In mid-November, EU leaders decide whether the European Union will open its doors to Albania. While most EU countries praise the country’s efforts to fight corruption and crime, the government and opposition in Tirana are delivering a dirty PR war that has the makings of an agent crime thriller. In the center: One of the most influential lobbyists in the world, an offshore agency and its Russian owners. A prime example of how global lobbyists work.
Albania is facing historical changes: In mid-November, EU leaders decide whether to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia.
While Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama is hoping on the EU to show its goodwill, he’s met with tremendous opposition in his own country. The Albanian opposition, led by the conservative Democratic Party of Albania (DP), is trying hard to overthrow the Socialist Prime Minister on his way to Brussels. Not only democratic means are used: Dubious Internet campaigns, leaked documents and compromising recordings are shared. Behind it seems to be one of the most influential lobbyists in the world. According to documents from the US Department of Justice, the busy Canadian political strategist Nick Muzin supports Albania’s opposition.
Muzin’s networks extend beyond all borders and into the most diverse political systems. The list of clients associated with him is impressive: he supported the Republicans George W. Bush, Ted Cruz, John McCain and even Donald Trump in the US election campaign. In 2017, he was hired by Qatar. On behalf of the Emir, he was to improve the relations of the Arab country with the Trump administration and the Jewish community in the USA. The mission failed: Because Muzin did not register with the US Department of Justice FARA authority as a consultant to a foreign state, he had to resign his Qatar mandate.
So now the next client is the Albanian opposition, which wants to prevent at all costs the inclusion of Albania in the EU – and Muzin’s services are expensive. According to documents from the US authority FARA Muzin should receive 675,000 euros for his three-month mission. The information comes from Muzin himself.
The amount of the fee and origin of the money now brings the client in distress: Lulzim Basha, chairman of the Democratic Party, had signed the contract with Muzin. A
In June, investigations into opposition leader Basha were launched in Albania. He himself denies having embezzled or not paying taxes, speaks of a smear campaign and accuses the prosecutors of being corrupt.