Ukrainian media attention in October 2016, including:
UNIAN (one of the leading Ukrainian news agencies) published two materials about Dzuberg: “The war of Russia and NATO: Pentagon analyst predicted what it could be and how it would end"And"The Pentagon voiced the likely scenario for the development of events in the Donbas, assessed Putin’s prospects».
Focus.ua published an article “The Pentagon predicted the future of Donbass».
The popular daily newspaper Segodnya.ua published articles on the same dayThe Pentagon gave valuable advice for the Ukrainian army"And"The Pentagon told why Russia is so aggressive in the world».
Popular Ukrainian TV channel ICTV also quoted Dzuberg in the news materials on its website, including “The defeat of Russia in the Donbass: in the Pentagon gave details"And"In the US, they told what the Kremlin is waiting for».
As can be seen from the headlines, the news value was not that the popular Facebook blogger expressed an interesting opinion about Russia, but that the interview was given allegedly the real representative of the Pentagoncapable of making statements on behalf of the US Department of Defense.
“This interview has gained viral popularity,” he told Ponomarenko about his success. “No one in the media community could either confirm or deny Juberg's fake nature. But at the same time many people read it. I felt as if I had released a genie from a bottle, which was not too different from Russian propaganda. ”
Kirillova, an emigrant from Russia, shared a similar view of the reasons for the credibility of Dzuberga in the eyes of the Ukrainian media: “The Ukrainian media could not imagine that someone would be able to impersonate the Pentagon representative for so long without being a real representative.”
The harsh statements of "David Dzuberga" made him more and more popular, however, a response followed.
The Kremlin noticed Dzuberga
Sharp, right up to the direct insults, the critic of Putin and the patriot of the USA, Dzuberg was just such an American that many Russian oppositionists wanted to see. His statements were also liked by Ukrainian Internet users who wanted to receive confirmation that America and its military were firmly on their side in the conflict with Russia and its puppets. However, the same features that made Dzuberg fell in love with Putin’s opponents in the fall of 2016 turned out to be convenient for the Russian media seeking to confirm the image of the bellicose Russophobic Pentagon that the Kremlin’s anti-American propaganda had been building for a long time.
An example of the reaction of Russian journalists to Dzuberg's comments on the Ukrainian media, which appeared at the same time as publications in Ukraine - article Regnum.ru ("The Pentagon - about the NATO war with the Russian Federation: "It will be a war of a rifle against a laser"“), In which Dzugberg is presented as an“ analyst of the US Department of Defense ”and does not express any doubts about his personality.
At the same time, the channel of the Ministry of Defense of Russia “Zvezda”, nevertheless, somewhat doubted the personality of Dzuberga in his article “The Pentagon is going to crush the Russian Federation for 20 days and give the leadership of Russia to NATO", Indicating that" whether or not Dzuberg is an employee of the Pentagon, remains unknown. "
Perhaps the most influential material about Dzuberga in the Russian media was the column of Vladimir Bychkov on the website of the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. An article titled "Is the USA preparing a new plan for Barbarossa against Russia?”Which gathered about half a million views, the columnist compares the scenario of the war, as outlined by Dzuberg in an interview with Gazeta.ua, with Hitler’s attack on the USSR in 1941. Bychkov expresses some doubts about the personality of Dzuberga (“The main analyst ... However, who knows what kind of analyst he is and whose ...”), however, he sharply responds to his statements that Russia will fall to NATO within a few weeks.
The next day, RIA Novosti published another column of Bychkov entitled “Juberg and Barbarossa. Necessary explanations without any reason". Bychkov said that he had learned that Dzuberg can be a fake spread by the Ukrainian media, but he wrote that for him personally it is not so important, because “The Passage that Dzuberg (or“ Dzuberg ”- whatever you like), according to Ukrainian media,” issued "is the quintessence of what is seriously and publicly talked about in America."
Popular Russian newspaper “TVNZ"Also published an article about the statements of Dzuberg Ukrainian media called"Will America conquer Russia in 20 days? Come on! ” for the authorship of Viktor Barantz, a famous Russian military analyst, retired colonel, former press secretary of the Ministry of Defense of Russia. In his column, Baranets expressed doubts about the credibility of Dzuberg’s personality (“we have a muddy person who is not really”) and the reliability of the Ukrainian media (calling Gazeta.ua a “drain barrel of anti-Russian rumors”), but did not declare Dzuberga fake.
As can be judged from the examples of Dzuberg’s coverage in the Russian media, in the opinion of Ksenia Kirillova, they actually managed to turn the statements of Dzuberga to their advantage.
“Russian propaganda benefited [Djouberg’s aggressive statements]. Although his disputes with Russian propagandists in front of a small Facebook audience gave a generally positive, albeit insignificant effect, the damage from his statements carried by major media outlets was much higher. Russian propagandists at a high enough level used his statements to accuse America of aggression against Russia and to justify the aggression of Russia itself. ”
During the American election campaign 2016 of the year, Dzuberg continued to regularly publish materials on Facebook and share an “inside look” with his readers. Even before he reached the peak of popularity in the Ukrainian and Russian media in the fall of 2016, he made it clear that he was not enthusiastic about Donald Trump. For example, in July 2016, Joeberg called the prospect of Trump's victory a “catastrophic event,” comparable to an “interracial war” or a “nuclear explosion.”
On the day after Trump’s election victory, the “Pentagon Officer” posted on Facebook a statement about his resignation from the Pentagon in protest. This post has collected over a thousand likes.
"Nightmare. How can it be?????? Are there so many people in my country who are ready to give power to Trump? I wrote that if Trump is chosen I resign. I cannot be under the command of this man. ”
A day later, Dzuberg wrote that he “submitted his resignation” and noted that “Trump is all that I despise.”
Dzuberga posts about Russia and against Trump did not stop after his "resignation", but he began to publish fewer "views from the inside" and began to provide readers with extracts from American media reports about the Trump administration, in particular about the so-called "Rashagite".
Despite the popularity and more 20 000 Facebook followers, a significant presence in the Ukrainian and Russian media, as well as a public “resignation” after Trump's victory, David Djuberg is not a real person.
As part of our investigation, we contacted both the US Department of State (where Dzuberg allegedly worked as an employee of the US Embassy in Moscow) and the Department of Defense (where he allegedly worked until November 2016 of the year). Both departments deny that they have ever worked a man named David Dzuberg. The State Department even claimed that Dzuberg’s online activity was a “fiction”.
So how did this “Pentagon employee” were created, and why did so many people buy into this “fiction”?
How to come up with a fake Pentagon official
Pockets points to the connection with Rapoport
In November, 2015, the Russian blogger Ruslan Karmanov, who lives in China published long, full of expletives post titled “Life and Adventures of David Jewberg,” where he makes fun of the statements that Dzuberg is a real civil servant, is surprised by the credulity of the Russian opposition and documents his communication on the network with David Dzuberg several weeks before the post is published.
"David Djouberg" tried to convince Karmanov that he was a real person, but the Russian blogger was convinced that anti-Putin activists were actually running the "Dzuberga" account, possibly in Ukraine with the support of sympathizers in the United States. Dzuberg tried to prove his reality by sharing photos of the latest issue. New Y Times, Starbucks checks from Washington and a pistol with a photo of Dzuberg's page on Facebook. All the photographs also contained a note on a self-adhesive, addressed to Karmanov. However, the Russian blogger has not changed his opinion.
In Karmanov's post dedicated to Dzuberga (the last time the post was changed in 2017) there is also a screenshot of the warning he received from the angry "Pentagon employee":
The message came from the address email@example.com Dzuberg publicly called his.
In December 2015 of the Year, “Jooberg” publicly demanded (still available online thanks to supporter Dzuberga, who shared a post in the anti-Putin group) from Karmanov public apologies for the post (as well as “stick his left hand in the rectum”), otherwise he will be “punished”.
Dzuberga had reasons to be angry: Karmanov’s post about him is still in the top of Google search results at the request of “David Jewberg”. However, despite successful search engine optimization, this post of 2015 of the year could not stop Juberg’s path to fame, which reached its peak in the next year, 2016.
Who is Den K. Rapoport?
Karmanov did not just write a post about the quarrelsome Pentagon employee, he also documented his connection with a very real resident of Washington: Dan C. Rapoport (Dan K. Rapoport), a famous American financier, born in the USSR. His family moved to the United States when he was still a child. Rapoport worked for many years in Russia while he as he himself said in a recent interview, did not feel that he should leave the country because of his support of the opposition.
Karmanov showed that Rapoport actively contributed to increasing the credibility of "Dzuberga" online. In particular, Rapoport published photos of a man whom he called “David Djouberg” (photos of the same person were present on Dzuberg’s Facebook profile) and called him my friend.
To understand where Rapoport could have an interest in Dzuberga, you should know some basic facts of his biography.
Rapoport was born in Riga in 1970, and in 1978, he moved with his parents to Texas, where his father, geotechnical engineer Vladimir Rapoport, got a job in Houston. Rapoport grew up in America; in 1991, he received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston.
According to data from various sources, including Rapoport's Linkedin accountHe subsequently spent several years working as a managing partner in a Moscow company. CenterInvest Securities (CiS). During the management of the New York branch of the company, he conducted various cross-border operations, representing Russian companies and international investors.
According to the SEC (US Securities and Exchange Commission), from 2003 g at least to November 2007 g CI-Moscow and Rapoport, directly and indirectly, urged investors in the United States to acquire and sell sluggishly tradable shares of Russian companies without having the necessary registration as brokers, as required by Section 15 (a) of the Exchange Act, as well as without satisfying the requirements for exclusion from this law. The SEC ruled in favor of the plaintiff due to the absence of Rapoport in the administrative proceedings initiated by the Commission. In 2012 year District Judge David Stentel satisfied the appeal of Rapoport and overturned the decision of the SEC, citing the Commission’s inconsistent application of its own rule. Finally, in 2013, Rapoport filed a settlement proposal with the SEC, which was accepted by the Commission. According to the terms of the settlement Rapoport was forbidden to engage in brokerage of small shares. He was also required to pay 68 402,40 dollars to the US Treasury.
Den Rapoport heads up Rapoport Capital LLC, a venture capital firm that specializes in early investments. At the end of 2016, he moved from Washington to Kiev.
At the beginning of 2017, Rapoport for a short time became the focus of attention of the American media, which сообщилиthat Ivanka Trump and Jared Kashner moved to a mansion in Washington, which was previously owned by the Rapoport family. Rapoport also repeatedly claimedthat worked for the presidential campaign of Republican Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.
Representatives of the campaigns of Romney and Bush could not confirm to us that Rapoport worked in these campaigns. At the same time, it is unclear whether his role, as he himself declares, the “adviser” of both candidates is significant enough for it to be paid or known to other employees of the campaign. Will Ritter, close to Romney and his campaign, told us in a telephone conversation that neither he nor his former colleagues remember Rapoport. As can be seen from the dialogue below, an employee of Jeb Bush’s campaign told us that Rapoport was not an employee of this campaign.
Rapoport and Juberg coordinate attacks
Pockets also pointed to the case so far remaining on facebookin which Rapoport, apparently, threatened Washington resident Victor Ogandzhanov. Responding to the post of Ogandzhanov on Facebook Rapoport wrote that Dzuberg would report on the behavior of Ogandzhanov in his network to the employerTextron (American aerospace and defense conglomerate).
It all started with the fact that Rapoport did not like the position of Ogandzhanov regarding the incident with the destroyer USS Ross in the Black Sea, where, as reported, Russian planes flew past the ship. Oganjanov, unlike Rapoport, believed that the ship’s mission itself was provocative.
They entered into a technical dispute about the level of development of Russian military technology compared to the US. Rapoport soon He accusedOgandzhanova in the dissemination of false information and warnedthat "on Monday, David will write a letter from the Pentagon to Textron."
Soon in the same thread, Ogandzhanov published several comments quoting messages received by him from Rapoport, in which Juberg was mentioned.
In one of the comments message was quoted from Rapoport's phone (during the investigation, it was possible to confirm that this is his phone):
“… + 1 (646) 460-3961: Victor, say goodbye to work. Say goodbye to America. Hi, an NSA investigation. Hi, FBI interrogation.
In another message an email was quoted from the personal address of Rapoport (during the investigation, it was possible to confirm that this address really belongs to Rapoport), in which Ogandzhanov was accused of distributing "extremely radical anti-American statements, as well as extremely pro-Putin and pro-Russian information," and the company was asked to "reconsider its level of admission." The letter, according to the comment of Ogandzhanov on Facebook, was signed "Major David XXXXXX" [Note: Rapaport cut when sending to Ogandzhanov] from the US Army Rangers.
Ogandzhanov, who still resides in Washington, confirmed to us in this investigation that these posts were genuine and that he actually received such messages.
"Friend and brother" Rapoport
In another case, in May 2015, Rapoport called "David Dzuberga" his "friend and brother" during the dispute on Rapoport's Facebook page.
When Rapoport was asked if he himself was a military expert, he replied, “I am Dalek [from this]. But my friend and brother David Jewberg - is an. Read his opinion.
In other posts and correspondences Rapoport openly made it clear that through him you can contact "David Dzubergom."
In October 2015, Ksenia Kirillova attempted to arrange a meeting with a mysterious Pentagon officer. Dzuberg invited her to discuss the meeting directly with Dan Rapoport via the Facebook messenger.
According to the screenshots of Ksenia Kirillova’s communication with Dan Rapoport, which Kirillova submitted for this investigation, in October 2015, Rapoport informed her that she should provide “David Juberga” with “documents for verification because of his access to the secret”.
After Kirillova expressed concerns regarding the proposal to provide documents to someone she had never seen in real life, Rapoport gave her her phone number and promised to try to bring the “DJ” to the meeting.
In the correspondence on Facebook provided by Kirillova for the present investigation, Rapoport also clearly indicated that he was cooperating with “on issues” with Dzuberg.
The pet of the Russian opposition
Rapoport also presented himself as a contact person for Dzuberg Illya Ponomarev, a well-known Russian deputy and oppositionist who has been living outside Russia since 2014. In a conversation in 2017, as part of the investigation, Ponomarev pointed out that Den Rapoport, whom he considers to be a personal friend, "openly declared a working relationship with David Djouberg."
Ilya Ponomarev is one of those who helped Dzuberga to gain the trust of the audience. For example, in August 2016, he thanked dzuberga(archive copy) on Facebook for comparing him, Ponomarev, with Pericles of Athens, and in January 2017 of the year said him on Facebook on NATO’s military capabilities.
Dzuberg fully used the approval from Ponomarev, reposting it and adding a long story in which he stated that he had personally met Ponomarev while working at the US Embassy in Moscow. This statement was approved by Ponomarev, who thanked Dzuberg for the post.
Ponomarev is just one of the Russian oppositionists who apparently trusted the anti-Putin representative of the Pentagon and distributed his posts. Among them are the aforementioned Rabinovich, Borovoy and Sotnik (see the previous section “Dzuberga presence in the network”). However, Ponomarev, unlike other oppositionists, probably knew that Dzuberga does not exist. During the conversation in the framework of the present investigation in 2017, Ponomarev clearly stated that he knew that “David Djouberg” was not a real person, but an online hoax. Ponomarev did not say who created this mystification, but pointed out that this person is a well-known person in Washington who is knowledgeable about the issues that Dzuberg wrote, motivated by sincere concern about events in Russia, the United States and Ukraine and acting in an attempt to influence events in these countries.
Ponomarev said that the popularity of Dzuberg in the Ukrainian and Russian media was a surprise for his creator. As for the identity of the creator, Ponomarev did not respond that Den Rapoport was the “author” of Djuberg, but nevertheless noted that Rapoport did not hide the “working relationship” with Djuberg. However, another famous person did point out that Djooberg and Rapoport are really one and the same person.
In June, 2017, Jouberg published a link to an interview with the Russian Voice of America interview with a famous American expert on Russia. David Satter, adding that Sutter is his personal friend. Sutter is also a Facebook friend of Rapoport. Almost a year before, on 2016, Mr. Jouberg wrote on Facebook about the presentation of Sutter’s book at a bookstore in Washington, also calling Sutter a “personal friend.” This Facebook post was liked by Sutter himself.
To the question via e-mail whether or not David Dzhoberg is Rapoport, Sutter answered in the affirmative.
“I’m aware that David Jooberg is the pseudonym for Den Rapaport. Dan is a friend of mine, and I don’t mind a repost from the Voice of America article.
He also clarified that he was not "familiar with the history of this blog."
Although many well-known opposition representatives and experts on Russia talked about some connection between “Dzubergom” and Rapoport, Satter clearly stated that Rapoport used “Dzuberga” as a pseudonym.
Surrounding Dzuberga in the network
As you read the comments on Facebook’s Jugger page, you can follow the trend of regular comments from real people in the US, confirming Juberg’s statements. These people also wrote posts in the Dzuberg tape or in relevant Facebook groups, explaining the reasons for his temporary absence, for example, after his temporary blocking. All these faces are connected through one person: Dena Rapoport.
A particularly interesting link with Dzhubergom has Ben Anderson, the current lieutenant-commander of the US Navy. Judging by LinkedIn and communicating on other platforms, Anderson is Rapoport's personal friend. 25 January 2016, Ben Anderson posted a post in Russian on Dzuberg's Facebook page:
“Dear readers, David. He asked me to convey that he could not write and even respond to your messages. But his mail, firstname.lastname@example.org works. He will be back on Facebook 23 February, 2016 year. ”
The US Navy press office confirmed that the Facebook profile from which the message was posted in the Dzuberg tape belongs to Ben Anderson, but noted that Anderson’s comments do not reflect the position of the US Navy. The press office confirmed that the page in LinkedIn under the name of Ben Andersonwhich has a praise from Den Rapoport (“I am inspired by Ben, and hope my children grow up like he”) also belongs to him.
Anderson did not respond to requests for comment.
In November 2017 of the year, the Special Agent of the US Navy Investigation Department informed the author of this investigation by email of the Inspection Service against Lieutenant Commander Ben Anderson that he “may have falsely called himself a DOD representative [Department of Defense, US Department of Defense].
Many of the events that Jugberg “attended” and his most ardent supporters on Facebook have links to organizations that also include Rapoport, for example local masonic lodge.
For example, Rapoport noted "David Dzuberga" in several posts on Facebook about meetings of Washington masons, and Dzuberg himself published posts and photos from the meetings of masons in Wasinton. Online jewbergslist.com there was also an article about Freemasonry.
An example of the intersection of social connections "Dzuberga" and Rapoport - Robb Mitchell, acting colonel of the US Army, also mason. In the photo below, Dzuberg congratulates “my friend, colleague, and brother,” Robb Mitchell, on being awarded the rank of colonel.
Dzuberg tried to increase the credibility of his account, often referring to various friends of Rapoport, for example, Dmitry Minin and Eric Konovalov, who openly declared their military background. These friends also published photos and other content that Djuberg mentioned as a real person. For example, in March 2016, Eric Konovalov published a photo of the military group with the text “Do you remember this beautiful day, David? We had a lot of fun, bro! ”
Many of those who were used to present Dzuberga with a real person with real acquaintances, were friends at Rapoport and belonged to his social circles, in particular to the same Masonic lodge. All these friends lived in the Washington area. However, Rapoport had another acquaintance, perhaps the one who most influenced the creation of the false authenticity of the “Pentagon representative”: Steve Ferro, whose photographs were used to create the image of Dzuberga.
Steve Ferro, who now lives in Texas, was fellow Dena Rapoport of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon university fraternity, in which they both were University of Houston. They still interact with each other on Facebook.
As shown above in this investigation, several photos on David Dzuberga on Facebook were also present on the Ferro page.
Steve Ferro, in a telephone conversation with the author of the 18 September investigation, 2017 of the year denied that he knew anything about David Juberg. Ferro did not respond to an e-mail with detailed questions about David Juberg and Ferro's photographs on fake IDs. However, shortly after the author of this investigation contacted Ferro, a few photos that David Jooberg used were missing from the Ferro Facebook page, probably due to their deletion or changing privacy settings.
None of Rapoport / Dzuberg's friends mentioned in this section provided comments on this investigation.
The data gathered during the investigation led us to one simple question: Is Den Rapoport really the creator and author of David Dzuberga? David Sutter and sources from the Washington-based fund Free Russia Foundation they told us that this is the case, and the evidence gathered testifies in favor of their statements.
Rapoport openly introduced himself as a contact person Dzuberga and regularly wrote about him on his page on Facebook. In addition, Rapoport, through his social circles, is a link between the face of David Dzuberga (Steve Ferro), figures from the anti-Putin opposition and residents of Washington, who regularly communicated with Juberg on Facebook. It is difficult to establish which of these persons knew about David Djuberg - for example, Ferro might not know about the existence of Dzhuberg and that his face was used for photographs of allegedly Dzuberga, while Sutter stated that Dzuberg was the pseudonym of Rapoport. However, it is absolutely clear that the Russian oppositionists and residents of Washington, who knew what “Dzuberg” is, nevertheless actively participated in maintaining the authenticity of the imaginary representative of the Pentagon.
Is Rapoport the author of Dzuberga? Let us give our readers the opportunity to draw conclusions on the basis of the evidence presented We should also consider the possibility that the authors of “Dzuberga” were several people, including, probably, Rapoport.
Free Russia Foundation
One of the real people who published on Facebook information about Dzuberg as a real person - Vlad Burlutsky, also friend of Rapoportwhich was a short time coordinatorwell-known Russian opposition organization and analytical center Free Russia Foundation for New York. According to sources in the Free Russia Foundation, Burlutsky no longer works in the organization, and his work in it was not long or significant.
In 2016, Burlutsky wrote the same post in the anti-Putin group on Facebook to “dear readers of David”: Ben Anderson:
“Dear readers, David. He asked me to convey that he could not write and even respond to your messages. But his mail, email@example.com works. He will be back on Facebook 23 February, 2016 year. ”
Dzuberg also noted Burlutsky on his page, thanking him for the photo of American soldiers in Estonia.
In August, 2017, after Burlutsky did not respond to a request for comment regarding his relationship with David Djouberg and Dan Rapoport, we wrote to the director Free Russia Foundation on the development of Grigory Frolov and the president of this organization, Natalia Arno, with a request for comment on “David Dzuberga” and Dan Rapoport. We wrote to these two people, since Burlutsky was previously associated with Free Russia Foundation.
Immediately after we sent a message to these representatives of the foundation, the content of our request was published on the “Juberg” page on Facebook. In his post on Facebook, Jooberg told his subscribers about the investigation into him and published a personal phone number and email to the researcher who requested the information. The first screenshot below shows a comparison of the text posted by Dzuberg and the message sent to Frolov. These texts are identical, only the word “Greg” and the comma following it are removed. Bellingcat talked with both Arnaud and Frolov, who sharply denied any contact with Rapoport about Kuzmenko’s request.
Natalia Arno, President of the Foundation Free Russia Foundation, talked to Bellingcat and stated that she was aware that Den Rapoport had led David Jouberg's account, and that this was an “open secret” among Russian anti-Putin circles in Washington.
Shortly after this draining, Dzuberg's social media pages and his site were deleted. However, copies of most pages, including Facebook and LinkedInsaved in archives. In addition, there is a mirror of the jewbergslist.com website at https://jewbergslist.4travel.vhost.lt/ (archived here). This copy of the site is maintained by Pavel Korchagin, a personal friend of Dan Rapoport.
21 August, the day after the discharge of correspondence with Frolov from Free Russia FoundationThe investigative investigative journalist on Facebook received a threat on Facebook. In a message from “Vasily Fedorovtsev,” whose Facebook profile contains anti-Kremlin statements, the investigator was scolded for having “ruined David Djuberga’s life” and threatened that “Juberg’s colleagues” would write out “pizdyuley” to the investigator “and send them home with a vegetable load”.
Interview with David Jooberg
When the author of the present investigation wrote to Den Rapoport at the beginning of the summer of 2017, asking him to comment on his attitude to Dzuberga, he agreed, but insisted that the interview was not recorded. During the interview, Rapoport showed exhaustive knowledge of Dzuberg's online activity and agreed to contribute to further communication with the “Pentagon employee”, advising to contact Dzuberg via his email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email author sent from this address gmail with the signature "LTC David Jewberg Senior Russian Analyst HQDA, G-3 / 5 / 7 » argued that he was actually David Jooberg.
However, the author of the letters refused to meet in person or comment by phone. "Dzhoberg" confirmed the information of Rapoport about how they know each other:
«Я I met Den in Moscow in 2010, we are friends, and in Washington we were in the same Masonic lodge - 1775 Military Lodge, ”wrote Juberg to the author of the investigation in June, 2017.
"Dzuberg" readily talked about their goals ("The target audience of this blog is residents of Russia. I’ve been adding friends from day one, mostly from anti-American and pro-Putin groups. it’s up to them to bring the truth ”), but did not confirm his statements about military service and previous jobs.
"Dzuberg" also confirmed that various identification documents addressed to "David Dzuberga", including driver's license, social security card and Pentagon ID actually belonged to him.
To an earnest request for a personal meeting, Jugberg replied "the meeting will not bring me any benefit, only harm. I hope you understand my reluctance».
Dzuberg also did not answer the question about the role of Dan Rapoport. Rapoport himself later, in response to a request for comment, denied that he was "David Jooberg": "I think someone made a joke on you. David is not Den, and Den is not David ... the one who told you otherwise is lying". In August 2017 of the year, after draining from the Free Russia Foundation, the author of the investigation again asked Rapoport about the materials mentioned above. Rapoport accused the author of this investigation of working for the FSB.
Why all this?
It is clear that in 2015 a fictitious character “David Djugurg” was invented for publishing analysts in Russia and Ukraine with the addition of a “look from the inside”, in this case from the Pentagon. It is also obvious that Rapoport and his inner circle are in the very center of the materials, which were designed to build confidence in the fictional American military. This group includes the person whose face was used to represent the image of Dzuberga. However, it is still not clear why this person was coined with such a strange name and the face of a Texan.
More puzzling is the question of why the creator (or one of the creators) Dzuberga constantly raised the stakes, proving his existence, and did not give up - as it finally happened during this investigation in the 2017 year. For example, various ID cards photographed “ Dzubergom ", almost certainly fabricated, because they depict a completely different person with a completely different name (Steve Ferro). We turned to various legal experts, including New York lawyer and academic lawyer Richard Reisman and law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, Eugene Volokh, with a request to evaluate from a legal point of view that he was posing as a Pentagon representative and a fake for this purpose documents. Both Reisman and Volokh noted that by impersonating a federal official and faking federal ID cards violate 18 title, United States Code, § 912 (more about this offense you can read on the website of the Ministry of Justice). Besides the fact that “Dzuberg” published photos of seemingly fake ID cards, “Dzuberg” and Rapoport, apparently, sent threatening messages to those who crossed their path in the network, as is evident from the stories of Karmanov and Ogandzhanov.
So why do you need to invent a fake representative of the Pentagon, and even violate US laws, trying to “protect” his identity? This question cannot be answered unambiguously. Instead, we tried to describe in detail the rise and fall of "David Djuberga" and the people who consistently accompanied his activities in the network. We showed the draft versions of this investigation to various experts on Russia, intelligence and disinformation, in order to find out their reaction to the mysterious history of David Dzuberga.
Glenn carl, a veteran of the CIA with 23-year experience and a former deputy member of the US National Security Council, believes that "Dzuberga" could invent only a "fool." If the account of Dzuberga really led the opponent of Russia, this, in his words, was a “crappy initiative” and rather a Russian disinformation campaign than a real operation against Russia.
Lyudmila Savchuk-Borisova, a Russian journalist who got into the pages of the world media, suing the so-called "St. Petersburg troll factory", believes that the "personality" of Dzhuberg created by joint efforts, which resemble the clumsy work of the St. Petersburg trolley factory.
"Dzuberg" reminds fake propaganda accounts created by the factory of trolls in Russia. Whole groups of people are working on this. At the same time, all propaganda projects are similar, whoever leads them. Dzuberg is not necessarily a Russian project. On the other hand, recently in Russia they said that some anti-Russian foreign "experts" who give interviews on Russian TV as "representatives of the West" often receive money to serve as "whipping boys" for local TV anchors. "
Peter Pomerantsev, author of the report "Nothing is true and nothing is impossible: the surrealistic heart of the new Russia”And a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, said that the whole story with Dzuberg seems to be a“ surrealistic joke. ”
“At first it seemed to me that all of this could have been a surrealistic rally, the efforts of one eccentric face. The work of the secret services seems to me different. But considering how much time this game was played, it could be a case of working “on freelance”, when the “freelancer” starts his own project and subsequently offers an already existing operation to a potential buyer. Such things are not always linear - that is, they may not correspond to the formula of separation between the customer and the performer. It seems to me that we are seeing more and more similar cases, as it becomes easier to do this. Again, this is similar to a strange propaganda campaign supposedly created specifically for RIA Novosti to write about.
Judging by the reaction of these three experts, perhaps you should ask, not why “Dzuberg” was created, but as so many Ukrainian media have taken him seriously - including Dialog.ua, which, as of 2017, has published over a dozen articles about the “Pentagon representative”.
In the 2015 and 2016 year, when the Russian propaganda operation against Ukraine and the West was in full swing, many wondered what measures should be taken to combat disinformation. Some saw the answer in “anti-disinformation centers”, for example “EU against disinformation"and StopFake. Others sought to raise the standards of independent investigative journalism in order to reduce the attractiveness of misinformation and so-called "fake news." This was manifested in the issuance of Western grants to the Ukrainian media, for example, “Public". The Bellingcat team combines educational information verification resources with open investigations that reveal the research process to our readers.
The effectiveness of such initiatives is a matter of dispute. However, it can be agreed that the creation of a fake representative of the Pentagon, who opposes the Kremlin, can hardly be called a productive method of dealing with disinformation.
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