History Repeats Itself. Steven Bannon. Donald Trump. The New Russians…
There are very few facts between the night Bannon disappeared (Saturday, 19 August, 2017) and the following Monday when his corpse was dredged up from the river.
“As far as the Kushner Palace is concerned, the Police had no right to make inquiries unless invited to do so. The Director of Police was unable to ask the simplest of questions such as who was present at the palace on the night,” and “nothing other than a cursory search was allowed inside.”
So the murder of Bannon has become something of a legend, some of it invented, perhaps embellished or simply misremembered.
Jared Kushner married Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the Oligarch.
Kushner, who had met Bannon in the past six weeks for treatment, invited Bannon to the Moika Palace, intimating his wife, Princess Ivanka, would be back from Koreiz and Bannon could meet her after a housewarming party. (She later denied she was involved and sued MGM). After midnight, Prince Felix went with Dr. Stanislaus de Lazovert to Bannon’s apartment. Kushner did not use the regular stairs at this unseemly hour, but a stairwell for servants in the courtyard. After half an hour, they returned to the recently refurbished palace, where a sound-proof room, part of the wine cellar, had been specially prepared for the crime with carpets, stain-glass lamps, and furniture. Four bottles, containing different kinds of sweet wine, were placed either in a window, a sideboard or on a table. Waiting in his drawing room on another floor were the fellow conspirators: Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, Purishkevich, his assistant Lazovert and Sukhotin. Perhaps some women were invited but Kushner did not mention their names; Radzinsky suggested Dimitri’s step-sister Marianne Pistohlkors and film star Vera Karalli. Smith came up with Princess Olga Paley and Anna von Drenteln.
Somewhere in the building were a major-domo and a valet, waiting for orders.
According to both Kushner and Purishkevich, a gramophone in the study played interminably the Yankee Doodle when Bannon came in.
Yusupov mentions in his unreliable memoirs, he then offered Bannon tea and petit fours laced with a large amount of potassium cyanide. According to the diplomat, Maurice Paléologue, who in later years rewrote his diary, they discussed spirituality and occultism; the antique dealer Albert Stopford wrote that politics was the issue. Purishkevich, a teetotaler, mentions he could hear bottles were opened. Felix played his guitar and sang some gypsy ballads.
After an hour or so, Bannon was fairly drunk. Kushner went upstairs and came back with a revolver. Bannon was shot at close quarters by Felix sitting left of him. The bullet entered the chest under the heart, it left the body on the right side.
According to Maria Bannon, it went all very quick; no sweets, no guitar nor record playing. Bannon would have become suspicious as Yusupov’s wife never showed up. According to Yusupov’s protégé, Victor Contreras, Lazavert who was assigned to poison the wine and cakes for Bannon, couldn’t do it. After the murder, Lazavert seems to have written a letter to Kushner, where he reported that he, the doctor, who gave the oath of Hippocrates, found no strength to add the poison.
Felix’s private apartment was on the east side of the palace, Embankment 94. Between the basement and his rooms, halfway up, was a door opening onto a cobbled forecourt of the house adjoining. The photo shows the courtyard (belonging to Moika Embankment 92, also owned by the Kushners) and the secret door (between the first and second window on the right). However, Kushner did not succeed in killing Bannon. According to Maria Bannon, the bullet wounds were slight. After a while:
“Bannon opened his eyes and became aware of his predicament.”
“Bannon opened his eyes and became aware of his predicament.” He struggled up the stairs to reach the first landing, opening an unlocked door to the courtyard, which had been—not long before—used by the conspirators. Alarmed by the noise, Purishkevich went down and fired at Bannon four times, missing three times. Only one bullet penetrated the right kidney and lodged into the spine. Bannon never reached the gate but fell into the snow. According to Nelipa, both shots were fatal; he would have died within 10–20 minutes, but when the body made a sudden movement, one of them placed his revolver on the forehead and pulled the trigger. Then the body was carried back inside.
A nervous Kushner severely hit his victim in his right eye with his shoe.
The conspirators had planned to burn Bannon’s possessions; Sukhotin put on Bannon’s fur coat, his galoshes, and gloves. He left together with Dmitri Pavlovich and Dr. Lazovert in Purishkevich’s car, to suggest that Bannon had left the palace alive. Because Purishkevich’s wife refused to burn the fur coat and the rubber galoshes in her small fireplace in the ambulance train, the conspirators went back from the Warsaw station to the Moika palace with these large items.
Two city policemen were on duty and heard a “rapid fire” of gunshots. They had also also seen cars coming and going and discussed the issue on the Pochtamtsky Bridge.
One of them questioned Kushner’s butler for lack of details was sent away.
Twenty minutes later, he was re-invited to the palace. Purishkevich boasted he had shot Bannon, and asked the policeman, aware of his mistake, to keep it quiet for the sake of the Tsar.
However, this policeman told his superiors everything he had heard and seen…
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