On December 26, 2016, Oleg Erovinkin was found dead in a black Lexus automobile, according to the RIA Novosti news agency, which is controlled by the Russian government. An inquest into his death has started. An autopsy did not reveal the cause of his death. By the same token, mystery still envelops US trade and economic ties with Europe and Russia.
 
Erovinkin was suspected of assisting Christopher Steele -- a former British secret agent -- in compiling a file of lurid information that was intended to embarrass Donald Trump before his inauguration. He was also a key associate of Igor Sechin, who heads the government-owned Rosneft oil company. Erovinkin was also a former deputy prime minister. 
 
Made public in December, the file of disinformation claimed that Russia has compromising personal and financial information on Trump, which also alleged that Trump had consorted with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel. After Trump called out the article as “fake news,” no further information has emerged. 
 
After Trump’s January 28 telephonic conversation between Trump and Putin, a White House described the call in a positive tone but did not mention whether Erovinkin’s death. Later on January 28, a White House source told the press that Trump and Putin did not talk about economic sanctions.
 
On ABC’s “This Week,,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said today, "I'm absolutely opposed to lifting sanctions on the Russians." He added,  "If anything, we ought to be looking at increasing them."  White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on the same program that no decision has been reached.
 
In the Russian statement, there was no mention of sanctions, it asserted that Trump and Putin spoke of  "restoring mutually beneficial trade and economic ties between business circles of the two countries." It also said that the pair spoke about various issues, including terrorism, Iran’s nuclearization, and the threat of nuclear war. 
 
The Kremlin also said Putin and Trump spoke in particular about international issues, including the fight against terrorism, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iran's nuclear program, the situation on the Korean peninsula and the Ukraine crisis.


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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