Screenshot: YouTube

Igor Zinoviev’s mixed martial arts career ended unceremoniously in 1998 when he was wiped out in 22 seconds by Frank Shamrock at UFC 16. That brief seven-match career in sanctioned MMA ultimately will not go down as Zinoviev’s claim to fame—the Russian strongman spent years in the employ of recently deceased world-class dirtbag Jeffrey Epstein, serving as driver, bodyguard, and personal trainer, and living in Epstein’s guesthouse in Palm Beach for “five or six years.”

Zinoviev gave an interview to M.L. Nestel for New York magazine this week, and I am here to tell you that it is gripping, tremendous stuff. Nestel apparently first interviewed Zinoviev back in 2015; much of this new interview consists of Nestel revisiting topics of discussion from that earlier one, and Zinoviev clamming up and retracting earlier quotes and generally talking like a guy who is either extremely paranoid, or who has good reason to believe talking about Epstein’s affairs—in particular his reportedly cushy relationship with local police—could be dangerous:

One thing you told me, for instance—okay, one thing you told me is he got a heads up when the authorities were going to come to his house the night before.

Listen, what you say is between you and me—

You told me he would get phone calls the night before and eight o’clock the police are going to come. He would get a heads up from local police.

[Silence.]

You told me that, Igor. Want me to read the quote?

Well, you can read whatever you want right now. Don’t just—you can put yourself in big trouble.

What follows from there is a pretty astonishing sequence of questions, where Nestel tries to pin down the source of Zinoviev’s fear of “big trouble,” and Zinoviev starts talking like a character in a John Le Carré novel.

What’s your email so I can send you —

Don’t do any kind of that stuff. Just don’t play it. Seriously.

Can you tell me why?

I can’t. I can’t.

May I ask you one more question?

Go ahead.

Have you been talking to anyone in the government, the FBI? Have they come to you?

[Long pause] Um. Great talking to you. Seriously. We talk later.

Please do not pass up this opportunity to feed and nurture whichever of the many conspiracy theories surrounding Epstein’s death are taking root in the swirling cosmos of your brain.

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[New York]