The setting is enchanting, but Aleksandr Okulov is not in the mood. He does not see the clumps of palm trees and bougainvillea that surround the terrace of the Four Seasons of Jumeirah Beach, one of the many palaces of Dubai, nor, beyond the greenery, the green waters of the Persian Gulf which bathes the beach and private islands.
Contrary to other customers who enjoy the view and their cocktails, the Moldovan businessman is not in the Emirates by choice, but by necessity: in Chisinau, the capital of his country where he lived until ‘in the spring of 2022, he became persona non grata. On April 20, the US Treasury Department placed him under sanction, officially for having “facilitated the circumvention of the measures taken by the United States and its partners against Russia” following the invasion of Ukraine in February.
A pithy sentence that hides an operation of a completely different nature: before being sanctioned, Okulov was actively approached, and threatened, not by the American intelligence services, but by their French counterparts. In need of sources in Moscow, the tricolor spies wanted to make the Moldovan businessman their “deep throat” in circles close to the Kremlin. A recruitment mission as we see in “the Bureau of legends”.
“There is not much more we can do for you”
When recounting what happened to him, Okulov recalls that the sanctions were a real crushing blow: they were barely enforced.
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Tags: Pressure threats sanctions Moldovan businessman sights French secret services