Despite a lot of boasts and some shady fixers, Trump has spent decades trying and failing to get a foothold in the Russian market.”>

This is the third in our series of articles laying out all you ever wanted to know about Trump and Russia, but were afraid to ask. Read portions one, two, and four.

Donald Trump's infatuation with Russia goes back more than 30 years, to theglasnostperiod of theSovietUnion when communism demonstrated no impediment to get-rich-quick artists with loose scruples and gaudy tastes.In 1988 Trump was famously hoodwinked by Ronald Knapp, a Gorbachev impersonator, who stopped by Trump Tower and shook The Donalds hand in what the latter clearly imagined was a rare moment in history , not to mention a wide enough slit in the Iron curtain for capitalists on the induce to writhe through.

In 1986, Yuri Dubinin, Soviet diplomat to the United Nations, invited Trump to Moscow to discuss building a hotel that could stand as a symbol of themoguls international reaching. Trump sought to erecthis signatureTrump Toweras an unmistakable totem to himself in the once-impenetrable capital of the worlds only other superpower.

And yet , not then, and no since, have we find a gilded monstrosity rising in above the onion domes of Saint Basils Cathedral. Russia, it seems, has proven too elusive for Trump to establish his highly touted name-brand, even though he and his scions have boasted of the steady river of rubles pouring their route.

Russia is one of the most wonderful places in the world for investment, Trump said in a 2007 tribunal deposition( about which more anon ). We will be in Moscow at some point.

A year later, his son Donald, Jr. a recognizable surrogate on his fathers campaign trail told a real estate meeting the Russian market had natural strength, especially in the high-end sector, and, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We insure a lot of money pouring in from Russia. Which voiced a little odd after he said in the samespeech, As much as we want to take our business over there, Russia is just a different world. It is a question of who knows who, whose brother is paying off who . … It really is a scary place.

But, actually, scary or not, the Trumps just couldnt resist, especially once investor confidence in Russia started rising again, with Russias reserves climbing to a whopping $250 billion by 2006. This was not the work of financial geniuses. The global prices for oil and gasRussias main exports were at all-time highs, enabling Putin to pay indebtedness, mint new crony billionaires, and consolidate hispower as a lot of money was pouring in a lot of different directions.

In the spirit of who knows who, the Trump Organization has tried working through a series of dubious yet well-placed intermediaries, at least one of whom has been connected, in U.S. tribunal, to the Genovese crime family and other mobs.

To date, though, his proudest accomplishment in the East has been hosting the 2013 Miss Universebeauty pageant in Moscow.

Not only did that event afford him the opportunity to be surrounded by gorgeousSlavic women( two out of three of his spouses came from former Soviet satellite states ), it also enabled him tomingle with Moscowsextravagantly wealthyupper class.Or, so he claimed.

Upon returning home, Trump boasted toReal Estate Weeklyabout the beauty contest, Almost all of the oligarchs were in the room.In attendance were rich musicians like pop singer Philipp Kikorov who participated in the event, but his guest of honor, Vladimir Putin, did not show despite Trump rather fawning invitation.Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow, Trump tweeted that year. If so, will he become my new best friend?

Well , no. But Putin may have made amends for his absence by dispatching via a lacquered box a kind note to a well-connected mediator, an oligarch who was already one of Trumps known business associates and cohost of the pageant.


Aras Agalarovis an Azeri-born entrepreneur whose parent was listed byForbesas one of the 100 wealthiest Russians, with a net worth estimated at $1.33 billion by Forbes. His own son, Emin, a popular singer and dancer, is married to the daughter of Ilham Aliyev, thepresident of Azerbaijan.

It was through Agalarov that Trump advanced what likely was his main goal, utilizing Miss Universe as a route to gain entry to Moscows politically keyed-in sector of developers and industrialists.

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