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How a Ukrainian immigrant followed Woody Allen's son on orders from Harvey Weinstein

The American story of Igor Ostrovsky, an emigrant from Ukraine, is worthy of a spy novel. Igor came to the United States as a minor, was educated in America and began working as a private detective in New York. As a result, he became involved in the history of surveillance of an American reporter on the orders of film producer Harvey Weinstein, exposed the dubious activities of an Israeli organization in the United States, and now he is going to help journalists who are victims of persecution and threats.

Photo: Shutterstock

Espionage or snooping?

At the beginning of his detective career, Igor basically worked “undercover”, introducing himself into various organizations where it was necessary to identify illegal activities. In 2011, he met a detective business colleague, Roman Khaikin.

“It was from him that I learned other methods of collecting information, in particular, surveillance. I worked officially in another company, but sometimes I worked part time with Roman. It was always always very pleasant and interesting to deal with him. He is very positive, generous, he has an amazing sense of humor, ”Igor recalls.

One fine day, Roman shared with a friend that he began working for some company about which he had practically not informed Igor, only dropping that he was “working for Israel”.

“It sounded like he was working for foreign intelligence. However, I did not want to suspect anything bad and decided to try to help him. It soon became clear that we were working for some very secret client. They told me little about him, and Roma clearly believed in what the customer had told him about himself. When I was assigned to monitor meetings of the “objects” of our observation, the client did not want me to sit too close and hear the content of their conversations. I suspected that this could be connected with working for a foreign country (which is illegal in the USA without proper registration), and decided to figure out what exactly is happening, ”he explained.

Soon, Roman told his partner that they had to follow the journalist. The target was a well-known investigative journalist, the son of director Woody Allen, the author of The New Yorker magazine Ronan Farrow. Detectives tracked all the movements and meetings of the "object", followed the geolocation of his cell phone, calculated the route.

“Then the second task appeared, again, to follow the journalists. It was important for us to find out with whom they will communicate, who their sources are. Then I began to search for articles by these journalists on the Internet. In one of them, Ronan Farrow directly wrote that he suspected the Israeli company Black Cube of suspecting him. This is a private company, but the former employees of the Mossad also work in it. Then I realized who our customers are. When I directly asked Roman about this, he confirmed everything to me, ”Igor says.

225 West 60th Street is one of the places where detectives waited for Farrow. Photo from the personal archive of Igor Ostrovsky

Contact with the victim

The man who hired the Black Cube to spy on journalists was the scandalous Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. It was the investigation of the sexual harassment that the film producer was accused of, and was handled by Farrow and other journalists who were tracked.

“I realized that we were hired to stifle his investigation (against Weinstein). At that moment I felt that this work can be not only immoral, but also illegal. Freedom of the press in the United States is guaranteed by the Constitution. In this case, in fact, the foreign company was trying to impede the free activity of American journalists, which could be regarded as a direct attack on the legal norms of the United States, ”Igor explained.

The detective decided to warn about what is happening American law enforcement. However, his attempts to contact the FBI were unsuccessful. After 40 minutes of waiting, one of the employees of the New York office nevertheless agreed to talk with him, but at the end of the conversation he said that he did not see the corpus delicti in what was happening.

“I began to ask friends for advice, I was looking for a lawyer, but I did not have money to pay for his services. Realizing that my story was not important to anyone, I decided to at least contact the journalist himself and confirm his suspicions that he was really being watched. I did not believe that we had the right to do this, and this was the smallest thing I could do in this situation. I was grateful that America gave me, and I didn’t like that someone was attacking the legal right of the inhabitants of my country, ”Igor Ostrovsky explained.

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He contacted Ronan Farrow - first from an anonymous phone number, and then in person. The meeting with the journalist resembled a spy film - the conspirators met secretly, fearing surveillance, and then left the meeting place one by one.

“I honestly admitted to Ronan that I was following him. It was very easy to talk with him. He reacted to my confession surprisingly calmly. After this meeting, I began to regularly help Ronan, passing him information about what the organization planned to do in relation to him, ”the detective admitted.

Threat of failure

Igor Ostrovsky’s successful work as a “double agent” was interrupted unexpectedly: once clients asked him to conduct an observation in a restaurant during a meeting of an employee of the Black Cube “undercover” with John Scott-Railton, a researcher from the security group Citizen Lab, against whom Black also worked cube. "

However, John was cautious and invited his friend, Associated Press reporter Rafael Sutter, to a meeting. It was Sutter who helped Scott-Railton to expose the spy from the Israeli company - without any connection with Igor Ostrovsky. However, the problem was that the Black Cube began to search for a possible leak, and began to demand all employees who knew about the operation with John Scott-Railton to go through a polygraph.

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“I had nothing to do with this case, but I still couldn’t agree to the polygraph, because then my relations with Ronan Farrow and the fact that I would pass on information to him on other matters could be revealed. By the way, Rafael Sutter himself told this story to Ronan. As it turned out, the failure of the Black Cube was due to the fact that they used the same roles and "legends" with different people. However, their victims were familiar with each other and warned each other, therefore the working methods of this company were known to some of their “objects” in advance, ”Igor shared the secret.

The Peninsula Hotel is the hotel where John Scott-Railton met with the Black Cube agent. Photo from the personal archive of Igor Ostrovsky

As a result, Ostrovsky refused to go through the polygraph and broke off relations with the Black Cube - fortunately, he did not have an official contract with the company, and all interaction with them was carried out through the company of Roman Khaikin. Ronan Farrow helped a former adversary find a free lawyer at Whistleblower Aid, a special agency that helps government informants.

“We went to the prosecutor, he listened to my story and did not bother me anymore. I do not know how this case ended, but the “Black Cube”, fortunately, did not touch me either and so far did not try to take revenge. When my son was born, Roma Khaikin sent me congratulations, but we did not communicate anymore. When Harvey Weinstein’s case was tried in court, they didn’t call me there, ”the detective said.

Igor assures: despite the fact that at the beginning his story was not taken seriously by the authorities, and he could not find adequate help, he was not disappointed in America.

“Perhaps my information at first did not seem interesting. But I have no offense for this, ”he emphasizes.

For those who are in trouble in the United States and fears that they have been involved in illegal activities, Igor Ostrovsky advises seeking help depending on the situation. Sometimes an appeal to the press can be effective, sometimes if it is a matter of solving someone’s crimes or suspecting that you have been dragged into illegal activities, you can contact the already mentioned Whistleblower Aid company - especially when it comes to corruption in state bodies.

The hero of the article refused to publish his photo, because he often works "undercover" and would not like his face to appear in the press.

scandal Our people immigrant Harvey Weinstein detective

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