By publishing the US government’s investigation into the transactions of the Russian embassy, the BuzzFeed portal has violated the confidentiality of banking information, and disclosed personal information. This “infringement” is “the handiwork of official Washington”, says the Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement, published on its website.
BuzzFeed published that the US government is investigating the transactions of the Russian embassy as part of the case concerning Russia’s supposed interference in US elections. Citing an official familiar with the case materials, the portal reported that former Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak allegedly received $120,000 ten days after the election of the US president, and five days after Donald Trump’s inauguration, “someone tried to withdraw $150,000 in cash from the embassy’s account”. In addition, BuzzFeed wrote that Russian diplomats had cashed roughly 30 checks to the value of $370,000, which made it impossible to track the direction of money flow. The banks gave information about these transactions to the US authorities since they were considered suspicious, because the transfers did not correspond to their previous experience of payments. $370,000 was transferred on the day of the referendum in Crimea in 2014.
The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that BuzzFeed is an “information instrument of US intelligence”, and that the publication discloses “a new portion of confidential information on the transactions of Russian diplomatic institutions in the Us, and a number of our embassy’s current and former staff”. “Obviously, such a thing could not have taken place without the consent of the country’s authorities,” the department believes.
“To put it differently, the infringement of the inviolability of the accounts of the Russian embassy and its staff, who possess diplomatic immunity, is the handiwork of official Washington,” the statement reads.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also claims that BuzzFeed staff “admitted that while trying to ask for commentary from our diplomats, they used contact information from their bank accounts”. The department did not specify in what form this was admitted.
BuzzFeed’s publication is referred to as “a real crime” and “a violation of the confidentiality of banking information, disclosure of personal information”. The Foreign Ministry claims that all monetary payments were “normal salary payments, diplomats transferring earned money home at the end of business trips, and payments to construction companies for renovations”.