Ada Zee is the pseudonym of a successful nonfiction writer and entrepreneur. Her small business continues to thrive, and indeed her real name has become a well-known brand. The decision to adopt the cloak of anonymity was as much prompted by her present business success as by the implacability of her ex-business partner.
*Read backwards it is eez ada (pronounced eez Odda, accent on the 'a'), which means “from hell” in Russian.
ADA ZEE’S BIOGRAPHY
Lyuba Pozhalsta, aka Anna Petrovna, aka Ada Zee: b. 07/07/1977 in Tiksi, Siberia. Educated in Moscow. Degrees in math and economics. Linguistically gifted, she is fluent in Russian, English and French. She became interested in journalism as she witnessed the upheavals in ordinary people’s lives caused by Russia’s economic “reform” in the 1990s. Privatization programs created the rise of the Russian oligarchs, in which the richest 1% came to own 30% of the entire Russian population’s personal assets, a massive disparity in wealth.
In 2007 her gift for languages as well as various articles in Novaya Gazeta about the “new Russia” and its ties to dark money (her senior thesis was on international finance’s contribution to the creation of the Russian nouveau riche: “The Rise of the New Ruling Class: Historical Financial Mechanisms Governing the Fall of Monarchies and the Rise of Oligarchies”) earned her a spot as a reporter on the British newspaper, The Guardian. While there she worked with colleagues who were pursuing stories involving Russian efforts to cultivate foreigners, in particular those who prioritized making money over obeying the rules, or who had mob ties, or both. This overriding interest in making money by any means necessary went all the way to the top, and inevitably required the cleaning of ill-gotten gains, i.e., money-laundering. Reporter’s instinct made Ada Zee begin following the career of one such foreigner, a real estate developer, who was referred to by the nickname “Oranzhevii durak” (orange idiot) around the office.*
Then in 2009 a fellow reporter named Magnitsky was killed in prison after uncovering the giant tax fraud involving Prevezon, a holding company with ties to Russian elites. He was also investigating Hermitage capital. After his death Ada Zee went undercover to continue the investigation.
There was plenty to uncover. Money from Deutsche Bank New York was flowing into New York real estate at the same time that Deutsche Bank in Moscow was at the center of a massive money laundering operation. Ada got close enough to the evil genius heading the operation, rogue American trader Tim Wiswell, to learn which Kremlin connections benefitted from his fictitious trades, allowing them to take rubles from Russia and convert them into dollars in the U.S.
The web became quite entangled as she not only tracked money going from Russia to the U.S. via Deutsche Bank, but also via holding companies like Prevezon (the holding company investigated by Magnitsky that was later accused of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars through NYC real estate**).
By 2013 her investigations led her straight to the evil, beating heart of a money-laundering/political manipulation/power grab scheme that convinced her that her days in Moscow were numbered. Too many reporters were dying. Attempts were made to poison her. She was shot at as she was being driven to Sheremetyevo airport. Her memories of what transpired next are understandably fuzzy. All she remembers is waking up in a hospital in Paris.
While recovering, she began work on the fictional memoir, Millionaire Valley: Doing Business with Sociopaths and Surviving, which describes the rise of a small town sociopath in the U.S. It is a magnifying glass on something much bigger, much darker, much more corrupt and far more frightening than most people, at least those unfamiliar with the sociopathic phenomenon, could ever imagine.
Meanwhile Russian reporters continue to die, mysteriously, in large numbers while Anna Petrovna, reborn as Ada Zee, intrepid girl reporter only recently returned from hell, continues her investigations into the rich and famous. She invites the 99.9% to join her.
* The bureau chief’s book, Collusion, published in 2017, describes how Russians began cultivating this pompous real estate mogul as early as 1987.
**Interestingly, several months after the real estate “businessmyenki” takes office in 2017, the case the U.S. attorney had been preparing against Prevezon is abruptly dropped.)
FAQS FROM HER READERSHIP
Is Ada Zee Russian?
Does she come from hell?
Is she going back soon?
Is she going back to either place from whence she came anytime soon?
Not until she’s finished her work here.
What is her work?
Does it involve top secret dossiers?
Does it involve sex, pee, and videotapes?
These days, what doesn’t?
Has she written other books?
Yes, under her own name.
Is this book different from her other books?
Yes, this book is departure from her other books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The real writer, let’s call her Lamblet, has published two works of nonfiction in her field of expertise. You may have read them. In this book, Lamblet hides behind her pseudonymous counterpart Ada Zee (Ada Zee= “from hell” in Russian, read backwards) in order to protect her business (and her person) from harm. Ada’s years of undercover investigative work on the Moscow beat have better equipped her to shrug off the threats, lawsuits and even attempted assassinations she knows to be inevitable features of the exposé landscape.
While Lamblet-the-victim cowers behind the Ada persona, Ada-the-reporter is also in hiding; from her vantage point behind Lamblet’s tale she offers glimpses into a much vaster world of double-dealing, betrayal and death. This true saga of a small town sociopath acts like a magnifying glass on a phenomenon much bigger, much darker, much more corrupt and far more frightening than most people, at least those unfamiliar with sociopathic behavior, could ever imagine. We watch in helpless horror as they live out their motto: “Snack locally, devour globally.”
Exposure is one way to fight back. If Lamblet’s advice warns even one small business owner away from the local wolf, that’s a start. But perhaps we can heed the larger message—in telling Lamblet’s story, Ada Zee presents us with a living metaphor for the global problem of rampant theft and unbridled corruption threatening to rob us, not just of our livelihoods, but of our future.