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Grenada ambassador’s Russian hacker threatens Caribbean News Now

By Youri Kemp From Caribbean News Now

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — On January 31, 2018, Caribbean News Now published an article entitled “Is Grenada’s iconic nutmeg production now in Russian hands?” regarding the activities of Oleg Pavlovich Firer, and his company Star Capital.

Star Capital has its headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and also has offices in Moscow.

Firer is also associated with My Caribbean trade centre, which is said to have been established to promote bilateral trade between the Caribbean, Russian and Eurasian markets, and also has offices in Moscow.

Firer himself was born in Odessa in 1977 and moved to Brooklyn, New York, from the then Soviet Union at the age of 12, where he established a payment-processing company, Unified Payments LLC.

He is believed to have acquired Grenadian economic citizenship before being appointed the country’s ambassador to the Russian Federation, and must therefore be assumed to speak for the government of Grenada on relevant issues.

On April 12, 2018, a Russian going by the name Alexander Nagiyev, claiming to be a freelance computer programmer, contacted Caribbean News Now through our Facebook page as someone representing “the interests of Oleg Pavlovich Firer”, asking us to remove the above referenced article, which he claimed “defames my client’s reputation”.

We invited Nagiyev several times to identify the specific statements that he claimed defamed his client but merely responded, “All of it.”

We also pointed out, without response, that we are more than willing to correct any mistakes that may have been made, as indeed we did recently in an article about a bond issue by the Grenada government about which we had been misinformed by incorrect information by a financial data reporting service.

In the absence of any cogent reason to do so, we declined to remove or amend the article in question.

Nagiyev then offered us $5,000 to remove the article and, again, we declined to do so.

He then engaged in an email dialog with us along the same lines, culminating in threats against our website as follows:

“…your site is vulnerable and I do not break you and ask you for mutual help if you put yourself above and want to fight so let’s.”

When challenged, notwithstanding his earlier statement, he then claimed not to know Firer, adding that he had the capability to damage our website:

“If I wanted to hack you, believe me, you would not have had time to tell anyone…”

We do not take such threats lightly since we have previously experienced attempted denial of service attacks suspected to be in retaliation to controversial articles.

Furthermore, we believe the threat by Nagiyev on behalf of Firer and/or the government of Grenada to cause damage to a protected computer transmitted in interstate or foreign commerce to be an offence under 18 US Code § 1030, the Texas Cybercrime Act, and the Criminal Code in Canada, where our server is located.

Formal complaints were accordingly filed on Friday with the relevant law enforcement agencies.

Ironically, in a major announcement at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in London on Friday, the 53 leaders agreed to work closely together to evaluate and strengthen their cybersecurity frameworks and response mechanisms.

The declaration is the world’s largest and most geographically diverse inter-governmental commitment on cybersecurity cooperation. It followed an announcement by the UK government to pledge up to £15 million to help Commonwealth countries strengthen their cybersecurity capabilities and “tackle criminal groups and hostile state actors who pose a global threat to security, including in the UK.”

In further irony, Mitchell has responsibility for science and technology (including information and communications) in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) quasi Cabinet.

Olinga Mitchell, a family member of Grenada’s prime minister, is the managing partner of Chimera International, a firm located in the Netherlands, which is said to be involved in the distribution of spices and food products in Europe and lists its major products as nutmeg and cocoa.

Chimera is also listed on Firer’s My Caribbean website as an associated business.

Neither the prime minister’s office nor the foreign ministry in Grenada responded to requests for comment on this matter.

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