On 25 April, the True Time project and journalists from Radio Liberty circulated a report about a conversation between Russian billionaire Roman Trotsenko and an unidentified male, who the journalists have tentatively identified as another businessman, Nikolay Matushevsky. In it the men complain, among other things about the mess the Kremlin has made.
In the conversation, which took place in early January, the two men who, address each other as Kolya and Roma respectively discuss holidaying in Bali and Kolya talks in detail about a new Bali-based business project he is working on.
Radio Liberty contacted both individuals for comment. Trotsenko confirmed he knows Matushevsky, but had not spoken with him for more than 18 months. Matushevsky asked for the link to the recording and, after listening to it, merely said that "this conversation did not take place.” He added "I think it's a fake or someone's silly joke using AI [artificial intelligence]."
Is the conversation genuine?
Confirming the authenticity of the recording is impossible, without a full audio examination, but a number of factors indicate that it is:
· Matushevsky claimed to be in Bali, and his Instagram shows that he was there at the time;
· the number from which Roman Trotsenko allegedly called from was checked and found to be genuine;
· personal details shared in the conversation are consistent with publicly available information relating to the two men, to their businesses and their families.
· during the conversation, Trotsenko refers to himself as Roman Viktorovich and mentions that he will be 62 in ten years - this is true.
What did they say?
(Trotsenko) - You should not remember what happened in Russia, it won't happen again, you should try to find something to make you happy in new places. It's an incredibly cool place [Indonesia] and it will grow. In ten years, everything there will grow tenfold. In Russia, everything will fall twice. Because Russia is in the clutches of a bunch of a**holes.
(Matushevsky) -Yes, yes. They profess some strange nineteenth-century arrangements. It can't end well. It will end in hell. People will be killing each other in the streets. They’ll stab each other on the streets of Moscow. It is now just a question of when it will happen. It could be five years or seven years, but it is a one-way street.
(Trotsenko) - The country has been stolen from us. We need to do something good in other countries.
(Matushevsky) - I've been watching a selection of presidents’ New Year's Eve speeches, including the last one where that moron [Putin] is not standing in front of the Christmas tree like normal but stands with the military [in the background]." About ten minutes in, he actually says "It's been a bad year, but we'll beat them all."
(Matushevsky) - And it's been pouring into our ears for twenty years. Looking at it, you have to ask - do you think this man [Putin] can run the country? Who says the same thing every year? "It was a hard year and we’ve had to endure it." After 2014, it's all "we will win" and "all the enemies" - this is his [Putin’s] world.
(Trotsenko) - How can a country live and develop when the only ideology is making money? Where the main objective is to keep one group of people in power. And there is no concept beyond that. They will die at some point and leave nothing behind. It will be a scorched desert. People won’t be able to withdraw their money, won’t be able to leave and their children will be called to the war.
(Matushevsky) - It feels like 2023 is the last year you can leave. Get new citizenship, hire the best lawyers, and that will be your best investment.
Roman Trotsenko is ranked by Forbes as the 38th richest man Russia. Chairman of the Board of Directors of Aeon Corporation. In 2020 Forbes estimated his personal fortune to be $ 1.3bn. He owns regional airports and commercial real estate. Trotsenko stopped attending meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the start of the full-scale invasion. However, despite his apparent distancing, Putin awarded him the Order of Friendship in February 2023.
Nikolai Matushevsky, a close friend of Trotsenko, was founder of the Moscow design factory Flakon. and other innovative developments. He has publicly sympathized with the opposition, posting videos of the 2021 Moscow protests on Instagram, for example.
Parallels are already being drawn between this and the earlier recording of a conversation between Iosif Prigozhin, a music producer, and the oligarch and billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov which KyivPost reported on at the end of March.
In that audio recording the speakers, criticized Russia’s leadership, in particular that of President Vladimir Putin. Both denied the legitimacy of the recording, saying it was a "symbiosis" of spoken phrases and those that were computer-generated and "never uttered."
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