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Cisco Russia Deals Should Be Investigated, Senator Says

After a BuzzFeed News report, calls for a probe into allegations that Cisco changed records in Russia when sanctions were imposed.

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Following a BuzzFeed News investigation into allegations that Moscow employees of IT giant Cisco Systems Inc. altered sales records and booked deals under a false customer name after the West imposed sanctions on Russia, Sen. John McCain said Thursday that the issue "deserves further investigation."

As BuzzFeed News reported Wednesday, a confidential source with deep knowledge of the company's Russia operations said the intent of changes to records was to dodge sanctions. Those sanctions were imposed after Russia's annexation of Crimea and its support of rebels in eastern Ukraine.

In at least one case, the source said, Cisco employees succeeded in actually providing equipment — including sophisticated internet switches — to the feared FSB, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB.

Cisco has strongly denied the allegations. Cisco officials acknowledged that the buyer name on some accounts was incorrect but said those were innocent and harmless errors. When records were changed, they said, the intent was only to be more accurate, not to conceal the real buyer.

On Thursday, Cisco, one of America's most prestigious and innovative companies, said it would have no additional comment. "We remain confident that we are in full compliance with the appropriate EU and US sanctions," a spokesman said in a written statement.

But McCain, an Arizona Republican who chairs the Senate's Armed Services Committee, said the findings were "disturbing." McCain, has been an outspoken advocate for more aggressive U.S. action in containing Russia.


Great report on Cisco's sanction-breaking & deals with the KGB in Russia. This is engagement in action.

Garry Kasparov, the former Soviet-era world chess champion who has for the last decade been an outspoken opponent of Putin, was one of the first to react to the story on Twitter.

In an interview, Kasparov, who fled Russia in 2013 because, he said, he feared arrest, called the BuzzFeed News investigation on possible sanction violations "a damning story" but "unfortunately not a surprising one." He went on to characterize the possible skirting of sanctions "a new twist on the endemic corruption that has become the leading export of Putin's Russia."

Read Kasparov’s statement in full:

Bill Browder, the CEO of Hermitage Capital and another frequent critic of President Putin, tweeted that the story was "shocking" and that "if true, the U.S. gov't should throw the book at these guys."

Browder was deported from the country in 2005, his assets seized. His lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was arrested and placed in pretrial detention for nearly a year. Magnitsky later died of medical complications in prison allegedly due to a lack of medical attention.

Browder’s full tweet:

Shocking story about Cisco's conduct in Russia. If true, the U.S. gov't should throw the book at these guys.

Aram Roston contributed to this report.

Talal Ansari is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. His secure PGP fingerprint is 4FEE 894C 8088 7E08 E170 A515 2801 7CC6 95D3 11C2

Contact Talal Ansari at

Max Seddon is a correspondent for BuzzFeed World based in Berlin. He has reported from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and across the ex-Soviet Union and Europe. His secure PGP fingerprint is 6642 80FB 4059 E3F7 BEBE 94A5 242A E424 92E0 7B71

Contact Max Seddon at

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