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World March 28, 2008
Yair Klein: Russia's "Other" Viktor Bout
Weapons, Cocaine, Israelis And Oligarchs By Yasha Levine Browse author Email
Page 3 of 4

CIA or not, the reality is that Israel and colombia have their own growing trade ties that could justify a decision to leave Klein out to dry. Just a week before Klein’s appeal, Israel's Prime Minister Shimon Peres hosted Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos at his residence in Jerusalem. Referring to the 1950s, when colombia shipped weapons to Israel in defiance of an international embargo, Peres said: "In recent years the situation has come full circle, and Israel is able to repay colombia in kind."

Repay indeed. In early March, Israel supplied Bogota with drone aircraft, arms, ammunition and electronic equipment for use in combating the country's drug lords (and guerrillas). Israel also has plans to refurbish colombia's aging air force. Neither side wants Klein running around smearing colombia and gloating about his own invincibility. It's not hard to see how his extradition is a win-win situation for everyone except him: Israel can develop its newly profitable relationship with colombia, and colombia gets a wanted criminal. Even Russia looks good, coming off as a law-abiding country that plays by the rule of law, a responsible member of the international community.

The 64-year-old Klein, meanwhile, will be stuck in some foul shit-hole, getting some very late-in-life Spanish lessons as he struggles to survive until release.

* * *

Whoever was putting the screws to his client, Tzivin’s job was to find a way around it and beat the extradition. To do so, Tzivin planned to dust off some old personal favors owed to him in Russia. He also had what he thought might be a secret weapon.

I didn’t think I could be shocked by much after hearing all the details of Klein's case, but I was wrong. Midway through our meal at the kosher restaurant, we were joined by a tall orthodox Jew sporting a long raggedy beard and dressed in a top hat and black trench coat who had just flown to Moscow from Tel Aviv. He was introduced to me as Avigdor Eskin—one of the most notorious fringe-characters is Israel, famous for having staged a ceremonial death-curse against the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin just a month before he was assassinated. Eskin was jailed for four months after the assassination for incitement to terrorism and blamed by many for the murder.

In the half-hour since I was introduced to the world of Yair Klein, things just kept getting weirder.

* * *


Eskin, the man who put a
death curse on Yitzhak Rabin

Born in Moscow in 1960, Avigdor Eskin escaped to Israel as a teenager and drifted toward Arab-bashing extremists like Meir Kahane. After a string of brushes with the law as a young man, Eskin emerged as a prominent far-right wacko in his own right. In 1995, enraged by Yitzkak Rabin's signing of the Oslo Accords with Yassir Arafat, Eskin made a public show of laying a kabalistic curse on the Prime Minister. He led a ceremony in front of the prime minister’s house, and intoned a curse: "Angels of destruction will hit him. He is damned wherever he goes. His soul will instantly leave his body ... A disaster he has never experienced will beget him and all curses known in the Torah will apply to him. I deliver to you, the angels of wrath and ire, Yitzhak, the son of Rosa Rabin, that you may smother him. Put to death the cursed Yitzhak. May he be damned, damned, damned!"

According to Kabala tradition, the curse supposedly became active 30 days after the incantation. True to the curse’s power, Rabin was shot exactly 32 days later by Yigal Amir, an extremist settler steeped in the ideology of people like Eskin.

In 2007, Eskin was arrested in Israel for wiretapping the offices of Israel’s most powerful ultranationalist extremist, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister. The reason for wiretapping Lieberman was to get information on his powerful associate, the one-time Russian metals oligarch Michael Chernoy, who had to flee Russia for Israel, where he lost his vast metals holdings to RusAl oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Israeli police found evidence that Deripaksa had hired Eskin to spy on his old associate so that he could smear him with damning kompromat, or "compromising material."

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Yasha Levine is an editor at The eXile. You can contact him at

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