The morning after the Boston Marathon bombings, when Washington, DC-based news crews showed up in a wealthy subdivision in tony Montgomery Village, Maryland to interview Ruslan Z. Tsarni, the uncle of accused marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, questions abounded. How was a guy whose brother, Anzor Tsarnaev -- Tamerlan's and Dzhokhar's father -- and who once worked as a car mechanic in Somerville, Massachusetts, able to afford a house that sells for over $600,000 in today's money?
When news crews descended on Ruslan's neighborhood to interview him, he was at first cagey only admitting that his family had a falling out with that of his brother Anzor and that his two accused nephews were "losers." Ruslan's and Anzor's other brother, Alvi Tsarni, also lives in Maryland. Alvi Tsarni said that he and Ruslan changed their names from Tsarnaev to Tsarni although they gave no reason for the name change. Ruslan Tsarni, like his nephew Dzokhar Tsarnaev, are U.S. citizens. Dzhokhar, ironically, became a U.S. citizen on September 11, 2012.
After his initial hesitancy to provide much in the way of details on his family to the media, Ruslan later gave an interview to NBC's Today show and stated that his nephews were "just puppets and executors of something of bigger scale.”
WMR previously reported on the close association of leading U.S. politicians, including Senator John McCain and the late Senator Edward Kennedy, with Ilyas Akhmadov, the former Chechen "foreign minister" who Russia accuses of having terrorist links. Akhmadov's friends, including the former number one and number two chiefs of the CIA, overcame initial Homeland Security and Justice Department objections to his being granted political asylum in the United States. Currently, Akhmadov and a small number of ethnic Chechens, some veterans of the terrorist guerrilla war against Russia in the Caucasus republic of Russia, now call the Boston area their home. Their chief defender in Boston is former U.S. News and World Report Moscow correspondent Nicholas Daniloff, jailed by the Soviet KGB in 1986 on the charge that he was a CIA agent. Daniloff is now the director of the School, of Journalism at Boston's Northeastern University. In interviews, Daniloff has downplayed the Chechen diaspora's numbers and importance in the Boston area.
In addition to Boston, there is a small Chechen community in the Washington, DC area. Among the DC area Chechens are Ruslan and Alvi Tsarni and their families. A few Chechens living in the Maryland suburbs of Washington and Baltimore have been contracted by the National Security Agency (NSA) to teach the Chechen language to NSA linguists and other ethnic Chechens have coalesced around one another in New York, North Jersey, and Miami. Some ethnic Chechens in the DC area have been hired by the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency to provide translation for documents captured in Afghanistan that have been written in the Chechen language.
The Chechens in America have been either been first generation new arrivals or second and third generation arrivals from third countries after Soviet leader Joseph Stalin deported the Chechens to Siberia for collaborating with the invading Germans during World War II. A number of Chechens fled to Transjordan from where a few emigrated to the United States during the Cold War. The later arrivals came to the United States after the fall of the USSR and the onset of the Chechen war for independence from Russia. The Chechen independence movement gradually became influenced by Saudi-financed Salafists and many Chechen war veterans soon found themselves fighting for radical Islamists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.
Some 50,000 Chechens now live in the Kyrgyzstan/Kazakhstan border region. The Tsaranev brothers were reportedly born in Kyrgyzstan and carried Kyrgyz passports when the family emigrated to the United States beginning in 2002. There is a question as to whether they entered the United States directly from Kyrgyzstan or via the Russian republic of Dagestan, which borders Chechnya. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov stated that the Tsarnaev brothers never lived in Chechnya, adding "the family lived in Kazakhstan for a long time and then emigrated to the United States, where all members got residence permits." Toronto photographer Johannes Him who took promotional boxing photos of Tamerlan in 2010, said Tamerlan told him that he was born in Chechnya and had lived in the United States for five years. At some point in time, Anzor and Zubeidat Tsarnaev, the parents of the accused bombers, moved from Kazakhstan to neighboring Kyrgyzstan, where Tamerlan and Dzhokhar were born, according to other news reports.
The FBI has denied that it uncovered anything suspicious about Tamerlan Tsarnaev after Russian law enforcement inquired about any links he had with Islamist radicals. Tamerlan had requested a Russian visa to visit the Caucasus region in 2011. However, when the business connections of Ruslan Tsarni are examined closely, there is little doubt why the FBI wasn't interested in pursuing an investigation of anyone in the family.
Ruslan Tsarni's expensive house in Montgomery County, Maryland is easily explained by his work with a number of oil companies active in Kazakshtan, a country where a percentage of the oil profits end up in the pockets of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his kleptocratic family. As will be seen later in this report, the FBI has actively protected members of Nazarbayev's family from being prosecuted for crimes, including kidnapping and murder.
Tsarni is Vice President for Business Development for Big Sky Energy Corporation, formerly China Energy Ventures Corporation, which is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. Interestingly, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Big Sky Energy Group is the holding company for Big Sky Corporation. Big Sky Energy Group is headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Subsidiaries of Big Sky Corporation include Big Sky Energy Kazakhstan, Big Sky Energy Atyrau Ltd., and Big Sky Alakol, Ltd.
The Arkansas presence of the firm is not by accident. Former President Bill Clinton is an active lobbyist for U.S. energy companies active in Kazakhstan owing to his close connection with President Nazarbayev. The Tsarnaev family's connections with Big Oil in the United States and Kazakhstan also explains why they were easily granted residency in the United States and why the FBI was not interested in assisting Russia in pursuing Tamerlan Tsarnaev's activities in the United States and abroad. Those activities could have embarrassed certain companies, U.S. intelligence agencies, and politicians, including one whose wife was Secretary of State and continued to bear presidential ambitions.
Tsarni has been associated with a number of companies, some of which have little to no corporate histories. He is listed as having been managing director of Tobe Llp, about which little is known other than that it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Golden Eagle Partners, LLC, for whom Tsarni was the head of Legal Affairs. Little is known about Golden Eagle Partners. The Kazakh flag is emblazoned with a golden eagle.
Tsarni, who is an attorney with a law degree from Duke University, has also been corporate and legal counsel for Nelson Resources, Ltd., a holding company that is headquartered in London. Virtually all of Nelson's business is conducted through joint operations in Kazakhstan. In 2005, Nelson was acquired by the Russian firm LUKOIL.
Tsarni was also a senior associate for the law firm Salans Hertzfeld and Helibronn, now known as Salans LLP, of London. Founded in 1978 by two American lawyers, Carl Salans and Jeffrey Herzfeld, and a French lawyer, Eliane Heilbronn, Salans was the first Western law firm to enter post-Soviet Russia in 1991. Tsarni was also consultant Arthur Andersen. While working for Andersen and Financial Markets International LLC, Tsarni was contracted with the U.S. Agency for International Development to advise countries in transition like Kazakhstan and Ukraine on how to create derivatives markets, the lifeblood of the new "casino capitalism" that has brought ruin to so many nations. FMI has been active on behalf of the USAID in Ukraine, Russia, India, Romania, Nicaragua, West Bank/Gaza.
It appears that Ruslan Tsarni has more connections with Big Oil than with U.S. intelligence agencies, although at times their operations abroad do overlap.
It is not just oil that has attracted U.S. companies to Kazakhstan. On December 19, 2008, WMR reported the involvement of another former resident of the White House in Kazakh political and business circles. In our report on major donors to the Clinton Foundation run by former President Bill Clinton, we wrote:
"Another major donor is Clinton Foundation trustee Frank Giustra, a Canadian billionaire who made a windfall profit in 2006 after landing a huge uranium contract from Kazakhstan's authoritarian President Nursultan Nazarbayev with Bill Clinton's help."
Clinton's involvement in Kazakh business ventures may explain why Big Sky Holdings, for whom Tsarni works, is headquartered in Little Rock, also the home of the Clinton Foundation.
Ruslan Tsarni's work with oil contracts in Kazakhstan coincides with the little-reported scandal known as "Kazakhgate." WMR covered the scandal in detail after we were contacted by principals in the case.