Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

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FTR #982 Manafort and the Snipers: The Azov Battalion and the “Russia-Gate” Psy-Op

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Hel­mets of the Ukrain­ian Azov bat­tal­ion

Intro­duc­tion: Con­tin­u­ing and deep­en­ing analy­sis of the pro­found Ukrain­ian fas­cist con­nec­tion to the “Rus­sia-Gate” dis­in­for­ma­tion inun­dat­ing the Amer­i­can polit­i­cal and jour­nal­is­tic land­scapes, this pro­gram high­lights cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the sniper shoot­ings  at the Maid­an demon­stra­tions.

CORRECTION: Snipers high­light­ed in the sto­ry, such as Skillt, became mem­bers of the Azov Bat­tal­ion. The unit had not for­mal­ly coa­lesced as of the time of the Maid­an demon­stra­tions.

Those sniper shoot­ings were the key cir­cum­stance gen­er­at­ing inter­na­tion­al out­rage against the Yanukovich regime and pre­cip­i­tat­ing the rise of the OUN/B Ukrainain fas­cist suc­ces­sor orga­ni­za­tions. Record­ed the day after for­mer Yanukovuch advis­er and Trump cam­paign man­ag­er Paul Man­afort was indict­ed by [VERY] spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor Robert Mueller, this pro­gram sup­ple­ments dis­cus­sion from FTR #981.

Dis­till­ing infor­ma­tion con­cern­ing the sniper attacks, we review the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Man­afort might have played an advi­so­ry role in the sniper shoot­ings, that the shoot­ings might have been a provo­ca­tion and exam­ine the role of the Nazi Azov bat­tal­ion and its pro­po­nents and com­po­nent fig­ures in con­nec­tion with the Maid­an shoot­ings and the “Rus­sia-Gate” pro­pa­gan­da. 

Emblem of the Ukrain­ian Azov Bat­tal­ion

We won­der if recent attacks in Ukraine might be ele­ments of a “san­i­ti­za­tion” oper­a­tion, aimed at elim­i­nat­ing par­tic­i­pants in the Maid­an shoot­ings (provo­ca­tion?), while blam­ing the vio­lence (of course) on Rus­sia.

Major con­sid­er­a­tions in the Azov Battalion/Maidan sniper/Manafort imbroglio include:

  1. Alleged “Russ­ian agent” Paul Manafort–identified in FTR #919 as a prob­a­ble “advance man” for regimes tar­get­ed for destabilization–may well have been the per­son who rec­om­mend­ed to his “client” Yanukovich to fire on the Maid­an demon­stra­tors. It was that gun­fire that sig­nalled the end of Yanukovich’s gov­ern­ment. This rein­forces Mr. Emory’s take on Man­afort. ” . . . . The lawyer’s demands for expla­na­tion spring from the hack­ing ear­li­er this year of the iPhone of Mr Manafort’s daugh­ter, [since con­firmed as gen­uine, at least in part–D.E.] Andrea, with around 300,000 mes­sages pub­lished in the dark web. One of the texts sent to her sis­ter Jes­si­ca said: ‘Don’t fool your­self. That mon­ey we have is blood mon­ey.’ It con­tin­ued ‘You know he has killed peo­ple in Ukraine? Know­ing­ly, as a tac­tic to out­rage the world and get focus on Ukraine. Remem­ber when there were all those deaths tak­ing place. A while back. About a year ago. Revolts and what not. Do you know whose strat­e­gy that was to cause that, to send those peo­ple get them slaugh­tered.’ . . . .”
  2. Rein­forc­ing the hypoth­e­sis that the Maid­an shoot­ings were a provo­ca­tion is the dis­clo­sure by Ukraine’s chief pros­e­cu­tor that the rifles alleged­ly used to fire on the Maid­an demon­stra­tors were recov­ered by an alleged Yanukovich oper­a­tive and leader of the snipers who was one of the demon­stra­tors on the Maid­an! “ . . . Ukraine’s Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko says that the man who helped the so-called “black hun­dred” of police task force Berkut, who had been shoot­ing at pro­test­ers dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion of Dig­ni­ty, flee Kyiv and delib­er­ate­ly drowned their weapons to con­ceal evi­dence, was him­self one of the par­tic­i­pants of the Maid­an protests. ‘With the help of mil­i­tary coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence, we have found weapons of the ‘black hun­dred,’ includ­ing a sniper rifle, which the entire coun­try saw on footage show­ing the shoot­ing at the pro­test­ers from out­side the Octo­ber Palace,” he told the 112 Ukraine TV chan­nel. . . . ‘We found it with a large num­ber of auto­mat­ic rifles on the bot­tom of one of Kiev’s lakes. They were cut and drowned in one batch by a sin­gle group, whose leader is one of the tar­gets of our inves­ti­ga­tion. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this man who, accord­ing to our ver­sion, upon the orders of [for­mer Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Vitaliy] Zakharchenko helped the ‘black hun­dred’ flee Kyiv, destroyed and drowned their weapons, he, him­self, was with us on the Maid­an,’ Lut­senko said. . . . ”
  3. The jour­nal­is­tic view­point on a Ukrain­ian hack­er alleged­ly used by “Russ­ian hack­ers” against the U.S. comes from  Anton Gerashchenko, part of the same milieu as Pravy Sek­tor, Azov, etc. Gerashchenko is, in fact, an apol­o­gist for Azov, as dis­cussed in FTR #‘s 803, 804, 808, 818:  . . . . Secu­ri­ty experts were ini­tial­ly left scratch­ing their heads when the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty on Dec. 29 released tech­ni­cal evi­dence of Russ­ian hack­ing that seemed to point not to Rus­sia, but rather to Ukraine. . . A mem­ber of Ukraine’s Par­lia­ment with close ties to the secu­ri­ty ser­vices, Anton Gerashchenko, said that the inter­ac­tion was online or by phone and that the Ukrain­ian pro­gram­mer had been paid to write cus­tomized mal­ware with­out know­ing its pur­pose, only lat­er learn­ing it was used in Russ­ian hack­ing. . . . It is not clear whether the spe­cif­ic mal­ware the pro­gram­mer cre­at­ed was used to hack the D.N.C. servers. . . .”
  4. Exem­pli­fy­ing the Ukrain­ian fas­cists at the epi­cen­ter of “Rus­sia-Gate” are a group of Ukrain­ian hack­ers, work­ing in tan­dem with fas­cist politi­cians like the afore­men­tioned Anton Gerashchenko. (This is dis­cussed in FTR #981.) The hacker/Ukrainian fas­cist link spawned the “Pro­pOrNot” list of “Russian/Kremlin/Putin” dupes in the U.S. media: This list was com­piled by the Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vice, inte­ri­or min­istry and–ahem–hackers: “. . . . One of the more fright­en­ing poli­cies enact­ed by the cur­rent oli­garch-nation­al­ist regime in Kiev is an online black­list [42] of jour­nal­ists accused of col­lab­o­rat­ing with pro-Russ­ian ‘ter­ror­ists.’ [43]  The web­site, ‘Myrotvorets’ [43] or ‘Peacemaker’—was set up by Ukrain­ian hack­ers work­ing with state intel­li­gence and police, all of which tend to share the same ultra­na­tion­al­ist ide­olo­gies as Paru­biy and the new­ly-appoint­ed neo-Nazi chief of the Nation­al Police. . . . The web­site is designed to fright­en and muz­zle jour­nal­ists from report­ing any­thing but the pro-nation­al­ist par­ty line, and it has the back­ing of gov­ern­ment offi­cials, spies and police—including the SBU (Ukraine’s suc­ces­sor to the KGB), the pow­er­ful Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Avakov and his noto­ri­ous far-right deputy, Anton Geraschenko. Ukraine’s jour­nal­ist black­list web­site—oper­at­ed by Ukrain­ian hack­ers work­ing with state intel­li­gence—led to a rash of death threats against the doxxed jour­nal­ists, whose email address­es, phone num­bers and oth­er pri­vate infor­ma­tion was post­ed anony­mous­ly to the web­site. . . .”
  5. Anton Geraschenko is also a pri­ma­ry asso­ciate and defend­er of the Azov Bat­tal­ion and the Nazi Social Nation­al Assem­bly that helped spawn it and over­laps its oper­a­tions: ” . . . . The Azov Bat­tal­ion was formed and armed by Ukraine’s inte­rior min­istry. A min­is­te­r­ial advis­er, Anton Gerashchenko [who is net­work­ing with Ukrain­ian hack­ers loom­ing large in the “Rus­sia-Gate” investigation–D.E.], got angry when I asked him if the bat­tal­ion had any neo-Nazi links through the Social Nation­al Assem­bly. ‘The Social Nation­al Assem­bly is not a neo-Nazi organ­i­sa­tion,’ he said. ‘It is a par­ty of Ukrain­ian patri­ots who are giv­ing their lives while the rich Euro­peans are only talk­ing about sup­port­ing Ukraine. When, may I ask, will Eng­lish peo­ple come here and help us fight ter­ror­ists sent by Russia’s Pres­i­dent [Vladimir] Putin, instead of lec­tur­ing us on our moral val­ues or people’s polit­i­cal affil­i­a­tions?’ Mr Gerashchenko was adamant, how­ever, that there were no for­eign cit­i­zens fight­ing in the Azov Bat­tal­ion. ‘There are for­eign jour­nal­ists, from Swe­den, Spain and Italy, who have come to report on the hero­ic achieve­ments of the fight­ers in their strug­gle against ter­ror­ism,’ he said. . . .”
  6. Mikael Skillt (whom we dis­cussed in FTR #803), alleges that he spoke to two appar­ent mem­bers of the unit con­tained at two snipers, some of whom were present dur­ing the Maid­an protests and appeared to have fired at Ukrain­ian police units. This rein­forces the view that the vio­lence that led to the ouster of Yanukovych was the out­growth of a provo­ca­tion. Note that the Azov’s num­ber two man–Ihor Mosiychuk–was sen­tenced to prison for a planned bomb­ing in Jan­u­ary 2014. His sup­port­ers demon­strat­ed on his behalf on the Maid­an, help­ing to cre­ate the tur­moil that led to Yanukovich’s over­throwMight this have been part of the same gam­bit as the Maid­an sniper attacks? ” . . . . He [Swedish army sniper Mikael Skillt] admits, how­ev­er, to hav­ing spo­ken to at least two snipers, who, dur­ing the Maid­an protests had shot at police from the Trade Union House in Kiev — at the time, the head­quar­ters of the pro­tes­tors. ‘Their mis­sion was to take out Berkut’s snipers,’ explained Skillt.[7] The dead­ly shots from the Maid­an, which in West­ern pro­pa­gan­da had been used to legit­imize the over­throw of Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, have nev­er been inves­ti­gat­ed by the putsch regime, and Berlin has nev­er applied pres­sure for an inves­ti­ga­tion. . . . [On] Jan­u­ary 10, 2014, Mosiy­chuk and two oth­er fas­cists had been found guilty and sen­tenced to sev­er­al years in prison for a planned August 2011 bomb­ing attack. On the evening of Jan­u­ary 10, ultra-right-wingers staged demon­stra­tions protest­ing the sen­tence. The demon­stra­tions degen­er­at­ed into vio­lent con­fronta­tions with the police. These con­fronta­tions, in turn, were then used by Berlin, Brus­sels and Wash­ing­ton to accuse Yanukovych of exces­sive use of force on the ‘move­ment fight­ing for democ­ra­cy.’ . . .”
  7. The assas­si­na­tion of a Chechyan sniper fight­ing in Ukraine sug­gests the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the Maid­an sniper dynam­ic may be in the process of being san­i­tized, after Mr. Man­afort’s indict­ment, yes­ter­dayAre the assas­si­na­tion of Ukrain­ian sniper Ami­na Okuye­va and the bomb­ing attack on Ihor Mosiy­chuk linked? (Mosiy­chuk was Azov’s sec­ond in com­mand, for whom Okuyeve worked as an advi­sor.) Was a pre­vi­ous alleged attempt on the live of Okuye­va and her hus­band by an assas­sin pre­tend­ing to be a “for­eign jour­nal­ist” linked? Might the “for­eign jour­nal­ist” have been con­nect­ed to the Azov Bat­tal­ion? ” . . . . A Ukrain­ian vet­er­an sniper was killed, and her hus­band, who alleged­ly tried to assas­si­nate Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, was wound­ed in a shoot­ing on Mon­day near Kyiv. . . . Ami­na Okuye­va and Adam Osmayev were rid­ing in a car past a rail­road cross­ing in the vil­lage of Hle­vakha when their vehi­cle came under heavy fire from some­one in the bush­es on the side of the road. . . . Osmayev, who was also shot in the leg, has since blamed Rus­sia for the attack and said that it was con­nect­ed to a car-bomb­ing last week that wound­ed Ukrain­ian law­mak­er Ihor Mosiy­chuk . . . Okuye­va had once worked for Mosiy­chuk as an advis­er, accord­ing to Reuters. . . . This was­n’t the first assas­si­na­tion attempt the cou­ple had faced. On June 1, Osmayev and Okuye­va were in a car with a man, Artur Denisul­tanov-Kur­makayev, mas­querad­ing as a French jour­nal­ist named Alex Wern­er. [Was this one of the “for­eign jour­nal­ists” Anton Gerashchenko claimed were com­ing to Ukraine?–D.E.] At one point, Denisul­tanov-Kur­makayev asked them to pull the car over so that he could give them a gift from his edi­tors. ‘When he opened it I spot­ted a Glock pistol,‘Okuyeva told RFERL after the June attack. ‘He imme­di­ate­ly grabbed it and start­ed shoot­ing at Adam.’ . . . ”

Pro­gram and Writ­ten Descrip­tion High­lights Include:

  1. Review of Ukraine’s lus­tra­tion laws–the three-sided statute tar­get­ed cor­rup­tion, enhanced “anti-Com­mu­nism” and–most importantly–criminalized any crit­i­cal com­men­tary on the OUN/B and UPA’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Third Reich.
  2. The efforts by Ukrain­ian fas­cists of the Pravy Sek­tor milieu to oust Petro Poroshenko by report­ing cor­rup­tion to U.S. author­i­ties.
  3. Review of the Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vice’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with CIA on the Man­afort inves­ti­ga­tion.
  4. The role of OUN/B devo­tee Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko in gov­ern­ing the SBU (the Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vice.)
  5. Review of the oper­a­tional links between the Ukrain­ian UNO-UNSA (the lat­est iter­a­tion of the UPA) and anti-Russ­ian Chechen Islamists.
  6. Review of Jaroslav Stet­sko’s per­son­al secretary–Roman Svarych–as spokesman for the Azov Bat­tal­ion.

1. Alleged “Russ­ian agent” Paul Manafort–identified in FTR #919 as a prob­a­ble “advance man” for regimes tar­get­ed for destabilization–may well have been the per­son who rec­om­mend­ed to his “client” Yanukovich to fire on the Maid­an demon­stra­tors. It was that gun­fire that sig­nalled the end of Yanukovich’s gov­ern­ment. This rein­forces Mr. Emory’s take on Man­afort. ” . . . . The lawyer’s demands for expla­na­tion spring from the hack­ing ear­li­er this year of the iPhone of Mr Manafort’s daugh­ter, [since con­firmed as being gen­uine, at least in part–D.E.] Andrea, with around 300,000 mes­sages pub­lished in the dark web. One of the texts sent to her sis­ter Jes­si­ca said: ‘Don’t fool your­self. That mon­ey we have is blood mon­ey.’ It con­tin­ued ‘You know he has killed peo­ple in Ukraine? Know­ing­ly, as a tac­tic to out­rage the world and get focus on Ukraine. Remem­ber when there were all those deaths tak­ing place. A while back. About a year ago. Revolts and what not. Do you know whose strat­e­gy that was to cause that, to send those peo­ple get them slaugh­tered.’ . . . .”

“As the Rus­sia Inves­ti­ga­tion Con­tin­ues, the Focus Has Inten­si­fied on Ukraine”  by Kim Sen­gup­ta; The Inde­pen­dent; 9/21/2017.

. . . . Ukraine’s Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau, set up under West­ern super­vi­sion, has alleged­ly dis­cov­ered secret accounts, the so-called “black ledger”, sup­pos­ed­ly show­ing that in a peri­od of five years, between 2007 and 2012, when Mr Man­afort received $12.7m from Mr Yanukovych’s Par­ty of Regions. Offi­cials hold that the mon­ey was part of an ille­gal clan­des­tine sys­tem which had been used to pay off a num­ber of fig­ures. Mr Man­afort has insist­ed that he had not received the mon­ey.

Human rights groups in Ukraine also want to ques­tion Mr Man­afort about killings dur­ing the Maid­an protests in Kiev in 2014. Euge­nia Zakrevs­ka, a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing fam­i­lies of vic­tims, is part of a team seek­ing infor­ma­tion on who was com­plic­it in Pres­i­dent Yanukovych’s order­ing secu­ri­ty forces to open fire on demon­stra­tors.

The lawyer’s demands for expla­na­tion spring from the hack­ing ear­li­er this year of the iPhone of Mr Manafort’s daugh­ter, Andrea, with around 300,000 mes­sages pub­lished in the dark web. One of the texts sent to her sis­ter Jes­si­ca said: “Don’t fool your­self. That mon­ey we have is blood mon­ey.” It con­tin­ued “You know he has killed peo­ple in Ukraine? Know­ing­ly, as a tac­tic to out­rage the world and get focus on Ukraine. Remem­ber when there were all those deaths tak­ing place. A while back. About a year ago. Revolts and what not. Do you know whose strat­e­gy that was to cause that, to send those peo­ple get them slaugh­tered.” . . . 

2. It’s worth not­ing that Paul Man­afort has con­firmed that some of the hacked texts are real. As the fol­low­ing arti­cle also notes, Andrea Man­afort was actu­al­ly with her dad in Flori­da dur­ing the sniper attacks. Might he have shared details of his behav­ior visa

“Ukraine Lawyer Seeks Probe of Alleged Hacked Texts of Manafort’s Daugh­ter” by Simon Ostro­vsky; CNN; 03/11/2017

. . . . Man­afort would not con­firm whether the texts were gen­uine, but in a Politi­co sto­ry last month on the texts, he indi­cat­ed that some of them were.

The texts sug­gest that Man­afort and his daugh­ter were togeth­er in Flori­da on the day of the worst vio­lence in Kiev on Feb­ru­ary 20th, when close to 50 peo­ple died. . . . 

3. Rein­forc­ing the hypoth­e­sis that the Maid­an shoot­ings were a provo­ca­tion is the dis­clo­sure by Ukraine’s chief pros­e­cu­tor that the rifles alleged­ly used to fire on the Maid­an demon­stra­tors were recov­ered by an alleged Yanukovich oper­a­tive and leader of the snipers who was one of the demon­stra­tors on the Maid­an! “ . . . Ukraine’s Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko says that the man who helped the so-called “black hun­dred” of police task force Berkut, who had been shoot­ing at pro­test­ers dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion of Dig­ni­ty, flee Kyiv and delib­er­ate­ly drowned their weapons to con­ceal evi­dence, was him­self one of the par­tic­i­pants of the Maid­an protests. ‘With the help of mil­i­tary coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence, we have found weapons of the ‘black hun­dred,’ includ­ing a sniper rifle, which the entire coun­try saw on footage show­ing the shoot­ing at the pro­test­ers from out­side the Octo­ber Palace,” he told the 112 Ukraine TV chan­nel. . . . ‘We found it with a large num­ber of auto­mat­ic rifles on the bot­tom of one of Kiev’s lakes. They were cut and drowned in one batch by a sin­gle group, whose leader is one of the tar­gets of our inves­ti­ga­tion. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this man who, accord­ing to our ver­sion, upon the orders of [for­mer Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Vitaliy] Zakharchenko helped the ‘black hun­dred’ flee Kyiv, destroyed and drowned their weapons, he, him­self, was with us on the Maid­an,’ Lut­senko said. . . . ”

“Pros­e­cu­tors say pub­lic to face unpleas­ant sur­prise in Maid­an killings probe”; Unian.info; 07/24/2016

Ukraine’s Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko says that the man who helped so-called “black hun­dred” of police task force Berkut, who had been shoot­ing at pro­test­ers dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion of Dig­ni­ty, flee Kyiv and delib­er­ate­ly drowned their weapons to con­ceal evi­dence, was him­self one of the par­tic­i­pants of the Maid­an protests.

“With the help of mil­i­tary coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence, we have found weapons of the “black hun­dred,” includ­ing a sniper rifle, which the entire coun­try saw on footage show­ing the shoot­ing at the pro­test­ers from out­side the Octo­ber Palace,” he told the 112 Ukraine TV chan­nel.

“We found it with a large num­ber of auto­mat­ic rifles on the bot­tom of one of Kiev’s lakes. They were cut and drowned in one batch by a sin­gle group, whose leader is one of the tar­gets of our inves­ti­ga­tion. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this man who, accord­ing to our ver­sion, upon the orders of [for­mer Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Vitaliy] Zakharchenko helped the “black hun­dred” flee Kyiv, destroyed and drowned their weapons, he, him­self, was with us on the Maid­an,” Lut­senko said. . . .

. . . . Ear­li­er, Deputy Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al of Ukraine, Chief Mil­i­tary Pros­e­cu­tor Ana­toliy Matios said: “When pub­lic learns who is involved in this, peo­ple will be very sur­prised.” Accord­ing to him, infor­ma­tion to be pub­lished may cause rejec­tion, “but the truth is the truth.” . . . .

4a. Note the Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vices’ appar­ent role in the “inves­ti­ga­tion” into Rus­sia-Gate. Note the CIA’s role in this con­cate­na­tion. (CIA is also deeply con­nect­ed to Felix Sater, Trump’s point man for his deal­ings with Rus­sia. ” . . . . . . . . While still polit­i­cal­ly influ­enced, Ukrain­ian law enforce­ment is no longer a swamp of incom­pe­tence and cor­rup­tion. It has been able to mon­i­tor Mr. Man­afort’s for­mer busi­ness asso­ciates and turn up evi­dence of Russ­ian hack­ing in the 2016 Unit­ed States elec­tion, in part owing to Amer­i­can sup­port. . . . [The “evi­dence” comes from Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty services–D.E.]”

“Schooled in Scan­dal: What Makes Ukraine a Hotbed of Intrigue” by Andrew Hig­gins and Andrew E. Kramer; The New York Times; 10/7/2017.

. . . . While still polit­i­cal­ly influ­enced, Ukrain­ian law enforce­ment is no longer a swamp of incom­pe­tence and cor­rup­tion. It has been able to mon­i­tor Mr. Man­afort’s for­mer busi­ness asso­ciates and turn up evi­dence of Russ­ian hack­ing in the 2016 Unit­ed States elec­tion, in part owing to Amer­i­can sup­port.

The C.I.A. tore out a Russ­ian-pro­vid­ed cell­phone sur­veil­lance sys­tem, and put in Amer­i­can-sup­plied com­put­ers, said Vik­to­ria Gor­buz, a for­mer head of liai­son at the S.B.U.

Ms. Gor­buz’s depart­ment trans­lat­ed tele­phone inter­cepts from the new sys­tem and for­ward­ed them to the Amer­i­cans.

It is unclear whether any phone inter­cepts rel­e­vant to the elec­tion med­dling inves­ti­ga­tion have gone to the Amer­i­can author­i­ties. But a Ukrain­ian law enforce­ment offi­cial has giv­en jour­nal­ists par­tial phone records of for­mer asso­ciates of Mr. Man­afiort. . . .

4b. Next, we review an arti­cle about for­eign neo-Nazis in the ranks of the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary for­ma­tions. The neo-Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion was formed and armed by the inte­rior min­istry. The bat­tal­ion leader–Andrei Bilet­sky is also the leader of the “Social Nation­al Assem­bly.” The num­ber two man in Azov is Ihor Mosiy­chuk, now in Ukraine’s par­lia­ment. Swedish army vet­er­an, sniper and Nazi Mikael Skillt serves with Azov. Note Anton Geraschchenko’s rela­tion­ship with Azov, as well as his state­ment that “for­eign jour­nal­ists” are serv­ing with Azov. ” . . . . Mikael Skillt is a Swedish sniper, with sev­en years’ expe­ri­ence in the Swedish Army and the Swedish Nation­al Guard. He is cur­rently fight­ing with the Azov Bat­tal­ion, a pro-Ukrain­ian vol­un­teer armed group in east­ern Ukraine. . . . The key fig­ures in the Azov Bat­tal­ion are its com­man­der, Andriy Bilet­sky, and his deputy, Ihor Mosiy­chuk. . . . Andriy Bilet­sky is also the leader of a Ukrain­ian organ­i­za­tion called the Social Nation­al Assem­bly. . . . The Azov Bat­tal­ion was formed and armed by Ukraine’s inte­rior min­istry. A min­is­te­r­ial advis­er, Anton Gerashchenko [who is net­work­ing with Ukrain­ian hack­ers loom­ing large in the ‘Rus­sia-Gate’ investigation–D.E.], got angry when I asked him if the bat­tal­ion had any neo-Nazi links through the Social Nation­al Assem­bly. ‘The Social Nation­al Assem­bly is not a neo-Nazi organ­i­za­tion,’ he said. . . . Mr Gerashchenko was adamant, how­ever, that there were no for­eign cit­i­zens fight­ing in the Azov Bat­tal­ion. ‘There are for­eign jour­nal­ists, from Swe­den, Spain and Italy, who have come to report on the hero­ic achieve­ments of the fight­ers in their strug­gle against ter­ror­ism,’ he said. . . .”

“Ukraine Con­flict: ‘White pow­er’ War­rior from Swe­den” by Dina New­man; BBC News; 7/16/2014.

The appear­ance of far-right activists, both for­eign and home-grown, among the Ukrain­ian vol­un­teers fight­ing in east Ukraine is caus­ing unease.

Mikael Skillt is a Swedish sniper, with sev­en years’ expe­ri­ence in the Swedish Army and the Swedish Nation­al Guard. He is cur­rently fight­ing with the Azov Bat­tal­ion, a pro-Ukrain­ian vol­un­teer armed group in east­ern Ukraine. He is known to be dan­ger­ous to the rebels: report­edly there is a boun­ty of near­ly $7,000 (£4,090; 5,150 euros) on his head.

In a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion from an undis­closed loca­tion, Mr Skillt told me more about his duties: “I have at least three pur­poses in the Azov Bat­tal­ion: I am a com­man­der of a small recon­nais­sance unit, I am also a sniper, and some­times I work as a spe­cial coor­di­na­tor for clear­ing hous­es and going into civil­ian areas.” . . . . 

As to his polit­i­cal views, Mr Skillt prefers to call him­self a nation­al­ist, but in fact his views are typ­i­cal of a neo-Nazi.

“It’s all about how you see it,” he says. “I would be an idiot if I said I did not want to see sur­vival of white peo­ple. After World War Two, the vic­tors wrote their his­tory. They decid­ed that it’s always a bad thing to say I am white and I am proud.”

‘One stray lib­er­al’

Mr Skillt believes races should not mix. He says the Jews are not white and should not mix with white peo­ple. . . .

. . . . The key fig­ures in the Azov Bat­tal­ion are its com­man­der, Andriy Bilet­sky, and his deputy, Ihor Mosiy­chuk.

Andriy Bilet­sky is also the leader of a Ukrain­ian organ­i­sa­tion called the Social Nation­al Assem­bly. Its aims are stat­ed in one of their online pub­li­ca­tions:

* “to pre­pare Ukraine for fur­ther expan­sion and to strug­gle for the lib­er­a­tion of the entire White Race from the dom­i­na­tion of the inter­na­tion­al­ist spec­u­la­tive cap­i­tal”

* “to pun­ish severe­ly sex­ual per­ver­sions and any inter­ra­cial con­tacts that lead to the extinc­tion of the white man”

This, accord­ing to experts, is a typ­i­cal neo-Nazi nar­ra­tive.

‘For­eign jour­nal­ists’

The Azov Bat­tal­ion was formed and armed by Ukraine’s inte­rior min­istry. A min­is­te­r­ial advis­er, Anton Gerashchenko [who is net­work­ing with Ukrain­ian hack­ers loom­ing large in the “Rus­sia-Gate” investigation–D.E.], got angry when I asked him if the bat­tal­ion had any neo-Nazi links through the Social Nation­al Assem­bly.

“The Social Nation­al Assem­bly is not a neo-Nazi organ­i­sa­tion,” he said.

“It is a par­ty of Ukrain­ian patri­ots who are giv­ing their lives while the rich Euro­peans are only talk­ing about sup­port­ing Ukraine. When, may I ask, will Eng­lish peo­ple come here and help us fight ter­ror­ists sent by Russia’s Pres­i­dent [Vladimir] Putin, instead of lec­tur­ing us on our moral val­ues or people’s polit­i­cal affil­i­a­tions?”

Mr Gerashchenko was adamant, how­ever, that there were no for­eign cit­i­zens fight­ing in the Azov Bat­tal­ion.

“There are for­eign jour­nal­ists, from Swe­den, Spain and Italy, who have come to report on the hero­ic achieve­ments of the fight­ers in their strug­gle against ter­ror­ism,” he said.

He insist­ed he had nev­er heard of Mikael Skillt, the Swedish sniper. . . .

5. In numer­ous pro­grams, we have high­light­ed the Azov Bat­tal­ion, one of many Nazi/fascist com­bat­ant mili­tias fight­ing as part of the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary. Anoth­er use­ful post from german-foreign-policy.com high­lights the fact that the Azov Bat­tal­ion was formed by Oleh Lyashko, who also heads the Rad­i­cal Par­ty.

Mikael Skillt (whom we dis­cussed in FTR #803), alleges that he spoke to two aparent mem­bers of the unit con­tained at two snipers, some of whom were present dur­ing the Maid­an protests and appeared to have fired at Ukrain­ian police units. This rein­forces the view that the vio­lence that led to the ouster of Yanukovych was the out­growth of a provo­ca­tion.

Note that the Azov’s num­ber two man–Ihor Mosiychuk–was sen­tenced to prison for a planned bomb­ing in Jan­u­ary 2014. His sup­port­ers demon­strat­ed on his behalf on the Maid­an, help­ing to cre­ate the tur­moil that led to Yanukovich’s over­throw.

” . . . . He [Swedish army sniper Mikael Skillt] admits, how­ev­er, to hav­ing spo­ken to at least two snipers, who, dur­ing the Maid­an protests had shot at police from the Trade Union House in Kiev — at the time, the head­quar­ters of the pro­tes­tors. ‘Their mis­sion was to take out Berkut’s snipers,’ explained Skillt.[7] The dead­ly shots from the Maid­an, which in West­ern pro­pa­gan­da had been used to legit­imize the over­throw of Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, have nev­er been inves­ti­gat­ed by the putsch regime, and Berlin has nev­er applied pres­sure for an inves­ti­ga­tion. . . . [On] Jan­u­ary 10, 2014, Mosiy­chuk and two oth­er fas­cists had been found guilty and sen­tenced to sev­er­al years in prison for a planned August 2011 bomb­ing attack. On the evening of Jan­u­ary 10, ultra-right-wingers staged demon­stra­tions protest­ing the sen­tence. The demon­stra­tions degen­er­at­ed into vio­lent con­fronta­tions with the police. These con­fronta­tions, in turn, were then used by Berlin, Brus­sels and Wash­ing­ton to accuse Yanukovych of exces­sive use of force on the ‘move­ment fight­ing for democ­ra­cy.’ . . .”  

“Ukrain­ian Patri­ots”; german-foreign-policy.com; 7/30/2014.

. . . . He [Oleh Lyashko] is also co-founder and sup­port­er of the Azov Bat­tal­ion, a mili­tia of over one hun­dred — main­ly fas­cist — com­bat­ants, includ­ing a Swedish Neo-Nazi sniper. He has report­ed that oth­er snipers had already been in action for the oppo­si­tion dur­ing the Maid­an protests.It has nev­er been revealed, who fired the fatal shots on Feb­ru­ary 20. In this high­ly charged atmos­phere, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment is tak­ing steps that indi­cate a polit­i­cal cul­tur­al devel­op­ment even fur­ther to the right. It is plan­ning to cen­sure films and books from Rus­sia or to restrict their sales. . . .

. . . .  The Swedish neo-Nazi Mikael Skillt is a mem­ber of the Azov Bat­tal­ion. Skillt, a mem­ber of the fas­cist Sven­skar­nas Par­ti (Par­ty of the Swedes), says that he has “at least” three pur­pos­es in the unit: com­man­der of “a small recon­nais­sance unit,” a “sniper” and some­times he works “as a spe­cial coor­di­na­tor for clear­ing hous­es and going into civil­ian areas.” The per­son, who is rumored to have been cap­tured by East Ukrain­ian insur­gents, had been a sniper for six years in the Swedish mil­i­tary. He says, he has only been engaged in the Ukrain­ian con­flict since March. He admits, how­ev­er, to hav­ing spo­ken to at least two snipers, who, dur­ing the Maid­an protests had shot at police from the Trade Union House in Kiev — at the time, the head­quar­ters of the pro­tes­tors. “Their mis­sion was to take out Berkut’s snipers,” explained Skillt.[7] The dead­ly shots from the Maid­an, which in West­ern pro­pa­gan­da had been used to legit­imize the over­throw of Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, have nev­er been inves­ti­gat­ed by the putsch regime, and Berlin has nev­er applied pres­sure for an inves­ti­ga­tion.

Polit­i­cal Pris­on­ers

The Azov Bat­tal­ion has close ties to Oleh Lyashko, whose “Rad­i­cal Par­ty,” would cur­rent­ly be able to poll a fourth of the votes if elec­tions were held. Lyashko is con­sid­ered to be one of the Azov’s founders. For inter­net videos, he allows him­self to be filmed at joint actions with Asov com­bat­ants. The Azov Bat­tal­ion’s sec­ond in com­mand, Ihor Mosiy­chuk, had been elect­ed to Kiev’s Munic­i­pal Coun­cil on the elec­toral list of Lyashko’s Rad­i­cal Par­ty. This was not the first time Lyashko had inter­vened on his behalf. Jan­u­ary 10, 2014, Mosiy­chuk and two oth­er fas­cists had been found guilty and sen­tenced to sev­er­al years in prison for a planned August 2011 bomb­ing attack. On the evening of Jan­u­ary 10, ultra-right-wingers staged demon­stra­tions protest­ing the sen­tence. The demon­stra­tions degen­er­at­ed into vio­lent con­fronta­tions with the police. These con­fronta­tions, in turn, were then used by Berlin, Brus­sels and Wash­ing­ton to accuse Yanukovych of exces­sive use of force on the “move­ment fight­ing for democ­ra­cy.” The protests were unsuc­cess­ful. How­ev­er, imme­di­ate­ly after the Kiev coup, Mosiy­chuk and his accom­plices prof­it­ed from the amnesty, the pro-west­ern Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment grant­ed on Feb­ru­ary 24, 2014 to “polit­i­cal pris­on­ers”. Due to Lyashko’s deci­sive engage­ment, Mosiy­chuk prof­it­ed from the amnesty, was lib­er­at­ed from prison and could par­tic­i­pate in the orga­ni­za­tion the Azov Bat­tal­ion. . . .

. . . . . [1] Jakov Dev­cic: Jazen­juks Rück­trittsver­such. www.kas.de 29.07.2014.
[2] Ukraine will rus­sis­che Kul­tur zurück­drän­gen. www.n‑tv.de 29.07.2014.
[3] S. dazu Ter­min beim Botschafter.
[4] Dina New­man: Ukraine con­flict: “White pow­er” war­rior from Swe­den. www.bbc.co.uk 16.07.2014.
[5] Daniel McLaugh­lin: For­eign­ers join far-right mili­tias in Ukraine’s fight against rebels. www.irishtimes.com 17.07.2014.
[6] Hal Fos­ter: A spe­cial-forces unit, start­ed from scratch, wins a key bat­tle in Ukraine. en.tengrinews.kz 21.06.2014.
[7] Swede Patrols Ukraine’s Streets with Right-wing Para­mil­i­taries. www.friatider.se 26.03.2014.

6. Illus­trat­ing the direct line of insti­tu­tion­al evo­lu­tion from the OUN/B to the present, Pravy Sek­tor is the polit­i­cal arm of the UNA-UNSO, the lat­est iter­a­tion of the OUN/B’s mil­i­tary cadre, the UPA. It elect­ed Yuriy Shukheyvch as its head. Shukheyvch is the son of OUN/B com­man­der Roman Shukhevych, declared a “Hero of Ukraine” by the Yuschenko gov­ern­ment. Roman also head­ed the Nachti­gall Bat­tal­ion in their liq­ui­da­tion of the Lvov Ghet­to in 1941.

In FTR #967, we not­ed that the city of Lviv (Lvov) has ini­ti­at­ed a fes­ti­val in hon­or of Shukhevych on the anniver­sary of Nachti­gall Bat­tal­ion’s liq­ui­da­tion of the Lvov ghet­to!

Note that the UNA/UNSO organization–the polit­i­cal par­ent of Pravy Sektor–has appar­ent­ly been active in Chech­nya as well. This is a pre­cur­sor to the Chech­nyan par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Ukraine con­flict, dis­cussed in–among oth­er pro­grams–FTR #862.

“The Dura­bil­i­ty of Ukrain­ian Fas­cism” by Peter Lee; Strate­gic Cul­ture; 6/9/2014.

. . . . One of Bandera’s lieu­tenants was Roman Shukhevych.  In Feb­ru­ary 1945, Shukhevych issued an order stat­ing, “In view of the suc­cess of the Sovi­et forces it is nec­es­sary to speed up the liq­ui­da­tion of the Poles, they must be total­ly wiped out, their vil­lages burned … only the Pol­ish pop­u­la­tion must be destroyed.”

As a mat­ter of addi­tion­al embar­rass­ment, Shukhevych was also a com­man­der in the Nachti­gall (Nightin­gale) bat­tal­ion orga­nized by the Wehrma­cht.

Today, a major pre­oc­cu­pa­tion of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist his­tor­i­cal schol­ar­ship is beat­ing back rather con­vinc­ing alle­ga­tions by Russ­ian, Pol­ish, and Jew­ish his­to­ri­ans that Nachti­gall was an impor­tant and active par­tic­i­pant in the mas­sacre of Lviv Jews orches­trat­ed by the Ger­man army upon its arrival in June 1941. . . .

. . . . Yuriy Shukhevych’s role in mod­ern Ukrain­ian fas­cism is not sim­ply that of an inspi­ra­tional fig­ure­head and reminder of his father’s anti-Sovi­et hero­ics for proud Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists.  He is a core fig­ure in the emer­gence of the key Ukrain­ian fas­cist for­ma­tion, Pravy Sek­tor and its para­mil­i­tary.

And Pravy Sektor’s para­mil­i­tary, the UNA-UNSO, is not an “unruly” col­lec­tion of week­end-war­rior-wannabes, as Mr. Hig­gins might believe.

UNA-UNSO was formed dur­ing the tur­moil of the ear­ly 1990s, large­ly by eth­nic Ukrain­ian vet­er­ans of the Sovi­et Union’s bit­ter war in Afghanistan.  From the first, the UNA-UNSO has shown a taste for for­eign adven­tures, send­ing detach­ments to Moscow in 1990 to oppose the Com­mu­nist coup against Yeltsin, and to Lithua­nia in 1991.  With appar­ent­ly very good rea­son, the Rus­sians have also accused UNA-UNSO fight­ers of par­tic­i­pat­ing on the anti-Russ­ian side in Geor­gia and Chech­nya.

After for­mal Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence, the mili­tia elect­ed Yuriy Shukhevych—the son of OUN‑B com­man­der Roman Shukhevych– as its leader and set up a polit­i­cal arm, which lat­er became Pravy Sek­tor. . . .

7. An inter­est­ing assas­si­na­tion of a Chechyan sniper fight­ing in Ukraine sug­gests the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the Maid­an sniper dynam­ic may be in the process of being san­i­tized, after Mr. Man­afort’s indict­ment, yes­ter­dayAre the assas­si­na­tion of Ukrain­ian sniper Ami­na Okuye­va and the bomb­ing attack on Ihor Mosiy­chuk linked? (Mosiy­chuk was Azov’s sec­ond in com­mand, for whom Okuyeve worked as an advi­sor.) Was a pre­vi­ous alleged attempt on the live of Okuye­va and her hus­band by an assas­sin pre­tend­ing to be a “for­eign jour­nal­ist” linked? Might the “for­eign jour­nal­ist” have been con­nect­ed to the Azov Bat­tal­ion? ” . . . . A Ukrain­ian vet­er­an sniper was killed, and her hus­band, who alleged­ly tried to assas­si­nate Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, was wound­ed in a shoot­ing on Mon­day near Kyiv. . . . Ami­na Okuye­va and Adam Osmayev were rid­ing in a car past a rail­road cross­ing in the vil­lage of Hle­vakha when their vehi­cle came under heavy fire from some­one in the bush­es on the side of the road. . . . Osmayev, who was also shot in the leg, has since blamed Rus­sia for the attack and said that it was con­nect­ed to a car-bomb­ing last week that wound­ed Ukrain­ian law­mak­er Ihor Mosiy­chuk . . . Okuye­va had once worked for Mosiy­chuk as an advis­er, accord­ing to Reuters. . . . This was­n’t the first assas­si­na­tion attempt the cou­ple had faced. On June 1, Osmayev and Okuye­va were in a car with a man, Artur Denisul­tanov-Kur­makayev, mas­querad­ing as a French jour­nal­ist named Alex Wern­er. [Was this one of the “for­eign jour­nal­ists” Anton Gerashchenko claimed were com­ing to Ukraine?–D.E.] At one point, Denisul­tanov-Kur­makayev asked them to pull the car over so that he could give them a gift from his edi­tors. ‘When he opened it I spot­ted a Glock pistol,‘Okuyeva told RFERL after the June attack. ‘He imme­di­ate­ly grabbed it and start­ed shoot­ing at Adam.’ . . . ”

“A Vet­er­an Ukrain­ian Sniper Whose Hus­band Alleged­ly Plot­ted to Kill Putin Was Shot Dead Near Kyiv” by Daniel Brown; Busi­ness Insid­er; 10/31/2017.

  • A Ukrain­ian vet­er­an sniper was shot dead, and her hus­band, who alleged­ly tried to kill Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin in 2012, was wound­ed near Kyiv.
  • The Chechen cou­ple had both fought against Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists in the Don­bas and were con­sid­ered heroes in Ukraine.
  • The inci­dent is the lat­est of more than a dozen assas­si­na­tions or attempt­ed assas­si­na­tions in Ukraine since 2014.

A Ukrain­ian vet­er­an sniper was killed, and her hus­band, who alleged­ly tried to assas­si­nate Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, was wound­ed in a shoot­ing on Mon­day near Kyiv.

Ami­na Okuye­va and Adam Osmayev were rid­ing in a car past a rail­road cross­ing in the vil­lage of Hle­vakha when their vehi­cle came under heavy fire from some­one in the bush­es on the side of the road.

“She was shot in the head. I drove as much as I could until the car stopped, I don’t know, the engine was also hit. I tried to give her first aid, but she was shot in the head,” Osmayev told Lb.ua, a Ukrain­ian media out­let.

Osmayev, who was also shot in the leg, has since blamed Rus­sia for the attack and said that it was con­nect­ed to a car-bomb­ing last week that wound­ed Ukrain­ian law­mak­er Ihor Mosiy­chuk, who rou­tine­ly insult­ed Russ­ian politi­cians and once post­ed a video on YouTube threat­en­ing to kill Ramzan Kady­rov, Putin’s hand-picked leader of Chech­nya.

Okuye­va had once worked for Mosiy­chuk as an advis­er, accord­ing to Reuters.

This was­n’t the first assas­si­na­tion attempt the cou­ple had faced. On June 1, Osmayev and Okuye­va were in a car with a man, Artur Denisul­tanov-Kur­makayev, mas­querad­ing as a French jour­nal­ist named Alex Wern­er.

At one point, Denisul­tanov-Kur­makayev asked them to pull the car over so that he could give them a gift from his edi­tors.

“When he opened it I spot­ted a Glock pis­tol,” Okuye­va told RFERL after the June attack. “He imme­di­ate­ly grabbed it and start­ed shoot­ing at Adam.”

Okuye­va then pulled out her own gun and shot the would-be assas­sin three times before, as she told RFERL, “I pounced on him with my bare hands and he gave up the gun.”

Osmayev was shot in the chest, but his wife treat­ed “Adam’s wound imme­di­ate­ly” and he sur­vived that attack as well. Ukraine has since blamed Rus­sia for orches­trat­ing the hit.

In 2012, Osmayev was accused by Moscow of plot­ting to kill Putin. He was arrest­ed in Kyiv in Feb­ru­ary 2012 for pos­ses­sion of ille­gal explo­sives and was even charged with the plot by Ukrain­ian author­i­ties at the behest of Rus­sia.

But Kyiv refused to extra­dite Osmayev, and the charges were even­tu­al­ly dropped. He was released from cus­tody in Novem­ber 2014 — just months after for­mer Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovich had fled to Rus­sia and fight­ing start­ed in the Don­bas, in east­ern Ukraine.

Okuye­va and Osmayev — both Mus­lims and eth­nic Chechens — have been cel­e­brat­ed in Ukraine as heroes, hav­ing served in Chechen vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions fight­ing against Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratist in the Don­bas.

Okuye­va, who report­ed­ly wore her hijab in bat­tle and fought for equal­i­ty among men and women in the mil­i­tary, was a para­medic and sniper. Osmayev became com­man­der of the vol­un­teer Dzhokhar Dudayev bat­tal­ion in 2015.

“I declare a war on the Russ­ian Empire,” Okuye­va told Politi­co in 2014. “If Russ­ian forces con­tin­ue to fight in Ukraine, thou­sands of Chechen immi­grants liv­ing in Europe, who had been oust­ed of their land dur­ing the two Chechen wars, will come to Ukraine to fight a war to defend this coun­try.”

8a. Andrei Arte­menko wasn’t the only Ukrain­ian politi­cian to approach the Trump admin­is­tra­tion with a peace plan in ear­ly 2017. Yulia Tymoshenko did the same thing in Feb­ru­ary, say­ing Trump promised her that he would “not aban­don Ukraine.”

Addi­tion­al­ly, Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, the for­mer head of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine and a polit­i­cal ally of Tymoshenko, claims he trav­eled to the US in Decem­ber and Jan­u­ary and deliv­ered to the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice proof of “polit­i­cal cor­rup­tion by (Ukraine’s) top offi­cials.” And he appar­ent­ly gave the same mate­r­i­al to Arte­menko in 2015. And while Naly­vaichenko says he doesn’t back Artemenko’s peace plan, he did admit to sub­mit a peace plan of his own to the US gov­ern­ment.

Naly­vaichenko is a direct heir to the OUN/B, hav­ing run Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence (the SBU) along the lines of the OUN/B. Naly­vaichenko is very close to Pravy Sek­tor and Dim­it­ry Yarosh.

Peace pro­pos­als by anti-Russ­ian figues include one by Vik­tor Pinchuk, a Ukrain­ian oli­garch who also a mem­ber of the anti-Russ­ian Atlantic Coun­cil.

Of para­mount sig­nif­i­cance, here, are the lus­tra­tion law–a triple-faced enti­ty. The law is “anti-cor­rup­tion,” anti-Com­mu­nist, and also crim­i­nal­izes telling the truth about the col­lab­o­ra­tion between the OUN/B, its mil­i­tary wing the UPA and the Third Reich.

Ele­ments of the Ukrain­ian fas­cist milieu have been attempt­ing to oust Poroshenko in favor of ele­vat­ing a fel­low fas­cist to head of the gov­ern­ment. The lus­tra­tion law looms large in this con­text, as does the fact that Poroshenko was Yanukovy­ch’s finance min­is­ter and, as such, undoubt­ed­ly involved with Mr. Man­afort and what­ev­er he did, or did not do in that benight­ed coun­try.

“Arte­menko Goes from Obscu­ri­ty to Noto­ri­ety” by Melko­reze­va, Oksana Gryt­senko; Kyiv Post; 02/24/2017

. . . . But Arte­menko is not the only Ukrain­ian politi­cian to reach out to the White House behind Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko’s back.

Yulia Tymoshenko, the for­mer prime min­is­ter and leader of Batkivshchy­na Par­ty, had a brief meet­ing with U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump before the Nation­al Prayer Break­fast in Wash­ing­ton on Feb. 3, dur­ing which Trump report­ed­ly promised her that he would “not aban­don Ukraine.”

And Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, the for­mer head of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine and a polit­i­cal ally of Tymoshenko, says he vis­it­ed the U.S. in Decem­ber and Jan­u­ary.

Naly­vaichenko told the Kyiv Post he met there with for­mer Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Jim DeMint, a Trump advi­sor and pres­i­dent of the con­ser­v­a­tive the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, a con­ser­v­a­tive think tank, and Bob Cork­er, a Repub­li­can sen­a­tor from Ten­nessee and Sen­ate For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tee chair­man.

Naly­vaichenko said he deliv­ered to the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice proof of “polit­i­cal cor­rup­tion by (Ukraine’s) top offi­cials.” He said also deliv­ered to Ukraine’s Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office mate­ri­als about alleged mon­ey laun­der­ing and the ille­gal use of off­shore com­pa­nies by Poroshenko’s busi­ness part­ner and law­mak­er Ihor Kononenko.

Back in 2015, Naly­vaichenko gave the com­pro­mis­ing mate­ri­als on Poroshenko to Arte­menko, which he claimed to also give to the U.S. author­i­ties. . . .

8b. Pravy Sek­tor asso­ciate Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko had been the head of the SBU (Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vice) since the Maid­an Coup, up until his ouster in June of 2015. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, he had oper­at­ed the orga­ni­za­tion along the lines of the OUN/B.

Pre­vi­ous­ly, he had served in that same capac­i­ty under Vik­tor Yuschenko, see­ing the out­fit as a vehi­cle for rewrit­ing Ukraine’s his­to­ry in accor­dance with the his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism favored by the OUN/B.

Very close to Pravy Sek­tor head Dymitro Yarosh, Naly­vaichenko employed Yarosh while serv­ing in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.  Yarosh claims that the two col­lab­o­rat­ed on “anti-ter­ror­ist” oper­a­tions con­duct­ed against eth­nic Rus­sians.

Bear in mind that the SBU has been the “cog­ni­tive win­dow” through which the events in Ukraine have been processed.

 “The Return of the Ukrain­ian Far Right: The Case of VO Svo­bo­da,” by Per Anders Rudling;  Ana­lyz­ing Fas­cist Dis­course: Euro­pean Fas­cism in Talk and Text edit­ed by Ruth Wodak and John E. Richard­son;  Rout­ledge [Lon­don and New York] 2013; pp. 228–255, more.

. . . A recon­struct­ed his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ry is cre­at­ed as ‘true mem­o­ry’ and then con­trast­ed with ‘false Sovi­et his­to­ry’ ”(Jilge, 2007:104–105). Thus, Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, SBU direc­tor under Yushchenko, described the task of his agency as being to dis­sem­i­nate “the his­tor­i­cal truth of the past of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple,” to “lib­er­ate Ukrain­ian his­to­ry from lies and fal­sifi­ca­tions and to work with truth­ful doc­u­ments only” (Jilge, 2008:179). Ignor­ing the OUN’s anti­semitism, deny­ing its par­tic­i­pa­tion in anti- Jew­ish vio­lence, and over­look­ing its fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy, Naly­vaichenko and his agency pre­sent­ed the OUN as democ­rats, plu­ral­ists, even right­eous res­cuers of Jews dur­ing the Holo­caust. . . .

8c. Naly­vaichenko’s SBU has man­i­fest­ed a fun­da­men­tal­ly revi­sion­ist stance with regard to the OUN/B’s World War II geno­ci­dal attacks on eth­nic Poles in Ukraine–a bloody cam­paign that claimed up to 100,000 lives.

Poland Stretch­es Out Its Hands to the Free­dom Fight­ers” by Rob Slane; The Blog­mire; 4/11/2015.

. . . . Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the Ukrain­ian author­i­ties show no signs what­so­ev­er that they are about to aban­don their admi­ra­tion of those respon­si­ble for these hor­rif­ic crimes. To the con­trary, they seem to be intent on admir­ing them all the more, as the SBU head Valen­tyn Nalyvaichenko’s recent words indi­cate: “SBU does not need to invent any­thing extra — it is impor­tant to build on the tra­di­tions and approach­es of the OUN-UPA secu­ri­ty ser­vice. It [the OUN-UPA secu­ri­ty ser­vice] worked against the aggres­sor dur­ing the tem­po­rary occu­pa­tion of the ter­ri­to­ry, it had a patri­ot­ic upbring­ing, used a coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence unit, and had relied on the peace­ful Ukrain­ian pop­u­la­tion using its sup­port.” . . . .

8d. Very close to Pravy Sek­tor head Dymitro Yarosh, Naly­vaichenko employed Yarosh while serv­ing in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.  Yarosh claims that the two col­lab­o­rat­ed on “anti-ter­ror­ist” oper­a­tions con­duct­ed against eth­nic Rus­sians.

Bear in mind that the SBU has been the “cog­ni­tive win­dow” through which the events in Ukraine have been processed.

“Yarosh Com­ments on Dis­missal of His ‘Friend’ Naly­vaichenko;” EurA­sia Dai­ly; 6/25/2015. 

The leader of the Right Sec­tor extrem­ist group Dmytro Yarosh believes that the dis­missal of Chief of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko was illog­i­cal and untime­ly. He writes in Face­book that Naly­vaichenko is his friend, who has raised the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice from zero and has neu­tral­ized lots of ter­ror­ist threats all over the coun­try. “I know what I am talk­ing about as my Right Sec­tor was involved in many of his spe­cial oper­a­tions against Russ­ian ter­ror­ists,” Yarosh said. . . . . . In the past Yarosh was Nalyvaichenko’s advi­sor.

8e. Exem­plary of the Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of Ukraine is the ele­va­tion of Pravy Sek­tor’s Yarosh to being an advi­sor to the chief of the Ukrain­ian gen­er­al staff.

” . . . . Yarosh is now a mem­ber of par­lia­ment and an advi­sor to the chief of gen­er­al staff of the Ukrain­ian army. In oth­er words, Yarosh has been legit­imized by the polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment. . . .”

“Switch­ing Spy­mas­ters Amid War Is Risky” by Bri­an Mef­ford; Atlantic Coun­cil; 6/18/2015.

Valentin Naly­vaichenko, head of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine (SBU), is in trou­ble again. On June 15, Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko said he was “unsat­is­fied” with Naly­vaichenko’s work. Three days lat­er, Ukraine’s par­lia­ment dis­missed him. . . . . . . . Poroshenko Bloc MP Ser­hiy Leshchenko released a doc­u­ment con­firm­ing old rumors that Right Sec­tor’s Dmitro Yarosh worked for Naly­vaichenko when he was a mem­ber of par­lia­ment from 2012 to 2014. While the con­nec­tion between the two rais­es some ques­tions about the events of Euro­maid­an and the ori­gins of Right Sec­tor, this attack alone was­n’t enough to dis­cred­it Nalyvy­chenko. Yarosh is now a mem­ber of par­lia­ment and an advi­sor to the chief of gen­er­al staff of the Ukrain­ian army. In oth­er words, Yarosh has been legit­imized by the polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment.. . .

8f. It is not sur­pris­ing that Kristofer Har­ri­son (the author of an apolo­gia for the Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion in Ukraine) is a for­mer Defense Depart­ment and State Depart­ment advi­sor to George W. Bush. Note­wor­thy in his pro­pa­gan­da piece dis­miss­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tive John Cony­ers (D‑MI) as “the Krem­lin’s Man in Con­gress” and dis­count­ing any­one else dis­cussing the ascen­sion of the OUN/B fas­cists in Ukraine in a sim­i­lar vein, is the iden­ti­ty of his source for assur­ances that Azov is not a Nazi unit.

The Azov’s spokesman is Roman Zvarych, the per­son­al sec­re­tary to Jaroslav Stet­sko in the 1980’s. Stet­sko was the head of the World War II OUN/B gov­ern­ment that col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis!

After emi­grat­ing to Ukraine in the ear­ly ’90’s Zvarych and form­ing the Con­gress of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists with Sla­va Stet­sko (Jaroslav’s wid­ow) Zvarych became: Jus­tice Min­is­ter (the equiv­a­lent of Attor­ney Gen­er­al of the Unit­ed States) under the gov­ern­ments of Vik­tor Yuschenko and both Yulia Tim­o­shenko gov­ern­ments. He has been serv­ing as an advis­er to pres­i­dent Poroshenko.

“Putin’s Man in Con­gress” by Kristofer Har­ri­son; The Huff­in­g­ton Post; 8/7/2015.

. . . .The Azov’s spokesman, Roman Zvarych, told me that the bat­tal­ion has a selec­tive screen­ing pro­gram that accepts only 50 out of almost 300 recruits each month. He says they have a thor­ough back­ground check and reject mem­bers for var­i­ous rea­sons, includ­ing hav­ing fas­cist lean­ings. . . .

. . . . Rep. Cony­ers played an impor­tant role in help­ing the Russ­ian Nazi meme evolve from the stuff of con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists, kooks and fel­low-trav­el­ers into some­thing the main­stream press hap­pi­ly prints. Rep. Cony­ers took to the floor of the House to sub­mit his amend­ment and label the unit, “The repul­sive Neo-Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion.” From there, the Dai­ly Beast ran a sto­ry titled “Is Amer­i­ca Train­ing Neon­azis in Ukraine?” using Cony­ers’ bill as fac­tu­al sup­port. The day after the amendment’s pas­sage, Leonoid Bershid­sky ran a Bloomberg View arti­cle titled “Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis Won’t Get U.S. Mon­ey.” Even the Cana­di­ans have been affect­ed. On June 16th, the Nation­al Post ran a sto­ry titled “Fears that Cana­di­an Mis­sion in Ukraine May Unin­ten­tion­al­ly Help Neon­azi Groups.”. . . .

 

Discussion

15 comments for “FTR #982 Manafort and the Snipers: The Azov Battalion and the “Russia-Gate” Psy-Op”

  1. Here’s some­thing worth not­ing about the charges against Paul Man­afort issued in the Mueller inves­ti­ga­tion relat­ed to Ukrain­ian mon­ey-laun­der­ing along with the lin­ger­ing ques­tions over whether or not Man­afort played a role in Maid­an sniper attacks. As expect­ed, many in Ukraine are thrilled to see Man­afort pros­e­cut­ed giv­en his pub­lic ties to the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment. Less expect­ed is the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment line on Man­afort’s trou­bles which appears to be amuse­ment see­ing the US pros­e­cute some­one Moscow views as a CIA agent.

    It rep­re­sents what could be a fas­ci­nat­ing new chap­ter in the Adven­tures of Paul Man­afort: The race to dis­own Man­afort and prove he’s work­ing for the oth­er team. And giv­en how the evi­dence that Man­afort real­ly did play a role in the sniper shoot­ings sug­gests that he was try­ing to ensure the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion suc­ceed­ed, this could end up being a very inter­est­ing phase of the Man­afort’s adven­tures:

    The Dai­ly Beast

    Ukraine Believes Paul Manafort’s Crimes Go Way Beyond Mon­ey Laun­der­ing
    Ukrain­ian inves­ti­ga­tors who helped col­lect evi­dence used to indict Pres­i­dent Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man also want to look at Manafort’s pos­si­ble role in a 2014 mas­sacre.

    Anna Nemtso­va
    10.31.17 1:00 AM ET

    MOSCOW—Many of Kiev’s jour­nal­ists, inves­ti­ga­tors, and offi­cials felt gen­uine­ly hap­py on Mon­day when they heard Paul Man­afort, Don­ald Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man, had been indict­ed on charges of laun­der­ing more than $18 mil­lion from Ukraine.

    Most of the 12 counts of the indict­ment pulled togeth­er by spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s team spoke about Manafort’s ille­gal finan­cial deals when he was work­ing for Ukraine’s pro-Krem­lin Par­ty of Regions from 2006 onward. It also accused him of “con­spir­a­cy against the Unit­ed States,” since Man­afort alleged­ly used mul­ti­ple shell com­pa­nies to hide his mon­ey, and nev­er both­ered to inform U.S. author­i­ties about the true size of his income.

    Man­afort had racked up this for­tune as an advis­er to the infa­mous­ly cor­rupt Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, who fled into exile in Rus­sia in 2014. So, to see Man­afort brought up on charges and threat­ened with jail time was con­sid­ered a tri­umph for Ukraine’s Rev­o­lu­tion of Dig­ni­ty, which over­threw Yanukovych. Dur­ing the upris­ing, which cen­tered on Kiev’s cen­tral square, the Maid­an Neza­lezh­nos­ti, more than 100 peo­ple lost their lives in 2014.

    “It is very impor­tant for Ukraine to nev­er see such a phe­nom­e­non as Man­afort on its soil ever again,” jour­nal­ist and com­men­ta­tor Eka­te­ri­na Ser­gatsko­va told The Dai­ly Beast. “He sym­bol­izes the ‘old regime’ of mon­ey laun­der­ing, cor­rupt lob­by­ing, dirty scams—the regime that made mil­lions suffer—both in Ukraine and in Unit­ed States. Man­afort served a regime that worked under Russia’s total control—that regime should nev­er come to pow­er in Ukraine again.”

    In the past year, Ukraini­ans have con­stant­ly heard sin­is­ter news about Man­afort. But the inves­ti­ga­tion con­duct­ed in the U.S. raised even more ques­tions for peo­ple who want to know how he was advis­ing Yanukovych as polit­i­cal oppo­nents were round­ed up and vio­lent attacks mount­ed against the oppo­si­tion.

    “Well done,” the head of Ukraine’s spe­cial pros­e­cu­tions office, Ser­hiy Gor­batyuk, told The Dai­ly Beast as he looked through the indict­ment. “We find item num­ber 22 espe­cial­ly impor­tant: It con­firms our own inves­ti­ga­tion was on the right track.”

    Para­graph 22 of the indict­ment says that Man­afort and his asso­ciate Richard W. Gates III direct­ed the lob­by­ists they’d retained in Wash­ing­ton to lob­by in con­nec­tion with the roll out of a report com­mis­sioned by the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine about the tri­al of Yulia Tymoshenko, a for­mer prime min­is­ter of Ukraine who spent three years in prison. The inter­na­tion­al demo­c­ra­t­ic com­mu­ni­ty, includ­ing Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel and then‑U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton, sup­port­ed Tymoshenko in jail, while Man­afort and Gates advised Yanukovych about his repres­sive pol­i­tics.

    Over the past year, as The Dai­ly Beast report­ed in May, Ukraine’s politi­cians have coop­er­at­ed with the FBI while civ­il soci­ety groups and pros­e­cu­tors have been work­ing hard, con­duct­ing sev­er­al inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tions into the alleged cor­rup­tion of Paul Man­afort. Mem­bers of Ukraine’s par­lia­ment, the Nation­al Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau, pros­e­cu­tors, and jour­nal­ists were ana­lyz­ing the list of 22 Man­afort pay­ments in 2007–2012 total­ing more than $12 mil­lion.

    As a result of Ukraine’s coop­er­a­tion with West­ern media, the infor­ma­tion about the “Black Ledger,” an account­ing doc­u­ment found among the Yanukovych papers, exposed cor­rup­tion in great detail, includ­ing some that involved Man­afort. As a result, he had to quit Trump’s cam­paign.

    “We hope that with the help of Amer­i­can inves­ti­ga­tors we’ll find what role Manafort’s friends among the Ukrain­ian oli­garchs… played in mon­ey laun­der­ing,” promi­nent Ukrain­ian jour­nal­ist Khristi­na Ber­dyn­skykh told The Dai­ly Beast. “We are hap­py that it’s been proved that our for­mer politi­cians threw away mil­lions of dollars—it shows the scale of cor­rup­tion; although we also won­der, of course, why for all these years Amer­i­can author­i­ties have ignored Manafort’s actions.”

    Was Man­afort back­ing all the deci­sions by Yanukovych, includ­ing the mur­ders of pro­test­ers in Maid­an square? Many in Ukraine sus­pect that was the case.

    Man­afort returned to Kiev even after the hor­ri­ble vio­lence on its cen­tral square to help re-form the Par­ty of Regions into a new orga­ni­za­tion. His rep­re­sen­ta­tives, includ­ing his cur­rent lawyer, insist he is inno­cent of charges in the U.S. indict­ment and that his role in Ukraine was to encour­age pro-Euro­pean Union demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ment. But inves­ti­ga­tors in Kiev aren’t buy­ing that for a minute.

    In March this year The Dai­ly Beast report­ed that Yev­ge­nia Zakrevskaya, an attor­ney in the Ukrain­ian cap­i­tal, and one of the strongest lib­er­al voic­es in the coun­try, focused atten­tion on Man­afort after text mes­sages between his daugh­ters were hacked and released in Feb­ru­ary. One of them, from Andrea Man­afort to her sis­ter, read “Don’t fool your­self. The mon­ey we have is blood mon­ey.”

    “All Mr. Yanukovych’s allies, sup­port­ers of the for­mer regime, should be ques­tioned on this case as poten­tial­ly respon­si­ble for the mass killings dur­ing the Maid­an protests; includ­ing, if the facts get proved, Mr. Man­afort,” Ukrain­ian legal expert Mikhail Zher­nakov told The Dai­ly Beast.

    The Kremlin’s advis­ers who advised Yanukovych togeth­er with Man­afort were also hap­py about the inves­ti­ga­tion for their own rea­sons.

    “We feel malev­o­lent joy about Manafort’s arrest,” Sergei Markov, Russia’s spin doc­tor dur­ing the Yanukovych pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, told The Dai­ly Beast. “We Rus­sians who worked with him in Kiev are gloat­ing, as he was a CIA agent and it is fun to see Amer­i­ca inves­ti­gat­ing its own for­mer agents.”

    Markov offered no proof of the CIA alle­ga­tion, but he did rein­force the argu­ment that Man­afort was paid with dirty funds. “Of course Man­afort was paid grey mon­ey and sent it to off­shore accounts—that is what every­body does. Ukraine has always been cor­rupt.”

    Moscow’s main­stream media, mean­while, con­tin­ued to deny Russia’s involve­ment with the U.S. elec­tion last year, push­ing the sto­ry about fake news. On Mon­day one of the most pop­u­lar news shows, Vesti, report­ed that Hillary Clin­ton paid $6 mil­lion for a cam­paign to dis­cred­it Trump. But even in Moscow nobody seemed too enthu­si­as­tic about defend­ing Man­afort.

    ...

    ———-

    “In March this year The Dai­ly Beast report­ed that Yev­ge­nia Zakrevskaya, an attor­ney in the Ukrain­ian cap­i­tal, and one of the strongest lib­er­al voic­es in the coun­try, focused atten­tion on Man­afort after text mes­sages between his daugh­ters were hacked and released in Feb­ru­ary. One of them, from Andrea Man­afort to her sis­ter, read “Don’t fool your­self. The mon­ey we have is blood mon­ey.”

    A lot of eyes in Ukraine are keen­ly inter­est­ed in Andrea Man­afort’s hacked texts. And the keen inter­est in Ukraine is extreme­ly under­stand­able giv­en the nature of those texts and all the peo­ple gunned down in that sniper attack.

    But let’s not for­get that those texts indi­cat­ed that Man­afort pushed for peo­ple to be killed in Ukraine (around the time of the Maid­an protests) in order to bring inter­na­tion­al atten­tion to the sit­u­a­tion which did not make sense unless Man­afort real­ly was work­ing for the CIA or some oth­er third par­ty (not nec­es­sar­i­ly US) who want­ed to see the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion suc­ceed.

    And let’s also not for­get that Man­afort was an advi­sor-for-hire and it’s pret­ty appar­ent from his his­to­ry that he might be the kind of guy that could be secret­ly hired to work against his cur­rent clients. After all, he appar­ent­ly pushed to have peo­ple killed for polit­i­cal effect. That seems like the kind of per­son who might work for Yanukovych while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly work­ing for some­one try­ing to get Yanukovych over­thrown which is a big rea­son why the spin from Moscow might end up being a lot more than just spin:

    ...
    The Kremlin’s advis­ers who advised Yanukovych togeth­er with Man­afort were also hap­py about the inves­ti­ga­tion for their own rea­sons.

    “We feel malev­o­lent joy about Manafort’s arrest,” Sergei Markov, Russia’s spin doc­tor dur­ing the Yanukovych pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, told The Dai­ly Beast. “We Rus­sians who worked with him in Kiev are gloat­ing, as he was a CIA agent and it is fun to see Amer­i­ca inves­ti­gat­ing its own for­mer agents.”

    Markov offered no proof of the CIA alle­ga­tion, but he did rein­force the argu­ment that Man­afort was paid with dirty funds. “Of course Man­afort was paid grey mon­ey and sent it to off­shore accounts—that is what every­body does. Ukraine has always been cor­rupt.”

    Moscow’s main­stream media, mean­while, con­tin­ued to deny Russia’s involve­ment with the U.S. elec­tion last year, push­ing the sto­ry about fake news. On Mon­day one of the most pop­u­lar news shows, Vesti, report­ed that Hillary Clin­ton paid $6 mil­lion for a cam­paign to dis­cred­it Trump. But even in Moscow nobody seemed too enthu­si­as­tic about defend­ing Man­afort.
    ...

    That’s all part of what could make the Man­afort-dis­own­er­ship phase of this night­mare so fas­ci­nat­ing: He real­ly might have been work­ing for all sides. He may have legit­i­mate­ly been advis­ing Yanokovych for years while secret­ly work­ing with the forces behind the Maid­an move­ment, espe­cial­ly the far-right forces who rep­re­sent the prime sus­pects for actu­al­ly car­ry­ing out the sniper attacks for every effec­tive polit­i­cal effect. And who knows who else may have secret­ly bought him out at that point because that appears to be the kind of guy Man­afort is: a guy for hire to advice in the dark arts of pol­i­tics. The kind of dark arts that might involve killing peo­ple for polit­i­cal effect if Andrea Man­afort’s hacked texts are to be believed. That’s the kind of kind of guy who could be work­ing for all sorts of sides simul­ta­ne­ous­ly which is what’s going to make the unfold­ing of Man­afort’s sto­ry so fas­ci­nat­ing.

    And if Rus­sia real­ly has felt Man­afort was CIA all alone it would raise the ques­tion of what Man­afort’s pres­ences at the June 9th, 2016 meet­ing in Trump Tow­er with the Russ­ian del­e­ga­tion. Giv­en that Man­afort joined the Trump cam­paign on March 29th, right around when George Papadopou­los was engaged in his Russ­ian out­reach with Joseph Mif­sud the Mal­tese Pro­fes­sor. So Man­afort’s pres­ence over­lapped heav­i­ly with the peri­od when the Trump cam­paign was play­ing foot­sie with Rus­sians. If the Krem­lin real­ly did view Man­afort as a US/EU agent that would pre­sum­ably alter the behav­ior of Russ­ian gov­ern­ment cutouts when it comes to Man­afort. Per­haps the out­reach to Don Jr. by Rob Gold­stone was an attempt to get around Man­afort and straight to the Trump fam­i­ly? encour­ag­ing them to reach o. It’s an exam­ple of why the ques­tion of who Man­afort was work­ing, or at least who the Rus­sians thought he worked for, is actu­al­ly a pret­ty impor­tant ques­tion.

    Who will end up hold­ing the Man­afort hot pota­to once this is all over? Giv­en the range of clients one could rea­son­ably imag­ine court some­one like Man­afort he had to be get­ting court­ed by all sorts of intel­li­gence agen­cies dur­ing his years work­ing for Yanukovych — the answer to the ques­tion of who Man­afort may have been work­ing for isn’t entire­ly obvi­ous because he was prob­a­bly a hot com­mod­i­ty. A very cor­rupt Amer­i­can advi­sor in Ukraine with ties to the Par­ty of Regions. He was def­i­nite­ly work­ing for the Par­ty of Regions on some lev­el. And even­tu­al­ly Trump. But who else? The CIA? EU intel­li­gence agen­cies? Orga­nized crime? Euro­pean fas­cists? Ukrain­ian neo-Nazis? All of the above? It’s not like Man­afort is choosy with his clients so it’s hard to rule any­one out. But we’re going to have to find out more about Man­afort and who he was work­ing for in Ukraine and else­where because we can’t real­ly under­stand #TrumpRus­sia until we under­stand Paul Man­afort.

    And giv­en the hints from Ukrain­ian pros­e­cu­tors last year that some­one work­ing with the Maid­an pro­tes­tors helped the snipers escape from Kiev, it seems like much of the final ver­dict on Man­afort will depend on the res­o­lu­tion of what role he may or may not have case and what role he may have played. And it’s a mys­tery that can’t be solved with­out inves­ti­gat­ing the mean­ing of those hacked text mes­sages and which deaths in Ukraine were the ‘blood’ in Andrea Man­afort’s ‘blood mon­ey’ texts and more infor­ma­tion about what is else known about the sniper attacks. Part of what made attri­bu­tion of those attacks so dif­fi­cult was that it made no sense for Yanukovych to do it, and two years lat­er then we get hacked texts from Andrew Man­afort about her dad being involved with what sounds like those attacks. It’s kind of amaz­ing but here we are: the mys­tery of who was behind the Maid­an sniper attacks, and who Paul Man­afort may have been work­ing for if he end­ed up play­ing a role, are now part impor­tant points in recent his­to­ry for under­stand­ing #TrumpRus­sia.

    He prob­a­bly was­n’t the best pick for cam­paign man­ag­er.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 6, 2017, 11:38 pm
  2. Great infor­ma­tion, espe­cial­ly regard­ing WACL. The lus­tra­tion laws have their roots in the Inqui­si­tion of the Roman Catholic Church and have a semi-reli­gious char­ac­ter. It has an old­er his­to­ry with the Ancient Romans, who, for exam­ple, used a lus­tra­tion rit­u­al to “puri­fy” the fol­low­ers of the Druids under their occu­pa­tion. Their word ‘lus­tra­tio’ meant “purifi­ca­tion (or a city or com­mu­ni­ty) by rit­u­al sac­ri­fice”.

    Posted by Atlanta Bill | November 7, 2017, 2:14 pm
  3. Here’s a look at the grow­ing num­ber of obsta­cles Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment is fac­ing in its inves­ti­ga­tions of Paul Man­afort over cor­rup­tion charges. Inves­ti­ga­tions that go back to 2014 in some cas­es: First, there’s the obsta­cle of the US not actu­al­ly coop­er­at­ing with those inves­ti­ga­tions in Man­afort:

    Reuters

    Ukraine pros­e­cu­tor says puz­zled by lack of U.S. help on Man­afort case

    Matthias Williams, Pavel Poli­tyuk
    Novem­ber 14, 2017 / 1:57 PM

    KIEV (Reuters) — Ukraine is puz­zled by the lack of a U.S. response to requests it has made to ques­tion for­mer Don­ald Trump cam­paign chief Paul Man­afort as a wit­ness over two cas­es involv­ing mis­use of Ukrain­ian state funds, the chief inves­ti­ga­tor said.

    Man­afort was indict­ed last month in Wash­ing­ton on charges he denies rang­ing from mon­ey laun­der­ing to act­ing as unreg­is­tered agent of for­mer pro-Krem­lin pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovich’s Par­ty of Regions. The charges, some going back more than a decade, men­tion nei­ther Trump nor his cam­paign.

    Ser­hii Hor­batiuk, head of spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tions at the gen­er­al prosecutor’s office, told Reuters Ukraine had sent requests in 2014 and 2015 to ques­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tives of a law firm and Man­afort.

    He said Ukraine had received reas­sur­ances from the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion (FBI) that the requests would be met, but with­out result.

    “Of course it’s not nor­mal,” Hor­batiuk said in an inter­view at his office.

    “I would not say that we are upset, I would not say offi­cial­ly that we are upset, but it’s not clear why it is so,” he said. “Even the results they have got so far, we could have got them back in 2015 or 2016 with their help. But dur­ing these years there was no coop­er­a­tion for unknown rea­sons.”

    In Wash­ing­ton, the FBI and the Depart­ment did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to requests from Reuters for com­ment.

    Hor­batiuk is inves­ti­gat­ing two cas­es.

    One relates to the sus­pect­ed ille­gal use of Ukrain­ian state funds by jus­tice min­istry offi­cials to pay a U.S. law firm for a report used to jus­ti­fy the impris­on­ment of for­mer prime min­is­ter and polit­i­cal rival Yulia Tymoshenko dur­ing Yanukovich’s rule.

    The sec­ond relates to a so-called ‘Black Ledger’ dis­cov­ered after Yanukovich’s 2014 ouster by street protests, a book sup­pos­ed­ly list­ing pay­ments from a slush fund by Yanukovich’s Par­ty of Regions to their asso­ciates, includ­ing Man­afort.

    Yanukovich denies cor­rup­tion accu­sa­tions.

    Man­afort denies all wrong­do­ing and in Ukraine he is at this stage only want­ed as a wit­ness.

    Hor­batiuk said he had not been con­tact­ed for assis­tance by the team of Spe­cial Coun­cil Robert Mueller, who indict­ed Man­afort dur­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into alleged Russ­ian efforts to swing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Trump’s favor.

    Manafort’s attor­ney says his work for the Ukraini­ans end­ed in 2014, two years before he joined the Trump cam­paign.

    But the indict­ment sheds new light on the Ukrain­ian cas­es: the alle­ga­tion that Man­afort used off­shore accounts to fun­nel $4 mil­lion to pay for the Tymoshenko report was news to Horbatiuk’s team, who thought the report had cost around $1 mil­lion.

    He will sub­mit a new request for help to the U.S. with­in weeks.

    “It is impor­tant to com­bine our inves­ti­ga­tions so that we can obtain infor­ma­tion to deter­mine the ori­gin of this mon­ey ($4 mil­lion),” he said.

    “And the gen­er­al infor­ma­tion allows us to say that the inves­ti­ga­tion could be promis­ing pro­vid­ed that the law enforce­ment agen­cies of the Unit­ed States and Ukraine coop­er­ate in what we are inter­est­ed in.”

    ...

    ———-

    “Ukraine pros­e­cu­tor says puz­zled by lack of U.S. help on Man­afort case” by Matthias Williams, Pavel Poli­tyuk; Reuters; 11/14/2017

    “Ser­hii Hor­batiuk, head of spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tions at the gen­er­al prosecutor’s office, told Reuters Ukraine had sent requests in 2014 and 2015 to ques­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tives of a law firm and Man­afort.”

    So the head of spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tions at Ukraine’s gen­er­al prosecutor’s office, Ser­hii Hor­batiuk, sent requests to ques­tion Man­afort back in 2014 and 2015, but to no avail:

    ...
    He said Ukraine had received reas­sur­ances from the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion (FBI) that the requests would be met, but with­out result.

    “Of course it’s not nor­mal,” Hor­batiuk said in an inter­view at his office.

    “I would not say that we are upset, I would not say offi­cial­ly that we are upset, but it’s not clear why it is so,” he said. “Even the results they have got so far, we could have got them back in 2015 or 2016 with their help. But dur­ing these years there was no coop­er­a­tion for unknown rea­sons.”
    ...

    And keep in mind that the “black ledger” scan­dal that abrupt­ly end­ed Man­afort’s role as Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign chair­man did­n’t hap­pen until 2016. So the 2014 and 2015 requests to ques­tion Man­afort were pre­sum­ably over pay­ments to Man­afort’s law­firm to pro­duce a report used to jus­ti­fy the jailling of for­mer prime min­is­ter Yulia Tymoshenko:

    ...
    Hor­batiuk is inves­ti­gat­ing two cas­es.

    One relates to the sus­pect­ed ille­gal use of Ukrain­ian state funds by jus­tice min­istry offi­cials to pay a U.S. law firm for a report used to jus­ti­fy the impris­on­ment of for­mer prime min­is­ter and polit­i­cal rival Yulia Tymoshenko dur­ing Yanukovich’s rule.

    The sec­ond relates to a so-called ‘Black Ledger’ dis­cov­ered after Yanukovich’s 2014 ouster by street protests, a book sup­pos­ed­ly list­ing pay­ments from a slush fund by Yanukovich’s Par­ty of Regions to their asso­ciates, includ­ing Man­afort.
    ...

    Also note that the Asso­ci­at­ed Press con­firmed this year that $1.2 mil­lion in “black ledger” pay­ments to Man­afort’s firm real­ly did hap­pen. So putting aside the seri­ous poten­tial mega-crime of Man­afort’s involve­ment in the Maid­an sniper attacks, the oth­er more mun­dane cor­rup­tion charges against Man­afort appear to have teeth. And, obvi­ous­ly, it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble that evi­dence relat­ed to the sniper attacks could be uncov­ered in either of these oth­er inves­ti­ga­tions, so when they oth­er inves­ti­ga­tions get blocked that’s effec­tive­ly like block­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into Man­afort’s poten­tial role in the sniper attacks.

    So that’s one of the obsta­cles fac­ing Ukraine’s inves­ti­ga­tion in Man­afort. Here’s anoth­er one: when the Nation­al Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) got up and run­ning in late 2015, the NABU was­n’t going to be be respon­si­ble for inves­ti­ga­tions that pre­ced­ed its cre­ation. But that all just changed thanks to new leg­is­la­tion that was passed that will trans­fer 3,500 cor­rup­tion cas­es from the pros­e­cu­tor’s office to the NABU. And as Ser­hii Hor­batiuk of the pros­e­cu­tor’s office warns, this move could effec­tive­ly kill a large num­ber of those inves­ti­ga­tions sim­ply due to the NABU not hav­ing the staff required to car­ry out these inves­ti­ga­tions. The NABU itself also request­ed that this trans­fer not hap­pen over man­pow­er con­cerns. And the inves­ti­ga­tions that are get­ting trans­ferred include the inves­ti­ga­tions into Man­afort:

    Reuters

    Ukraine inves­ti­ga­tors fear cor­rup­tion cas­es could get buried

    Matthias Williams, Pavel Poli­tyuk
    Novem­ber 16, 2017 / 10:51 AM / Updat­ed

    KIEV (Reuters) — Ukrain­ian inves­ti­ga­tors fear cor­rup­tion probes could get buried because the nation­al anti-cor­rup­tion bureau will soon be flood­ed by thou­sands of old cas­es and recent­ly passed leg­is­la­tion could fur­ther hob­ble their work.

    Their com­ments spot­light Kiev’s patchy record on fight­ing cor­rup­tion, which has delayed bil­lions in aid from inter­na­tion­al donors who have sup­port­ed Ukraine since the 2014 Maid­an protests brought pro-West­ern forces to pow­er.

    They come after the NABU anti-cor­rup­tion bureau launched an inves­ti­ga­tion this week into an allied crime-fight­ing agency over extor­tion alle­ga­tions.

    From Mon­day, 3,500 cas­es that were reg­is­tered before Decem­ber 2015 will be trans­ferred from the prosecutor’s office to NABU, which include for exam­ple inves­ti­ga­tions that may per­tain to for­mer Don­ald Trump cam­paign chief Paul Man­afort.

    NABU began life in late 2015 and was giv­en an exemp­tion on inves­ti­gat­ing cas­es that opened before its cre­ation, which expires on Mon­day. NABU wants the exemp­tion extend­ed, say­ing its 200-strong team of detec­tives can­not cope with the extra work.

    In an inter­view with Reuters on Thurs­day, NABU spokes­woman Svit­lana Olifi­ra said there was a risk that “all cur­rent inves­ti­ga­tions by (NABU) detec­tives may be blocked”.

    Ser­hii Hor­batiuk, head of spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tions at the gen­er­al prosecutor’s office, said the old cas­es would be sent to NABU to ensure no-one looks at them. His inves­ti­ga­tions include two cas­es relat­ed to Manafort’s work in Ukraine.

    “They will sim­ply lie around and not be looked at,” he said in an inter­view at his office. “My opin­ion is that this is done delib­er­ate­ly to ensure that crimes linked to for­mer senior offi­cials are either sim­ply not inves­ti­gat­ed, or obsta­cles are cre­at­ed that pre­vent it (the inves­ti­ga­tion).”

    “The restruc­tur­ing (of law enforce­ment) is being used to ensure inves­ti­ga­tions don’t take place,” he added.

    Nei­ther NABU nor Hor­batiuk accused any­one by name of try­ing to block inves­ti­ga­tions.

    NABU appealed to Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko to veto leg­is­la­tion passed in Octo­ber which it believes will also harm inves­ti­ga­tions.

    The law, accord­ing to NABU, will put too strict lim­its on the time allowed for an inves­ti­ga­tion before it can be dis­missed, while also mak­ing it more cum­ber­some for police to obtain per­mis­sion from courts to open probes.

    “We urge the pres­i­dent to exam­ine this bill thor­ough­ly and to refrain from sign­ing the cur­rent ver­sion,” Olifi­ra said, say­ing the bill could “bring about the col­lapse of Ukraine’s whole law enforce­ment sys­tem.”

    ...

    ———-

    “Ukraine inves­ti­ga­tors fear cor­rup­tion cas­es could get buried” by Matthias Williams, Pavel Poli­tyuk; Reuters; 11/16/2017

    “From Mon­day, 3,500 cas­es that were reg­is­tered before Decem­ber 2015 will be trans­ferred from the prosecutor’s office to NABU, which include for exam­ple inves­ti­ga­tions that may per­tain to for­mer Don­ald Trump cam­paign chief Paul Man­afort.”

    Yep, those inves­ti­ga­tions into Man­afort that the gen­er­al pros­e­cu­tor’s office has been try­ing and fail­ing to get US help on are now about to be shift­ed over to the NABU. Even those the NABU says it can’t han­dle all these new cas­es:

    ...
    NABU began life in late 2015 and was giv­en an exemp­tion on inves­ti­gat­ing cas­es that opened before its cre­ation, which expires on Mon­day. NABU wants the exemp­tion extend­ed, say­ing its 200-strong team of detec­tives can­not cope with the extra work.

    In an inter­view with Reuters on Thurs­day, NABU spokes­woman Svit­lana Olifi­ra said there was a risk that “all cur­rent inves­ti­ga­tions by (NABU) detec­tives may be blocked”.
    ...

    “In an inter­view with Reuters on Thurs­day, NABU spokes­woman Svit­lana Olifi­ra said there was a risk that “all cur­rent inves­ti­ga­tions by (NABU) detec­tives may be blocked”

    There’s a risk that “all cur­rent inves­ti­ga­tions by (NABU) detec­tives may be blocked”. And that’s accord­ing to the NABU spokes­woman. And it’s a sen­ti­ment Ser­hii Hor­batiuk, head of spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tions at the gen­er­al prosecutor’s office, clear­ly agrees with:

    ...

    Ser­hii Hor­batiuk, head of spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tions at the gen­er­al prosecutor’s office, said the old cas­es would be sent to NABU to ensure no-one looks at them. His inves­ti­ga­tions include two cas­es relat­ed to Manafort’s work in Ukraine.

    “They will sim­ply lie around and not be looked at,” he said in an inter­view at his office. “My opin­ion is that this is done delib­er­ate­ly to ensure that crimes linked to for­mer senior offi­cials are either sim­ply not inves­ti­gat­ed, or obsta­cles are cre­at­ed that pre­vent it (the inves­ti­ga­tion).”

    “The restruc­tur­ing (of law enforce­ment) is being used to ensure inves­ti­ga­tions don’t take place,” he added.
    ...

    And note that while Ser­hii Hor­batiuk was pre­vi­ous­ly com­plain­ing about a lack of US help on two inves­ti­ga­tions into Man­afort that involve finan­cial cor­rup­tion, don’t for­get that the gen­er­al pros­e­cu­tor’s office is also the office that’s been inves­ti­gat­ing the sniper attacks. For instance, he’s an arti­cle from 2016 about the dis­cov­ery of the weapons used in the sniper attack. It’s spe­cial inves­ti­ga­tions depart­ment at the pros­e­cu­tor gen­er­al’s office who found those weapons:

    Ukrin­form

    Weapons used against Euro­maid­an activists found in Kyiv pond

    14.07.2016 16:54

    Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment at the Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office of Ukraine have found the remains of a sniper rifle, used by offi­cers of the Berkut riot police force against the Euro­maid­an activists.

    Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al of Ukraine Yuriy Lut­senko post­ed this on his Face­book page.

    “Today, the offi­cers of the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment at the Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office searched the apart­ments of those involved in tak­ing Berkut offi­cers out of Kyiv after bloody shoot­ings on Maid­an and sub­se­quent destroy­ing of their weapons. The ele­ments of a sniper rifle and machine guns, which have been recent­ly found in a pond, will become addi­tion­al evi­dence at the tri­al,” he wrote.

    In turn, MP from the BPP fac­tion Volodymyr Aryev said that the ele­ments of weapons had been found in one of the ponds in a res­i­den­tial dis­trict in Kyiv. He added that the names of peo­ple, who have been searched today, were not dis­closed in the inter­ests of the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    ———-

    “Weapons used against Euro­maid­an activists found in Kyiv pond”; Ukrin­form; 07/14/2016

    “Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment at the Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office of Ukraine have found the remains of a sniper rifle, used by offi­cers of the Berkut riot police force against the Euro­maid­an activists.”

    So it rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not the sniper attack inves­ti­ga­tion is also get­ting trans­ferred to the NABU. But, again, even if that’s not the case and it’s only the finan­cial inves­ti­ga­tions into Man­afort that are get­ting trans­ferred to the NABU, those finan­cial inves­ti­ga­tions could still pro­vide key evi­dence in terms of who Man­afort may have been secret­ly work­ing with in the lead up to the 2014 Maid­an protests.

    But there’s one more twist to all this: The NABU just launched an inves­ti­ga­tion into the pros­e­cu­tor gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko:

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty

    Ukraine’s Anti­cor­rup­tion Bureau Inves­ti­gat­ing Pros­e­cu­tor-Gen­er­al

    Novem­ber 17, 2017 11:53 GMT

    KYIV — Ukrain­ian anti­cor­rup­tion inves­ti­ga­tors have opened a crim­i­nal case into sus­pect­ed unlaw­ful enrich­ment by the country’s pow­er­ful pros­e­cu­tor-gen­er­al, Yuriy Lut­senko.

    The case against Lut­senko was opened by the Nation­al Anti­cor­rup­tion Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) on Octo­ber 30, after it was pre­sent­ed with an order from the Solomyan­sky Dis­trict Court of Kyiv, NABU spokes­woman Svit­lana Olifi­ra told RFE/RL’s Ukrain­ian Ser­vice on Novem­ber 17.

    Olifi­ra said that no per­son in par­tic­u­lar had spurred the court into action and that the pre­tri­al inves­ti­ga­tion is ongo­ing.

    But Renat Kuzmin, the for­mer Ukrain­ian deputy pros­e­cu­tor-gen­er­al under for­mer Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, wrote on Face­book that the case was opened at his writ­ten request.

    Yan­uovych fled from Ukraine to Rus­sia in Feb­ru­ary 2014 fol­low­ing months of Euro­maid­an street protests.

    Kuzmin fol­lowed in June 2014 after he became a sus­pect in the crim­i­nal probe of the unlaw­ful arrest of Lut­senko in 2010 when he was an oppo­si­tion politi­cian.

    “Pur­suant to my state­ment, NABU reg­is­tered the case and began a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into Lutsenko’s ille­gal enrich­ment,” Kuzmin said in a post that includ­ed a copy of his let­ter to NABU.

    ...

    NABU is an inde­pen­dent inves­tiga­tive body cre­at­ed to stamp out entrenched cor­rup­tion among Ukraine’s pub­lic ser­vants.

    Lut­senko had no legal expe­ri­ence pri­or to tak­ing the job as head of the Prosecutor-General’s Office in May 2016.

    He was the per­son­al choice of Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko.

    Par­lia­ment had to pass a law remov­ing a require­ment that only a per­son with a legal back­ground could fill the post before Lut­senko was appoint­ed.

    ———-

    “Ukraine’s Anti­cor­rup­tion Bureau Inves­ti­gat­ing Pros­e­cu­tor-Gen­er­al”; Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty; 11/17/2017

    “The case against Lut­senko was opened by the Nation­al Anti­cor­rup­tion Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) on Octo­ber 30, after it was pre­sent­ed with an order from the Solomyan­sky Dis­trict Court of Kyiv, NABU spokes­woman Svit­lana Olifi­ra told RFE/RL’s Ukrain­ian Ser­vice on Novem­ber 17.”

    So on top of the 3,500 new cas­es trans­ferred from the pros­e­cu­tor gen­er­al’s office to the NABU, the NABU is also going to be inves­ti­gat­ing the pros­e­cu­tor gen­er­al. It’s quite a twist. And while the NABU is say­ing that there’s no per­son in par­tic­u­lar who got this probe launched against Lut­senko, the for­mer Ukrain­ian deputy pros­e­cu­tor-gen­er­al under Vik­tor Yanukovych is claim­ing that he is actu­al­ly the per­son who spurred this into action:

    ...
    Olifi­ra said that no per­son in par­tic­u­lar had spurred the court into action and that the pre­tri­al inves­ti­ga­tion is ongo­ing.

    But Renat Kuzmin, the for­mer Ukrain­ian deputy pros­e­cu­tor-gen­er­al under for­mer Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, wrote on Face­book that the case was opened at his writ­ten request.

    Yan­uovych fled from Ukraine to Rus­sia in Feb­ru­ary 2014 fol­low­ing months of Euro­maid­an street protests.

    Kuzmin fol­lowed in June 2014 after he became a sus­pect in the crim­i­nal probe of the unlaw­ful arrest of Lut­senko in 2010 when he was an oppo­si­tion politi­cian.

    “Pur­suant to my state­ment, NABU reg­is­tered the case and began a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into Lutsenko’s ille­gal enrich­ment,” Kuzmin said in a post that includ­ed a copy of his let­ter to NABU.
    ...

    So the inves­ti­ga­tion into Lut­senko was prompt­ed by a guy who fled to Rus­sia in 2014?! Wow, now that’s a twist. Adding to the twist is that that Renat Kuzmin was actu­al­ly the per­son in charge of the case against for­mer prime min­is­ter Yulia Tymoshenko, the same case that Paul Man­afort’s firm is charged with fuel­ing by pro­duc­ing a report jus­ti­fy­ing Tymoshenko’s jail­ing.

    But per­haps it’s not much of a twist. Accord­ing the NABU, Renat Kuzmin fre­quent­ly makes requests for inves­ti­ga­tions and the NABU is oblig­at­ed to open an inves­ti­ga­tion or Kuzmin will take them to court:

    112.UA

    Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau inves­ti­gates illic­it enrich­ment of Ukraine’s Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al

    For­mer Deputy Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al, him­self on the want­ed list as a sus­pect of crimes, says the inves­ti­ga­tion is start­ed on his request
    11:26, 17 Novem­ber 2017

    The Nation­al Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) start­ed crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings on the pos­si­ble illic­it enrich­ment of Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al of Ukraine Yuriy Lut­senko, as NABU speak­er Svit­lana Olifi­ra says, the Ukrain­ian News reports.

    Svit­lana Olifi­ra says the inves­ti­ga­tion com­menced on Octo­ber 30 due to the court deci­sion to look into a pos­si­ble bribe.

    For­mer Deputy Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Renat Kuzmin writes on his Face­book that the inves­ti­ga­tion start­ed after his inquiry. The NABU told INSIDER that Kuzmin sub­mits tons of such inquiries, and when the Bureau doesn’t grant them, he goes to court, which makes the Bureau start an inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Kuzmin was the one who advo­cat­ed for impris­on­ing Lut­senko in the past. In 2012, the ECHR found that impris­on­ing Lut­senko con­tra­dict­ed human rights, and stat­ed that the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment was to com­pen­sate Lut­senko 15.00 euro for moral dam­age.

    ...
    ———-

    “Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau inves­ti­gates illic­it enrich­ment of Ukraine’s Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al”; 112.UA; 11/17/2017

    “For­mer Deputy Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Renat Kuzmin writes on his Face­book that the inves­ti­ga­tion start­ed after his inquiry. The NABU told INSIDER that Kuzmin sub­mits tons of such inquiries, and when the Bureau doesn’t grant them, he goes to court, which makes the Bureau start an inves­ti­ga­tion.

    So based on the com­ments from the NABU it sounds like this might just be rou­tine inves­ti­ga­tion they are oblig­at­ed to con­duct. Although it would be inter­est­ing to know if this was the fist time since Kuzmin fled the coun­try that he was able to suc­cess­ful­ly get one of his requests turned into an actu­al probe.

    Also keep in mind that it was Lut­senko who made the omi­nous pub­lic warn­ing to the Ukrain­ian pub­lic about the sniper attack and the dis­cov­ery of the weapons in the lake: “We found it with a large num­ber of auto­mat­ic rifles on the bot­tom of one of Kiev’s lakes. They were cut and drowned in one batch by a sin­gle group, whose leader is one of the tar­gets of our inves­ti­ga­tion. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this man who, accord­ing to our ver­sion, upon the orders of [for­mer Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Vitaliy] Zakharchenko helped the “black hun­dred” flee Kyiv, destroyed and drowned their weapons, he, him­self, was with us on the Maid­an.” So Lut­senko has already demon­strat­ed a will­ing­ness to ‘go there’ and hint to the pub­lic that his inves­ti­ga­tors have dis­cov­er some­thing very shock­ing in rela­tion to the sniper attacks.

    Giv­en that, and giv­en the broad­er con­text of a larg­er move by the Ukrain­ian leg­is­la­ture to move a large num­ber of inves­ti­ga­tions out of the pros­e­cu­tor gen­er­al’s office to the NABU where these cas­es are expect­ed to die from a lack of man­pow­er, you have to won­der if we’re about to see a lot of Ukrain­ian cor­rup­tion cas­es sud­den­ly fade away. Includ­ing the var­i­ous inves­ti­ga­tions into Paul Man­afort.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 17, 2017, 3:42 pm
  4. Anoth­er indict­ment, anoth­er twist. That’s how the Mueller probe has been oper­at­ing of late. And in the lat­est indict­ment we get the kind of twist that actu­al­ly helps clar­i­fy one of the key points of the whole sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine that’s been large­ly ignored in the years since the con­flict broke out.

    So what was the twist? There’s actu­al­ly a lot of twists. The ini­tial twist is that Paul Man­afort report­ed­ly hired two lob­by­ing firms to pay for­mer Euro­pean lead­ers to lob­by­ing for­eign gov­ern­ments on behalf of Ukraine regard­ing the nego­ti­a­tions between Ukraine and the EU over the pro­posed trade union. It was the col­lapse of those talks that pre­cip­i­tat­ed the Maid­an protests and down­fall of the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment in 2014 and the sub­se­quent out­break of civ­il war.

    The group of for­mer Euro­pean lead­ers hired by Man­afort was secret­ly paid $2.5 mil­lion via var­i­ous

    One of the lob­by­ing firms was a polit­i­cal strat­e­gy firm Mer­cury Pub­lic Affairs. The sec­ond firm was the Podes­ta Group. And, yes, the Podes­ta Group’s Tony Podes­ta is indeed the broth­er of Hillary Clin­ton’s cam­paign chair­man John Podes­ta whose emails were hacked and released. And, like Man­afort, Tony Podes­ta had also long had the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment as a client.

    Addi­tion­al­ly, the Podes­ta Group admit­ted that it had “arranged meet­ings and media oppor­tu­ni­ties” for vis­it­ing Euro­pean lead­ers regard­ing Ukraine, start­ing in 2012, includ­ing for Mr. Gusen­bauer, Mr. Pro­di and two for­mer pres­i­dents, Alek­sander Kwas­niews­ki of Poland and Vik­tor A. Yushchenko of Ukraine. So this was the kind of diplo­mat­ic out­reach effort that involved Vik­tor Yushchenko, mean­ing it was an effort with trans-par­ti­san sup­port in Ukraine.

    Accord­ing to the Mueller indict­ment, the lob­by­ing effort was led by “Polit­i­can A”. That’s now con­firmed to be Alfred Gusen­bauer, who was Aus­tri­a’s chan­cel­lor in 2007 and 2008. Romano Pro­di, Italy’s prime min­is­ter between 1996 and 1998, and again from 2006 to 2008, was also part of the effort. Along with Alek­sander Kwas­niews­ki, pres­i­dent of Poland from 1995 to 2005, and Patrick Cox of Ire­land who is a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment. A theme with this group is that they had rel­a­tive­ly friend­ly rela­tions with the Krem­lin and were left-lean­ing. And appar­ent­ly hired by right-wing ‘fix­er’ Paul Man­afort work­ing with the Podes­ta Group. So it was a diplo­mat­ic effort that was­n’t just trans-par­ti­san with respect to the Ukrain­ian ele­ments involved.

    And it makes sense that it would be left-lean­ing Euro­pean politi­cians select­ed for this oper­a­tion since they come for a polit­i­cal ori­en­ta­tion that his­tor­i­cal­ly had friend­lier rela­tions with the Sovi­et Union. But as we’ll see, they met with groups like Repub­li­cans in the US Con­gress. And that rais­es the ques­tion of the extent to which this group was act­ing as nego­tia­tors between deci­sion-mak­ers in the West and the Krem­lin. In oth­er words, did this group rep­re­sent a sort of mid­dle-man between Rus­sia and the West in terms of nego­ti­at­ing the future of Ukraine?

    And who was it that was spon­sor­ing the efforts of Paul Man­afort’s lob­bing firm and the Podes­ta Group and Mer­cury Pub­lic Affairs, and the del­e­ga­tion of politi­cians? We don’t know quite yet. But one hint might be found in the nick­name for the group of Euro­pean ex-politi­cian lob­by­ists: the “Haps­burg Group”. It’s assumed that the “Haps­burg” name is a ref­er­ence to Gusen­bauer and Aus­tri­a’s his­to­ry with the Hab­s­burg empire. But as we’ll see, there’s prob­a­bly more that name since Ger­many’s Mar­tin Schulz — leader of the cen­ter-left SPD — appears to have a role in all of this too. While he was pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.

    So, to sum­ma­rize, the Mueller indict­ment is assert­ing that Man­afort hired Mer­cury Pub­lic Affairs and the Podes­ta Group to hire these for­mer politi­cians to lob­by on behalf of the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine. Specif­i­cal­ly, to lob­by in rela­tion to the nego­ti­a­tions over the EU-Ukraine trade union. That’s the under­stand­ing from the Mueller indict­ment. Except all of the politi­cians total­ly deny it. Although their denials vary:

    * Gusen­bauer said that he had been “remu­ner­at­ed” for his work on behalf of Ukraine, but he did not say by whom. But he did assert that he had nev­er worked for Mr. Yanukovych and that he had only met Mr. Man­afort two or three times. But he did not deny that he had received mon­ey from an “Amer­i­can or Eng­lish com­pa­ny.”

    * Pro­di claimed to have been paid by Gusen­bauer, but it was a result of the “nor­mal pri­vate rela­tions I had with him,” accord­ing to Pro­di, but “not any mon­ey from exter­nal sources.” Pro­di added: “I tell you I have nev­er been paid from any lob­by group in Amer­i­ca.”

    * Kwas­niews­ki said, “I did meet Man­afort two or three times dur­ing our mis­sion in Ukraine in 2012 and 2013, but that’s it. At the time, he was an advis­er to Pres­i­dent Yanukovych, whom I also met, and it was only nat­ur­al that our paths had to cross a cou­ple of times.” He added: “The last time I saw Man­afort was prob­a­bly around the fall of 2013. He nev­er paid us. I nev­er had any finan­cial rela­tion­ship with him, and I nev­er heard of the Haps­burg Group.”

    * Cox said that he had nev­er heard of the Haps­burg Group, had nev­er been paid by any­one for his efforts in Ukraine, and had had no deal­ings with Mr. Man­afort.

    So all four of these for­mer politi­cians report­ed­ly secret­ly hired by Paul Man­afort insist that, no, they either have nev­er met Man­afort or met him a few times but had noth­ing to do with him oth­er­wise.

    But there was an addi­tion­al part of their expla­na­tion that adds a poten­tial­ly sig­nif­i­cant new twist that could reveal an impor­tant con­text for who Paul Man­afort was actu­al­ly work­ing for dur­ing his peri­od of con­sult­ing the Yankovych gov­ern­ment: Accord­ing to both Andrew Kwas­niews­ki and Patrick Cox, they were engaged in these diplo­mat­ic endeav­ors, with­out pay, to try to secure the release of the Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal detainees that the EU demand­ed be released as part of the terms of the pro­posed EU-Ukraine trade pact. And the man who invit­ed them to do this was Mar­tin Schultz, head of Ger­many’s SPD and the head of the Euro­pean par­lia­ment at the time.

    So we have a mys­te­ri­ous diplo­mat­ic ini­tia­tive designed to con­vince gov­ern­ments that Ukraine deserves to be allowed into a trade pact with the EU. The four diplo­mats vehe­ment­ly deny Paul Man­afort had any­thing to do with it, but two of them assert that it was Mar­tin Schulz, then pres­i­dent of the EU par­lia­ment, who invit­ed them to do it.

    This is poten­tial­ly quite sig­nif­i­cant in regards to Man­afort because let’s not for­get that one of the biggest mys­ter­ies swirling around Man­afort at this point is why his daugh­ter’s hacked text mes­sages indi­cat­ed that he was some­how behind the Maid­an sniper mas­sacre. And that sniper mas­sacre was crit­i­cal in forc­ing Yanukovych, Man­afort’s client, from pow­er. So why would Paul Man­afort have played a role in those sniper attacks unless he was ulti­mate­ly work­ing for a client who want­ed to see Yankovych out of pow­er? That’s been a sig­nif­i­cant ques­tion sur­round­ing Man­afort ever since those hacked texts were released and now we learn that a secret lob­by­ing crew, the “Haps­burg Group”, was pos­si­bly financed by Man­afort and con­duct­ing nego­ti­a­tions with the bless­ing of the head of the SPD who was also the head of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment at the time. This does­n’t mean Man­afort arranged the sniper mas­sacre at the behest of EU inter­ests, but it makes such a sce­nario fit the known facts bet­ter. Which is pret­ty chill­ing.

    And this does­n’t mean the Euro­pean par­lia­ment itself was behind the approval Schulz was grant­i­ng. It could have been some oth­er pow­er fac­tion who Schulz is also asso­ci­at­ed with. Per­haps a pre­dom­i­nant­ly Ger­man fac­tion? Per­haps a few Hab­s­burgs were involved? Who knows. But it would help explain the “Haps­burg Group” name if Schulz rep­re­sent­ed a Ger­man pow­er fac­tion that was very inter­est­ed in get­ting Ukraine into that trade agree­ment. Nick­nam­ing this the “Haps­burg Group” nev­er made a lot of sense if it was sim­ply a ref­er­ence to Gusen­bauer being from Aus­tria.

    So who was Man­afort actu­al­ly work­ing for when those Maid­an sniper attacks took place? Yanukovych or the forces behind the Haps­burg Group? That’s now an open ques­tion in this sit­u­a­tion now that we are get­ting hints that Man­afort had oth­er EU clients that want­ed to get Ukraine into the EU. And that’s why this Haps­burg Group rev­e­la­tion is quite a twist regard­ing Man­afort and the sniper attacks. Man­afort is a mul­ti­fac­eted mer­ce­nary sell­ing out to mul­ti­ple sides and that could turn out to be a crit­i­cal fact in this inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Now why was all of this part of a Mueller indict­ment? Well, one of the gov­ern­ments lob­bied by the Haps­burg Group was the US. Specif­i­cal­ly, a col­lec­tion of Repub­li­can con­gress­men involved with for­eign affairs. But they were nev­er told that these for­mer Euro­pean lead­ers were lob­by­ists hired by Man­afort. Instead, they were por­trayed as inde­pen­dent voic­es who were inde­pen­dent­ly assess­ing how far Ukraine had come in meet­ing the var­i­ous oblig­a­tions the EU had laid down in order to let Ukraine form a trade union with the EU. That appears to be where the Mueller indict­ment comes in: Man­afort was arrang­ing gath­er­ings that involved this fun­da­men­tal mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of fact while lob­by­ing the US gov­ern­ment. In oth­er words, Mueller’s indict­ment describes the Haps­burg group’s activ­i­ties as decep­tive lob­by­ing con­spir­a­cy against the US.

    Accord­ing to the Mueller indict­ment against Paul Man­afort and Rick Gates, “For­eign Politi­cian A” (Gusen­bauer) led a group that “lob­bied Unit­ed States Mem­bers of Con­gress, offi­cials in the exec­u­tive branch, and their staffs” in coor­di­na­tion with Man­afort and Gates in 2013. And Gusen­bauer has indeed con­firmed that he had met with Amer­i­can politi­cians around that time But he also claims to have been unaware of any links to Man­afort. Gusen­bauer did say he had met Man­afort pre­vi­ous­ly — once in Europe and once in the Unit­ed States — but it was “just for a cof­fee.”

    Records also show Romano Pro­di did indeed meet with a del­e­ga­tion of Repub­li­can con­gress­men in 2013, but Pro­di insists that he did not believe he had been paid by Man­afort and that he had “nev­er been paid from any lob­by group in Amer­i­ca.”

    So we appear to have a col­lec­tion of strong denials along with non-denial denials from the fig­ures at the heart of this indict­ment.

    Addi­tion­al­ly, Gusen­bauer asserts that he was part of a “noble” effort to bring Ukraine clos­er to the Euro­pean Union. As Gusen­bauer puts it. “I was not employed by Mr. Yanukovy­ch’s government...I was, in the Euro­pean, and Amer­i­can and gen­er­al inter­est, work­ing for an asso­ci­a­tion agree­ment between Ukraine and Europe.” And that appears to be the gen­er­al take on the sit­u­a­tion from all four of the hired politi­cians: they were doing this in the inter­est of Europe. And, from the per­spec­tive of those who want­ed this trade pact wit Ukraine, that was indeed the case. They were lob­by­ing to get Ukraine into a trade pact with the EU. It’s one of the key facts that all sides can agree on. And Paul Man­afort appar­ent­ly helped financed this. So now that we learn that Paul Man­afort may have been work­ing for mul­ti­ple clients dur­ing his time in Ukraine, who was he real­ly work­ing for? That’s a big new ques­tion raised by the Haps­burg Group indict­ment:

    The New York Times

    Euro­pean Ex-Offi­cials Deny Being Paid by Man­afort to Lob­by for Ukraine

    By STEVEN ERLANGER and JASON HOROWITZ
    FEB. 24, 2018

    BRUSSELS — For­mer Euro­pean lead­ers who tried to bring Ukraine clos­er to Europe before a 2014 upris­ing there react­ed with shock on Sat­ur­day after a fed­er­al indict­ment accused Paul Man­afort, Pres­i­dent Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man, of secret­ly pay­ing for­mer Euro­pean offi­cials some two mil­lion euros in 2012 and 2013 to lob­by on the country’s behalf.

    Ukraine at the time was led by Vik­tor F. Yanukovych, who first agreed to clos­er ties to Europe and then reneged under Russ­ian pres­sure and was top­pled in the upris­ing.

    The indict­ment, released on Fri­day by Robert S. Mueller III, the spe­cial coun­sel inves­ti­gat­ing Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion in the Unit­ed States, did not name the for­mer offi­cials, but it set off furi­ous spec­u­la­tion about who they might be.

    The indict­ment says the lob­by­ing effort was man­aged by a for­mer chan­cel­lor of a Euro­pean coun­try, iden­ti­fied as “For­eign Politi­cian A,” in coor­di­na­tion with Mr. Man­afort.

    On Sat­ur­day, Romano Pro­di, a for­mer prime min­is­ter of Italy, said in an inter­view that he and an ex-chan­cel­lor of Aus­tria, Alfred Gusen­bauer, had worked to try to bring Ukraine and the Euro­pean Union clos­er togeth­er.

    But Mr. Pro­di said the funds he had been paid by Mr. Gusen­bauer did not come, to his knowl­edge, from Mr. Man­afort.

    The com­pen­sa­tion from Mr. Gusen­bauer was a result of the “nor­mal pri­vate rela­tions I had with him,” Mr. Pro­di said, but “not any mon­ey from exter­nal sources.” He added: “I tell you I have nev­er been paid from any lob­by group in Amer­i­ca.”

    In a state­ment to the BBC, Mr. Gusen­bauer, who led Aus­tria from Jan­u­ary 2007 to Decem­ber 2008, denied any involve­ment in Mr. Manafort’s work in Ukraine but acknowl­edged that he had met him twice and talked to Euro­pean and Amer­i­can politi­cians about Ukraine, as Mr. Pro­di had also done.

    ...

    “I always had the point of view that it was impor­tant to move Ukraine clos­er to Europe,” Mr. Gusen­bauer told the BBC. “It would have been extreme­ly pos­i­tive if Ukraine could have agreed” to clos­er ties, he said. “I was talk­ing to E.U. and U.S. politi­cians to make that point clear.”

    Mr. Gusen­bauer added: “I stopped this activ­i­ty when I had the impres­sion that Ukraine was mov­ing in the wrong direc­tion.”

    In an inter­view on Sat­ur­day with the Aus­tri­an Press Agency, Mr. Gusen­bauer said that he had been “remu­ner­at­ed” for his work on behalf of Ukraine, but he did not say by whom. He added that he had nev­er worked for Mr. Yanukovych and that he had only met Mr. Man­afort two or three times.

    Mr. Gusen­bauer met sev­er­al mem­bers of Con­gress in June 2013 on behalf of Ukraine, accord­ing to a fed­er­al fil­ing last year by Mer­cury Pub­lic Affairs, a polit­i­cal strat­e­gy group that Mr. Man­afort had hired.

    Mr. Pro­di recalled meet­ing mem­bers of Con­gress inter­est­ed in Ukraine, but said he had not heard of Mer­cury. Asked who sched­uled the meet­ings in Wash­ing­ton, Mr. Pro­di said, “I imag­ine it was Gusen­bauer.”

    A sec­ond Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ing firm hired by Mr. Man­afort, the Podes­ta Group, also said last year that it had “arranged meet­ings and media oppor­tu­ni­ties” for vis­it­ing Euro­pean lead­ers regard­ing Ukraine, start­ing in 2012, includ­ing for Mr. Gusen­bauer, Mr. Pro­di and two for­mer pres­i­dents, Alek­sander Kwas­niews­ki of Poland and Vik­tor A. Yushchenko of Ukraine.

    Mr. Man­afort did not inform the Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ists with whom they worked that the Euro­pean politi­cians were being paid for their efforts, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with the work done by the two firms, who said the lob­by­ists had pre­sent­ed the Euro­pean politi­cians as unbi­ased val­ida­tors of Mr. Yanukovych’s efforts.

    The group of senior for­mer politi­cians, accord­ing to the indict­ment, was infor­mal­ly called the Haps­burg Group, after the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­i­an dynasty, the Hab­s­burgs. The plan, accord­ing to the indict­ment, was for the group to “appear to be pro­vid­ing their inde­pen­dent assess­ments of Gov­ern­ment of Ukraine actions, when in fact they were paid lob­by­ists for Ukraine.”.

    In the inter­view on Sat­ur­day, Mr. Pro­di said that he had nev­er heard of any Haps­burg Group. “It was Gusen­bauer head­ing the group; we did all our efforts to have peace in Ukraine,” Mr. Pro­di said, say­ing that the group of “experts and for­mer politi­cians” had met at sev­er­al con­fer­ences but soon dis­band­ed when it became clear that “a stronger rela­tion­ship with the Euro­pean Union was impos­si­ble.”

    In 2012 and 2013, Mr. Yanukovych was try­ing to nego­ti­ate an “asso­ci­a­tion agree­ment” with the Euro­pean Union, which was made dif­fi­cult by his jail­ing of polit­i­cal oppo­nents, like Yulia V. Tymoshenko, Valery Ivashchenko and Yuri V. Lut­senko in 2011 and 2012.

    Euro­pean offi­cials were keen to secure the agree­ment, and tried to get Mr. Yanukovych to release the detainees, argu­ing that their cap­tiv­i­ty was dam­ag­ing his rep­u­ta­tion and mak­ing clos­er ties to Brus­sels hard to swal­low.

    Mr. Pro­di said that Mr. Gusen­bauer was the “coor­di­na­tor” of a group of like-mind­ed lib­er­al and cen­ter-left politi­cians on the issue.

    Mr. Kwas­niews­ki and Patrick Cox of Ire­land, a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, said that they were work­ing at the sug­ges­tion of the parliament’s pres­i­dent at the time, Mar­tin Schulz of Ger­many, to get Mr. Yanukovych to release polit­i­cal oppo­nents from jail to improve his stand­ing with the Euro­peans as they debat­ed the asso­ci­a­tion agree­ment.

    Asked if the mon­ey Mr. Gusen­bauer received came from Mr. Man­afort, Mr. Pro­di seemed skep­ti­cal but said that he didn’t know. “Go ask Gusen­bauer,” he said, adding that he thought that it was more like­ly that the mon­ey came from Euro­pean busi­ness­men inter­est­ed in keep­ing Europe and Ukraine close.

    In an inter­view on Sat­ur­day, Mr. Cox said he had worked with Mr. Kwas­niews­ki, Mr. Schulz and oth­ers to try to con­vince Mr. Yanukovych to release the jailed polit­i­cal oppo­nents.

    Mr. Cox said that he had nev­er heard of the Haps­burg Group, had nev­er been paid by any­one for his efforts in Ukraine, and had had no deal­ings with Mr. Man­afort. But in 2012, he said, he had been invit­ed by Mr. Schultz to go to Ukraine with Mr. Kwas­niews­ki, the first of some 25 trips, all done “pro bono,” Mr. Cox said, to try to get the detainees released.

    “The view in West­ern cap­i­tals was that these were the vic­tims of selec­tive jus­tice,” Mr. Cox said. After meet­ings with Mr. Yanukovych and pros­e­cu­tors, Mr. Cox and Mr. Kwas­niews­ki were suc­cess­ful in obtain­ing the release of Mr. Ivashchenko and Mr. Lut­senko, who is now Ukraine’s pros­e­cu­tor-gen­er­al.

    “We were not suc­cess­ful with Yulia Tymoshenko,” who was Mr. Yanukovych’s prime polit­i­cal oppo­nent at the time, Mr. Cox said. “But we did ensure that Char­ité hos­pi­tal in Berlin would have access to her in prison and she not be sub­ject to fur­ther tri­als,” he added.

    Mr. Cox made clear his dis­taste for Mr. Yanukovych, adding: “I wouldn’t lob­by for him.”

    In an inter­view on Sat­ur­day, Mr. Kwas­niews­ki said, “I did meet Man­afort two or three times dur­ing our mis­sion in Ukraine in 2012 and 2013, but that’s it. At the time, he was an advis­er to Pres­i­dent Yanukovych, whom I also met, and it was only nat­ur­al that our paths had to cross a cou­ple of times.”

    He added: “The last time I saw Man­afort was prob­a­bly around the fall of 2013. He nev­er paid us. I nev­er had any finan­cial rela­tion­ship with him, and I nev­er heard of the Haps­burg Group.”

    The release of some of the detainees did help Ukraine’s rela­tion­ship with Brus­sels, but then Mr. Yanukovych reject­ed the asso­ci­a­tion agree­ment, in favor of a free-trade rela­tion­ship with Rus­sia.

    That, in turn, start­ed the demon­stra­tions that led to Mr. Yanukovych’s down­fall, the Russ­ian seizure of Crimea and the cur­rent con­flict in east­ern Ukraine.

    ———-

    “Euro­pean Ex-Offi­cials Deny Being Paid by Man­afort to Lob­by for Ukraine” by STEVEN ERLANGER and JASON HOROWITZ; The New York Times; 02/24/2018

    “The indict­ment, released on Fri­day by Robert S. Mueller III, the spe­cial coun­sel inves­ti­gat­ing Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion in the Unit­ed States, did not name the for­mer offi­cials, but it set off furi­ous spec­u­la­tion about who they might be.”

    Yes, the spec­u­la­tion of the iden­ti­ties of these unnamed for­mer Euro­pean offi­cials was indeed furi­ous. And short-lived, because it was pret­ty clear who these peo­ple worth with­in a day after Romano Pro­di, the for­mer prime min­is­ter of Italy, admit­ted in an inter­view that he and Alfred Gusen­bauer, were indeed work­ing on exact­ly the kind of diplo­mat­ic ini­tia­tive described in the indict­ment:

    ...
    The indict­ment says the lob­by­ing effort was man­aged by a for­mer chan­cel­lor of a Euro­pean coun­try, iden­ti­fied as “For­eign Politi­cian A,” in coor­di­na­tion with Mr. Man­afort.

    On Sat­ur­day, Romano Pro­di, a for­mer prime min­is­ter of Italy, said in an inter­view that he and an ex-chan­cel­lor of Aus­tria, Alfred Gusen­bauer, had worked to try to bring Ukraine and the Euro­pean Union clos­er togeth­er.
    ...

    And this spec­u­la­tion was butressed by offi­cial doc­u­ments. Mer­cury Pub­lic Affairs, a polit­i­cal strat­e­gy group hired by Man­afort, filed last year that it sent Mr. Gusen­bauer to meet sev­er­al mem­bers of Con­gress in mid 2013. And Pro­di admit­ted to recall­ing such a meet­ing. Although he claimed to know noth­ing about Mer­cury:

    ...
    Mr. Gusen­bauer met sev­er­al mem­bers of Con­gress in June 2013 on behalf of Ukraine, accord­ing to a fed­er­al fil­ing last year by Mer­cury Pub­lic Affairs, a polit­i­cal strat­e­gy group that Mr. Man­afort had hired.

    Mr. Pro­di recalled meet­ing mem­bers of Con­gress inter­est­ed in Ukraine, but said he had not heard of Mer­cury. Asked who sched­uled the meet­ings in Wash­ing­ton, Mr. Pro­di said, “I imag­ine it was Gusen­bauer.”
    ...

    And a sec­ond lob­by­ing firm, the Podes­ta Group, also filed last year that it “arranged meet­ings and media oppor­tu­ni­ties” for vis­it­ing Euro­pean lead­ers start­ing in 2012. And this includ­ed Gusen­bauer, Pro­di, Alek­sander Kwas­niews­ki of Poland and Vik­tor A. Yushchenko of Ukraine:

    ...
    A sec­ond Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ing firm hired by Mr. Man­afort, the Podes­ta Group, also said last year that it had “arranged meet­ings and media oppor­tu­ni­ties” for vis­it­ing Euro­pean lead­ers regard­ing Ukraine, start­ing in 2012, includ­ing for Mr. Gusen­bauer, Mr. Pro­di and two for­mer pres­i­dents, Alek­sander Kwas­niews­ki of Poland and Vik­tor A. Yushchenko of Ukraine.
    ...

    Keep in mind that Vik­tor A. Yushchenko is an arch rival of Vik­tor Yanukovych was a leader of the polit­i­cal forces in Ukraine that led the Maid­an protests and Yanukovy­ch’s even­tu­al over­throw. So to learn that Yushchenko was part of this effort is an impor­tant fact for estab­lish­ing that this diplo­mat­ic effort Man­afort was lead­ing had broad sup­port with­in Ukraine’s polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment.

    So these meet­ings in 2012 and 2013 by two lob­by­ing firms hired by Man­afort are part of the pub­lic record.

    But the spec­u­la­tion has shift­ed to who knew what when. Because all of these for­mer offi­cials are deny­ing they had any­thing to do with Paul Man­afort, and cer­tain­ly weren’t paid by him for their efforts. Instead, they argue, this was a good faith effort to bring Ukraine into the EU because they felt that was in Europe’s inter­est:

    ...
    But Mr. Pro­di said the funds he had been paid by Mr. Gusen­bauer did not come, to his knowl­edge, from Mr. Man­afort.

    The com­pen­sa­tion from Mr. Gusen­bauer was a result of the “nor­mal pri­vate rela­tions I had with him,” Mr. Pro­di said, but “not any mon­ey from exter­nal sources.” He added: “I tell you I have nev­er been paid from any lob­by group in Amer­i­ca.”

    In a state­ment to the BBC, Mr. Gusen­bauer, who led Aus­tria from Jan­u­ary 2007 to Decem­ber 2008, denied any involve­ment in Mr. Manafort’s work in Ukraine but acknowl­edged that he had met him twice and talked to Euro­pean and Amer­i­can politi­cians about Ukraine, as Mr. Pro­di had also done.

    ...

    “I always had the point of view that it was impor­tant to move Ukraine clos­er to Europe,” Mr. Gusen­bauer told the BBC. “It would have been extreme­ly pos­i­tive if Ukraine could have agreed” to clos­er ties, he said. “I was talk­ing to E.U. and U.S. politi­cians to make that point clear.”

    Mr. Gusen­bauer added: “I stopped this activ­i­ty when I had the impres­sion that Ukraine was mov­ing in the wrong direc­tion.”

    In an inter­view on Sat­ur­day with the Aus­tri­an Press Agency, Mr. Gusen­bauer said that he had been “remu­ner­at­ed” for his work on behalf of Ukraine, but he did not say by whom. He added that he had nev­er worked for Mr. Yanukovych and that he had only met Mr. Man­afort two or three times.

    In the inter­view on Sat­ur­day, Mr. Pro­di said that he had nev­er heard of any Haps­burg Group. “It was Gusen­bauer head­ing the group; we did all our efforts to have peace in Ukraine,” Mr. Pio­di said, say­ing that the group of “experts and for­mer politi­cians” had met at sev­er­al con­fer­ences but soon dis­band­ed when it became clear that “a stronger rela­tion­ship with the Euro­pean Union was impos­si­ble.”
    ...

    “In an inter­view on Sat­ur­day with the Aus­tri­an Press Agency, Mr. Gusen­bauer said that he had been “remu­ner­at­ed” for his work on behalf of Ukraine, but he did not say by whom. He added that he had nev­er worked for Mr. Yanukovych and that he had only met Mr. Man­afort two or three times.”

    Note that Gusen­bauer did admit to be paid by “an Amer­i­can or Eng­lish com­pa­ny”.

    So we have doc­u­ments that make it clear these meet­ings with US con­gress­men hap­pened involv­ing these indi­vid­u­als. And Gusen­bauer admits to being paid by “an Amer­i­can or Eng­lish” firm. But he’s stick­ing to the idea that Man­afort had noth­ing to do with this. And Pro­di acknowl­edges the diplo­mat­ic effort, but claims that he thought Gusen­bauer was lead­ing it, and also that he nev­er heard of the nick­name “the Haps­burg Group”.

    And then there’s the expla­na­tions from Andrew Kwas­niews­ki of Poland and Patrick Cox of Ire­land. They appeared to be more focused on the issue of get­ting sev­er­al polit­i­cal pris­on­ers released since they was one of the EU demands for the trade agree­ment. And they both assert that they were doing this work for free and at the behest of Mar­tin Schulz, then the pres­i­dent of the EU par­lia­ment. The way Cox puts it, he and Kwas­niews­ki and Schulz were basi­cal­ly lob­by­ing Yanukovych to release jailed polit­i­cal pris­on­ers. So based on that char­ac­ter­i­za­tion the Haps­burg Group sounds much more like a Euro­pean lob­by­ing effort lob­by­ing both the US and Ukraine and try­ing to make sure the deal hap­pens:

    ...
    In 2012 and 2013, Mr. Yanukovych was try­ing to nego­ti­ate an “asso­ci­a­tion agree­ment” with the Euro­pean Union, which was made dif­fi­cult by his jail­ing of polit­i­cal oppo­nents, like Yulia V. Tymoshenko, Valery Ivashchenko and Yuri V. Lut­senko in 2011 and 2012.

    Euro­pean offi­cials were keen to secure the agree­ment, and tried to get Mr. Yanukovych to release the detainees, argu­ing that their cap­tiv­i­ty was dam­ag­ing his rep­u­ta­tion and mak­ing clos­er ties to Brus­sels hard to swal­low.

    Mr. Pro­di said that Mr. Gusen­bauer was the “coor­di­na­tor” of a group of like-mind­ed lib­er­al and cen­ter-left politi­cians on the issue.

    Mr. Kwas­niews­ki and Patrick Cox of Ire­land, a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, said that they were work­ing at the sug­ges­tion of the parliament’s pres­i­dent at the time, Mar­tin Schulz of Ger­many, to get Mr. Yanukovych to release polit­i­cal oppo­nents from jail to improve his stand­ing with the Euro­peans as they debat­ed the asso­ci­a­tion agree­ment.

    Asked if the mon­ey Mr. Gusen­bauer received came from Mr. Man­afort, Mr. Pro­di seemed skep­ti­cal but said that he didn’t know. “Go ask Gusen­bauer,” he said, adding that he thought that it was more like­ly that the mon­ey came from Euro­pean busi­ness­men inter­est­ed in keep­ing Europe and Ukraine close.

    In an inter­view on Sat­ur­day, Mr. Cox said he had worked with Mr. Kwas­niews­ki, Mr. Schulz and oth­ers to try to con­vince Mr. Yanukovych to release the jailed polit­i­cal oppo­nents.

    Mr. Cox said that he had nev­er heard of the Haps­burg Group, had nev­er been paid by any­one for his efforts in Ukraine, and had had no deal­ings with Mr. Man­afort. But in 2012, he said, he had been invit­ed by Mr. Schultz to go to Ukraine with Mr. Kwas­niews­ki, the first of some 25 trips, all done “pro bono,” Mr. Cox said, to try to get the detainees released.
    ...

    Cox goes on to make it clear that he would nev­er lob­by on behalf of the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment:

    ...
    “The view in West­ern cap­i­tals was that these were the vic­tims of selec­tive jus­tice,” Mr. Cox said. After meet­ings with Mr. Yanukovych and pros­e­cu­tors, Mr. Cox and Mr. Kwas­niews­ki were suc­cess­ful in obtain­ing the release of Mr. Ivashchenko and Mr. Lut­senko, who is now Ukraine’s pros­e­cu­tor-gen­er­al.

    “We were not suc­cess­ful with Yulia Tymoshenko,” who was Mr. Yanukovych’s prime polit­i­cal oppo­nent at the time, Mr. Cox said. “But we did ensure that Char­ité hos­pi­tal in Berlin would have access to her in prison and she not be sub­ject to fur­ther tri­als,” he added.

    Mr. Cox made clear his dis­taste for Mr. Yanukovych, adding: “I wouldn’t lob­by for him.”
    ...

    So Cox is mak­ing it clear: he felt he was lob­by­ing on behalf of Euro­pean inter­ests. And at the behest of Mar­tin Schulz. Not for Paul Man­afort and not for the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment.

    And while Mr. Kwas­niews­ki of Poland admits to meet­ing Man­afort in Ukraine in 2012 and 2013, he assert that he was nev­er paid by Man­afort and he has nev­er heard of the Haps­burg Group:

    ...
    In an inter­view on Sat­ur­day, Mr. Kwas­niews­ki said, “I did meet Man­afort two or three times dur­ing our mis­sion in Ukraine in 2012 and 2013, but that’s it. At the time, he was an advis­er to Pres­i­dent Yanukovych, whom I also met, and it was only nat­ur­al that our paths had to cross a cou­ple of times.”

    He added: “The last time I saw Man­afort was prob­a­bly around the fall of 2013. He nev­er paid us. I nev­er had any finan­cial rela­tion­ship with him, and I nev­er heard of the Haps­burg Group.”
    ...

    And accord­ing to the Mueller indict­ment, when this lob­by­ing effort came to the US, it was under the guise of these for­mer Euro­pean politi­cians being unbi­ased val­ida­tors of Mr. Yanukovych’s efforts to meet the EU demands over the trade union. The plan, accord­ing to the indict­ment, was for the group to “appear to be pro­vid­ing their inde­pen­dent assess­ments of Gov­ern­ment of Ukraine actions, when in fact they were paid lob­by­ists for Ukraine.”:

    ...
    Mr. Man­afort did not inform the Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ists with whom they worked that the Euro­pean politi­cians were being paid for their efforts, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with the work done by the two firms, who said the lob­by­ists had pre­sent­ed the Euro­pean politi­cians as unbi­ased val­ida­tors of Mr. Yanukovych’s efforts.

    The group of senior for­mer politi­cians, accord­ing to the indict­ment, was infor­mal­ly called the Haps­burg Group, after the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­i­an dynasty, the Hab­s­burgs. The plan, accord­ing to the indict­ment, was for the group to “appear to be pro­vid­ing their inde­pen­dent assess­ments of Gov­ern­ment of Ukraine actions, when in fact they were paid lob­by­ists for Ukraine.”.
    ...

    So that’s what we know so far about the Haps­burg Group chap­ter of this #TrumpRus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion. And, again, it’s a chap­ter that rais­es a sig­nif­i­cant ques­tion when it comes to Paul Man­afort and his work in Ukraine: who was he actu­al­ly work­ing for? Was he qui­et­ly hired by a group asso­ci­at­ed with Mar­tin Schulz to effec­tive­ly lob­by Yanukovych? If so, was that group the EU — with Schulz act­ing as pres­i­dent of the EU par­lia­ment — or might Schulz have been rep­re­sent­ing a small­er group of inter­ests? Ger­man inter­ests per­haps? Hab­s­burg dynasty inter­ests in con­cert with oth­er pow­er­ful Euro­pean pri­vate inter­ests per­haps?

    But there’s anoth­er key aspect of the entire saga around the con­flict in Ukraine that this Haps­burg Group affair does an excel­lent job high­light­ing: the Vik­tor Yanukovych gov­ern­ment was heav­i­ly in favor of join­ing the EU trade agree­ment until the very last minute when he backed out. That’s why Paul Man­afort was hired to lead this secret diplo­mat­ic ini­tia­tive. Yes, there’s a ques­tion as to whether or not Man­afort was also hired by or secret­ly work­ing with EU ele­ments dur­ing this peri­od, but it’s clear that the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment real­ly was try­ing to make this trade pact a real­i­ty until the last minute rever­sal.

    And as the fol­low­ing arti­cle from Decem­ber of 2013 — a month after the deal col­lapsed — makes clear, there were a num­ber of rea­sons for the col­lapse of the deal and those rea­sons did NOT include a lack of desire on Yanukovy­ch’s part to make the deal hap­pen. The Krem­lin clear­ly played a sig­nif­i­cant role in that last minute rever­sal with a car­rot and stick approach. And the demands for the release of Yulia Tymoshenko, the for­mer prime min­is­ter of Ukraine Yanukovych had jailed, was anoth­er key stick­ing point. Yanukovych report­ed­ly fears her intense­ly.

    But the arti­cle focus­es on anoth­er key under-rec­og­nized fac­tor that led to Yanukovy­ch’s pull out of the deal and it’s a fac­tor that actu­al­ly indi­cates he would have pre­ferred to ful­fill the deal even­tu­al­ly: the EU and IMF gave Ukraine a crap­py real­ly deal. Part of the agree­ment was that the Ukraine get its econ­o­my up to EU stan­dards which would have been wild­ly expen­sive. And the only help the EU was offer­ing was loans. Inad­e­quate loans. Some from the IMF. It was a deal that was quite pos­si­bly going to lead to the kind of aus­ter­i­ty night­mare that the EU and IMF is now known to enforce with glee.

    Also note that the need to nego­ti­ate with the IMF over this deal would be one of the rea­sons why the Haps­burg Group would have need­ed to meet with US con­gress­men. The IMF is large­ly a US-direct­ed insti­tu­tion. But such nego­ti­a­tions, if they hap­pened, clear­ly did­n’t per­suade the IMF to offer the kind of assur­ances need­ed to gain Yanukovy­ch’s con­fi­dence. And with­out such assur­ances it’s not hard to see why he would­n’t have had much con­fi­dence in the deal. The EU was in full-on mean-mode in 2013.

    So if the EU and IMF would have sim­ply offered Ukraine a bet­ter deal, one that did­n’t like­ly involve intense aus­ter­i­ty for Ukraine, Ukraine would have prob­a­bly accept­ed the deal and this cur­rent night­mare in Ukraine may have been avoid­ed. It’s a reminder that bru­tal aus­ter­i­ty isn’t just a bad look for the EU. It’s bad pol­i­cy:

    Reuters

    Spe­cial Report: Why Ukraine spurned the EU and embraced Rus­sia

    Eliz­a­beth Piper
    Decem­ber 19, 2013 / 5:03 AM

    KIEV (Reuters) — On Sep­tem­ber 4, Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovich called a meet­ing of his polit­i­cal par­ty for the first time in three years, sum­mon­ing mem­bers to an old Sovi­et-era cin­e­ma called Zoryany in Kiev.

    For three hours Yanukovich cajoled and bul­lied any­one who pushed for Ukraine to have clos­er ties to Rus­sia. A hand­ful of deputies from his Par­ty of Regions com­plained that their busi­ness­es in Ukraine’s Russ­ian-speak­ing east would suf­fer if Yanukovich didn’t agree to clos­er ties with Rus­sia. That set him off.

    “For­get about it ... for­ev­er!” he shout­ed at them, accord­ing to peo­ple who attend­ed the meet­ing. Instead the pres­i­dent argued for an agree­ment to deep­en trade and oth­er coop­er­a­tion with the Euro­pean Union.

    Some deputies implored him to change his mind, peo­ple who attend­ed the meet­ing told Reuters. Busi­ness­men warned that a deal with the EU would pro­voke Rus­sia — Ukraine’s for­mer mas­ter in Sovi­et times — into tough­en­ing an eco­nom­ic block­ade on Ukrain­ian goods. Yanukovich stood firm.

    “We will pur­sue inte­gra­tion with Europe,” he barked back, accord­ing to three peo­ple who attend­ed the meet­ing. He seemed dead set on look­ing west.

    Less than three months lat­er Yanukovich spurned the EU, embraced Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and struck a deal on Decem­ber 17 for a bailout of his coun­try. Rus­sia will invest $15 bil­lion in Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment debt and reduce by about a third the price that Naftogaz, Ukraine’s nation­al ener­gy com­pa­ny, pays for Russ­ian gas.

    It is not clear what Yanukovich agreed to give Rus­sia in return, but two sources close to him said he may have had to sur­ren­der some con­trol over Ukraine’s gas pipeline net­work.

    What caused the U‑turn by the lead­er­ship of a coun­try of 46 mil­lion peo­ple that occu­pies a strate­gic posi­tion between the EU and Rus­sia?

    Pub­lic and pri­vate arm-twist­ing by Putin, includ­ing threats to Ukraine’s econ­o­my and Yanukovich’s polit­i­cal future, played a sig­nif­i­cant part. But the unwill­ing­ness of the EU and Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund to be flex­i­ble in their demands of Ukraine also had an effect, mak­ing them less attrac­tive part­ners.

    And amid this inter­na­tion­al tug-of-war, Yanukovich’s per­son­al antipa­thy towards his jailed polit­i­cal rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, was a fac­tor, accord­ing to Volodymyr Oliynyk, an ally of Yanukovich and a promi­nent mem­ber of the rul­ing par­ty. The EU accused Ukraine of treat­ing Tymoshenko unfair­ly — to the annoy­ance of Yanukovich, accord­ing to his sup­port­ers and one of her lawyers.

    The upshot is that Yanukovich, 63, has split his par­ty and his coun­try. Some lead­ing par­ty offi­cials have desert­ed him. His hopes of re-elec­tion in 2015 — if there is a free and fair vote — look weak.

    Hun­dreds of thou­sands of pro­test­ers have tak­en to the streets, demand­ing he step down and the coun­try pur­sue clos­er links with the EU. Yanukovich, who has been increas­ing­ly cut off in his sprawl­ing res­i­dence out­side Kiev and dis­tant even from some of his old­est friends, did not respond to requests for com­ment.

    PROUD EGO

    Risen from hum­ble roots, Yanukovich likes to be treat­ed with respect and as an equal, a char­ac­ter­is­tic that has informed much of his reluc­tance to join the cus­toms union of for­mer Sovi­et states that Putin wants to cre­ate.

    Col­leagues describe the burly leader as an intu­itive politi­cian who can­not abide being patron­ized. Inna Bohoslovs­ka, a mem­ber of Yanukovich’s Par­ty of Regions until last month, said Yanukovich made clear at the cin­e­ma meet­ing his dis­like of Rus­sia treat­ing Ukraine as sec­ond rate.

    “He told us Rus­sia was not fit for talks, Rus­sia did not con­sid­er Ukraine to be an equal part­ner, that it tried to force us to act by its own rules, that Rus­sia does not act in Ukraine’s best inter­ests in any nego­ti­a­tions, and there­fore there can be no talk of hav­ing nego­ti­a­tions with Rus­sia,” she said.

    Yanukovich felt he was bet­ter treat­ed by EU offi­cials, two par­ty mem­bers said, despite find­ing it hard to grasp the com­plex­i­ty of EU bureau­cra­cy. Hail­ing from Ukraine’s indus­tri­al east, Yanukovich also seemed the per­fect man to per­suade Ukraine’s pro-Russ­ian east­ern regions to agree to clos­er ties with Europe.

    “That a pres­i­dent from the east would bring Ukraine into Europe was the ide­al com­bi­na­tion for us. We were will­ing to do any­thing,” said David Zhvaniya, a for­mer mem­ber of the Par­ty of Regions who helped lead efforts to pre­pare Ukraine for deep­er coop­er­a­tion with the EU.

    Now deeply dis­il­lu­sioned, Zhvaniya feels mis­led by Yanukovich: “He tricked us all ... It was a com­plete, utter lie.” He accus­es Yanukovich of act­ing like a tsar.

    Oth­ers say Yanukovich’s desire to forge clos­er links with the EU was gen­uine, but that he became dis­mayed when he felt the EU failed to acknowl­edge the scale of the finan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties he would face if he chose Brus­sels over Moscow.

    Yanukovich esti­mat­ed that he need­ed $160 bil­lion over three years to make up for the trade Ukraine stood to lose with Rus­sia, and to help cush­ion the pain from reforms the EU was demand­ing. The EU refused to give such a sum, which it said was exag­ger­at­ed and unjus­ti­fied.

    The EU offered 610 mil­lion euros ($839 mil­lion) imme­di­ate­ly. EU offi­cials said increased trade, com­bined with var­i­ous aid and financ­ing pro­grams, might go some way to pro­vid­ing Kiev with the invest­ment it need­ed.

    An EU source said Ukraine could have been in line to receive at least 19 bil­lion euros in EU loans and grants over the next sev­en years if it had signed a trade and coop­er­a­tion agree­ment and reached a deal with the IMF. But that sum was not men­tioned to Ukraine offi­cials dur­ing nego­ti­a­tions, said the source.

    To Ukraine, there seemed lit­tle prospect of get­ting the EU, already strug­gling to help its indebt­ed mem­bers, to offer a bet­ter deal than its orig­i­nal offer.

    Oliynyk, who is Ukraine’s per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive for NATO, and oth­ers were furi­ous. He told Reuters that when Ukraine turned to Europe’s offi­cials for help, they “spat on us.”

    Next year Ukraine will have to cov­er for­eign debt pay­ments of $8 bil­lion, accord­ing to its finance min­istry. It was tee­ter­ing on the brink of bank­rupt­cy, part­ly because Moscow was block­ing sales of Ukrain­ian-pro­duced meat, cheese and some con­fec­tionery, and scrap­ping duty-free quo­tas on steel pipes. Some offi­cials said the restric­tions showed what life would be like if Ukraine signed the EU agree­ment.

    Yanukovich’s oth­er hope was the IMF. It res­cued Ukraine dur­ing the onset of the glob­al finan­cial cri­sis with a $16.5 bil­lion loan in 2008 when Tymoshenko was prime min­is­ter. It also approved a $15.5 bil­lion stand-by pro­gram for the Yanukovich gov­ern­ment in 2010, dis­burs­ing about $3.5 bil­lion, before freez­ing the pro­gram in 2011 because Ukraine failed to meet its con­di­tions. A year lat­er, the pro­gram had expired.

    The IMF, like the EU, was unwill­ing to grant the sort of loans Yanukovich want­ed under a new pro­gram. In a let­ter dat­ed Novem­ber 20, it told Ukraine that it would not soft­en con­di­tions for a new loan and that it would offer only $5 bil­lion, Oliynyk said. And Kiev would have to pay back almost the same amount next year, he said, as part of repay­ments for the ear­li­er $16.5 bil­lion loan.

    The IMF declined to com­ment. Accord­ing to IMF fig­ures, Kiev should pay back $3.7 bil­lion next year.

    “We could not con­tain our emo­tions, it was unac­cept­able,” said Oliynyk.

    Yanukovich was furi­ous, par­ty mem­bers said. He believed the IMF had ignored what he saw as rea­son­able demands to lift tough con­di­tions for its ear­li­er help, such as increas­ing the retire­ment age and freez­ing pen­sions and wages. Worse, the IMF was ask­ing him to repay a loan that had been nego­ti­at­ed by his arch ene­my, Tymoshenko.

    JUSTICE ON TRIAL

    Despite his rep­u­ta­tion as a hard man — he was sent to Sovi­et pris­ons twice for theft and assault when he was a youth — Yanukovich has a par­tic­u­lar weak point: jailed oppo­si­tion leader Tymoshenko. He both detests and fears her, accord­ing to his aides and diplo­mats.

    Con­spic­u­ous for her plait­ed blonde hair, Tymoshenko was one of the lead­ers of the 2004 Orange Rev­o­lu­tion, which snuffed out Yanukovich’s first bid to be pres­i­dent. She served as prime min­is­ter in 2005 and then from 2007–2010, and their enmi­ty deep­ened when a plan to form a coali­tion against a com­mon ene­my failed in 2009.

    Tymoshenko, who has said she want­ed to “kill” Yanukovich over his pol­i­cy U‑turn, was jailed in 2011 for abuse of office after a tri­al West­ern gov­ern­ments say was polit­i­cal. Most Ukraini­ans think she should be released, though many ques­tion how she amassed her wealth.

    To the EU, Tymoshenko’s case rep­re­sent­ed an unac­cept­able stan­dard of jus­tice. As part of the trade pact, the EU demand­ed Ukraine release Tymoshenko or, as some offi­cials sug­gest­ed, make a com­mit­ment to do so.

    Yanukovich and his sup­port­ers resist­ed. “We had done most things on the list for the EU acces­sion agree­ment, but there was a ques­tion mark over Tymoshenko ... We believe she is guilty ... and among those peo­ple who think she is guilty, 80 per­cent are our vot­ers,” Oliynyk said, going on to doc­u­ment the dozens of per­ceived slights Tymoshenko has made against Yanukovich.

    ...

    Yanukovich was also offend­ed when he found out Kiev would not be offered a firm prospect of full mem­ber­ship of the EU; he felt Ukraine was being treat­ed as a less­er coun­try to “even Poland”, with which it shares a bor­der.

    “Many cit­i­zens have got it wrong on Euro­pean inte­gra­tion. It is not about mem­ber­ship, we are appar­ent­ly not Poland, appar­ent­ly we are not on a lev­el with Poland ... they are not let­ting us in real­ly, we will be stand­ing at the doors. We’re nice but we’re not Poles,” Oliynyk said.

    Poland became a full mem­ber of the EU in 2004. EU enlarge­ment chief Ste­fan Fuele sug­gest­ed after Yanukovich’s U‑turn that per­haps the bloc should have offered Ukraine mem­ber­ship at some point.

    Amid the acri­mo­ny, lead­ing offi­cials, includ­ing Myko­la Azarov, Yanukovich’s prime min­is­ter, per­formed a volte-face.

    ...

    A HEAVY PRICE

    Yanukovich knew there would be a cost, whichev­er way he turned. Spurn­ing Putin would like­ly bring eco­nom­ic dam­age; spurn­ing the EU has brought polit­i­cal dam­age.

    Yanukovich will resist for as long as pos­si­ble sign­ing up to Putin’s cus­toms union, say ana­lysts; but the prospect of Ukraine join­ing has already fired up mass protests in Kiev call­ing for him to resign. It has also split his inner cir­cle.

    Yanukovich has become increas­ing­ly iso­lat­ed, spend­ing more time at his estate of Mezhy­hirya, 16 km (9 miles) north of Kiev, com­plete with lake and near­by forests where he likes to hunt. There he is guard­ed by a large con­tin­gent of police, who allow in only fam­i­ly mem­bers and his clos­est aides.

    ...

    ———-

    “Spe­cial Report: Why Ukraine spurned the EU and embraced Rus­sia” by Eliz­a­beth Piper; Reuters; 12/19/2013

    “Pub­lic and pri­vate arm-twist­ing by Putin, includ­ing threats to Ukraine’s econ­o­my and Yanukovich’s polit­i­cal future, played a sig­nif­i­cant part. But the unwill­ing­ness of the EU and Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund to be flex­i­ble in their demands of Ukraine also had an effect, mak­ing them less attrac­tive part­ners.

    Yep, don’t for­get that in 2012–2013, the EU was in the mid­dle of his aus­ter­i­ty-spree. Greece, Ire­land, Por­tu­gal, and Spain were get­ting the screws turned on them in a mas­sive way. That was the pub­lic face of the EU that Ukraine was try­ing to snug­gle up to. So you can under­stand why assur­ances that Ukraine would­n’t be forced to under­go a sim­i­lar night­mare regime would have been seen as cru­cial for these nego­ti­a­tions. But those assur­ances nev­er hap­pened, mak­ing it a mas­sive gam­ble for Yanukovych go pro­ceed ahead with the deal.

    And yet, despite the clear and present risks of enter­ing into such an arrange­ment with the EU, Yanukovich was appar­ent­ly quite keen on find­ing a way to make the deal hap­pen. That’s how inter­est­ed he was in mov­ing Ukraine clos­er to the EU. And that’s what the Haps­burg Group ini­tia­tive was appar­ent­ly all about. Mak­ing this deal a real­i­ty. It’s a major fact that com­pli­cates the nar­ra­tive that Man­afort, or even Yanukovych, are mere­ly ‘Putin pup­pets’. Despite friend­ly ties with the Krem­lin, Yanukovych was still a crea­ture of Ukraine’s pow­er struc­ture and that pow­er struc­ture has mul­ti­ple pow­er ori­en­ta­tions. Some Ukrain­ian oli­garchs are clear­ly focused on good rela­tions with Rus­sia. But by no means all, and that includ­ed a num­ber of fig­ures in Yanukovy­ch’s Par­ty of Regions. Includ­ing, most notably, Yanukovych him­self. At least Yanukovych appeared to be in favor of the EU deal up until the last minute. Hence Man­afort’s diplo­mat­ic cam­paign with the Haps­burg Group:

    On Sep­tem­ber 4, Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovich called a meet­ing of his polit­i­cal par­ty for the first time in three years, sum­mon­ing mem­bers to an old Sovi­et-era cin­e­ma called Zoryany in Kiev.

    For three hours Yanukovich cajoled and bul­lied any­one who pushed for Ukraine to have clos­er ties to Rus­sia. A hand­ful of deputies from his Par­ty of Regions com­plained that their busi­ness­es in Ukraine’s Russ­ian-speak­ing east would suf­fer if Yanukovich didn’t agree to clos­er ties with Rus­sia. That set him off.

    “For­get about it ... for­ev­er!” he shout­ed at them, accord­ing to peo­ple who attend­ed the meet­ing. Instead the pres­i­dent argued for an agree­ment to deep­en trade and oth­er coop­er­a­tion with the Euro­pean Union.

    Some deputies implored him to change his mind, peo­ple who attend­ed the meet­ing told Reuters. Busi­ness­men warned that a deal with the EU would pro­voke Rus­sia — Ukraine’s for­mer mas­ter in Sovi­et times — into tough­en­ing an eco­nom­ic block­ade on Ukrain­ian goods. Yanukovich stood firm.

    “We will pur­sue inte­gra­tion with Europe,” he barked back, accord­ing to three peo­ple who attend­ed the meet­ing. He seemed dead set on look­ing west.
    ...

    “We will pur­sue inte­gra­tion with Europe.” That was report­ed­ly Yanukovych in Sep­tem­ber of 2013. And all indi­ca­tions, includ­ing the Haps­burg Group affair, point towards that being a gen­uine desire.

    But as the nego­ti­a­tions dead­line neared, Yanukovych flipped. And it was­n’t like a sur­prise flip. It was a flip that fol­lowed the refusal of the EU and IMF and make assur­ances that he was­n’t about to throw his coun­try into eco­nom­ic tumult with the deal. The EU and IMF, as expect­ed, engaged in their typ­i­cal Troikan inflex­i­bil­i­ty on these mat­ters. And, not unrea­son­ably, that was some­thing Yanukovych saw as an unde­sir­able trait in the super-pow­er Ukraine was try­ing to inte­grate with. Again, bru­tal aus­ter­i­ty isn’t just a bad look. It’s bad pol­i­cy. In part because it’s such a bad look:

    ...
    Less than three months lat­er Yanukovich spurned the EU, embraced Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and struck a deal on Decem­ber 17 for a bailout of his coun­try. Rus­sia will invest $15 bil­lion in Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment debt and reduce by about a third the price that Naftogaz, Ukraine’s nation­al ener­gy com­pa­ny, pays for Russ­ian gas.

    It is not clear what Yanukovich agreed to give Rus­sia in return, but two sources close to him said he may have had to sur­ren­der some con­trol over Ukraine’s gas pipeline net­work.

    What caused the U‑turn by the lead­er­ship of a coun­try of 46 mil­lion peo­ple that occu­pies a strate­gic posi­tion between the EU and Rus­sia?

    Pub­lic and pri­vate arm-twist­ing by Putin, includ­ing threats to Ukraine’s econ­o­my and Yanukovich’s polit­i­cal future, played a sig­nif­i­cant part. But the unwill­ing­ness of the EU and Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund to be flex­i­ble in their demands of Ukraine also had an effect, mak­ing them less attrac­tive part­ners.
    ...

    So while it’s wide­ly assumed that Yanukovych was just blind­ly tak­ing Putin’s orders, when we look back the actu­al report­ing at the time we find that Yanukovych appeared to be very eager to work out a deal, and only reversed when the costs of the deal spiked after the EU and IMF got cheap. Imag­ine if the EU and IMF had­n’t been so cheap. Imag­ine how dif­fer­ent the sit­u­a­tion might be today. Again, bru­tal aus­ter­i­ty isn’t just a bad look. It’s hor­ri­ble pol­i­cy that’s erodes the future. In so many ways.

    But while Yanukovych may not have been tak­ing Putin’s per­son­al orders when he called off the trade union, to some extent these nego­ti­a­tions over cov­er­ing the costs of upgrad­ing Ukraine to EU stan­dards were tak­en per­son­al­ly by Yanukovych accord­ing to the arti­cle. He was per­son­al­ly dis­mayed that the EU was being so unrea­son­able when it came to the costs Ukraine was going to have to pay. And when you look at what the EU was offer­ing, he had every rea­son to be dis­mayed: Yanukovych was argu­ing that Ukraine need­ed $160 bil­lion over three years to deal with the loss of trade with Rus­sia com­bined with the costs of upgrad­ing its econ­o­my and soci­ety to EU stan­dards. $160 bil­lion was pre­sum­ably an over­es­ti­mate. But look what the EU offered: $839 mil­lion. And appar­ent­ly there was $19 bil­lion in loans over sev­en years on the table but the Ukrain­ian nego­tia­tors report­ed­ly nev­er heard this offer. And those woe­ful­ly inad­e­quate offers by the EU are a big rea­son why we can’t just assume that Yanukovych nev­er real­ly intend­ed on this deal. The deal real­ly did turn out to be poten­tial­ly haz­ardous for Ukraine when the final nego­ti­a­tions unfold­ed and the EU refused to budge:

    ...
    PROUD EGO

    Risen from hum­ble roots, Yanukovich likes to be treat­ed with respect and as an equal, a char­ac­ter­is­tic that has informed much of his reluc­tance to join the cus­toms union of for­mer Sovi­et states that Putin wants to cre­ate.

    Col­leagues describe the burly leader as an intu­itive politi­cian who can­not abide being patron­ized. Inna Bohoslovs­ka, a mem­ber of Yanukovich’s Par­ty of Regions until last month, said Yanukovich made clear at the cin­e­ma meet­ing his dis­like of Rus­sia treat­ing Ukraine as sec­ond rate.

    “He told us Rus­sia was not fit for talks, Rus­sia did not con­sid­er Ukraine to be an equal part­ner, that it tried to force us to act by its own rules, that Rus­sia does not act in Ukraine’s best inter­ests in any nego­ti­a­tions, and there­fore there can be no talk of hav­ing nego­ti­a­tions with Rus­sia,” she said.

    Yanukovich felt he was bet­ter treat­ed by EU offi­cials, two par­ty mem­bers said, despite find­ing it hard to grasp the com­plex­i­ty of EU bureau­cra­cy. Hail­ing from Ukraine’s indus­tri­al east, Yanukovich also seemed the per­fect man to per­suade Ukraine’s pro-Russ­ian east­ern regions to agree to clos­er ties with Europe.

    “That a pres­i­dent from the east would bring Ukraine into Europe was the ide­al com­bi­na­tion for us. We were will­ing to do any­thing,” said David Zhvaniya, a for­mer mem­ber of the Par­ty of Regions who helped lead efforts to pre­pare Ukraine for deep­er coop­er­a­tion with the EU.

    Now deeply dis­il­lu­sioned, Zhvaniya feels mis­led by Yanukovich: “He tricked us all ... It was a com­plete, utter lie.” He accus­es Yanukovich of act­ing like a tsar.

    Oth­ers say Yanukovich’s desire to forge clos­er links with the EU was gen­uine, but that he became dis­mayed when he felt the EU failed to acknowl­edge the scale of the finan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties he would face if he chose Brus­sels over Moscow.

    Yanukovich esti­mat­ed that he need­ed $160 bil­lion over three years to make up for the trade Ukraine stood to lose with Rus­sia, and to help cush­ion the pain from reforms the EU was demand­ing. The EU refused to give such a sum, which it said was exag­ger­at­ed and unjus­ti­fied.

    The EU offered 610 mil­lion euros ($839 mil­lion) imme­di­ate­ly. EU offi­cials said increased trade, com­bined with var­i­ous aid and financ­ing pro­grams, might go some way to pro­vid­ing Kiev with the invest­ment it need­ed.

    An EU source said Ukraine could have been in line to receive at least 19 bil­lion euros in EU loans and grants over the next sev­en years if it had signed a trade and coop­er­a­tion agree­ment and reached a deal with the IMF. But that sum was not men­tioned to Ukraine offi­cials dur­ing nego­ti­a­tions, said the source.
    ...

    “An EU source said Ukraine could have been in line to receive at least 19 bil­lion euros in EU loans and grants over the next sev­en years if it had signed a trade and coop­er­a­tion agree­ment and reached a deal with the IMF. But that sum was not men­tioned to Ukraine offi­cials dur­ing nego­ti­a­tions, said the source.”

    Note that the 19 bil­ion euros in EU loans and grants over the next sev­en years that the EU report­ed­ly offered would still have like­ly been a tiny frac­tion of what Ukraine is need­ed (Yanukovich was esti­mat­ing Ukrained need­ed $160 bil­lion over three years). And that kind of skimpy offer is com­plete­ly con­sis­tent with the approach the EU has been tak­ing with vir­tu­al­ly all of the EU nations that have been search­ing for help since the 2008 finan­cial cri­sis grew into the euro­zone cri­sis. So while the EU source might be try­ing to act like there was actu­al­ly a decent secret offer being made, 19 bil­lion isn’t actu­al­ly enough and all recent his­to­ry indi­cates that the offer was like­ly very inad­e­quate because those were the only kinds of offer the EU was offer­ing in 2013. Very inad­e­quate offers. It’s a cru­cial con­text for under­stand­ing this peri­od of his­to­ry lead­ing up to Ukraine’s con­flict.

    And the IMF was­n’t mak­ing a decent offer either. Which is also com­plete­ly con­sis­tent with the IMF:

    ...
    To Ukraine, there seemed lit­tle prospect of get­ting the EU, already strug­gling to help its indebt­ed mem­bers, to offer a bet­ter deal than its orig­i­nal offer.

    Oliynyk, who is Ukraine’s per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive for NATO, and oth­ers were furi­ous. He told Reuters that when Ukraine turned to Europe’s offi­cials for help, they “spat on us.”

    Next year Ukraine will have to cov­er for­eign debt pay­ments of $8 bil­lion, accord­ing to its finance min­istry. It was tee­ter­ing on the brink of bank­rupt­cy, part­ly because Moscow was block­ing sales of Ukrain­ian-pro­duced meat, cheese and some con­fec­tionery, and scrap­ping duty-free quo­tas on steel pipes. Some offi­cials said the restric­tions showed what life would be like if Ukraine signed the EU agree­ment.

    Yanukovich’s oth­er hope was the IMF. It res­cued Ukraine dur­ing the onset of the glob­al finan­cial cri­sis with a $16.5 bil­lion loan in 2008 when Tymoshenko was prime min­is­ter. It also approved a $15.5 bil­lion stand-by pro­gram for the Yanukovich gov­ern­ment in 2010, dis­burs­ing about $3.5 bil­lion, before freez­ing the pro­gram in 2011 because Ukraine failed to meet its con­di­tions. A year lat­er, the pro­gram had expired.

    The IMF, like the EU, was unwill­ing to grant the sort of loans Yanukovich want­ed under a new pro­gram. In a let­ter dat­ed Novem­ber 20, it told Ukraine that it would not soft­en con­di­tions for a new loan and that it would offer only $5 bil­lion, Oliynyk said. And Kiev would have to pay back almost the same amount next year, he said, as part of repay­ments for the ear­li­er $16.5 bil­lion loan.

    The IMF declined to com­ment. Accord­ing to IMF fig­ures, Kiev should pay back $3.7 bil­lion next year.

    “We could not con­tain our emo­tions, it was unac­cept­able,” said Oliynyk.

    Yanukovich was furi­ous, par­ty mem­bers said. He believed the IMF had ignored what he saw as rea­son­able demands to lift tough con­di­tions for its ear­li­er help, such as increas­ing the retire­ment age and freez­ing pen­sions and wages. Worse, the IMF was ask­ing him to repay a loan that had been nego­ti­at­ed by his arch ene­my, Tymoshenko.
    ...

    All that said, it’s also seems unde­ni­able that the demand to release Yulia Tymoshenko fac­tored in sig­nif­i­cant­ly into Yanukovy­ch’s cal­cu­lus. It was­n’t just that Yanukovych hat­ed and feared her. His sup­port­ers over­whelm­ing­ly want­ed to ‘lock her up’ too:

    ...
    JUSTICE ON TRIAL

    Despite his rep­u­ta­tion as a hard man — he was sent to Sovi­et pris­ons twice for theft and assault when he was a youth — Yanukovich has a par­tic­u­lar weak point: jailed oppo­si­tion leader Tymoshenko. He both detests and fears her, accord­ing to his aides and diplo­mats.

    ...

    To the EU, Tymoshenko’s case rep­re­sent­ed an unac­cept­able stan­dard of jus­tice. As part of the trade pact, the EU demand­ed Ukraine release Tymoshenko or, as some offi­cials sug­gest­ed, make a com­mit­ment to do so.

    Yanukovich and his sup­port­ers resist­ed. “We had done most things on the list for the EU acces­sion agree­ment, but there was a ques­tion mark over Tymoshenko ... We believe she is guilty ... and among those peo­ple who think she is guilty, 80 per­cent are our vot­ers,” Oliynyk said, going on to doc­u­ment the dozens of per­ceived slights Tymoshenko has made against Yanukovich.
    ...

    And in the midst of these fate­ful nego­ti­a­tions, where Ukraine would make a his­toric lurch away from Rus­sia and towards Europe, Ukraine still was­n’t offered a firm prospect of full EU mem­ber­ship. Now, on the one hand, that could have been part of the diplo­ma­cy required to ease the strains with the Krem­lin. But on the oth­er hand, not offer­ing assur­ances of full EU mem­ber­ship is ful­ly con­sis­tent with the EU mod­el of bru­tal aus­ter­i­ty that was on full dis­play in 2013. And Yanukovy­ch’s big fear, and very sane fear, was intense aus­ter­i­ty as a result of this deal. So not even get­ting a guar­an­tee of EU mem­ber­ship is a big let down. Lots of aus­ter­i­ty was going to be demand­ed on the path to EU mem­ber­ship, and even more aus­ter­i­ty is pos­si­ble if that mem­ber­ship isn’t assured. Because, once again, aus­ter­i­ty isn’t just a bad pol­i­cy. It’s a hor­ri­ble look, espe­cial­ly dur­ing your oth­er nego­ti­a­tions. And hor­ri­ble looks are gen­er­al­ly bad pol­i­cy dur­ing nego­ti­a­tions:

    ...
    Yanukovich was also offend­ed when he found out Kiev would not be offered a firm prospect of full mem­ber­ship of the EU; he felt Ukraine was being treat­ed as a less­er coun­try to “even Poland”, with which it shares a bor­der.

    “Many cit­i­zens have got it wrong on Euro­pean inte­gra­tion. It is not about mem­ber­ship, we are appar­ent­ly not Poland, appar­ent­ly we are not on a lev­el with Poland ... they are not let­ting us in real­ly, we will be stand­ing at the doors. We’re nice but we’re not Poles,” Oliynyk said.

    Poland became a full mem­ber of the EU in 2004. EU enlarge­ment chief Ste­fan Fuele sug­gest­ed after Yanukovich’s U‑turn that per­haps the bloc should have offered Ukraine mem­ber­ship at some point.

    Amid the acri­mo­ny, lead­ing offi­cials, includ­ing Myko­la Azarov, Yanukovich’s prime min­is­ter, per­formed a volte-face.
    ...

    So that was all part of the mael­strom of ten­sion lead­ing up to the sniper attacks of Feb­ru­ary 20th, 2014. And part of what needs to be fac­tored into spec­u­la­tion about who Paul Man­afort was actu­al­ly work­ing for in 2013–2014. And espe­cial­ly dur­ing the sniper attacks of Feb­ru­ary 2014. Because after this Haps­burg Group indict­ment from Mueller it seems pret­ty clear that Paul Man­afort was, at a min­i­mum, work­ing in con­cert with EU inter­ests who also want­ed to see Ukraine join this trade union. So when the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment reversed course on Novem­ber 21st, 2013, who was Man­afort real­ly work­ing for at that point? The Yanukovych gov­ern­ment or the EU forces behind the Haps­burg Group?

    Or how about pri­vate inter­est that would stand to prof­it immense­ly from the trade deal? Was Man­afort work­ing for pri­vate inter­ests at the same time he was on Yanukovy­ch’s pay­roll? Don’t for­get that Romano Pro­di spec­u­lat­ed that it was more like­ly that the mon­ey for the Haps­burg Group came from Euro­pean busi­ness­men inter­est­ed in keep­ing Europe and Ukraine close. Well, was that the case? Did Man­afort man­age to acquire Euro­pean clients who start­ed off want­i­ng the same goal as the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment but then came into sharp con­flict after the rever­sal?

    And if some kind of sit­u­a­tion like that hap­pened, which side did Man­afort choose after the trade deal col­lapsed? These are the kinds of ques­tions that the Haps­burg Group rev­e­la­tion just insert­ed into the mys­tery of the Maid­an sniper attacks.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 28, 2018, 10:53 pm
  5. @Pterrafractyl–

    Note that the Hab­s­burgs are once again active in Ukraine, with Gali­cia (West­ern Ukraine) hav­ing been part of their empire for a long time.

    http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-833-shooting-ourselves-in-the-foot-in-ukraine-habsburg-redux/

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | March 1, 2018, 3:10 pm
  6. Here’s anoth­er sto­ry relat­ed to Mueller probe’s inves­ti­ga­tion of Paul Man­afort’s work in Ukraine filled with no short­age of twists. And it direct­ly relates to the recent “Haps­burg Group” rev­e­la­tion about the diplo­mat­ic ini­tia­tive appar­ent­ly financed by Man­afort’s con­sult­ing firm that sent for­mer Euro­pean offi­cials to lob­by gov­ern­ments, includ­ing the US, to get Ukraine’s bid to join an EU trade union accept­ed. And it also relates to the mys­te­ri­ous com­mu­ni­ca­tions between a serv­er over by Alfa Bank and a Trump orga­ni­za­tion serv­er that has fueled spec­u­la­tion that Alfa’s serv­er was being used as a secret com­mu­ni­ca­tions chan­nel between the Trump team and the Krem­lin:

    Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan plead guilty to lying to the Mueller inves­ti­ga­tion. Van der Zwaan worked for the respect­ed law firm Skad­den, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which worked with Man­afort in Ukraine. Van der Zwaan is also the son-in-law of Alfa bank founder Ger­man Khan (a Ukrain­ian). Recall the mys­te­ri­ous Alfa bank serv­er and its odd com­mu­ni­ca­tions with a Trump Orga­ni­za­tion serv­er that was revealed in late Octo­ber of 2016 (cov­ered in FTR#930). The FBI was con­tin­u­ing to inves­ti­gate that mys­tery as of March of 2017, and there have been no indi­ca­tions since that the inves­ti­ga­tion into that Alfa serv­er mys­tery was closed. So learn­ing about an Alfa founder’s son-in-law plead­ing guilty in those inves­ti­ga­tion is poten­tial­ly a pret­ty big deal.

    So what did van der Zwaan lie about? He lied about when he last com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Paul Man­afort’s long-time con­sult­ing part­ner Rick Gates. Specif­i­cal­ly, Mueller’s pros­e­cu­tors alleged that van der Zwaan false­ly told fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors that he last com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Gates in mid-August 2016 and that last com­mu­ni­ca­tion was just an innocu­ous text mes­sage. Instead, pros­e­cu­tors say, van der Zwaan spoke to Gates and anoth­er unnamed per­son in Sep­tem­ber 2016 using encrypt­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions. And he record­ed these con­ver­sa­tions. The unnamed per­son was­n’t iden­ti­fied oth­er than to they were a long­time busi­ness asso­ciate of Man­afort who was prin­ci­pal­ly based in Ukraine at the time and spoke to van der Zwaan in Russ­ian.

    Mueller’s pros­e­cu­tors also said van der Zwaan delet­ed emails rather than turn­ing them over to Skad­den, which was gath­er­ing doc­u­ments for the spe­cial coun­sel. And one doc­u­ment he delet­ed was the email to Gates request­ing that they use encrypt­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

    So it sounds like van der Zwaan delet­ed the emails request­ing the encrypt­ed communications...but he did­n’t delete the encrypt­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions. It’s a reminder that it’s going to be a lot hard­er to do inves­ti­ga­tions like this when end-to-end strong encryp­tion is the norm and there’s no need to send the “hey, let’s use encrypt­ed communications”-email. And those future inves­ti­ga­tions will be even hard­er when the encrypt­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions are actu­al­ly delet­ed.

    Adding to the con­spic­u­ous nature of the mid-August 2016 request for encrypt­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions, the request came short­ly after Man­afort resigned from Trump’s cam­paign in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged Man­afort had accept­ed off-the-books cash pay­ments for his work in Ukraine. Those off-the-books cash pay­ments to Man­afort are par­tic­u­lar­ly sen­si­tive for van der Zwaan because cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence sug­gests that van der Zwaan him­self may have been a recip­i­ent of off-the-books pay­ments of some sort for the work he did for Man­afort while Man­afort was con­sult­ing the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment.

    And, in par­tic­u­lar, it’s the work van der Zwaan did for Man­afort that was direct­ly relat­ed to the “Haps­burg Group” ini­tia­tive that appears to be at the cen­ter of those sus­pect­ed off-the-books cash pay­ments from Man­afort to van der Zwaan. The Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment claimed to have paid only $12,000 for the work van der Zwaan did, an amount that put it just below the lim­it that would have required com­pet­i­tive bid­ding for the project under Ukrain­ian law. Pros­e­cu­tors are alleg­ing that Man­afort and Gates used an off­shore account to secret­ly pay $4 mil­lion for the report.

    So what did Alex van der Zwaan do for Man­afort as part of the “Haps­burg Group” diplo­mat­ic push? He wrote a report for Skad­den, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom that made the case that the jail­ing of Yulia Tymoshenko was legal­ly just and that Ukraine deserved to be allowed into the trade union with­out releas­ing Tymoshenko.

    And that’s a pret­ty big twist. Because recall one of the biggest twists in the hole “Haps­burg Group” case: that Man­afort arranged this “Haps­burg Group” to lob­by the case that Ukraine deserved to be allowed into a trade pact with the EU. Giv­en the wide­spread assump­tion that Man­afort and the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment were exclu­sive­ly oper­at­ing under the direc­tion of the Krem­lin it was a pret­ty big twist to learn that Man­afort was pay­ing for a diplo­mat­ic push to get Ukraine past the bar­ri­ers pre­vent­ing it from join­ing a trade union with the EU.

    And that’s all why it’s also a big twist to learn that Alex van der Zwann is the son-in-law of one of the founder of Alfa Group, Ger­man Khan. Because both Alfa and Ger­man Khan are gen­er­al­ly char­ac­ter­ized as being close to Putin and the Krem­lin. But as was laid out in FTR #530 and FTR #573, Alfa Group’s rela­tion­ship with pow­er is by no means lim­it­ed to the Krem­lin. And that range of rela­tion­ships — from South Amer­i­can crim­i­nal car­tels, to Euro­pean mon­ey-laun­der­ing net­works, to even the net­works that traf­ficked some of the 9/11 hijack­ers where Nazis-meet-Islamists — is part of what makes this new twist about the son-in-law of one of Alfa’s founders such a big twist: the range of fea­si­ble impli­ca­tions of this twist is vast because Alfa is con­nect­ed to so many shady net­works beyond their obvi­ous Krem­lin ties. It is a glob­al­ly shady enti­ty.

    Final­ly, the sub­ject of the Sep­tem­ber 2016 record­ed encrypt­ed phone call between van der Zwaan, Gates, one the unnamed per­son was indeed that 2012 report on Tymoshenko’s jail­ing pre­pared by van der Zwaan’s law firm.

    So let’s quick­ly review what was learned with the guilty plea of Alex van der Zwaan:

    1. Alex van der Zwaan, the son-in-law of one of Alfa’s co-founders, Ger­man Khan, cre­at­ed a report jus­ti­fy­ing the jail­ing of Yulia Tymoshenko so Ukraine could enter the EU trade pact in 2012.

    2. Van der Zwaan was offi­cial­ly only paid $12,000 for the report, an amount just below the lim­it that would have required com­pet­i­tive bid­ding for the work under Ukrain­ian law.

    3. Van der Zwaan claimed to Mueller probe that his last con­tact with with Rick Gates, who served as a top offi­cial on Pres­i­dent Trump’s cam­paign and a long­time busi­ness part­ner of for­mer cam­paign chair­man Paul Man­afort, was in mid August of 2016, right around the time Man­afort resigned from the cam­paign over sto­ries that he accept­ed off-the-books cash pay­ments for his work in Ukraine.

    4. Van der Zwaan actu­al­ly delet­ed some of his emails to Gates, includ­ing one request­ing that they use encrypt­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions. This email was not turned over to the Mueller probe when request­ed but was instead delet­ed.

    5. Van der Zwaan appar­ent­ly kept record­ed one of the encrypt­ed calls he had with Gates and anoth­er unnamed indi­vid­ual in Sep­tem­ber of 2016. That call was about the 2012 report.

    6. Pros­e­cu­tors allege that Man­afort and Gates used an off­shore account to secret­ly pay $4 mil­lion for the report.

    So it looks like Mueller is alleg­ing that Man­afort secret­ly paid big mon­ey to the son-in-law of Alfa Group to write up a report that would make it eas­i­er for Ukraine to join a trade union with the EU. It’s one hel­lu­va twist:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    In Mueller probe, son-in-law of Russ­ian busi­ness­man pleads guilty to false state­ments

    By Spencer S. Hsu and Ros­alind S. Hel­der­man
    Feb­ru­ary 20, 2018

    The Dutch son-in-law of one of Russia’s wealth­i­est men plead­ed guilty Tues­day in fed­er­al court in Wash­ing­ton to mak­ing false state­ments in spe­cial coun­sel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

    Alex van der Zwaan was charged with lying to the FBI about his con­tacts with Rick Gates, who served as a top offi­cial on Pres­i­dent Trump’s cam­paign and a long­time busi­ness part­ner of for­mer cam­paign chair­man Paul Man­afort.

    Based in Lon­don, van der Zwaan worked for the law firm Skad­den, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which worked with Man­afort and Gates when they served as polit­i­cal con­sul­tants in Ukraine.

    Van der Zwaan is the son-in-law of Ger­man Khan, a bil­lion­aire and an own­er of Alfa Group, Russia’s largest finan­cial and indus­tri­al invest­ment group.

    In a court appear­ance, the 33-year-old plead­ed guilty to one count of mak­ing a false state­ment to inves­ti­ga­tors, a felony. He is fac­ing a rec­om­mend­ed sen­tence rang­ing from zero to six months in prison when he is sen­tenced April 3.

    His plea deal comes as Gates has been in plea nego­ti­a­tions with the spe­cial coun­sel, accord­ing to a per­son famil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion. Gates’s attor­neys declined to com­ment.

    Mueller charged Man­afort and Gates in Octo­ber with con­spir­a­cy, fraud and mon­ey-laun­der­ing charges relat­ed to lob­by­ing work they did for a Russ­ian-friend­ly polit­i­cal par­ty in Ukraine and for­mer Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych. Both men have plead­ed not guilty.

    With van der Zwaan, Mueller’s sprawl­ing probe has now net­ted four guilty pleas, includ­ing from for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Michael Fly­nn.

    On Fri­day, Mueller’s team also indict­ed 13 Rus­sians and three Russ­ian com­pa­nies with med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion through a social-media cam­paign in which they false­ly posed as Amer­i­cans to pro­mote Trump, dis­par­age Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee Hillary Clin­ton and sow dis­cord among vot­ers.

    Like the Man­afort and Gates charges, van der Zwaan’s case is root­ed in Ukraine, where Man­afort worked as an inter­na­tion­al polit­i­cal con­sul­tant start­ing in 2005.

    In a two-page charg­ing doc­u­ment, pros­e­cu­tors alleged that van der Zwaan false­ly told fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors that he last com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Gates in mid-August 2016 through an innocu­ous text mes­sage.

    Pros­e­cu­tors said van der Zwaan was lying, and that he spoke to Gates and anoth­er unnamed per­son in Sep­tem­ber 2016 using encrypt­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions — con­ver­sa­tions that he record­ed.

    Pros­e­cu­tors did not iden­ti­fy the sec­ond per­son with whom van der Zwaan spoke oth­er than to say that the per­son was a long­time busi­ness asso­ciate of Man­afort who was prin­ci­pal­ly based in Ukraine at the time and spoke to van der Zwaan in Russ­ian.

    Pros­e­cu­tors said van der Zwaan also delet­ed emails rather than turn­ing them over to Skad­den, which was gath­er­ing doc­u­ments for the spe­cial coun­sel. One doc­u­ment he delet­ed, pros­e­cu­tors said, was an email request­ing that he use encrypt­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

    The com­mu­ni­ca­tion between van der Zwaan and Gates came short­ly after Man­afort resigned from Trump’s cam­paign in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged Man­afort had accept­ed off-the-books cash pay­ments for his work in Ukraine. Gates con­tin­ued to work for the cam­paign through the elec­tion and lat­er worked for Trump’s inau­gur­al com­mit­tee.

    In court, pros­e­cu­tor Andrew Weiss­mann said inves­ti­ga­tors spoke with van der Zwaan on Nov. 3 and again on Dec. 1 as part of the spe­cial counsel’s exam­i­na­tion of pos­si­ble vio­la­tions of the For­eign Agents Reg­is­tra­tion Act by Man­afort, Gates “and oth­ers.” The law requires peo­ple to reg­is­ter with the Jus­tice Depart­ment before lob­by­ing or per­form­ing pub­lic-rela­tions work for for­eign gov­ern­ments and polit­i­cal par­ties.

    The sub­ject of the 2016 record­ed phone call, pros­e­cu­tors said, was a 2012 report pre­pared by van der Zwaan’s law firm about the jail­ing of for­mer Ukrain­ian prime min­is­ter Yulia Tymoshenko. Yanukovych had impris­oned Tymoshenko, a polit­i­cal rival, after a gas sup­ply con­tro­ver­sy in 2009 involv­ing Rus­sia.

    The Skad­den report has been con­tro­ver­sial in Ukraine in part because its find­ings seemed to con­tra­dict the inter­na­tion­al community’s con­clu­sion that Tymoshenko had been unjust­ly jailed.

    In addi­tion, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment claimed to have paid only $12,000 for the report, an amount that put it just below the lim­it that would have required com­pet­i­tive bid­ding for the project under Ukrain­ian law.

    Pros­e­cu­tors have alleged that Man­afort and Gates used an off­shore account to secret­ly pay $4 mil­lion for the report.

    Weiss­mann said Tues­day that Man­afort and Gates hoped to get the Times to cov­er the report before its con­tents were revealed in Europe, poten­tial­ly to improve the rep­u­ta­tion of Yanukovych in the Unit­ed States, where his image had tak­en a hit after the jail­ing of Tymoshenko.

    As part of that lob­by­ing effort, Weiss­mann said van der Zwaan had tak­en an advanced copy of the report in 2012 with­out autho­riza­tion and pro­vid­ed it to a pub­lic-rela­tions team, then pro­vid­ing Gates with talk­ing points about it.

    ...

    Khan, van der Zwaan’s father-in-law, is a native of Kiev, Ukraine. Along with two oth­er Alfa Bank own­ers, Khan has filed a defama­tion suit against Fusion GPS, the Wash­ing­ton pri­vate intel­li­gence firm that hired for­mer British spy Christo­pher Steele to research Trump’s ties to Rus­sia dur­ing the cam­paign. Steele’s reports had includ­ed alle­ga­tions about Alfa Bank and its ties to Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladi­mir Putin.

    Khan and oth­er Alfa Bank own­ers have also sued Buz­zFeed, which pub­lished the dossier in Jan­u­ary 2017.

    ———-

    “In Mueller probe, son-in-law of Russ­ian busi­ness­man pleads guilty to false state­ments” by Spencer S. Hsu and Ros­alind S. Hel­der­man; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 02/20/2018

    In a two-page charg­ing doc­u­ment, pros­e­cu­tors alleged that van der Zwaan false­ly told fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors that he last com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Gates in mid-August 2016 through an innocu­ous text mes­sage.”

    Lying to pros­e­cu­tors. That’s at the heart of the charges Alex van der Zwaan plead guilty to. It’s an unsur­pris­ing pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al theme for an inves­ti­ga­tion of this nature. But van der Zwaan isn’t just some ran­dom lawyer. He’s the son-in-law of Ger­man Khan, cofounder and an own­er of Alfa Group:

    ...
    Based in Lon­don, van der Zwaan worked for the law firm Skad­den, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which worked with Man­afort and Gates when they served as polit­i­cal con­sul­tants in Ukraine.

    Van der Zwaan is the son-in-law of Ger­man Khan, a bil­lion­aire and an own­er of Alfa Group, Russia’s largest finan­cial and indus­tri­al invest­ment group.

    In a court appear­ance, the 33-year-old plead­ed guilty to one count of mak­ing a false state­ment to inves­ti­ga­tors, a felony. He is fac­ing a rec­om­mend­ed sen­tence rang­ing from zero to six months in prison when he is sen­tenced April 3.
    ...

    And the par­tic­u­lar lie he told was about when he last com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Rick Gates. And there evi­dence of this lie is appar­ent­ly in the form of an encrypt­ed phone call with Gates and one unnamed per­son that van der Zwaan record­ed:

    ...
    Like the Man­afort and Gates charges, van der Zwaan’s case is root­ed in Ukraine, where Man­afort worked as an inter­na­tion­al polit­i­cal con­sul­tant start­ing in 2005.

    In a two-page charg­ing doc­u­ment, pros­e­cu­tors alleged that van der Zwaan false­ly told fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors that he last com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Gates in mid-August 2016 through an innocu­ous text mes­sage.

    Pros­e­cu­tors said van der Zwaan was lying, and that he spoke to Gates and anoth­er unnamed per­son in Sep­tem­ber 2016 using encrypt­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions — con­ver­sa­tions that he record­ed.

    Pros­e­cu­tors did not iden­ti­fy the sec­ond per­son with whom van der Zwaan spoke oth­er than to say that the per­son was a long­time busi­ness asso­ciate of Man­afort who was prin­ci­pal­ly based in Ukraine at the time and spoke to van der Zwaan in Russ­ian.
    ...

    And this move to encrypt­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions hap­pened short after Man­afort had to resign from Trump’s cam­paign fol­low­ing the rev­e­la­tion that he took off-the-books cash pay­ments dur­ing his work in Ukraine:

    ...
    Pros­e­cu­tors said van der Zwaan also delet­ed emails rather than turn­ing them over to Skad­den, which was gath­er­ing doc­u­ments for the spe­cial coun­sel. One doc­u­ment he delet­ed, pros­e­cu­tors said, was an email request­ing that he use encrypt­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

    The com­mu­ni­ca­tion between van der Zwaan and Gates came short­ly after Man­afort resigned from Trump’s cam­paign in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged Man­afort had accept­ed off-the-books cash pay­ments for his work in Ukraine. Gates con­tin­ued to work for the cam­paign through the elec­tion and lat­er worked for Trump’s inau­gur­al com­mit­tee.
    ...

    And the sub­ject of the encrypt­ed phone call that took place in Sep­tem­ber 2016 was, not sur­pris­ng­ly, about the work van der Zwaan did in 2012 cre­at­ing a report jus­ti­fy­ing the jail­ing of Yulia Tymoshenko. A report that van der Zwaan’s firm was secret­ly paid $4 mil­lion for, accord­ing to pros­e­cu­tors:

    ...
    The sub­ject of the 2016 record­ed phone call, pros­e­cu­tors said, was a 2012 report pre­pared by van der Zwaan’s law firm about the jail­ing of for­mer Ukrain­ian prime min­is­ter Yulia Tymoshenko. Yanukovych had impris­oned Tymoshenko, a polit­i­cal rival, after a gas sup­ply con­tro­ver­sy in 2009 involv­ing Rus­sia.

    The Skad­den report has been con­tro­ver­sial in Ukraine in part because its find­ings seemed to con­tra­dict the inter­na­tion­al community’s con­clu­sion that Tymoshenko had been unjust­ly jailed.

    In addi­tion, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment claimed to have paid only $12,000 for the report, an amount that put it just below the lim­it that would have required com­pet­i­tive bid­ding for the project under Ukrain­ian law.

    Pros­e­cu­tors have alleged that Man­afort and Gates used an off­shore account to secret­ly pay $4 mil­lion for the report.
    ...

    So that’s all one big piece of cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence that the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment real­ly did want Ukraine to join this trade union with the EU.

    Now, did van der Zwaan’s report direct relate to the Haps­burg Group’s lob­by­ing efforts? Yes, accord­ing to a recent inter­view of Patrick Cox, the Irish politi­cian and for­mer head of the EU par­lia­ment who was part of the Haps­burg Group.

    First, recall that Cox claimed he was nev­er paid by Man­afort, and basi­cal­ly noth­ing to do with Man­afort oth­er than meet­ing him a few times, and was actu­al­ly doing his diplo­mat­ic work pro-bono under the rec­om­men­da­tion of SPD leader Mar­tin Schulz, who was at that point Pres­i­dent of the EU par­lia­ment. And that much of his work was lob­by­ing to get the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment to release the polit­i­cal pris­on­ers the EU demand­ed be released as part of the terms of the trade union. In oth­er words, Cox asserts that his work with the ‘Haps­burg Group’ was real­ly work on behalf of the EU dur­ing these nego­ti­a­tions between Ukraine and the EU over the trade union and that work most­ly involved try­ing to get Ukraine to release those pris­on­ers, most notably Yulia Tymoshenko.

    So how did van der Zwaan’s report fac­tor into this? Well, accord­ing to Cox, it was that report report that Vik­tor Yanukovych gave to him in 2012 as a way of argu­ing that the release of Tymoshenko was unnec­es­sary because it was done prop­er­ly and fol­lowed due process. And it’s not sur­pris­ing that the report was used in this man­ner. That was the point of writ­ing it. But it’s notable that we have one of the fig­ures for the ‘Haps­burg Group’ receiv­ing this same report that Man­afort appar­ent­ly paid a lot of mon­ey to have cre­at­ed because it gives us an idea of how much mon­ey and effort Man­afort was putting into this effort to get Ukraine into the EU’s orbit:

    The Irish Times

    Pat Cox will­ing to assist Mueller inves­ti­ga­tion if asked
    For­mer MEP says ex-Ukrain­ian leader used report linked to indict­ed for­mer Trump aide

    Simon Car­swell Pub­lic Affairs Edi­tor
    Mon, Feb 26, 2018, 01:00

    For­mer politi­cian Pat Cox has said he is “per­fect­ly hap­py” to hand over records about his polit­i­cal work for the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in Ukraine to the inves­ti­ga­tion into Don­ald Trump’s for­mer cam­paign man­ag­er.

    Mr Cox worked on behalf of the par­lia­ment on a mis­sion between 2012 and 2014 to per­suade the then Rus­sia-backed pres­i­dent of Ukraine, Vik­tor Yanukovych, to release impris­oned polit­i­cal oppo­nents.

    The Irish for­mer MEP has said he had no involve­ment with a group of for­mer Euro­pean politi­cians known as the “Haps­burg group” that were, it is alleged, secret­ly used by Paul Man­afort, who lat­er became Mr Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign man­ag­er, to lob­by on behalf of Mr Yanukovych’s gov­ern­ment.

    The for­mer Irish politi­cian said that his 2012–2014 mis­sion in Ukraine was opposed by Mr Yanukovych, describ­ing it as a “stone in his shoe.”

    Mr Cox said that in one face-to-face encounter with Mr Yanukovych the Ukrain­ian leader chal­lenged his work to release pris­on­ers with a report linked to a lawyer who has since plead­ed guilty and is coop­er­at­ing with the US inves­ti­ga­tion into Mr Man­afort and his asso­ciates over their lob­by­ing.

    ...

    Off­shore banks

    In a new indict­ment on Fri­day, Mr Mueller accused Mr Man­afort and his for­mer aide Rick Gates of secret­ly retain­ing “a group of for­mer senior Euro­pean politi­cians to take posi­tions favourable to Ukraine, includ­ing by lob­by­ing in the Unit­ed States”.

    At least four off­shore banks were used to wire more than €2 mil­lion to the group, that were infor­mal­ly known as “the Haps­burg group” – a ref­er­ence to the Hab­s­burg roy­al dynasty.

    One of the Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ing firms hired by Mr Man­afort, the Podes­ta Group, said last year that it arranged meet­ings for vis­it­ing Euro­pean lead­ers about Ukraine that includ­ed Romano Pro­di, the for­mer prime min­is­ter of Italy, and the for­mer Pol­ish pres­i­dent Alek­sander Kwas­niews­ki.

    Mr Kwas­niews­ki and Mr Cox worked togeth­er on the Ukrain­ian mis­sion to seek the release of oppo­si­tion politi­cians Yulia Tymoshenko, Yuriy Lut­senko and Valeriy Ivaschenko on behalf of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.

    Mr Kwas­niews­ki has said that he met Mr Man­afort two or three times dur­ing the mis­sion in 2012 and 2013 but that he nev­er had a finan­cial rela­tion­ship with him and and has nev­er heard of the Haps­burg group.

    Mr Cox told The Irish Times that he has nev­er met Mr Man­afort, that he was nev­er a mem­ber of the group and that he was nev­er paid for his work in Ukraine.

    “I do all the work pro-bono so I am not paid any­thing for it. I do not do any meet­ings that there are not note-tak­ers from the par­lia­ment staff because it is a par­lia­ment mis­sion,” he said.

    ‘Absolute­ly flaw­less’

    At one meet­ing with Mr Yanukovych, Mr Cox said that the then Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent pushed across the table “with a bit of a smirk on his face” a report by US law firm Skad­den, Arps, Slate, Mea­ger & Flom.

    Mr Yanukovych was “pleased to tell” the EU mis­sion that the report was com­piled by for­mer Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion lawyers at the firm, he said.

    One of the firm’s asso­ciates Alex van der Zwaan (33), a Dutch lawyer at Skadden’s Lon­don office who worked on the report, has plead­ed guilty to lying to pros­e­cu­tors in Mr Mueller’s inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Mr Cox said he would be hap­py to assist Mr Mueller’s inves­ti­ga­tion if request­ed.

    “If he con­tacts me because he thinks I am involved in some­thing I would be per­fect­ly hap­py to give him access – or ask the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment – to give him access to a 100 per cent total­ly and absolute­ly flaw­less cred­itable record of activ­i­ty,” he said.

    The Skad­den report was com­mis­sioned for Mr Yanukovych, said Mr Cox, and “large­ly point­ed out the futil­i­ty in legal terms of what we were try­ing to do to release the pris­on­ers”.

    The report claimed that the tri­al of Mr Yanukovych’s polit­i­cal oppo­nent Ms Tymoshenko – which she claimed was polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed – was jus­ti­fied and fol­lowed due process.

    ———-

    “Pat Cox will­ing to assist Mueller inves­ti­ga­tion if asked” by Simon Car­swell; The Irish Times; 02/26/2018

    “At one meet­ing with Mr Yanukovych, Mr Cox said that the then Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent pushed across the table “with a bit of a smirk on his face” a report by US law firm Skad­den, Arps, Slate, Mea­ger & Flom.

    Yeah, Yanukovych prob­a­bly had at least a bit of smirk on his face when he hand­ed Cox that report in 2012. Espe­cial­ly if Cox was, wit­ting­ly or unwit­ting­ly, work­ing as part of a Man­afort-orches­trat­ed “Haps­burg Group” oper­a­tion.

    And as expect­ed, this report assert­ing that Tymoshenko’s jail­ing was jus­ti­fied and fol­lowed due process:

    ...
    Mr Yanukovych was “pleased to tell” the EU mis­sion that the report was com­piled by for­mer Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion lawyers at the firm, he said.

    One of the firm’s asso­ciates Alex van der Zwaan (33), a Dutch lawyer at Skadden’s Lon­don office who worked on the report, has plead­ed guilty to lying to pros­e­cu­tors in Mr Mueller’s inves­ti­ga­tion.

    ...

    The Skad­den report was com­mis­sioned for Mr Yanukovych, said Mr Cox, and “large­ly point­ed out the futil­i­ty in legal terms of what we were try­ing to do to release the pris­on­ers”.

    The report claimed that the tri­al of Mr Yanukovych’s polit­i­cal oppo­nent Ms Tymoshenko – which she claimed was polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed – was jus­ti­fied and fol­lowed due process.
    ...

    So that all adds a new con­text for the “Haps­burg Group” rev­e­la­tion. Now we know that the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment appar­ent­ly paid big mon­ey for report by a respect­ed law firm that would allow Yanukovych to keep Tymoshenko in jail while still allow­ing the EU-Ukraine trade union to become real­i­ty.

    And don’t for­get, the “Haps­burg Group” oper­a­tion appar­ent­ly involved anoth­er $2 mil­lion in secret financ­ing:

    ...
    At least four off­shore banks were used to wire more than €2 mil­lion to the group, that were infor­mal­ly known as “the Haps­burg group” – a ref­er­ence to the Hab­s­burg roy­al dynasty.
    ...

    So, assum­ing that $2 mil­lion was­n’t part of the $4 mil­lion report­ed­ly paid to Zwaan’s law firm, that would put the price tag of these lob­by­ing efforts at $6 mil­lion. And that’s just what we know of. In oth­er words, the peo­ple pay­ing Man­afort and his team dur­ing this peri­od real­ly, real­ly, real­ly want­ed Ukraine to snug­gle up to the EU.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 6, 2018, 8:40 pm
  7. There appears to be a fight on the Ukrain­ian far-right break­ing out that will def­i­nite­ly be worth watch­ing: Nadia Savchenko, the Ukrain­ian law­mak­er who was for­mer­ly a fight­er pilot who become a nation­al hero after get­ting shot down over East­ern Ukraine and spend­ing 22 months in Russ­ian cap­tiv­i­ty, was just charged by Ukraine’s Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko with plan­ning a ter­ror­ist attack on par­lia­ment intend­ed to kill Petro Poroshenko and oth­er high-lev­el Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment offi­cials. Keep in mind that Savchenko called for a “mil­i­tary-style” gov­ern­ment last year, and sug­gest­ed that she would be a good per­son to lead that.

    Savchenko replied with her own charge, although that charge changed some­what after she met with the SBU: Savchenko first assert­ed that she wit­nessed Andriy Paru­biy, the neo-Nazi speak­er of the par­lia­ment, with direct involve­ment in the Maid­an sniper attacks. She made this charge to jour­nal­ists in front of the SBU head­quar­ters where she was called to answer ques­tions as a wit­ness regard­ing the alleged ter­ror plot. After she met with the SBU, how­ev­er, Savchenko changed her accu­sa­tion and said it was actu­al­ly Ser­hiy Pashin­skyy (Sergei Pashin­sky), a dif­fer­ent law­mak­er from Yulia Tymoshenko’s par­ty who was also a leader of the Maid­an protests, who Savchenko saw facil­i­tat­ing the sniper attacks. And it was just “a slip of the tongue” when she ini­tial­ly accused Paru­biy.

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty

    ‘War Hero’ Savchenko Accused Of Ter­ror Plot, Lev­els Own Accu­sa­tions In Ukraine

    RFE/RL’s Ukrain­ian Ser­vice
    Last Updat­ed: March 15, 2018 14:52 GMT

    KYIV — Law­mak­er and for­mer Russ­ian cap­tive Nadia Savchenko has trad­ed incen­di­ary accu­sa­tions with senior Ukrain­ian author­i­ties and faces pos­si­ble arrest over what Pros­e­cu­tor-Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko alleged was a detailed plan for a dev­as­tat­ing “ter­ror­ist” attack on par­lia­ment.

    Savchenko, a for­mer mil­i­tary avi­a­tor who spent 22 months in Russ­ian pris­ons after being detained by sep­a­ratists in the con­flict zone in east­ern Ukraine, claimed on March 15 that law­mak­er Ser­hiy Pashin­skyy played a promi­nent role in a dead­ly crack­down on pro-Euro­pean demon­stra­tors dur­ing antigov­ern­ment Maid­an protests that top­pled Rus­sia-friend­ly Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych in Feb­ru­ary 2014.

    Speak­ing to jour­nal­ists in front of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice (SBU) head­quar­ters in Kyiv, before she was ques­tioned as a wit­ness in a case against a man arrest­ed last week on sus­pi­cion of plot­ting to kill Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko and oth­er offi­cials in a series of armed attacks, Savchenko also assert­ed that Lut­senko cov­ered up what she alleged was cur­rent par­lia­ment speak­er Andriy Paru­biy’s involve­ment in sniper shoot­ings that author­i­ties say killed dozens of peo­ple dur­ing the crack­down on the Maid­an protests.

    How­ev­er, Savchenko said lat­er that she meant to accuse not Paru­biy but Pashin­skyy, and pub­licly apol­o­gized to the par­lia­ment speak­er for “a slip of the tongue.”

    Law­mak­ers in the Verk­hov­na Rada swift­ly respond­ed by kick­ing Savchenko out of the sin­gle-cham­ber par­lia­men­t’s nation­al secu­ri­ty and defense com­mit­tee. Lut­senko, mean­while, told par­lia­ment that Savchenko had planned an attack using grenades, mor­tars and auto­mat­ic weapons.

    Inves­ti­ga­tors have “irrefutable proof that Nadia Savchenko...personally planned, per­son­al­ly recruit­ed, and per­son­al­ly gave instruc­tions about how to com­mit a ter­ror­ist act here, in this cham­ber,” Lut­senko said. He asked the Rada to strip her of her par­lia­men­tary immu­ni­ty so that she could be arrest­ed.

    Lut­senko claimed that Savchenko’s plan includ­ed destroy­ing the Rada’s roof cupo­la and killing sur­viv­ing law­mak­ers with assault-rifle fire.

    Savchenko became a nation­al hero and was greet­ed with fan­fare when she returned to Ukraine in a pris­on­er swap with Rus­sia in May 2016, but has faced mount­ing crit­i­cism since then. She has drawn fire for hold­ing talks with the Rus­sia-backed sep­a­ratists with­out the gov­ern­men­t’s con­sent.

    In Jan­u­ary 2017, law­mak­ers called for an inves­ti­ga­tion into what they said were anti-Ukrain­ian actions after Savchenko sug­gest­ed that Kyiv would have to relax its claim on Crimea, which Rus­sia seized after Yanukovy­ch’s ouster in 2014, in order to regain con­trol of the ter­ri­to­ry held by the sep­a­ratists in the Donet­sk and Luhan­sk regions.

    More than 100 pro­test­ers were killed in the 2013–14 demon­stra­tions, cen­tered on Kyiv’s Maid­an Neza­lezh­nost (Inde­pen­dence Square) that pre­ced­ed Yanukovy­ch’s flight to Rus­sia. Forty-eight of them were alleged­ly gunned down in Feb­ru­ary 2014 by snipers who Ukrain­ian author­i­ties claim received direct orders from the Moscow-friend­ly Yanukovych.

    In her remarks on March 15, Savchenko said that she saw Paru­biy, who was on the antigov­ern­ment side at the time, “lead­ing snipers into the Hotel Ukraine,” which looms over the Maid­an. “I saw a blue minibus and armed peo­ple com­ing out of it, I have said ear­li­er [to inves­ti­ga­tors] who those peo­ple were. Those peo­ple are now law­mak­ers.”

    She said the deaths on the Maid­an will nev­er be thor­ough­ly inves­ti­gat­ed, assert­ing that the gov­ern­ment that came to pow­er after Yanukovy­ch’s down­fall does not want it to hap­pen.

    Savchenko also accused the gov­ern­ment of “giv­ing up Crimea” and said it bore respon­si­bil­i­ty for the deaths of Ukrain­ian sol­diers in the ongo­ing con­flict in the east, where more than 10,300 com­bat­ants and civil­ians have been killed in the war between Kyiv’s forces and the sep­a­ratists since April 2014.

    Lut­senko’s accu­sa­tion came after Savchenko report­ed to SBU head­quar­ters for ques­tion­ing as a wit­ness in the case against Volodymyr Ruban, who has been a key nego­tia­tor in pris­on­er exchanges with the Rus­sia-backed sep­a­ratists.

    Ruban was arrest­ed last week and charged with plot­ting to kill Poroshenko and oth­er top offi­cials, after he was detained while cross­ing into gov­ern­ment-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ry in east­ern Ukraine — alleged­ly with large amounts of weapons and ammu­ni­tion hid­den in a ship­ment of fur­ni­ture.

    Inves­ti­ga­tors claim Ruban planned to use mor­tars, grenade launch­ers, guns, and explo­sives to car­ry out armed attacks on the res­i­dences of states­men and polit­i­cal lead­ers” includ­ing Poroshenko, Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov, for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Arseniy Yat­senyuk, and Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense Coun­cil chief Olek­san­dr Turchynov with the inten­tion of killing them.

    Ruban, whose Cen­ter for the Release of POWs has been involved in pris­on­er exchanges between Kyiv and Rus­sia-backed sep­a­ratists since 2014, main­tains his inno­cence and says he was framed.

    In the past, Ruban was involved in the activ­i­ties of Ukrain­ian Choice, an orga­ni­za­tion that many in Ukraine con­sid­er to be pro-Krem­lin. The group is head­ed by Vik­tor Medved­chuk, who has ties to Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and has played a major behind-the-scenes role in exchanges of cap­tives.

    ...

    ———-

    “ ‘War Hero’ Savchenko Accused Of Ter­ror Plot, Lev­els Own Accu­sa­tions In Ukraine” by RFE/RL’s Ukrain­ian Ser­vice; Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty; 03/15/2018

    “Savchenko, a for­mer mil­i­tary avi­a­tor who spent 22 months in Russ­ian pris­ons after being detained by sep­a­ratists in the con­flict zone in east­ern Ukraine, claimed on March 15 that law­mak­er Ser­hiy Pashin­skyy played a promi­nent role in a dead­ly crack­down on pro-Euro­pean demon­stra­tors dur­ing antigov­ern­ment Maid­an protests that top­pled Rus­sia-friend­ly Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych in Feb­ru­ary 2014.”

    Ser­hiy Pashin­skyy played a promi­nent role in the sniper attacks: That was Savchenko’s claim. After she ini­tial­ly claimed that she actu­al­ly saw Paru­biy “lead­ing snipers into the Hotel Ukraine,” which looms over the Maid­an. “I saw a blue minibus and armed peo­ple com­ing out of it, I have said ear­li­er [to inves­ti­ga­tors] who those peo­ple were. Those peo­ple are now law­mak­ers.” But that was just a “slip of the tongue”, and it was actu­al­ly Ser­hiy Pashin­skyy who she saw lead­ing snipers into the hotel:

    ...
    Speak­ing to jour­nal­ists in front of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice (SBU) head­quar­ters in Kyiv, before she was ques­tioned as a wit­ness in a case against a man arrest­ed last week on sus­pi­cion of plot­ting to kill Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko and oth­er offi­cials in a series of armed attacks, Savchenko also assert­ed that Lut­senko cov­ered up what she alleged was cur­rent par­lia­ment speak­er Andriy Paru­biy’s involve­ment in sniper shoot­ings that author­i­ties say killed dozens of peo­ple dur­ing the crack­down on the Maid­an protests.

    How­ev­er, Savchenko said lat­er that she meant to accuse not Paru­biy but Pashin­skyy, and pub­licly apol­o­gized to the par­lia­ment speak­er for “a slip of the tongue.”

    ...

    In her remarks on March 15, Savchenko said that she saw Paru­biy, who was on the antigov­ern­ment side at the time, “lead­ing snipers into the Hotel Ukraine,” which looms over the Maid­an. “I saw a blue minibus and armed peo­ple com­ing out of it, I have said ear­li­er [to inves­ti­ga­tors] who those peo­ple were. Those peo­ple are now law­mak­ers.”

    She said the deaths on the Maid­an will nev­er be thor­ough­ly inves­ti­gat­ed, assert­ing that the gov­ern­ment that came to pow­er after Yanukovy­ch’s down­fall does not want it to hap­pen.
    ...

    And this is all in the con­text of charges that Savchenko planned an attack on the par­lia­ment using grenades, mor­tars and auto­mat­ic weapons. Accord­ing to Lut­senko, there is “irrefutable proof that Nadia Savchenko...personally planned, per­son­al­ly recruit­ed, and per­son­al­ly gave instruc­tions about how to com­mit a ter­ror­ist act here, in this cham­ber”:

    ...
    Law­mak­ers in the Verk­hov­na Rada swift­ly respond­ed by kick­ing Savchenko out of the sin­gle-cham­ber par­lia­men­t’s nation­al secu­ri­ty and defense com­mit­tee. Lut­senko, mean­while, told par­lia­ment that Savchenko had planned an attack using grenades, mor­tars and auto­mat­ic weapons.

    Inves­ti­ga­tors have “irrefutable proof that Nadia Savchenko...personally planned, per­son­al­ly recruit­ed, and per­son­al­ly gave instruc­tions about how to com­mit a ter­ror­ist act here, in this cham­ber,” Lut­senko said. He asked the Rada to strip her of her par­lia­men­tary immu­ni­ty so that she could be arrest­ed.

    Lut­senko claimed that Savchenko’s plan includ­ed destroy­ing the Rada’s roof cupo­la and killing sur­viv­ing law­mak­ers with assault-rifle fire.
    ...

    And these accu­sa­tions against Savchenko came after she arrived at the SBU head­quar­ters to answer ques­tions about Volodymyr Ruban, a key nego­tia­tor in pris­on­er exchanges with the Rus­sia-backed sep­a­ratists who was arrest­ed last week after he was detained while cross­ing into gov­ern­ment-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ry in east­ern Ukraine — alleged­ly with large amounts of weapons and ammu­ni­tion hid­den in a ship­ment of fur­ni­ture — and charged with plot­ting to kill Poroshenko and oth­er top offi­cials at their res­i­dences:

    ...
    Lut­senko’s accu­sa­tion came after Savchenko report­ed to SBU head­quar­ters for ques­tion­ing as a wit­ness in the case against Volodymyr Ruban, who has been a key nego­tia­tor in pris­on­er exchanges with the Rus­sia-backed sep­a­ratists.

    Ruban was arrest­ed last week and charged with plot­ting to kill Poroshenko and oth­er top offi­cials, after he was detained while cross­ing into gov­ern­ment-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ry in east­ern Ukraine — alleged­ly with large amounts of weapons and ammu­ni­tion hid­den in a ship­ment of fur­ni­ture.

    Inves­ti­ga­tors claim Ruban planned to use mor­tars, grenade launch­ers, guns, and explo­sives to car­ry out armed attacks on the res­i­dences of states­men and polit­i­cal lead­ers” includ­ing Poroshenko, Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov, for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Arseniy Yat­senyuk, and Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense Coun­cil chief Olek­san­dr Turchynov with the inten­tion of killing them.
    ...

    Note that Savchenko was charged with plot­ting an attack on the par­lia­ment while Ruban was charged with plot­ting attacks on the res­i­dences of top offi­cials. So if these were coor­di­nat­ed attacks that real­ly would have been a remark­able coup attempt if it was car­ried out.

    It’s worth not­ing that this is not the first time such accu­sa­tions have been hur­dled towards Paru­biy and Pashin­skyy. For instance, there were news reports on Ukraine’s chan­nel 112 back in 2014 that appeared to show Savchenko at the protests with a sniper rifle in the trunk of his car that led to spec­u­la­tion of his role. And as we can see from this Jan­u­ary 2015 arti­cle, just days before the Feb­ru­ary 20, 2014, sniper attacks, there was con­cern about reports of large caches of weapons being stolen by anti-gov­ern­ment pro­tes­tors in Lviv. When West­ern offi­cials met with Paru­biy and told him to keep the Lviv guns away from Kiev. And while Paru­biy denies that those guns ever made it to Kiev, he did admit to telling them that “if West­ern gov­ern­ments did not take firmer action against Yanukovych, the whole process could gain a very threat­en­ing dimen­sion”. In this same arti­cle, Pashin­skyy acknowl­edges lead­ing large num­bers of pan­icked Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty forces safe­ly out of Kiev dur­ing peri­od when the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment was col­laps­ing and the secu­ri­ty ser­vices feared being attacked by angry mobs:

    The New York Times

    Ukraine Leader Was Defeat­ed Even Before He Was Oust­ed

    By ANDREW HIGGINS and ANDREW E. KRAMER
    JAN. 3, 2015

    KIEV, Ukraine — Ashen-faced after a sleep­less night of marathon nego­ti­a­tions, Vik­tor F. Yanukovych hes­i­tat­ed, shak­ing his pen above the text placed before him in the chan­de­liered hall. Then, under the unsmil­ing gaze of Euro­pean diplo­mats and his polit­i­cal ene­mies, the belea­guered Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent scrawled his sig­na­ture, seal­ing a deal that he believed would keep him in pow­er, at least for a few more months.

    But even as Mr. Yanukovych sat down with his polit­i­cal foes at the pres­i­den­tial admin­is­tra­tion build­ing on the after­noon of Fri­day, Feb. 21, his last author­i­ty was fast drain­ing away. In a flur­ry of fran­tic calls to oppo­si­tion law­mak­ers, police offi­cials and secu­ri­ty com­man­ders were mak­ing clear that they were more wor­ried about their own safe­ty than pro­tect­ing Mr. Yanukovych and his gov­ern­ment.

    By that evening, he was gone, evac­u­at­ed from the cap­i­tal by heli­copter, set­ting the stage for the most severe bout of East-West ten­sions since the Cold War.

    Rus­sia has attrib­uted Mr. Yanukovych’s ouster to what it por­trays as a vio­lent, “neo-fas­cist” coup sup­port­ed and even chore­o­graphed by the West and dressed up as a pop­u­lar upris­ing. The Krem­lin has cit­ed this asser­tion, along with his­tor­i­cal ties, as the main jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for its annex­a­tion of Crimea in March and its sub­se­quent sup­port for an armed revolt by pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists in Ukraine’s indus­tri­al heart­land in the east.

    Few out­side the Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da bub­ble ever seri­ous­ly enter­tained the Kremlin’s line. But almost a year after the fall of Mr. Yanukovych’s gov­ern­ment, ques­tions remain about how and why it col­lapsed so quick­ly and com­plete­ly.

    An inves­ti­ga­tion by The New York Times into the final hours of Mr. Yanukovych’s rule — based on inter­views with promi­nent play­ers, includ­ing for­mer com­man­ders of the Berkut riot police and oth­er secu­ri­ty units, tele­phone records and oth­er doc­u­ments — shows that the pres­i­dent was not so much over­thrown as cast adrift by his own allies, and that West­ern offi­cials were just as sur­prised by the melt­down as any­one else.

    The allies’ deser­tion, fueled in large part by fear, was accel­er­at­ed by the seiz­ing by pro­test­ers of a large stock of weapons in the west of the coun­try. But just as impor­tant, the review of the final hours shows, was the pan­ic in gov­ern­ment ranks cre­at­ed by Mr. Yanukovych’s own efforts to make peace.

    At dawn on the morn­ing of Thurs­day, Feb. 20, a bedrag­gled pro-Euro­pean protest move­ment con­trolled just a few hun­dred square yards, at best, of scorched and soot-smeared pave­ment in cen­tral Kiev. They had gath­ered there the pre­vi­ous Novem­ber, enraged that Mr. Yanukovych, under heavy pres­sure from Moscow, had abrupt­ly turned away from a long-planned trade deal with the Euro­pean Union.

    Their for­tunes dimmed fur­ther on Thurs­day morn­ing when a hail of gun­fire cut down scores of pro­test­ers as they pushed to break out of their shrink­ing encamp­ment and expand their reach into the heav­i­ly guard­ed gov­ern­ment dis­trict.

    By Thurs­day evening, how­ev­er, the shock cre­at­ed by that blood­shed, the worst in the Ukrain­ian cap­i­tal since World War II, had prompt­ed a mass defec­tion by the president’s allies in Par­lia­ment and prod­ded Mr. Yanukovych to join nego­ti­a­tions with a trio of oppo­si­tion politi­cians.

    That was when the phone calls from the secu­ri­ty offi­cers began, said one of those oppo­si­tion law­mak­ers, Sergey Pashin­sky. Begin­ning in the late morn­ing, they became a tor­rent as the day pro­gressed, each mak­ing the same des­per­ate plea: Help! We want to get out of Kiev and need escorts to get through streets clogged with angry pro­test­ers.

    “They all had the same mes­sage,” Mr. Pashin­sky recalled.

    The secu­ri­ty offi­cers said in inter­views that they were alarmed by lan­guage in the truce deal that called for an inves­ti­ga­tion of the killing of pro­test­ers. They feared that a des­per­ate Mr. Yanukovych was ready to aban­don the very peo­ple who had pro­tect­ed him, par­tic­u­lar­ly those in the low­er ranks who had borne the brunt of the street bat­tles.

    One of the units that pulled out on Fri­day after­noon was a 30-man Berkut squad from Sum­s­ka, a region east of Kiev. Its act­ing com­man­der, who asked to be iden­ti­fied only by his first name, Vladimir, because he fears ret­ri­bu­tion for his past ser­vice, said that he had tried call­ing his supe­ri­ors at the Ukraine Inte­ri­or Min­istry all morn­ing on Fri­day, Feb. 21, to get instruc­tions, but that their phones had all gone dead.

    “The min­is­ter had dis­ap­peared, and nobody was tak­ing calls,” he recalled. He final­ly reached a mid­dle-rank­ing offi­cial at the min­istry. Advised to leave as “all the chiefs are run­ning away,” Vladimir con­tact­ed Mr. Pashin­sky and request­ed an escort out of town. “We were all wor­ried about being hung out to dry,” he said. He said he was not ordered to leave but sim­ply told that he and his men could go if they want­ed.

    Alek­san­dr Kho­dakovsky, who in Feb­ru­ary com­mand­ed an elite unit of Alfa spe­cial forces guard­ing the head­quar­ters of Ukraine’s domes­tic intel­li­gence ser­vice, was also hav­ing doubts.

    “We start­ed to under­stand that there would be no cen­tral gov­ern­ment, that it was falling apart,” Mr. Kho­dakovsky recalled in a recent inter­view in Donet­sk, where he now leads a bat­tal­ion of armed pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists. “We under­stood that all the medi­a­tion of the Euro­peans would lead to noth­ing.”

    A Chang­ing Atmos­phere

    Along with many oth­er com­man­ders, he believed that a tough response to pro­test­ers by Mr. Yanukovych in Novem­ber or Decem­ber could eas­i­ly have cleared Kiev’s Inde­pen­dence Square, known as Maid­an, the epi­cen­ter of the pro-Euro­pean protest move­ment.

    By Feb­ru­ary, how­ev­er, it was too late.

    “The atmos­phere was chang­ing” in the elite police units, Mr. Kho­dakovsky said. “Every­body under­stood the gov­ern­ment was not going to take deci­sive action. We under­stood that all the crimes we were going to com­mit clear­ing the square, in the last breath of the old gov­ern­ment, would all be blamed on us.”

    Secu­ri­ty forces were also thrown into a pan­ic by rumors, fanned by the pro­test­ers them­selves, about the where­abouts of hun­dreds of guns seized on the night of Feb. 18 in Lviv, a bas­tion of pro-Euro­pean fer­vor 300 miles west of Kiev near the Pol­ish bor­der. The weapons were said to be on their way to Kiev to add to an already grow­ing arse­nal of hunt­ing rifles, pis­tols, Molo­tov cock­tails and met­al clubs.

    Accord­ing to the chief of police in Lviv, Dmytro D. Zagariya, around 1,200 weapons, most­ly pis­tols and Kalash­nikov rifles, were seized in raids on five dis­trict police sta­tions and the head­quar­ters of the Inte­ri­or Ministry’s west­ern com­mand. Only 300 of these, he said, were recov­ered by the author­i­ties. He said there was no evi­dence that any of the miss­ing guns had been used in or even reached Kiev.

    West­ern diplo­mats in Kiev, includ­ing the Amer­i­can ambas­sador Geof­frey R. Pyatt, also heard about the guns grabbed in Lviv and wor­ried that, if brought to Kiev, they would turn what had begun as a peace­ful protest move­ment that enjoyed wide sym­pa­thy in the West into an armed insur­rec­tion that would quick­ly lose this good will.

    As the for­eign min­is­ters of Ger­many and Poland and a senior French diplo­mat met Mr. Yanukovych to nego­ti­ate a truce on the evening of Thurs­day, Feb. 20, at the pres­i­den­tial offices, Mr. Pyatt and sev­er­al Euro­pean envoys met at the Ger­man Embassy with Andriy Paru­biy, the chief of the pro­test­ers’ secu­ri­ty forces, and told him to keep the Lviv guns away from Kiev.

    “We told him: ‘Don’t let these guns come to Kiev. If they come, that will change the whole sit­u­a­tion,’ ” Mr. Pyatt recalled telling Mr. Paru­biy, who turned up for the meet­ing wear­ing a black bal­a­cla­va.

    In a recent inter­view in Kiev, Mr. Paru­biy denied that the guns tak­en in Lviv ever got to Kiev, but added that the prospect that they might have pro­vid­ed a pow­er­ful lever to pres­sure both Mr. Yanukovych’s camp and West­ern gov­ern­ments.

    “I warned them that if West­ern gov­ern­ments did not take firmer action against Yanukovych, the whole process could gain a very threat­en­ing dimen­sion,” he said.

    Andriy Tereschenko, a Berkut com­man­der from Donet­sk who was holed up with his men in the Cab­i­net Min­istry, the gov­ern­ment head­quar­ters in Kiev, said that 16 of his men had already been shot on Feb. 18 and that he was ter­ri­fied by the rumors of an armory of auto­mat­ic weapons on its way from Lviv.

    “It was already an armed upris­ing, and it was going to get worse,” he said. “We under­stood why the weapons were tak­en, to bring them to Kiev.”

    Around 2 p.m. that Fri­day, just as Euro­pean diplo­mats were gath­er­ing for the sign­ing cer­e­mo­ny at the near­by pres­i­den­tial admin­is­tra­tion build­ing, Mr. Tereschenko received a call from a deputy inte­ri­or min­is­ter, Vik­tor Dubovik, with an order to leave the city. Mr. Dubovik, he said, put him in touch with the oppo­si­tion law­mak­er Mr. Pashin­sky, who escort­ed the Berkut com­man­der and his 60 or so men to the edge of town, from where they drove overnight by bus to Donet­sk.

    Mr. Dubovik, who the author­i­ties say has since fled Ukraine, could not be locat­ed for com­ment.

    Mr. Pashin­sky esti­mat­ed that in all, he arranged escorts out of the city for more than 5,000 offi­cers from the riot police, Inte­ri­or Min­istry forces and oth­er secu­ri­ty units, like the spe­cial oper­a­tions unit, Alfa. He said Mr. Dubovik was just one of the offi­cials he worked with on the mass evac­u­a­tion, but added that he did not know where the order to retreat had orig­i­nat­ed.

    ...

    ———-

    “Ukraine Leader Was Defeat­ed Even Before He Was Oust­ed” by ANDREW HIGGINS and ANDREW E. KRAMER; The New York Times; 01/03/2015

    “Secu­ri­ty forces were also thrown into a pan­ic by rumors, fanned by the pro­test­ers them­selves, about the where­abouts of hun­dreds of guns seized on the night of Feb. 18 in Lviv, a bas­tion of pro-Euro­pean fer­vor 300 miles west of Kiev near the Pol­ish bor­der. The weapons were said to be on their way to Kiev to add to an already grow­ing arse­nal of hunt­ing rifles, pis­tols, Molo­tov cock­tails and met­al clubs.”

    So on Feb­ru­ary 18th, 2014, hun­dreds of guns were seized in Lviv and were rumored to be on their way to Kiev. West­ern envoys met with Andriy Paru­biy, then the chief of the pro­test­ers’ secu­ri­ty forces, and told him to keep the Lviv guns away from Kiev. And while Paru­biy asserts that those guns nev­er reached Kiev, he did admit that the prospect of those guns reach­ing Kiev act­ed as a pow­er­ful lever. He also admits, “I warned them that if West­ern gov­ern­ments did not take firmer action against Yanukovych, the whole process could gain a very threat­en­ing dimen­sion”:

    ...
    Accord­ing to the chief of police in Lviv, Dmytro D. Zagariya, around 1,200 weapons, most­ly pis­tols and Kalash­nikov rifles, were seized in raids on five dis­trict police sta­tions and the head­quar­ters of the Inte­ri­or Ministry’s west­ern com­mand. Only 300 of these, he said, were recov­ered by the author­i­ties. He said there was no evi­dence that any of the miss­ing guns had been used in or even reached Kiev.

    West­ern diplo­mats in Kiev, includ­ing the Amer­i­can ambas­sador Geof­frey R. Pyatt, also heard about the guns grabbed in Lviv and wor­ried that, if brought to Kiev, they would turn what had begun as a peace­ful protest move­ment that enjoyed wide sym­pa­thy in the West into an armed insur­rec­tion that would quick­ly lose this good will.

    As the for­eign min­is­ters of Ger­many and Poland and a senior French diplo­mat met Mr. Yanukovych to nego­ti­ate a truce on the evening of Thurs­day, Feb. 20, at the pres­i­den­tial offices, Mr. Pyatt and sev­er­al Euro­pean envoys met at the Ger­man Embassy with Andriy Paru­biy, the chief of the pro­test­ers’ secu­ri­ty forces, and told him to keep the Lviv guns away from Kiev.

    “We told him: ‘Don’t let these guns come to Kiev. If they come, that will change the whole sit­u­a­tion,’ ” Mr. Pyatt recalled telling Mr. Paru­biy, who turned up for the meet­ing wear­ing a black bal­a­cla­va.

    In a recent inter­view in Kiev, Mr. Paru­biy denied that the guns tak­en in Lviv ever got to Kiev, but added that the prospect that they might have pro­vid­ed a pow­er­ful lever to pres­sure both Mr. Yanukovych’s camp and West­ern gov­ern­ments.

    “I warned them that if West­ern gov­ern­ments did not take firmer action against Yanukovych, the whole process could gain a very threat­en­ing dimen­sion,” he said.
    ...

    And the whole process did indeed gain a very threat­en­ing dimen­sion, just as Paru­biy warned.

    And then there were these admis­sions from Ser­hiy Pashin­skyy (Sergey Pashin­sky) that he helped escort mem­bers of the secu­ri­ty ser­vices out of Kiev as the sit­u­a­tion dete­ri­o­rat­ed:

    ...
    That was when the phone calls from the secu­ri­ty offi­cers began, said one of those oppo­si­tion law­mak­ers, Sergey Pashin­sky. Begin­ning in the late morn­ing, they became a tor­rent as the day pro­gressed, each mak­ing the same des­per­ate plea: Help! We want to get out of Kiev and need escorts to get through streets clogged with angry pro­test­ers.

    “They all had the same mes­sage,” Mr. Pashin­sky recalled.

    ...

    Andriy Tereschenko, a Berkut com­man­der from Donet­sk who was holed up with his men in the Cab­i­net Min­istry, the gov­ern­ment head­quar­ters in Kiev, said that 16 of his men had already been shot on Feb. 18 and that he was ter­ri­fied by the rumors of an armory of auto­mat­ic weapons on its way from Lviv.

    “It was already an armed upris­ing, and it was going to get worse,” he said. “We under­stood why the weapons were tak­en, to bring them to Kiev.”

    Around 2 p.m. that Fri­day, just as Euro­pean diplo­mats were gath­er­ing for the sign­ing cer­e­mo­ny at the near­by pres­i­den­tial admin­is­tra­tion build­ing, Mr. Tereschenko received a call from a deputy inte­ri­or min­is­ter, Vik­tor Dubovik, with an order to leave the city. Mr. Dubovik, he said, put him in touch with the oppo­si­tion law­mak­er Mr. Pashin­sky, who escort­ed the Berkut com­man­der and his 60 or so men to the edge of town, from where they drove overnight by bus to Donet­sk.

    Mr. Dubovik, who the author­i­ties say has since fled Ukraine, could not be locat­ed for com­ment.

    Mr. Pashin­sky esti­mat­ed that in all, he arranged escorts out of the city for more than 5,000 offi­cers from the riot police, Inte­ri­or Min­istry forces and oth­er secu­ri­ty units, like the spe­cial oper­a­tions unit, Alfa. He said Mr. Dubovik was just one of the offi­cials he worked with on the mass evac­u­a­tion, but added that he did not know where the order to retreat had orig­i­nat­ed.
    ...

    And that admis­sion is par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing giv­en the pri­or claims by Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko that the Ukrain­ian pub­lic will be shocked when they learn that the man who helped so-called “black hun­dred” of police task force Berkut flee Kyiv and delib­er­ate­ly drowned their weapons to con­ceal evi­dence was part of the Maid­an protests.

    So that’s all why this emerg­ing sto­ry of ter­ror charges against Nadia Savchenko, and her counter-charges, is going to be some­thing to watch unfold.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 15, 2018, 2:41 pm
  8. It sounds like the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment has offi­cial­ly halt­ed any coop­er­a­tion with the Mueller inves­ti­ga­tions into Paul Man­afort’s activ­i­ties in Ukraine. Specif­i­cal­ly, the Ukrain­ian inves­ti­ga­tions into Paul Man­afort ties to the “Black Ledger”, the book that prompt­ed Man­afort’s removal as Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign man­ag­er after it was dis­cov­ered in 2016 alleged­ly con­tain­ing the pay­outs by the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment to var­i­ous peo­ple includ­ing Man­afort, have been frozen. Addi­tion­al­ly, Man­afort’s long-time part­ner in Ukraine, Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik, has been allowed to leave Ukraine and is pre­sumed to be resid­ing in Rus­sia.

    These moves are being char­ac­ter­ized by peo­ple in the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment as being done pure­ly out of a desire to not piss off the Trump admin­is­tra­tion so the US will pro­vide Ukraine with aid, in par­tic­u­lar the recent­ly approved Javelin mis­siles.

    And as we’re going to see in the sec­ond arti­cle excerpt, the inves­ti­ga­tion into Paul Man­afort and the Black Ledger actu­al­ly increas­es the poten­tial threat the ledger pos­es to dozens of those oth­er Ukrain­ian offi­cials whose names also showed up in the ledger. How so? Well, the authen­tic­i­ty of the ledger has been in dis­pute. Only one Ukrain­ian offi­cial had had their sig­na­ture found in the ledger con­firmed to be authen­tic. But then, last year, finan­cial records found by the new ten­ants in Man­fort’s old office in Kiev last year appeared to demon­strat­ed that Man­afort’s firm did indeed receive at least $1.2 mil­lion of the pay­ments list­ed to his name (out of $12.5 mil­lion in total to Man­afort in the ledger), lend­ing cred­i­bil­i­ty to the rest of the ledger. This was in April of 2017.

    And as we’ll see in the third arti­cle below, the offi­cial gov­ern­ment inves­ti­ga­tion into the Black Ledger appeared to have already ground to halt by June of 2017 after get­ting trans­ferred from the osten­si­bly non-polit­i­cal anti-cor­rup­tion prosecutor’s office to the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment of the Pros­e­cu­tor General’s office. As the arti­cle also notes, the “Black Ledger” impli­cat­ed dozens of Ukrain­ian offi­cials, includ­ing many of those in the cur­rent gov­ern­ment. Not just for­mer mem­bers of Yanukovy­ch’s Par­ty of Regions. In oth­er words, the Black Ledger like­ly includes pay­outs to peo­ple across Ukraine’s polit­i­cal spec­trum.

    So that’s all some of the con­text to keep in mind as we learn that Ukraine has halt­ed its coop­er­a­tion with the Mueller probe and is pub­licly talk­ing about how appeas­ing Trump was their pri­ma­ry moti­va­tion:

    The New York Times

    Ukraine, Seek­ing U.S. Mis­siles, Halt­ed Coop­er­a­tion With Mueller Inves­ti­ga­tion

    By Andrew E. Kramer
    May 2, 2018

    KIEV, Ukraine — In the Unit­ed States, Paul J. Man­afort is fac­ing pros­e­cu­tion on charges of mon­ey laun­der­ing and finan­cial fraud stem­ming from his decade of work for a pro-Russ­ian polit­i­cal par­ty in Ukraine.

    But in Ukraine, where offi­cials are wary of offend­ing Pres­i­dent Trump, four mean­der­ing cas­es that involve Mr. Man­afort, Mr. Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man, have been effec­tive­ly frozen by Ukraine’s chief pros­e­cu­tor.

    The cas­es are just too sen­si­tive for a gov­ern­ment deeply reliant on Unit­ed States finan­cial and mil­i­tary aid, and keen­ly aware of Mr. Trump’s dis­taste for the inves­ti­ga­tion by the spe­cial coun­sel, Robert S. Mueller III, into pos­si­ble col­lu­sion between Rus­sia and his cam­paign, some law­mak­ers say.

    The deci­sion to halt the inves­ti­ga­tions by an anti­cor­rup­tion pros­e­cu­tor was hand­ed down at a del­i­cate moment for Ukraine, as the Trump admin­is­tra­tion was final­iz­ing plans to sell the coun­try sophis­ti­cat­ed anti-tank mis­siles, called Javelins.

    The State Depart­ment issued an export license for the mis­siles on Dec. 22, and on March 2 the Pen­ta­gon announced final approval for the sale of 210 Javelins and 35 launch­ing units. The order to halt inves­ti­ga­tions into Mr. Man­afort came in ear­ly April.

    Volodymyr Ariev, a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment who is an ally of Pres­i­dent Petro O. Poroshenko, read­i­ly acknowl­edged that the inten­tion in Kiev was to put inves­ti­ga­tions into Mr. Manafort’s activ­i­ties “in the long-term box.”

    “In every pos­si­ble way, we will avoid irri­tat­ing the top Amer­i­can offi­cials,” Mr. Ariev said in an inter­view. “We shouldn’t spoil rela­tions with the admin­is­tra­tion.”

    The Ukrain­ian inves­ti­ga­tors had been trac­ing mon­ey paid to Mr. Man­afort and a New York law firm, Skad­den, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, by fig­ures in the polit­i­cal par­ty of Vik­tor F. Yanukovych, the Russ­ian-lean­ing Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent who was oust­ed by street pro­test­ers and fled the coun­try in 2014. Mr. Man­afort was a long­time advis­er to Mr. Yanukovych, work­ing with him to revamp his pub­lic image and acquire a pro-West­ern pati­na that helped him win the pres­i­den­cy in 2010.

    The new gov­ern­ment estab­lished a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor to pur­sue cor­rup­tion in the for­mer admin­is­tra­tion. By late last year, the pros­e­cu­tor, Ser­hiy Hor­batyuk, had opened about 3,000 cas­es, includ­ing four relat­ed to Mr. Manafort’s con­sult­ing for the for­mer pres­i­dent and his polit­i­cal par­ty.

    The order issued in April iso­lat­ed these four inves­ti­ga­tions. The cas­es were not closed, the pros­e­cu­tor general’s office said in a state­ment, but the order blocked Mr. Hor­batyuk from issu­ing sub­poe­nas for evi­dence or inter­view­ing wit­ness­es.

    “We have no author­i­ty to con­tin­ue our inves­ti­ga­tion,” Mr. Hor­batyuk said in an inter­view.

    One inquiry dealt with pos­si­ble mon­ey laun­der­ing in a sin­gle $750,000 pay­ment to Mr. Man­afort from a Ukrain­ian shell com­pa­ny. The pay­ment formed one part of the mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar trans­fers to Mr. Man­afort from politi­cians in Ukraine that under­pin indict­ments filed by Mr. Mueller in fed­er­al court in Wash­ing­ton and Vir­ginia. Before the case was frozen, pros­e­cu­tors had sub­poe­naed records from Ukrain­ian banks.

    Anoth­er con­cerned a for­mer chair­man of the Ukrain­ian Parliament’s for­eign rela­tions com­mit­tee, Vitaly Kalyuzh­ny, who had signed nine of 22 entries des­ig­nat­ed for Mr. Man­afort in a secret ledger of polit­i­cal pay­offs uncov­ered after the 2014 rev­o­lu­tion. The ledger showed pay­outs total­ing $12.5 mil­lion for Mr. Man­afort.

    The hand­writ­ten account­ing doc­u­ment, called in Ukraine the Black Ledger, is an evi­den­tial linch­pin for inves­ti­gat­ing cor­rup­tion in the for­mer gov­ern­ment. Mr. Man­afort denied receiv­ing under-the-table pay­ments from the par­ty and his spokesman said the ledger might be a forgery.

    The oth­er two cas­es looked at Skad­den Arps, which wrote a report with Mr. Manafort’s par­tic­i­pa­tion that was wide­ly seen as white­wash­ing the polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed arrest and impris­on­ment of Mr. Yanukovych’s prin­ci­pal rival, Yulia V. Tymoshenko.

    Two months before Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment froze the cas­es, Mr. Hor­batyuk reached out to Mr. Mueller’s office with a for­mal offer to coop­er­ate by shar­ing evi­dence and leads. Mr. Hor­batyuk said that he sent a let­ter in Jan­u­ary and did not receive a reply, but that the offer was now moot, since he has lost the author­i­ty to inves­ti­gate.

    But entries in the ledger appear to bol­ster Mr. Mueller’s mon­ey laun­der­ing and tax eva­sion case against Mr. Man­afort, said Ser­hiy Leshchenko, a law­mak­er who has close­ly fol­lowed the inves­ti­ga­tion. They indi­cate, for exam­ple, pay­ments from Ukraine to a Cypri­ot com­pa­ny, Glob­al High­way Lim­it­ed, that was also named in an indict­ment Mr. Mueller filed in fed­er­al court in Vir­ginia this year. The com­pa­ny cov­ered hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars of Mr. Manafort’s bills at a high-end men’s cloth­ing store and antique shop in New York.

    In anoth­er move seem­ing to hin­der Mr. Mueller’s inves­ti­ga­tion, Ukrain­ian law enforce­ment allowed a poten­tial wit­ness to pos­si­ble col­lu­sion between the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sia to leave for Rus­sia, putting him out of reach for ques­tion­ing.

    The spe­cial counsel’s office has iden­ti­fied the man, Kon­stan­tin V. Kil­imnik, Mr. Manafort’s for­mer office man­ag­er in Kiev, as tied to a Russ­ian intel­li­gence agency. Mr. Kil­imnik was also under inves­ti­ga­tion in Ukraine over espi­onage, but no charges were filed before he left the coun­try, some­time after June. Dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign, Mr. Kil­imnik met twice with Mr. Man­afort. In Decem­ber, a court fil­ing in the Unit­ed States said Mr. Kil­imnik was “cur­rent­ly based in Rus­sia.”

    But in the Unit­ed States, Mr. Mueller’s office appears still keen­ly inter­est­ed in Mr. Manafort’s ties to Rus­sia. Among the ques­tions Mr. Mueller would like to ask Mr. Trump, accord­ing to a list pro­vid­ed to the president’s lawyers, was: “What knowl­edge did you have of any out­reach by your cam­paign, includ­ing by Paul Man­afort, to Rus­sia about poten­tial assis­tance to the cam­paign?”

    In Kiev, the mis­sile sale was seen as a polit­i­cal vic­to­ry for Mr. Poroshenko, indi­cat­ing Amer­i­can back­ing for his gov­ern­ment in the war in east­ern Ukraine against Rus­sia-backed sep­a­ratists and against the threat of a wider Russ­ian inter­ven­tion in the coun­try. After Ukraine announced on April 30 that it had received the mis­siles, Mr. Poroshenko post­ed on Face­book that “the long-await­ed weapon arrived in the Ukrain­ian Army.”

    Apart from the mis­siles, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment is propped up with about $600 mil­lion in bilat­er­al aid from the Unit­ed States annu­al­ly. Mr. Poroshenko’s office did not respond to a request for com­ment on Tues­day.

    David Sak­vare­lidze, a for­mer deputy pros­e­cu­tor gen­er­al who is now in the polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion, said he did not believe that the gen­er­al pros­e­cu­tor had coor­di­nat­ed with any­body in the Unit­ed States on the deci­sion to sus­pend the inves­ti­ga­tions in Ukraine, or that there had been a quid pro quo for the mis­sile sale.

    Ukrain­ian politi­cians, he said, con­clud­ed on their own that any help pros­e­cut­ing Mr. Man­afort could bring down Mr. Trump’s wrath.

    “Can you imag­ine,” Mr. Sak­vare­lidze said, “that Trump writes on Twit­ter, ‘The Unit­ed States isn’t going to sup­port any cor­rupt post-Sovi­et lead­ers, includ­ing in Ukraine.’ That would be the end of him.”

    ...

    ———-

    “Ukraine, Seek­ing U.S. Mis­siles, Halt­ed Coop­er­a­tion With Mueller Inves­ti­ga­tion” by Andrew E. Kramer; The New York Times; 05/02/2018

    “The cas­es are just too sen­si­tive for a gov­ern­ment deeply reliant on Unit­ed States finan­cial and mil­i­tary aid, and keen­ly aware of Mr. Trump’s dis­taste for the inves­ti­ga­tion by the spe­cial coun­sel, Robert S. Mueller III, into pos­si­ble col­lu­sion between Rus­sia and his cam­paign, some law­mak­ers say.”

    The inves­ti­ga­tions into Paul Man­afort are “too sen­si­tive” for the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment to pur­sue at this point. That appears to be the offi­cial line com­ing from the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment.

    And while it’s not sur­pris­ing that the gov­ern­ment took such a line, it is rather remark­able that open­ly talk­ing about the halt­ing of these inves­ti­ga­tions into Man­afort over con­cerns of piss­ing off Trump isn’t, itself, deemed to be ‘too sen­si­tive’ too. It’s like engag­ing in cor­rup­tion to please some­one and then telling the world about it.

    That’s part of why it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that Ukrain­ian politi­cians have anoth­er mas­sive rea­son to see an end to the inves­ti­ga­tions into Man­afort: those inves­ti­ga­tions in Man­afort over­lap with inves­ti­ga­tions into dozens of Ukrain­ian politi­cians includ­ing many of those in pow­er today. And that motive might explain so many Ukraini­ans are so will­ing to open­ly talk­ing about how they’re killing the inves­ti­ga­tions into Man­afort to avoid anger­ing Trump.

    The tim­ing of this open talk by Ukrain­ian offi­cials of a kind of quid pro quo with the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is also pret­ty inter­est­ing: The State Depart­ment issued an export license for the mis­siles on Dec. 22, the Pen­ta­gon announced final approval on March 2nd, and the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment offi­cial­ly orders a halt inves­ti­ga­tions into Man­afort in April. It’s like going out of their way to be cor­rupt in order to pla­cate Trump:

    ...
    The deci­sion to halt the inves­ti­ga­tions by an anti­cor­rup­tion pros­e­cu­tor was hand­ed down at a del­i­cate moment for Ukraine, as the Trump admin­is­tra­tion was final­iz­ing plans to sell the coun­try sophis­ti­cat­ed anti-tank mis­siles, called Javelins.

    The State Depart­ment issued an export license for the mis­siles on Dec. 22, and on March 2 the Pen­ta­gon announced final approval for the sale of 210 Javelins and 35 launch­ing units. The order to halt inves­ti­ga­tions into Mr. Man­afort came in ear­ly April.

    Volodymyr Ariev, a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment who is an ally of Pres­i­dent Petro O. Poroshenko, read­i­ly acknowl­edged that the inten­tion in Kiev was to put inves­ti­ga­tions into Mr. Manafort’s activ­i­ties “in the long-term box.”

    “In every pos­si­ble way, we will avoid irri­tat­ing the top Amer­i­can offi­cials,” Mr. Ariev said in an inter­view. “We shouldn’t spoil rela­tions with the admin­is­tra­tion.”
    ...

    And that offi­cial pub­lic dis­cus­sion of the orders to not freeze the inves­ti­ga­tions into Man­afort include spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor Ser­hiy Hor­batyuk who open­ly said in an inter­view, “We have no author­i­ty to con­tin­ue our inves­ti­ga­tion”:

    ...
    The new gov­ern­ment estab­lished a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor to pur­sue cor­rup­tion in the for­mer admin­is­tra­tion. By late last year, the pros­e­cu­tor, Ser­hiy Hor­batyuk, had opened about 3,000 cas­es, includ­ing four relat­ed to Mr. Manafort’s con­sult­ing for the for­mer pres­i­dent and his polit­i­cal par­ty.

    The order issued in April iso­lat­ed these four inves­ti­ga­tions. The cas­es were not closed, the pros­e­cu­tor general’s office said in a state­ment, but the order blocked Mr. Hor­batyuk from issu­ing sub­poe­nas for evi­dence or inter­view­ing wit­ness­es.

    “We have no author­i­ty to con­tin­ue our inves­ti­ga­tion,” Mr. Hor­batyuk said in an inter­view.
    ...

    And note how the Black Ledger is described as an “evi­den­tial linch­pin for inves­ti­gat­ing cor­rup­tion in the for­mer gov­ern­ment,” under­scor­ing the stakes involved with the Black Ledger. Because that cor­rup­tion isn’t lim­it­ed to the for­mer gov­ern­ment:

    ...
    The hand­writ­ten account­ing doc­u­ment, called in Ukraine the Black Ledger, is an evi­den­tial linch­pin for inves­ti­gat­ing cor­rup­tion in the for­mer gov­ern­ment. Mr. Man­afort denied receiv­ing under-the-table pay­ments from the par­ty and his spokesman said the ledger might be a forgery.
    ...

    And for Man­afort alone in the Black Ledger alleges a total $12.5 mil­lion in under-the-table pay­ments. And one of the four Black Ledger inves­ti­ga­tions into Man­afort involves the a for­mer chair­man of the Ukrain­ian Parliament’s for­eign rela­tions com­mit­tee:

    ...
    One inquiry dealt with pos­si­ble mon­ey laun­der­ing in a sin­gle $750,000 pay­ment to Mr. Man­afort from a Ukrain­ian shell com­pa­ny. The pay­ment formed one part of the mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar trans­fers to Mr. Man­afort from politi­cians in Ukraine that under­pin indict­ments filed by Mr. Mueller in fed­er­al court in Wash­ing­ton and Vir­ginia. Before the case was frozen, pros­e­cu­tors had sub­poe­naed records from Ukrain­ian banks.

    Anoth­er con­cerned a for­mer chair­man of the Ukrain­ian Parliament’s for­eign rela­tions com­mit­tee, Vitaly Kalyuzh­ny, who had signed nine of 22 entries des­ig­nat­ed for Mr. Man­afort in a secret ledger of polit­i­cal pay­offs uncov­ered after the 2014 rev­o­lu­tion. The ledger showed pay­outs total­ing $12.5 mil­lion for Mr. Man­afort.
    ...

    And that inves­ti­ga­tion involv­ing the for­mer chair­man of the Ukrain­ian Parliament’s for­eign rela­tions com­mit­tee is an impor­tant fun fact to keep in mind regard­ing Man­afort and his work with the “Haps­burg Group”, a group of for­mer Euro­pean loead­ers hired to lob­by the US and EU gov­ern­ments in favor of allow­ing Ukraine into a trade union with the EU and address lin­ger­ing con­cerns over the jail­ing of Yulia Tymoshenko, because that “Haps­burg Group” ini­tia­tive was a major for­eign gov­ern­ment lob­by­ing ini­tia­tive being secret­ly han­dled by Man­afort.

    Plus, when we read that the two oth­er cas­es involved Skad­den Arps, keep in mind that Skad­den Arps is the firm employ­ing Alex van der Zwaan, the son-in-law of Alfa bank founder Ger­man Khan (who hap­pens to be Ukrain­ian) who was also work­ing with Man­afort as part of the “Haps­burg Group” ini­tia­tive. So when we learn about the halt­ing of these inves­ti­ga­tions in Paul Man­afort, that includes Ukraine’s inves­ti­ga­tion into the Haps­burg Group:

    ...
    The oth­er two cas­es looked at Skad­den Arps, which wrote a report with Mr. Manafort’s par­tic­i­pa­tion that was wide­ly seen as white­wash­ing the polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed arrest and impris­on­ment of Mr. Yanukovych’s prin­ci­pal rival, Yulia V. Tymoshenko.
    ...

    Also note how Ukraine’s offi­cial refusal to work with Mueller’s inves­ti­ga­tion appears to have hap­pened rather sud­den­ly in the last few months, with a for­mal offer to Mueller giv­en in Jan­u­ary:

    ...
    Two months before Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment froze the cas­es, Mr. Hor­batyuk reached out to Mr. Mueller’s office with a for­mal offer to coop­er­ate by shar­ing evi­dence and leads. Mr. Hor­batyuk said that he sent a let­ter in Jan­u­ary and did not receive a reply, but that the offer was now moot, since he has lost the author­i­ty to inves­ti­gate.
    ...

    Final­ly, we learn that the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment has allowed Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik to leave Ukraine, putting him out of reach for ques­tion­ing:

    ...
    In anoth­er move seem­ing to hin­der Mr. Mueller’s inves­ti­ga­tion, Ukrain­ian law enforce­ment allowed a poten­tial wit­ness to pos­si­ble col­lu­sion between the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sia to leave for Rus­sia, putting him out of reach for ques­tion­ing.

    The spe­cial counsel’s office has iden­ti­fied the man, Kon­stan­tin V. Kil­imnik, Mr. Manafort’s for­mer office man­ag­er in Kiev, as tied to a Russ­ian intel­li­gence agency. Mr. Kil­imnik was also under inves­ti­ga­tion in Ukraine over espi­onage, but no charges were filed before he left the coun­try, some­time after June. Dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign, Mr. Kil­imnik met twice with Mr. Man­afort. In Decem­ber, a court fil­ing in the Unit­ed States said Mr. Kil­imnik was “cur­rent­ly based in Rus­sia.”
    ...

    So, all in all, it’s pret­ty clear that the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment real­ly, real­ly, real­ly wants the world to know that it halt­ed its inves­ti­ga­tions into Man­afort in order to pla­cate Don­ald Trump. It’s a rather odd pub­lic rela­tions strat­e­gy that looks open­ly cor­rupt on its face, but that’s the image many of those in Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment want to project.

    And while it’s tempt­ing to assume that Don­ald Trump him­self is the pri­ma­ry audi­ence for this open­ly cor­rupt quid pro quo ‘no-inves­ti­ga­tion-in-exchange-for-arms’ arrange­ment, don’t for­get that the Black Ledger inves­ti­ga­tion poten­tial­ly impli­cates dozens of Ukrain­ian offi­cials includ­ing those in the cur­rent gov­ern­ment. So if the clo­sure of the inves­ti­ga­tion into Man­afort can help assist in obscur­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into all the oth­er Ukrain­ian offi­cials, there’s going to be an incen­tive to empha­size to domes­tic Ukrain­ian audi­ences the ‘pleas­ing Trump’ angle to the halt­ing of the Man­afort inves­ti­ga­tions and deflect from ulte­ri­or motives.

    Along those lines, as the fol­low­ing arti­cle from April of 2017 points out, two of those Black Ledger entries on Paul Man­afort were basi­cal­ly con­firmed by doc­u­ments found in the for­mer Kiev office occu­pied by Man­afort. And at that point in time only one oth­er entry in the Black Ledger had been ver­i­fied as authen­tic: Mykhay­lo Okhen­dovsky, who is charged with receiv­ing more than $160,000 from Par­ty of Regions offi­cials in 2012, when he was Ukraine’s main elec­tion offi­cial.

    So when those doc­u­ments found in Man­afort’s old office appeared to con­firm two of those Black Ledger entries in April of last year, that dis­cov­ery was impor­tant for the rest of the Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment because it lent cred­i­bil­i­ty to the entire Black Ledger:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    AP Exclu­sive: Man­afort firm received Ukraine ledger pay­out
    By JACK GILLUM, CHAD DAY and JEFF HORWITZ
    Apr. 12, 2017

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Last August, a hand­writ­ten ledger sur­faced in Ukraine with dol­lar amounts and dates next to the name of Paul Man­afort, who was then Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign chair­man.

    Ukrain­ian inves­ti­ga­tors called it evi­dence of off-the-books pay­ments from a pro-Russ­ian polit­i­cal par­ty — and part of a larg­er pat­tern of cor­rup­tion under the country’s for­mer pres­i­dent. Man­afort, who worked for the par­ty as an inter­na­tion­al polit­i­cal con­sul­tant, has pub­licly ques­tioned the ledger’s authen­tic­i­ty.

    Now, finan­cial records new­ly obtained by The Asso­ci­at­ed Press con­firm that at least $1.2 mil­lion in pay­ments list­ed in the ledger next to Manafort’s name were actu­al­ly received by his con­sult­ing firm in the Unit­ed States. They include pay­ments in 2007 and 2009, pro­vid­ing the first evi­dence that Manafort’s firm received at least some mon­ey list­ed in the so-called Black Ledger.

    The two pay­ments came years before Man­afort became involved in Trump’s cam­paign, but for the first time bol­ster the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the ledger. They also put the ledger in a new light, as fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors in the U.S. have been inves­ti­gat­ing Manafort’s work in East­ern Europe as part of a larg­er anti-cor­rup­tion probe.

    Sep­a­rate­ly, Man­afort is also under scruti­ny as part of con­gres­sion­al and FBI inves­ti­ga­tions into pos­si­ble con­tacts between Trump asso­ciates and Russia’s gov­ern­ment under Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin dur­ing the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. The pay­ments detailed in the ledger and con­firmed by the doc­u­ments obtained by the AP are unre­lat­ed to the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and came years before Man­afort worked as Trump’s unpaid cam­paign chair­man.

    In a state­ment to the AP on Tues­day, Man­afort did not deny that his firm received the mon­ey but said “any wire trans­ac­tions received by my com­pa­ny are legit­i­mate pay­ments for polit­i­cal con­sult­ing work that was pro­vid­ed. I invoiced my clients and they paid via wire trans­fer, which I received through a U.S. bank.”

    Man­afort not­ed that he agreed to be paid accord­ing to his “clients’ pre­ferred finan­cial insti­tu­tions and instruc­tions.”

    On Wednes­day, Manafort’s spokesman Jason Mal­oni pro­vid­ed an addi­tion­al state­ment to the AP, say­ing that Man­afort received all of his pay­ments via wire trans­fers con­duct­ed through the inter­na­tion­al bank­ing sys­tem.

    “Mr. Manafort’s work in Ukraine was total­ly open and appro­pri­ate, and wire trans­fers for inter­na­tion­al work are per­fect­ly legal,” Mal­oni said.

    He not­ed that Man­afort had nev­er been paid in cash. Instead, he said Manafort’s exclu­sive use of wire trans­fers for pay­ment under­mines the descrip­tions of the ledger last year giv­en by Ukrain­ian anti-cor­rup­tion author­i­ties and a law­mak­er that the ledger detailed cash pay­ments.

    Pre­vi­ous­ly, Man­afort and Mal­oni have main­tained the ledger was fab­ri­cat­ed and said no pub­lic evi­dence exist­ed that Man­afort or oth­ers received pay­ments record­ed in it.

    The AP, how­ev­er, iden­ti­fied in the records two pay­ments received by Man­afort that aligned with the ledger: one for $750,000 that a Ukrain­ian law­mak­er said last month was part of a mon­ey-laun­der­ing effort that should be inves­ti­gat­ed by U.S. author­i­ties. The oth­er was $455,249 and also matched a ledger entry.

    The new­ly obtained records also expand the glob­al scope of Manafort’s finan­cial activ­i­ties relat­ed to his Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal con­sult­ing, because both pay­ments came from com­pa­nies once reg­is­tered in the Cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­try of Belize. Last month, the AP report­ed that the U.S. gov­ern­ment has exam­ined Manafort’s finan­cial trans­ac­tions in the Mediter­ranean coun­try of Cyprus as part of its probe.

    Fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors have been look­ing into Manafort’s work for years as part of an effort to recov­er Ukrain­ian assets stolen after the 2014 ouster of Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, who fled to Rus­sia. No charges have been filed as part of the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Man­afort, a long­time Repub­li­can polit­i­cal oper­a­tive, led the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign from March until August last year when Trump asked him to resign. The res­ig­na­tion came after a tumul­tuous week in which The New York Times revealed that Manafort’s name appeared in the Ukraine ledger — although the news­pa­per said at the time that offi­cials were unsure whether Man­afort actu­al­ly received the mon­ey — and after the AP sep­a­rate­ly report­ed that he had orches­trat­ed a covert Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ing oper­a­tion until 2014 on behalf of Ukraine’s pro-Russ­ian Par­ty of Regions.

    On Wednes­day, Mal­oni told the AP that Man­afort intends to reg­is­ter with the Jus­tice Depart­ment as a for­eign agent for work he did on behalf of polit­i­cal inter­ests in Ukraine.

    Man­afort began dis­cus­sions with the U.S. gov­ern­ment about his lob­by­ing activ­i­ties after Trump hired him in March 2016, Mal­oni said, although it was unclear whether those con­ver­sa­tions occurred before or after Trump forced Man­afort to resign in August. By reg­is­ter­ing retroac­tive­ly, Man­afort will be acknowl­edg­ing that he failed to prop­er­ly dis­close his work to the Jus­tice Depart­ment as required by fed­er­al law.

    Man­afort has recent­ly been giv­en guid­ance by fed­er­al author­i­ties relat­ed to whether he should reg­is­ter as a for­eign agent, Mal­oni said. Asked by the AP whether Man­afort intends to reg­is­ter as a for­eign agent, Mal­oni said, “Yes, he is reg­is­ter­ing.”

    Also Wednes­day, one of the Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ing firms involved in that covert cam­paign, the Podes­ta Group Inc., for­mal­ly reg­is­tered with the Jus­tice Depart­ment under the For­eign Agents Reg­is­tra­tion Act. In doing so, it acknowl­edged that its work at the time could have prin­ci­pal­ly ben­e­fit­ed the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment. The firm, run by the broth­er of Hillary Clin­ton pres­i­den­tial cam­paign chair­man John Podes­ta, report­ed being paid more than $1.2 mil­lion for its efforts. It cit­ed unspec­i­fied “infor­ma­tion brought to light in recent months” and con­ver­sa­tions with Jus­tice Depart­ment employ­ees as the rea­son for its deci­sion.

    The oth­er firm, Mer­cury LLC, lat­er said it also will reg­is­ter as a for­eign agent over its work on the cam­paign.

    Offi­cials with the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau, which is inves­ti­gat­ing cor­rup­tion under Yanukovych, have said they believe the ledger is gen­uine. But they have pre­vi­ous­ly not­ed that they have no way of know­ing whether Man­afort received the mon­ey list­ed next to his name. The bureau said it is not inves­ti­gat­ing Man­afort because he is not a Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen.

    Still, Manafort’s work con­tin­ues to draw atten­tion in Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics.

    Last month, Ukrain­ian law­mak­er Ser­hiy Leshchenko revealed an invoice bear­ing the let­ter­head of Manafort’s name­sake com­pa­ny, Davis Man­afort, that Leshchenko said was craft­ed to con­ceal a pay­ment to Man­afort as a pur­chase of 501 com­put­ers.

    The AP pro­vid­ed to Man­afort the amounts of the pay­ments, dates and num­ber of the bank account where they were received. Man­afort told the AP that he was unable to review his own bank­ing records show­ing receipt of the pay­ments because his bank destroyed the records after a stan­dard 7‑year reten­tion peri­od. He said Tues­day the “com­put­er sales con­tract is a fraud.”

    “The sig­na­ture is not mine, and I didn’t sell com­put­ers,” he said in a state­ment. “What is clear, how­ev­er, is indi­vid­u­als with polit­i­cal moti­va­tions are tak­ing dis­parate pieces of infor­ma­tion and dis­tort­ing their sig­nif­i­cance through a cam­paign of smear and innu­en­do.”

    Leshchenko said last month the 2009 invoice was one of about 50 pages of doc­u­ments, includ­ing pri­vate paper­work and copies of employ­ee-issued deb­it cards, that were found in Manafort’s for­mer Kiev office by a new ten­ant.

    The amount of the invoice — $750,000— and the pay­ment date of Oct. 14, 2009, match­es one entry on the ledger indi­cat­ing pay­ments to Man­afort from the Par­ty of Regions. The invoice was addressed to Neo­com Sys­tems Ltd., a com­pa­ny for­mer­ly reg­is­tered in Belize, and includ­ed the account and rout­ing num­bers and postal address for Manafort’s account at a branch of Wachovia Nation­al Bank in Alexan­dria, Vir­ginia.

    The AP had pre­vi­ous­ly been unable to inde­pen­dent­ly ver­i­fy the $750,000 pay­ment went to a Man­afort com­pa­ny, but the new­ly obtained finan­cial records reflect Manafort’s receipt of that pay­ment. The records show that Davis Man­afort received the amount from Neo­com Sys­tems the day after the date of the invoice.

    A $455,249 pay­ment in Novem­ber 2007 also match­es the amount in the ledger. It came from Grat­en Alliance Ltd., a com­pa­ny that had also been reg­is­tered in Belize. It is now inac­tive.

    In an inter­view with the AP, Leshchenko con­tend­ed that Yanukovych, as Ukraine’s leader, paid Man­afort mon­ey that came from his government’s bud­get and was “stolen from Ukrain­ian cit­i­zens.” He said: “Mon­ey received by Man­afort has to be returned to the Ukrain­ian peo­ple.”

    Leshchenko said U.S. author­i­ties should inves­ti­gate what he described as cor­rupt deals between Man­afort and Yanukovych. “It’s about a U.S. cit­i­zen and mon­ey was trans­ferred to a U.S. bank account,” he said.

    Mal­oni accused Leshchenko on Wednes­day of chang­ing his sto­ry, say­ing Leshchenko had pre­vi­ous­ly said the ledger detailed cash pay­ments but now said that wire trans­fers sup­port his alle­ga­tions.

    Mal­oni said Leshchenko’s alle­ga­tions were polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed because Man­afort once sup­port­ed an oppos­ing polit­i­cal par­ty.

    “There is absolute­ly noth­ing improp­er with this method of pay­ment and there is no basis to give any cred­i­bil­i­ty to the cur­rent Leshchenko alle­ga­tions to the con­trary,” Mal­oni said.

    ...

    Dozens of Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal fig­ures men­tioned in the Black Ledger are under inves­ti­ga­tion in Ukraine. The anti-cor­rup­tion bureau, which has been look­ing into the Black Ledger, pub­licly con­firmed the authen­tic­i­ty of the sig­na­ture of one top offi­cial men­tioned there. In Decem­ber, the bureau accused Mykhay­lo Okhen­dovsky of receiv­ing more than $160,000 from Par­ty of Regions offi­cials in 2012, when he was Ukraine’s main elec­tion offi­cial.

    The bureau said it would iden­ti­fy more sus­pects in the com­ing months.

    ———-

    “AP Exclu­sive: Man­afort firm received Ukraine ledger pay­out” by JACK GILLUM, CHAD DAY and JEFF HORWITZ; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 04/12/2017

    Dozens of Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal fig­ures men­tioned in the Black Ledger are under inves­ti­ga­tion in Ukraine. The anti-cor­rup­tion bureau, which has been look­ing into the Black Ledger, pub­licly con­firmed the authen­tic­i­ty of the sig­na­ture of one top offi­cial men­tioned there. In Decem­ber, the bureau accused Mykhay­lo Okhen­dovsky of receiv­ing more than $160,000 from Par­ty of Regions offi­cials in 2012, when he was Ukraine’s main elec­tion offi­cial.”

    Yep, of the dozens of Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal fig­ures men­tioned in the Black Ledger, the entries detail­ing pay­outs to only one offi­cial, Mykhay­lo Okhen­dovsky, had been pub­lic con­firmed by Ukraine’s anti-cor­rup­tion bureau as of April of last year.

    But then doc­u­ments were uncov­ered con­firm­ing $1.2 mil­lion of the alleged Black Ledger to Man­afort:

    Last August, a hand­writ­ten ledger sur­faced in Ukraine with dol­lar amounts and dates next to the name of Paul Man­afort, who was then Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign chair­man.

    Ukrain­ian inves­ti­ga­tors called it evi­dence of off-the-books pay­ments from a pro-Russ­ian polit­i­cal par­ty — and part of a larg­er pat­tern of cor­rup­tion under the country’s for­mer pres­i­dent. Man­afort, who worked for the par­ty as an inter­na­tion­al polit­i­cal con­sul­tant, has pub­licly ques­tioned the ledger’s authen­tic­i­ty.

    Now, finan­cial records new­ly obtained by The Asso­ci­at­ed Press con­firm that at least $1.2 mil­lion in pay­ments list­ed in the ledger next to Manafort’s name were actu­al­ly received by his con­sult­ing firm in the Unit­ed States. They include pay­ments in 2007 and 2009, pro­vid­ing the first evi­dence that Manafort’s firm received at least some mon­ey list­ed in the so-called Black Ledger.
    ...

    And those doc­u­ments appear to have been sim­ply left behind by Man­afort in his Kiev office, although Man­afort called it a forgery:

    ...
    Last month, Ukrain­ian law­mak­er Ser­hiy Leshchenko revealed an invoice bear­ing the let­ter­head of Manafort’s name­sake com­pa­ny, Davis Man­afort, that Leshchenko said was craft­ed to con­ceal a pay­ment to Man­afort as a pur­chase of 501 com­put­ers.

    The AP pro­vid­ed to Man­afort the amounts of the pay­ments, dates and num­ber of the bank account where they were received. Man­afort told the AP that he was unable to review his own bank­ing records show­ing receipt of the pay­ments because his bank destroyed the records after a stan­dard 7‑year reten­tion peri­od. He said Tues­day the “com­put­er sales con­tract is a fraud.”

    “The sig­na­ture is not mine, and I didn’t sell com­put­ers,” he said in a state­ment. “What is clear, how­ev­er, is indi­vid­u­als with polit­i­cal moti­va­tions are tak­ing dis­parate pieces of infor­ma­tion and dis­tort­ing their sig­nif­i­cance through a cam­paign of smear and innu­en­do.”

    Leshchenko said last month the 2009 invoice was one of about 50 pages of doc­u­ments, includ­ing pri­vate paper­work and copies of employ­ee-issued deb­it cards, that were found in Manafort’s for­mer Kiev office by a new ten­ant.

    The amount of the invoice — $750,000— and the pay­ment date of Oct. 14, 2009, match­es one entry on the ledger indi­cat­ing pay­ments to Man­afort from the Par­ty of Regions. The invoice was addressed to Neo­com Sys­tems Ltd., a com­pa­ny for­mer­ly reg­is­tered in Belize, and includ­ed the account and rout­ing num­bers and postal address for Manafort’s account at a branch of Wachovia Nation­al Bank in Alexan­dria, Vir­ginia.

    The AP had pre­vi­ous­ly been unable to inde­pen­dent­ly ver­i­fy the $750,000 pay­ment went to a Man­afort com­pa­ny, but the new­ly obtained finan­cial records reflect Manafort’s receipt of that pay­ment. The records show that Davis Man­afort received the amount from Neo­com Sys­tems the day after the date of the invoice.

    A $455,249 pay­ment in Novem­ber 2007 also match­es the amount in the ledger. It came from Grat­en Alliance Ltd., a com­pa­ny that had also been reg­is­tered in Belize. It is now inac­tive.
    ...

    And those dis­cov­ered doc­u­ments con­firm­ing two of the pay­ments to Man­afort bol­stered the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the Black Ledger that had been attacked as a polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed fab­ri­ca­tion:

    ...
    The two pay­ments came years before Man­afort became involved in Trump’s cam­paign, but for the first time bol­ster the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the ledger. They also put the ledger in a new light, as fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors in the U.S. have been inves­ti­gat­ing Manafort’s work in East­ern Europe as part of a larg­er anti-cor­rup­tion probe.

    ...

    Pre­vi­ous­ly, Man­afort and Mal­oni have main­tained the ledger was fab­ri­cat­ed and said no pub­lic evi­dence exist­ed that Man­afort or oth­ers received pay­ments record­ed in it.

    The AP, how­ev­er, iden­ti­fied in the records two pay­ments received by Man­afort that aligned with the ledger: one for $750,000 that a Ukrain­ian law­mak­er said last month was part of a mon­ey-laun­der­ing effort that should be inves­ti­gat­ed by U.S. author­i­ties. The oth­er was $455,249 and also matched a ledger entry.

    ...

    Offi­cials with the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau, which is inves­ti­gat­ing cor­rup­tion under Yanukovych, have said they believe the ledger is gen­uine. But they have pre­vi­ous­ly not­ed that they have no way of know­ing whether Man­afort received the mon­ey list­ed next to his name. The bureau said it is not inves­ti­gat­ing Man­afort because he is not a Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen.
    ...

    And as of April 2017, Ukraine’s anti-cor­rup­tion bureau was pro­ject­ing it would iden­ti­fy more Black Ledger sus­pect in com­ing months:

    ...
    The bureau said it would iden­ti­fy more sus­pects in the com­ing months

    So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the fol­low­ing arti­cle from a few months lat­er in June of 2017, about how the Anti-Cor­rup­tion Prosecutor’s Office passed the Black Ledger doc­u­ments to the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment of the Pros­e­cu­tor General’s office. And as a result of that trans­fer, the Black Ledger inves­ti­ga­tion fell under polit­i­cal con­trol and had already ground to a halt:

    Kyiv Post

    Black ledger’ inves­ti­ga­tion appears to come to a halt

    By Veroni­ka Melkoze­ro­va.
    Pub­lished June 15, 2017. Updat­ed June 15 2017 at 9:21 pm

    After a year of inves­ti­ga­tion by Ukrain­ian law enforce­ment, the case of the black ledger — a secret, hand­writ­ten list of $2 bil­lion in shady pay­ments by the polit­i­cal par­ty of oust­ed Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych — appears to have stalled.

    When reports of the find­ing of the ledger first sur­faced last year, the scan­dal led to the res­ig­na­tion of the chair­man of Don­ald J. Trump’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign team, Paul Man­afort, whose name was found in the ledger next to sums of hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars.

    But the Anti-Cor­rup­tion Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine has now passed the black ledger doc­u­ments to the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment of the Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office of Ukraine, accord­ing to report pub­lished by the office on June 9.

    Fur­ther­more, due to a lack of evi­dence, anti-cor­rup­tion pros­e­cu­tors have offi­cial­ly stopped the pre-tri­al inves­ti­ga­tion into Mykhai­lo Okhen­dovskiy, the head of Ukraine’s Cen­tral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion and the only per­son in the black ledger case to be giv­en notice of being a sus­pect.

    “The fact that the black ledger case was passed to the Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office means it will from now on be under polit­i­cal con­trol,” Vik­tor Trepak, the for­mer deputy head of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine, wrote on Face­book on June 11.

    The doc­u­ments show that the par­ty paid bribes worth $2 bil­lion, Trepak said in a May 28, 2016 inter­view.

    “This case is dan­ger­ous not only for Yanukovych allies, but also for the cur­rent Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, as it proves they had secret ties. It is clear for me that some­body gave an order to bury the black ledger, which I con­sid­er the most impor­tant high-pro­file cor­rup­tion case in Ukraine,” he added.

    But Sergii Hor­batuk, the head of Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment of Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office and also the main inves­ti­ga­tor of the Euro­Maid­an killings, told the Kyiv Post on June 14 that detec­tives from the Nation­al Anti-cor­rup­tion Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), a sup­pos­ed­ly polit­i­cal­ly inde­pen­dent agency, will con­tin­ue to work with his depart­ment on the black ledger mate­ri­als.

    “The black ledger was passed to us, as it is an impor­tant evi­dence base in sev­er­al inves­ti­ga­tions of our depart­ment, in par­tic­u­lar, the case of the usurpa­tion of pow­er by Yanukovych, and the sup­posed cre­ation of a crim­i­nal gang on the basis of the Par­ty of Regions,” Hor­batuk said.

    But the pros­e­cu­tor said he under­stood Trepak’s con­cerns and didn’t exclude that some­body might indeed try to influ­ence or slow down the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    “There are some risks of pos­si­ble polit­i­cal influ­ence in the case, but this could only hap­pen if pub­lic inter­est in … the black ledger case falls,” Hor­batuk added.

    Much noise, lit­tle sense

    Sergii Leshchenko, a Bloc of Petro Poroshenko law­mak­er and for­mer jour­nal­ist, obtained the black ledger doc­u­ments togeth­er with Trepak last year. On May 30, 2016, Trepak passed them to the NABU.

    The Ukrain­s­ka Prav­da news web­site pub­lished an arti­cle on May 31, 2016, about the Ukrain­ian Par­ty of Regions mak­ing shady pay­ments to top Ukrain­ian offi­cials.

    The black ledger is alleged to show how a Krem­lin-backed oli­garchic polit­i­cal force gained absolute pow­er in Ukraine.

    Ukrain­s­ka Prav­da has report­ed that the Par­ty of Regions spent more than $66 mil­lion on paid PR on Ukrain­ian TV chan­nels, radio, and the region­al press, as well pay­ing for ser­vices from peo­ple whose names and ini­tials were iden­ti­cal to top Ukrain­ian offi­cials, such as Okhen­dovskiy, for­mer Jus­tice Min­is­ter of Ukraine Ole­na Lukash, Ode­sa Oblast Coun­cil Head Myko­la Pundyk, for­mer For­eign Min­is­ter of Ukraine Leonid Kozhara, and many oth­ers.

    In August, the NABU pub­lished a report on Manafort’s name being found in the black ledger along­side a list of pay­ments, spark­ing sus­pi­cion that the for­mer advis­er to Yanukovych had been involved in bribery, receiv­ing an unde­clared $750,000 pay­ment from Yanukovych’s par­ty.

    Soon after, Man­afort was forced to resign from the Trump cam­paign amid an inter­na­tion­al scan­dal.

    How­ev­er, after Trump was elect­ed U.S. pres­i­dent in Novem­ber, Nazar Kholod­nyt­skiy, the head of the Anti-cor­rup­tion Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, told the zn.ua news web­site there were no grounds to press charges against Man­afort.

    He said only Manafort’s last name was found in the Par­ty of Region’s black ledger, and the inves­ti­ga­tors were unable to prove the authen­tic­i­ty of the sig­na­ture in the ledger.

    In Jan­u­ary, the inter­na­tion­al news web­site Politi­co claimed that via the black ledger case, Ukrain­ian offi­cials had been attempt­ing to aid Hilary Clinton’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign.

    “Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment offi­cials tried to help Hillary Clin­ton and under­mine Trump by … (dis­sem­i­nat­ing) doc­u­ments impli­cat­ing a top Trump aide in cor­rup­tion and sug­gest­ed they were inves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter, only to back away after the elec­tion,” the arti­cle read.

    Yaroslav Hordiyevych, the Spe­cial Anti-Cor­rup­tion Prosecutor’s Office spokesper­son, in an email to Kyiv Post on June 15 said that the office would not spec­u­late about the polit­i­cal impli­ca­tions of the case.

    “We didn’t sup­port the (release of infor­ma­tion) by Leshchenko and the NABU,” Hordiyevych wrote.

    “More­over, dur­ing a meet­ing with NABU detec­tives on the sec­ond day of the inves­ti­ga­tion, the head of the anti-cor­rup­tion prosecutor’s office strict­ly for­bade the release of any details of the inves­ti­ga­tion,” Hordiyevych wrote.

    Hordiyevych added that the NABU had no juris­dic­tion to inves­ti­gate Manafort’s involve­ment in the black ledger, as he is a for­eign cit­i­zen.

    ...

    ———–

    “Black ledger’ inves­ti­ga­tion appears to come to a halt” by Veroni­ka Melkoze­ro­va; Kyiv Post; 06/15/2017

    “The fact that the black ledger case was passed to the Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office means it will from now on be under polit­i­cal con­trol,” Vik­tor Trepak, the for­mer deputy head of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine, wrote on Face­book on June 11.”

    So in April of 2017 we have the anti-cor­rup­tion bureau announc­ing more sus­pects in com­ing months, but by June of 2017 we learn that the anti-cor­rup­tion bureau passed the Black Ledger to the Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office, putting the inves­ti­ga­tion under much more direct polit­i­cal con­trol. And that polit­i­cal con­trol is par­tic­u­lar­ly rel­e­vant because it’s not just Yanokovych allies at risk from the Black Ledger. Plen­ty of peo­ple in the cur­rent Poroshenko-led gov­ern­ment could also be at risk if this inves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues:

    ...
    The doc­u­ments show that the par­ty paid bribes worth $2 bil­lion, Trepak said in a May 28, 2016 inter­view.

    “This case is dan­ger­ous not only for Yanukovych allies, but also for the cur­rent Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, as it proves they had secret ties. It is clear for me that some­body gave an order to bury the black ledger, which I con­sid­er the most impor­tant high-pro­file cor­rup­tion case in Ukraine,” he added.
    ...

    The Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment of the Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office responds by not­ing that detec­tives from the sup­pos­ed­ly polit­i­cal­ly inde­pen­dent anti-cor­rup­tion bureau will con­tin­ue work­ing with them on the case. Of course, that was in June of 2017, and the sit­u­a­tion has changed as we’ve seen.

    Also note how the Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment of the Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office is also the main inves­ti­ga­tor for the Euro­Maid­an sniper attacks. And as we’ve seen, that inves­ti­ga­tion into those sniper killings could very well point back to Paul Man­afort and reveal that Man­afort was effec­tive­ly work­ing with the goal of get­ting Ukraine into the EU’s orbit and pros­e­cu­tors have already warned that mem­bers of the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion played in role in orga­niz­ing the killings. So when we learn that the Black Ledger inves­ti­ga­tion is under polit­i­cal con­trol, keep in mind that the sniper inves­ti­ga­tion is under the same con­trol:

    ...
    But Sergii Hor­batuk, the head of Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions Depart­ment of Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office and also the main inves­ti­ga­tor of the Euro­Maid­an killings, told the Kyiv Post on June 14 that detec­tives from the Nation­al Anti-cor­rup­tion Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), a sup­pos­ed­ly polit­i­cal­ly inde­pen­dent agency, will con­tin­ue to work with his depart­ment on the black ledger mate­ri­als.

    “The black ledger was passed to us, as it is an impor­tant evi­dence base in sev­er­al inves­ti­ga­tions of our depart­ment, in par­tic­u­lar, the case of the usurpa­tion of pow­er by Yanukovych, and the sup­posed cre­ation of a crim­i­nal gang on the basis of the Par­ty of Regions,” Hor­batuk said.

    But the pros­e­cu­tor said he under­stood Trepak’s con­cerns and didn’t exclude that some­body might indeed try to influ­ence or slow down the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    “There are some risks of pos­si­ble polit­i­cal influ­ence in the case, but this could only hap­pen if pub­lic inter­est in … the black ledger case falls,” Hor­batuk added.
    ...

    So that’s all some­thing to keep in mind regard­ing the recent dec­la­ra­tions by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment of the halt­ing of the inves­ti­ga­tion into Paul Man­afort in order to pla­cate Don­ald Trump:

    1. The Black Ledger inves­ti­ga­tion fell under polit­i­cal con­trol last year and appeared to have already been halt­ed by June of last year.

    2. The more cred­i­ble the Black Ledger inves­ti­ga­tion into Man­afort appears, the more cred­i­ble all the oth­er Black Ledger entries appear. And those ledger entries prob­a­bly aren’t going to be lim­it­ed to Par­ty of Regions offi­cials.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 8, 2018, 2:01 pm
  9. In light of the reports of the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment shut­ting down coop­er­a­tion with the Mueller probe — i.e. halt­ing the inves­ti­ga­tions into Man­afort’s alleged pay­outs list­ed in the Black Ledger and allow­ing Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik to leave Ukraine — here’s a pair of arti­cle that describe how Man­afort and Kil­imnik first start­ed work­ing togeth­er. The two pieces — a 2016 piece from Meduza.io and a 2017 piece from the Wall Street Jour­nal — actu­al­ly give some­what dif­fer­ing accounts, so it’s worth look­ing at where they agree and diverge because an inter­est­ing pic­ture emerges.

    First, let’s take a look at the fol­low­ing 2016 pro­file of Kil­imnik pub­lished by Meduza, a Russ­ian-lan­guage pub­li­ca­tion based in Latvia. The sources for the arti­cle are all anony­mous and char­ac­ter­ized as being close to Kil­imnik, so there’s the obvi­ous ‘buy­er beware’ ele­ment to con­tent, but note that Meduza is staffed by Russ­ian jour­nal­ists with a dis­tinct anti-Putin/Krem­lin out­look (which is why it’s based in Latvia).

    The pro­file con­tains some impor­tant facts about Kil­imnik that are rather crit­i­cal to keep in mind. First, Kil­imnik does indeed have ties to Rus­si­a’s GRU through his job at the Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty for For­eign Lan­guages (known today as the Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty of the Min­istry of Defense). And while that’s typ­i­cal­ly char­ac­ter­ized as being a sign that he’s cur­rent­ly a tool of Russ­ian intel­li­gence, the pro­file notes that Kil­imnik was born in Ukraine and did his work with the GRU before the col­lapse of the Sovi­et Union. So, just as all of the non-Russ­ian peo­ple in the Sovi­et intel­li­gence appa­ra­tus would have strained loy­al­ties in the post-Sovi­et era, Kil­imnik’s loy­al­ties and ties with the GRU would obvi­ous­ly be poten­tial­ly sub­ject to some sort of strains fol­low­ing Ukraine’s inde­pen­dence.

    But a far big­ger fun fact in Kil­imnik’s back­ground that should raise ques­tions about his rela­tion­ship with the GRU is the fact that his main occu­pa­tion after leav­ing the Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty for For­eign Lan­guages was to go to work for the DC-fund­ed Inter­na­tion­al Repub­li­can Insti­tute (IRI). The IRI is known for its strong back­ing by John McCain and pro­mot­ing regime change. Kil­imnik worked for the IRI’s Moscow branch. So he cer­tain­ly has worked in Rus­sia for a num­ber of years, but much of that was as an IRI employ­ee.

    Note that, as we’re going to see in the WSJ arti­cle, Kil­imnik was­n’t the only per­son from IRI’s Moscow branch to join Man­afort’s team. Philip Grif­fin, the for­mer head of the Moscow branch, also joined Man­afort’s team.

    In 2004, Kil­imnik returned to Ukraine for an IRI assign­ment. Accord­ing to the Meduza pro­file, 2004 is also the year he was first approached with the offer to work on behalf of Vik­tor Yanukovych and the Par­ty of Regions (it’s 2005 in the WSJ piece). And when they approached him he was assist­ing the cam­paign of was advis­ing Vik­tor Yushchenko, Yanukovy­ch’s polit­i­cal oppo­nent (and the ulti­mate win­ner fol­low­ing the “Orange Rev­o­lu­tion” protests). Kil­imnik was also invest­ing enor­mous efforts into build­ing Yushchenko’s alliance with Yulia Tymoshenko (who was also part of the “Orange Rev­o­lu­tion” coali­tion). That’s the kind of back­ground you would­n’t expect from a die hard GRU agent in 2004 but it’s exact­ly the kind of activ­i­ty you would expect from an IRI employ­ee.

    Accord­ing to the Meduza arti­cle, Kil­imnik was still an employ­ee of the IRI When Yanukovy­ch’s allies first approached him in 2004 in the mid­dle of the “Orange Rev­o­lu­tion” protests. Yanukovy­ch’s peo­ple con­clud­ed that advice from ‘the oth­er side’ was going to be nec­es­sary to win the revote ordered by Ukraine’s Supreme Court in ear­ly Decem­ber. The ini­tial out­reach to Kil­imnik was through peo­ple tied to Rinat Akhme­tov, the rich­est man in Ukraine and Yanukovy­ch’s biggest donor. Akhme­tov is con­sid­ered the pri­ma­ry finan­cial force behind the Par­ty of Regions (now the Oppo­si­tion Bloc). That’s when Kil­imnik report­ed­ly came up with Paul Manafort’s name.

    Man­afort then held sev­er­al meet­ings with Akhme­tov, but declined to help with revote effort con­clud­ing that Yanukovych did­n’t stand a chance. How­ev­er, Man­afort did con­clude that Yanukovych still had a polit­i­cal future in Ukraine and agreed to con­sult Yanukovych after the 2004 elec­tion.

    So, accord­ing to the sce­nario described in the Meduza pro­file, Man­afort was­n’t will­ing to help spoil a revote that could threat­en the West­ern-backed Yushchenko, but he was will­ing to con­sult Yanokovych after the vote, which rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not part of Man­afort’s orig­i­nal intent was to push Yankovych and the Par­ty of Regions in a more West­ern-lean­ing direc­tion. It’s a sce­nario that would be in keep­ing with Man­afort’s work to get Ukraine accept­ed into a trade union with the EU in 2012–2013 (the “Haps­burg Group”). Although keep in minde that, as we’ll see in the fol­low­ing WSJ pro­file, it sounds like Man­afort’s firm did indeed spend much of Decem­ber in DC try­ing to gauge the US gov­ern­men­t’s atti­tude towards the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion, so it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble Man­afort was will­ing to take the job of help­ing Yanukovych win the revote by lob­by­ing the US gov­ern­ment to pull its sup­port for the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion and con­clud­ed that it was effec­tive­ly impos­si­ble.

    The IRI report­ed­ly fired Kil­imnik as soon as it learned of his new affil­i­a­tion with Paul Man­afort and Vik­tor Yanukovich, which makes sense giv­en the ori­en­ta­tion of the IRI. But that still leaves the ques­tion of the ulti­mate intent of Man­afort and Kil­imnik’s work with Yanukovych: were they sim­ply work­ing like polit­i­cal mer­ce­nar­ies to help Yankovych get elect­ed and that’s it? Or were they work­ing to push Yanukovy­ch’s par­ty and Ukraine into a more pro-West­ern ori­en­ta­tion?:

    Meduza

    Paul Manafort’s man on the inside Meduza pro­files Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik, the right hand of Don­ald Trump’s for­mer cam­paign head

    Ilya Zheg­ulev
    Moscow

    This text was trans­lat­ed from Russ­ian by Alek­san­dr Gor­bachev.

    13:02, 19 august 2016

    Jour­nal­ists have wide­ly report­ed on Paul Manafort’s deal­ings in Ukraine and his role in the admin­is­tra­tion of Vik­tor Yanukovich, the country’s for­mer pres­i­dent who was top­pled and forced into exile after 2014 Euro­maid­an protests. Man­afort, until very recent­ly the cam­paign chair­man for Don­ald Trump, helped to resus­ci­tate Yanukovich’s polit­i­cal image and even­tu­al­ly lead him to win the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in 2010. He also alleged­ly received cash pay­ments from the Yanukovich admin­is­tra­tion (Manafort’s lawyer denies this) and rout­ed the mon­ey to lob­by­ing firms in Wash­ing­ton in order to influ­ence the US government’s poli­cies regard­ing Ukraine. On August 19, Trump’s team announced that Man­afort has resigned from the cam­paign. Until now almost noth­ing has been said about the local team that helped Man­afort in his work in Ukraine. The top man on this team appears to be Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik, the Russ­ian nation­al who ini­tial­ly sug­gest­ed invit­ing Man­afort to Ukraine and who remained by his side through­out the years that Man­afort worked in the coun­try.

    **********

    Kilimnik’s name has bare­ly sur­faced in either the West­ern or Russ­ian media. No pic­ture of him seems to exist, and appar­ent­ly he has nev­er giv­en an inter­view. Kilimnik’s name appears in the doc­u­ments of Per­i­cles Emerg­ing Mar­kets, a pri­vate equi­ty fund Man­afort start­ed that is now the sub­ject of legal dis­pute between Man­afort and Oleg Deri­pas­ka, a Russ­ian bil­lion­aire who invest­ed in Per­i­cles.

    With the help of sev­er­al sources, how­ev­er, Meduza has man­aged to build a pro­file of the man who served as Manafort’s top aide and helped him bro­ker polit­i­cal deals in Ukraine and oth­er coun­tries. Most of the sources for this sto­ry declined to reveal their names pub­licly. (It is not uncom­mon for peo­ple in pol­i­tics in Rus­sia to insist on anonymi­ty when speak­ing to jour­nal­ists, even when there are no appar­ent risks involved.)

    Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik was born in Kirovo­grad, a region­al cap­i­tal in cen­tral Ukraine (the city is now called Kropy­vnyt­skyi). Like many Sovi­et teenagers, he left his home­town to get a high­er edu­ca­tion in Moscow. He then land­ed a job at the Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty for For­eign Lan­guages (known today as the Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty of the Min­istry of Defense), teach­ing Swedish lan­guage and lit­er­a­ture. How­ev­er, when the Sovi­et Union fell apart and the econ­o­my tanked, Klimnik start­ed look­ing for new job oppor­tu­ni­ties, and he even­tu­al­ly end­ed up at the Russ­ian office of the Inter­na­tion­al Repub­li­can Insti­tute.

    Estab­lished in 1983, the IRI offi­cial­ly states that its core mis­sion is “to encour­age democ­ra­cy in places where it is absent.” Through­out its his­to­ry, how­ev­er, the orga­ni­za­tion (which US Sen­a­tor John McCain has chaired for the past 23 years) has attract­ed enor­mous con­tro­ver­sy. In 2004, for instance, IRI was linked to a coup in Haiti. It also pro­vid­ed “cam­paign and com­mu­ni­ca­tions train­ing” to activists in Poland, and report­ed­ly helped orga­nize and finance anti-gov­ern­ment groups in Arab coun­tries ahead of the “Arab Spring.”

    Accord­ing to those who know him, Kil­imnik is a short, incon­spic­u­ous man, who did well at IRI, even­tu­al­ly becom­ing the deputy direc­tor of the Russ­ian office. A for­mer IRI exec­u­tive says Kil­imnik some­times dis­agreed with his Amer­i­can super­vi­sors. In 2004, for exam­ple, IRI decid­ed to sup­port Niki­ta Belykh, a young lib­er­al politi­cian who was then serv­ing as deputy gov­er­nor in Rus­si­a’s Perm region. Kil­imnik thought this was a mis­take. He con­sid­ered Belykh to be weak and unpop­u­lar. (A year lat­er, Belykh became the leader of the Union of Right Forces, one of Rus­si­a’s top lib­er­al oppo­si­tion par­ties at the time. The par­ty per­formed well in region­al elec­tions, but flopped in the nation­al elec­tion and didn’t make it into the State Duma. Belykh even­tu­al­ly resigned and lat­er became the gov­er­nor of Kirov. In June 2016, he was arrest­ed in Moscow, alleged­ly for accept­ing bribes, and he’s now in jail await­ing tri­al.)

    After a long absence, Kil­imnik first returned home to Ukraine in 2004, dur­ing the so-called “Orange Rev­o­lu­tion.” It is now wide­ly believed in Rus­sia that the West (and par­tic­u­lar­ly the Unit­ed States) financed the protests in Kiev that even­tu­al­ly result­ed in the annu­la­tion of a run-off vote in Ukraine’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion (and in Yanukovich’s loss).

    Accord­ing to a report by Russ­ian Forbes, how­ev­er, it was­n’t the Amer­i­cans so much as the exiled Russ­ian oli­garch Boris Bere­zovsky who was respon­si­ble for bankrolling the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion. (Bere­zovsky report­ed­ly invest­ed $70 mil­lion in the cause.) Trav­el­ing to Ukraine as an IRI employ­ee, Kil­imnik was charged with inflat­ing per­cep­tions of West­ern par­tic­i­pa­tion, aim­ing to bol­ster US soft pow­er by encour­ag­ing illu­sions about US sup­port. Accord­ing to a source close to Kil­imnik, he was heav­i­ly involved in the cam­paign of Vik­tor Yushchenko—Yanukovich’s opponent—he invest­ed enor­mous efforts in build­ing Yushchenko’s alliance with Yulia Tymoshenko, anoth­er oppo­si­tion leader.

    Accord­ing to the source, it was around this time that Yanukovich’s peo­ple first reached out to Kil­imnik. At some point, it became clear to “the oth­er side” that their can­di­date would­n’t be able to win Ukraine’s pres­i­den­tial race with­out some help from West­ern insti­tu­tions. After the Ukrain­ian Supreme Court ordered a revote, Kil­imnik was con­tact­ed by the peo­ple with ties to Rinat Akhme­tov, the rich­est man in Ukraine and the biggest donor to the Yanukovich cam­paign. Akhme­tov want­ed to hire an Amer­i­can polit­i­cal con­sul­tant to help his can­di­date win in the revote, and Kil­imnik came up with Paul Manafort’s name. (Pre­sum­ably, the two had already been acquaint­ed through IRI.)

    A source close to Akme­tov recalls that he and Man­afort held sev­er­al meet­ings that last­ed for many hours. The Amer­i­can con­sul­tant want­ed to “feel out” his new clients and under­stand their val­ues. Man­afort firm­ly declined to help Yanukovich in the revote; he thought there was no chance to change the course of the elec­tion in two weeks’ time. Man­afort did­n’t think this defeat meant the end of Yanukovich’s polit­i­cal career, how­ev­er, and he offered to help win a future elec­tion. The par­ties agreed, and Kil­imnik became Manafort’s top aide in Ukraine, where Kil­imnik was named the local rep­re­sen­ta­tion for Davis Man­afort company—a con­sult­ing and lob­by­ing firm estab­lished by Man­afort and his col­league Richard Davis in 1995.

    Accord­ing to a for­mer senior offi­cial at IRI, the insti­tute fired Kil­imnik as soon as it learned of his new affil­i­a­tion with Paul Man­afort and Vik­tor Yanukovich. The same source says all Manafort’s Russ­ian con­nec­tions were man­aged through Oleg Deri­pas­ka and his office.

    Kil­imnik most­ly helped Man­afort with polit­i­cal analy­sis in Ukraine. Accord­ing to Euge­ny Kopatko, an ana­lyst who worked with Yanukovich’s Par­ty of Regions, Kil­imnik was Manafort’s clos­est ally, respon­si­ble for “all the orga­ni­za­tion­al stuff.” Kopatko called Kil­imnik a smart and socia­ble man with strong opin­ions and good sense of humor who is capa­ble of “get­ting the job done,” but Kopatko refused to go into details. “In this pro­fes­sion, a lot of things best remain behind the scenes,” he said.

    Man­afort and Kil­imnik were suc­cess­ful: in less than two years, they were able to reform the struc­ture of the Par­ty of Regions, which even­tu­al­ly won Ukraine’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in 2006 with 32 per­cent of the votes. As a result, Yanukovich became the prime min­is­ter and was able to rebuild his polit­i­cal image. Accord­ing to a source close to Kil­imnik, when it came to the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in 2010, the Krem­lin wasn’t will­ing to help Yanukovich any­more. All the work was done by Man­afort and his team. Again, they were suc­cess­ful, and Yanukovich, who was con­sid­ered all but a polit­i­cal corpse six years ear­li­er, became the new pres­i­dent of Ukraine in Feb­ru­ary 2010.

    Mean­while, accord­ing to a source close to Kil­imnik, Man­afort tried to work with sev­er­al Russ­ian pro-gov­ern­ment politi­cians, too. How­ev­er, that didn’t work out as well: while the Rus­sians paid for his advice, they large­ly ignored it, and he nev­er man­aged to estab­lish any work­ing rela­tion­ships.

    Abbas Gallyamov, who in the late 2000s worked in the admin­is­tra­tion of Vladimir Putin (then serv­ing as Dmit­ry Medvede­v’s prime min­is­ter), doesn’t believe the sto­ries about Man­afort work­ing with pro-Krem­lin politi­cians. “Con­sid­er­ing the lev­el of anti-Amer­i­can­ism in Rus­sia, it would have been too risky, despite Manafort’s work with Yanukovich,” he said.

    Anoth­er source close to Kil­imnik also alleges that Man­afort and his aides worked all across the for­mer Sovi­et Union. In fact, Kil­imnik proved so capa­ble in orga­niz­ing the ground work that Man­afort dis­patched him to super­vise and con­sult clients in places as far as Europe and Africa.

    After Yanukovich became pres­i­dent, his rela­tion­ship with Man­afort start­ed to erode, accord­ing to a source close to Kil­imnik. Now oth­er peo­ple had Yanukovich’s ear, and despite the fact that Man­afort orga­nized anoth­er suc­cess­ful cam­paign for the Par­ty of Regions, the pres­i­dent didn’t pay as much atten­tion to his Amer­i­can advi­sor as before. For exam­ple, accord­ing to the source, Man­afort and Kil­imnik firm­ly opposed the crim­i­nal per­se­cu­tion of Yulia Tymoshenko, but Yanukovich went ahead with it, any­way.

    After Yanukovich was oust­ed, Rinat Akhme­tov asked Man­afort to help res­ur­rect the Par­ty of Regions, which was in ruins after the Euro­maid­an Rev­o­lu­tion. Accord­ing to Vadim Novin­sky, Akhmetov’s part­ner, Man­afort man­aged anoth­er polit­i­cal mir­a­cle: the par­ty, now renamed the Oppo­si­tion Bloc, won 10 per­cent of the vote in the next par­lia­men­tary elec­tion. Man­afort him­self denies any involve­ment in Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics since 2014.

    As it is wide­ly known, Paul Man­afort was one of the key peo­ple in Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign after March 2016. Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik stayed in Ukraine, where he still works as the local rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Davis Man­afort firm. While rumors per­sist that Kil­imnik has ties to the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment and its secu­ri­ty agen­cies, and he some­times con­ducts busi­ness meet­ings at Moscow’s Shereme­tye­vo air­port, none of Meduza’s sources con­firmed Kil­imnik’s sup­posed con­nec­tions to the Krem­lin.

    ...

    ———-

    “Paul Manafort’s man on the inside Meduza pro­files Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik, the right hand of Don­ald Trump’s for­mer cam­paign head” by Ilya Zheg­ulev; Meduza; 09/19/2016

    Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik was born in Kirovo­grad, a region­al cap­i­tal in cen­tral Ukraine (the city is now called Kropy­vnyt­skyi). Like many Sovi­et teenagers, he left his home­town to get a high­er edu­ca­tion in Moscow. He then land­ed a job at the Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty for For­eign Lan­guages (known today as the Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty of the Min­istry of Defense), teach­ing Swedish lan­guage and lit­er­a­ture. How­ev­er, when the Sovi­et Union fell apart and the econ­o­my tanked, Klimnik start­ed look­ing for new job oppor­tu­ni­ties, and he even­tu­al­ly end­ed up at the Russ­ian office of the Inter­na­tion­al Repub­li­can Insti­tute.

    So Kil­imnik was born in Ukraine and moved to Moscow to study lan­guages at the Mil­i­tary Uni­ver­si­ty for For­eign Lan­guages. That’s the source of his GRU ties.

    But then the Sovi­et Union col­laps­es and he ends up work­ing for the DC-based Inter­na­tion­al Repub­li­can Insti­tute, known for pro­mot­ing regime change oper­a­tions:

    ...
    Estab­lished in 1983, the IRI offi­cial­ly states that its core mis­sion is “to encour­age democ­ra­cy in places where it is absent.” Through­out its his­to­ry, how­ev­er, the orga­ni­za­tion (which US Sen­a­tor John McCain has chaired for the past 23 years) has attract­ed enor­mous con­tro­ver­sy. In 2004, for instance, IRI was linked to a coup in Haiti. It also pro­vid­ed “cam­paign and com­mu­ni­ca­tions train­ing” to activists in Poland, and report­ed­ly helped orga­nize and finance anti-gov­ern­ment groups in Arab coun­tries ahead of the “Arab Spring.”
    ...

    It’s quite a biog­ra­phy, with Kil­imnik return­ing home to Ukraine in 2004 to help Vik­tor Yushchenko’s cam­paign and pro­mote an alliance between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko (an alliance implic­it­ly against Yanukovych and the Par­ty of Regions):

    ...
    After a long absence, Kil­imnik first returned home to Ukraine in 2004, dur­ing the so-called “Orange Rev­o­lu­tion.” It is now wide­ly believed in Rus­sia that the West (and par­tic­u­lar­ly the Unit­ed States) financed the protests in Kiev that even­tu­al­ly result­ed in the annu­la­tion of a run-off vote in Ukraine’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion (and in Yanukovich’s loss).

    Accord­ing to a report by Russ­ian Forbes, how­ev­er, it was­n’t the Amer­i­cans so much as the exiled Russ­ian oli­garch Boris Bere­zovsky who was respon­si­ble for bankrolling the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion. (Bere­zovsky report­ed­ly invest­ed $70 mil­lion in the cause.) Trav­el­ing to Ukraine as an IRI employ­ee, Kil­imnik was charged with inflat­ing per­cep­tions of West­ern par­tic­i­pa­tion, aim­ing to bol­ster US soft pow­er by encour­ag­ing illu­sions about US sup­port. Accord­ing to a source close to Kil­imnik, he was heav­i­ly involved in the cam­paign of Vik­tor Yushchenko—Yanukovich’s opponent—he invest­ed enor­mous efforts in build­ing Yushchenko’s alliance with Yulia Tymoshenko, anoth­er oppo­si­tion leader.
    ...

    And it was dur­ing this returns to Ukraine to work for Vik­tor Yushchenko that he first gets approached by peo­ple close to Rinat Akhme­tov, Yanukovy­ch’s biggest donor. Akhme­tov wants help with the revote and Kil­imnik puts him in con­tact with Man­afort. Man­afort refus­es to help with the revote but agrees to help with Yanukovy­ch’s polit­i­cal future. Then the IRI finds out about this and fires Kil­imnik. It’s a pret­ty remark­able sto­ry, in part because it sure sounds like Yanukovych basi­cal­ly look­ing for a polit­i­cal­ly con­nect­ed Amer­i­can who they can negotiate/plead with. In oth­er words, this sounds like Yanukovy­ch’s allies want­ed to nego­ti­ate with the US and/or make them­selves seem more appeal­ing to the West and asked Kil­imnik to put them in con­tact with an appro­pri­ate mid­dle-man who turned out to be Paul Man­afort. We don’t know that’s the case, but giv­en the cir­cum­stances — and the lat­er “Haps­burg Group” push by Yanukovych to get Ukraine into an EU trade pact — that looks like one of the more plau­si­ble sce­nar­ios:

    ...
    Accord­ing to the source, it was around this time that Yanukovich’s peo­ple first reached out to Kil­imnik. At some point, it became clear to “the oth­er side” that their can­di­date would­n’t be able to win Ukraine’s pres­i­den­tial race with­out some help from West­ern insti­tu­tions. After the Ukrain­ian Supreme Court ordered a revote, Kil­imnik was con­tact­ed by the peo­ple with ties to Rinat Akhme­tov, the rich­est man in Ukraine and the biggest donor to the Yanukovich cam­paign. Akhme­tov want­ed to hire an Amer­i­can polit­i­cal con­sul­tant to help his can­di­date win in the revote, and Kil­imnik came up with Paul Manafort’s name. (Pre­sum­ably, the two had already been acquaint­ed through IRI.)

    A source close to Akme­tov recalls that he and Man­afort held sev­er­al meet­ings that last­ed for many hours. The Amer­i­can con­sul­tant want­ed to “feel out” his new clients and under­stand their val­ues. Man­afort firm­ly declined to help Yanukovich in the revote; he thought there was no chance to change the course of the elec­tion in two weeks’ time. Man­afort did­n’t think this defeat meant the end of Yanukovich’s polit­i­cal career, how­ev­er, and he offered to help win a future elec­tion. The par­ties agreed, and Kil­imnik became Manafort’s top aide in Ukraine, where Kil­imnik was named the local rep­re­sen­ta­tion for Davis Man­afort company—a con­sult­ing and lob­by­ing firm estab­lished by Man­afort and his col­league Richard Davis in 1995.

    Accord­ing to a for­mer senior offi­cial at IRI, the insti­tute fired Kil­imnik as soon as it learned of his new affil­i­a­tion with Paul Man­afort and Vik­tor Yanukovich. The same source says all Manafort’s Russ­ian con­nec­tions were man­aged through Oleg Deri­pas­ka and his office.
    ...

    After the “Orange Rev­o­lu­tion” protests that stop the revote and puts Yushchenko into pow­er, Man­afort and Kil­imnik then pro­ceed to work with the Par­ty of Regions. And they are appar­ent­ly so suc­cess­ful that the par­ty comes in first place in the 2006 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, allow­ing Yanukovych to become prime min­is­ter. Intrigu­ing­ly, sources claim that Moscow actu­al­ly backed away from its sup­port of Yanukovych by the time of the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in 2010 but Man­afort’s polit­i­cal skills alone allowed Yanukovych to win that elec­tion and become pres­i­dent. This appar­ent lack a sup­port from Moscow is worth keep­ing in mind giv­en what appeared to be a seri­ous effort by Yanukovy­ch’s gov­ern­ment to join the EU trade union in the fol­low­ing years and the remark­able 2004 out­reach effort to Kil­imnik:

    ...
    Kil­imnik most­ly helped Man­afort with polit­i­cal analy­sis in Ukraine. Accord­ing to Euge­ny Kopatko, an ana­lyst who worked with Yanukovich’s Par­ty of Regions, Kil­imnik was Manafort’s clos­est ally, respon­si­ble for “all the orga­ni­za­tion­al stuff.” Kopatko called Kil­imnik a smart and socia­ble man with strong opin­ions and good sense of humor who is capa­ble of “get­ting the job done,” but Kopatko refused to go into details. “In this pro­fes­sion, a lot of things best remain behind the scenes,” he said.

    Man­afort and Kil­imnik were suc­cess­ful: in less than two years, they were able to reform the struc­ture of the Par­ty of Regions, which even­tu­al­ly won Ukraine’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in 2006 with 32 per­cent of the votes. As a result, Yanukovich became the prime min­is­ter and was able to rebuild his polit­i­cal image. Accord­ing to a source close to Kil­imnik, when it came to the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in 2010, the Krem­lin wasn’t will­ing to help Yanukovich any­more. All the work was done by Man­afort and his team. Again, they were suc­cess­ful, and Yanukovich, who was con­sid­ered all but a polit­i­cal corpse six years ear­li­er, became the new pres­i­dent of Ukraine in Feb­ru­ary 2010.
    ...

    At the same time, it sounds like Man­afort was also try­ing to offer his polit­i­cal con­sult­ing ser­vices to sev­er­al Russ­ian politi­cians too dur­ing this peri­od. But that did­n’t actu­al­ly work out very well and he nev­er estab­lished any work­ing rela­tion­ship. That’s accord­ing to one source, although this is con­test­ed. Giv­en the stun­ning suc­cess he had with the makeover of the Par­ty of Regions in short order you have to won­der why they would­n’t have tak­en his advice if he offered it:

    ...
    Mean­while, accord­ing to a source close to Kil­imnik, Man­afort tried to work with sev­er­al Russ­ian pro-gov­ern­ment politi­cians, too. How­ev­er, that didn’t work out as well: while the Rus­sians paid for his advice, they large­ly ignored it, and he nev­er man­aged to estab­lish any work­ing rela­tion­ships.

    Abbas Gallyamov, who in the late 2000s worked in the admin­is­tra­tion of Vladimir Putin (then serv­ing as Dmit­ry Medvede­v’s prime min­is­ter), doesn’t believe the sto­ries about Man­afort work­ing with pro-Krem­lin politi­cians. “Con­sid­er­ing the lev­el of anti-Amer­i­can­ism in Rus­sia, it would have been too risky, despite Manafort’s work with Yanukovich,” he said.

    Anoth­er source close to Kil­imnik also alleges that Man­afort and his aides worked all across the for­mer Sovi­et Union. In fact, Kil­imnik proved so capa­ble in orga­niz­ing the ground work that Man­afort dis­patched him to super­vise and con­sult clients in places as far as Europe and Africa.
    ...

    Also note the claims by one source that Man­afort’s rela­tions with Yanukovych actu­al­ly suf­fered fol­low­ing Yanukovch’s 2010 vic­to­ry. It’s some­thing to keep in mind regard­ing the pos­si­b­li­ty that Man­afort had a role in the sniper attacks that pre­cip­i­tat­ing the down­fall of Yanukovych fol­low­ing the fail of the EU trade union nego­ti­a­tions. And note one of the areas of dis­agree­ment between Yanukovych and Manafort/Kilimnik: the jail­ing of Yulia Tymoshenko. Keep in mind that her jail­ing end­ed up being one of the key stick­ing points on the nego­ti­a­tions over Ukraine’s admis­sion into a trade union with the EU:

    ...
    After Yanukovich became pres­i­dent, his rela­tion­ship with Man­afort start­ed to erode, accord­ing to a source close to Kil­imnik. Now oth­er peo­ple had Yanukovich’s ear, and despite the fact that Man­afort orga­nized anoth­er suc­cess­ful cam­paign for the Par­ty of Regions, the pres­i­dent didn’t pay as much atten­tion to his Amer­i­can advi­sor as before. For exam­ple, accord­ing to the source, Man­afort and Kil­imnik firm­ly opposed the crim­i­nal per­se­cu­tion of Yulia Tymoshenko, but Yanukovich went ahead with it, any­way.
    ...

    Then, after Yanukovych is oust­ed in the Maid­an protests in 2014, Man­afort gets hired by Rinat Akhme­tov to remake the Par­ty of Regions into the Oppo­si­tion Bloc:

    ...
    After Yanukovich was oust­ed, Rinat Akhme­tov asked Man­afort to help res­ur­rect the Par­ty of Regions, which was in ruins after the Euro­maid­an Rev­o­lu­tion. Accord­ing to Vadim Novin­sky, Akhmetov’s part­ner, Man­afort man­aged anoth­er polit­i­cal mir­a­cle: the par­ty, now renamed the Oppo­si­tion Bloc, won 10 per­cent of the vote in the next par­lia­men­tary elec­tion. Man­afort him­self denies any involve­ment in Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics since 2014.
    ...

    So while it’s hard to put too much weight in anony­mous sources (but don’t for­get Meduza is an anti-Putin pub­li­ca­tion), the pro­file of Kil­imnik still gives us a bet­ter idea of the nature of the work of both Kil­imnik’s and Man­afort’s work for Yanukovych and the Par­ty of Regions:

    1. Kilm­nik is born in Ukraine, heads to Moscow as a teenag­er to fin­ish his high­er edu­ca­tion.

    2. He gets trained in lan­guages at a Russ­ian uni­ver­si­ty with intel­li­gence ties.
    3. Then the Sovi­et Union falls and Kil­imnik finds a job with the Inter­na­tion­al Repub­li­can Insti­tute, which is about as non-Krem­lin-ish a job as one can imag­ine.

    4. Kil­imnik returns to Ukraine in 2004 to help the IRI pro­mote Vik­tor Yushchenko’s West­ern-backed pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, as well as pro­mote and alliance between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko (two key back­ers of the “Orange Rev­o­lu­tion”).

    5. After Ukraine’s Supreme Court orders a revote, Yanukovy­ch’s top donor (and the wealth­i­est man in Ukraine) Rinat Akhme­tov approachs Kil­imnik to get in con­tact with an Amer­i­can polit­i­cal con­sul­tant to help them win the revote. Kil­imnik is at this point work­ing for their oppo­nent. He puts them in touch with Man­afort.

    6. Man­afort refus­es to help with the revote, but agrees to help Yanukovych after the elec­tion (did a qui­et ‘deal’ with the West get made?).

    7. Kil­imnik gets fired by the IRI after they dis­cov­er his work with Man­afort and Yanukovych.

    8. Man­afort and Kil­imnik lead the Par­ty of Regions to vic­to­ry in the 2006 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions.

    9. Moscow alleged­ly backs away its sup­port of Yanukovych, but Man­afort and Kil­imnik lead them him to vic­to­ry in 2010 and he becomes pres­i­dent.

    And it’s after Yanukovych becomes pres­i­dent that we see the big dri­ve to get Ukraine into a trade union with the EU. A dri­ve Yanukovych dra­mat­i­cal­ly com­pli­cat­ed with the jail­ing of Tymoshenko. Hence the focus of the “Haps­burg Group” lob­by­ing effort on con­vinc­ing the US and EU gov­ern­ments that Tymoshenko’s release should­n’t be required for the trade union to hap­pen. But by late 2013, when the EU’s offer to Ukraine to go ahead with the trade union turns out to be so minis­cule that it would pose a major risk if Ukraine actu­al­ly joined, Yanukovych switch­es course and moves to join Rus­si­a’s rival Eurasian Union instead, lead­ing to the Maid­an protests.

    So when we incor­po­rate Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik into the sto­ry of Paul Man­afort and his rela­tions with the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, that sto­ry only gets more and more con­vo­lut­ed. Kil­imnik and Man­afort helped Yanukovych and the Par­ty of Regions win elec­tions while push­ing them to move Ukraine clos­er to the West. And after that push to get Ukraine into the trade union final­ly fails in 2013 (in no small part due to the EU’s hor­ri­bly aus­tere offer to Ukraine) we have Yanukovych dri­ven out of office fol­low­ing the pub­lic out­rage caused by the sniper attacks on the Maid­an protests. Sniper attacks that may have been orches­trat­ed by Paul Man­afort, accord­ing to the hacked text mes­sages of Man­afort’s daugh­ter.

    And note how none of the sources for this arti­cle, who appeared to be close to Kil­imnik, could con­firm Kil­imnik’s alleged deep con­nec­tions to the Krem­lin:

    ...
    As it is wide­ly known, Paul Man­afort was one of the key peo­ple in Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign after March 2016. Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik stayed in Ukraine, where he still works as the local rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Davis Man­afort firm. While rumors per­sist that Kil­imnik has ties to the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment and its secu­ri­ty agen­cies, and he some­times con­ducts busi­ness meet­ings at Moscow’s Shereme­tye­vo air­port, none of Meduza’s sources con­firmed Kil­imnik’s sup­posed con­nec­tions to the Krem­lin.
    ...

    Along those lines, it’s worth not­ing that Rinat Akhme­tov — Yanukovy­ch’s biggest donor and the wealth­i­est per­son in Ukraine and the guy who basi­cal­ly hired Man­afort and Kil­imnik in 2004 — has a unique role in Ukraine after the out­break of war and is know for main­tain­ing good work­ing rela­tions with Moscow and Kiev. His busi­ness empire is based in the sep­a­ratist-con­trolled Don­bass region but he’s still has a mas­sive busi­ness pres­ence in the rest of Ukraine. Akhme­tov con­tin­ued to oper­ate his busi­ness­es in the rebel held areas and keep peo­ple there employed by export­ing prod­ucts like coal until the sep­a­ratists seized his assets last year. In ear­ly March of 2017, sep­a­ratists seized his assets in protest over Akhme­tov pay­ing tax­es to Kiev instead of local­ly for his assets in the sep­a­ratist-held regions and in response to a gov­ern­ment block­ade of all trade with the sep­a­ratist-held regions imposed a month ear­li­er. Then in mid-March, Kiev for­mal­ized the block­ade and offi­cial­ly cut off all trade and human­i­tar­i­an aid to the sep­a­ratists, large­ly to please Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist demands. So the wealth­i­est per­son in Ukraine has major assets held by the sep­a­ratists, and he’s con­sis­tent­ly called for a rein­te­gra­tion of the sep­a­ratist regions into Ukraine, mak­ing Akhme­tov a default per­son to help bro­ker a peace deal, espe­cial­ly since he’s expressed an inter­est in lead­ing the Don­bass as gov­er­nor as part of a rein­te­gra­tion process.

    So when we’re assess­ing Man­afort’s and Kil­imnik’s work for Yanukovych, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that they were hired by a Ukrain­ian oli­garch who cer­tain­ly main­tains friend­ly ties with Moscow but does­n’t appear to be some­one sim­ply tak­ing their direc­tions from Moscow. And that’s sim­i­lar to Yanukovych, who appeared to be seri­ous about get­ting Ukraine into the EU trade union (hence the “Haps­burg Group” diplo­ma­cy) until the talks broke down in response to the EU’s rel­a­tive­ly tiny aid pack­age offer in the face of what would be a mas­sive­ly expen­sive upgrade to Ukraine’s econ­o­my in order to get the coun­try up to EU stan­dards. In oth­er words, the typ­i­cal assess­ment that every­one in Ukraine who was asso­ci­at­ed with the ‘pro-Russ­ian’ Par­ty of Regions takes their orders from the Krem­lin does­n’t appear to reflect real­i­ty and obscures some key con­text for under­stand­ing the work Man­afort was doing at this time. These ‘pro-Russ­ian’ politi­cians are still Ukrain­ian and forced to strad­dle that divide.

    Ok, now let’s take a look a the WSJ’s ver­sion of how Paul Man­afort and Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik end­ed up work­ing for for Yanukovych and the Par­ty of Regions. The key dif­fer­ence between the WSJ ver­sion and the Meduza pro­file is the role played by Russ­ian oli­garch Oleg Deri­pas­ka. Accord­ing to the WSJ ver­sion of events, it was Deri­pas­ka who first got in touch with Man­afort’s con­sult­ing firm in ear­ly 2004 seek­ing advice relat­ed to Geor­gia, which had just under­gone its own “Rose Rev­o­lu­tion” in 2003. It was Deri­pas­ka who put Man­afort in con­tact with Rinat Akhme­tov lat­er that year. That con­trasts with the Meduza pro­file bare­ly men­tions Deri­pas­ka and describes a sce­nario where Akhme­tov approach­es Kil­imnik and then puts Akhme­tov in touch with Man­afort, so it’s a pret­ty sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence.

    Accord­ing to the WSJ, it was in ear­ly 2004 when one of Deri­paska’s invest­ing part­ners, Natha­nial Roth­schild, invit­ed Man­afort’s part­ner, Rick Davis, to the Moscow office of Deri­paska’s hold­ing com­pa­ny. The pur­pose of the meet­ing was to meet with Igor Gior­gadze, a for­mer Geor­gian Min­is­ter of State Secu­ri­ty who was exiled from Geor­gia fol­low­ing charges by the Geor­gian gov­ern­ment that Gior­gadze orches­trat­ed a 1995 assas­si­na­tion attempt on Geor­gian Pres­i­dent Eduard She­vard­nadze. Gior­gadze was liv­ing in Moscow and try­ing to start a new polit­i­cal par­ty there and Deri­pas­ka want­ed to hire Man­afort’s firm for advice on how to allow for the return of Gior­gadze to influ­ence Geor­gia. Roth­schild and Davis appar­ent­ly dined with Georgia’s new pres­i­dent, Mikheil Saakashvili, in late 2004 to lob­by for Gia­r­gadze’s return but he scut­tled their plans.

    The arti­cle also notes that of the employ­ees of Man­afort’s firm, Philip Grif­fin, who worked on the Geor­gia project was also a for­mer IRI employ­ee in the Moscow office (accord­ing to Mark Ames, Grif­fin was the for­mer head of IRI’s Moscow office).

    It was in Novem­ber of 2004, when the “Orange Rev­o­lu­tion” protests start­ed, that Man­afort’s firm turned its atten­tion to Ukraine. And this was done on behalf of Deri­pas­ka. Grif­fin recalls fly­ing home from the Geor­gian cap­i­tal when he got a call for Rick Davis that rerout­ed him to Ukraine for an “intel­li­gence gath­er­ing” project. Man­afort and Grif­fin then spent the time between Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas “hud­dled in Wash­ing­ton, where they met with polit­i­cal con­tacts and gauged the U.S. atti­tude toward events in Ukraine.”

    Recall how in the Meduza pro­file the stat­ed ini­tial pur­pose of the Ukrain­ian work for Man­afort’s firm was to seek assis­tance with the planned revote fol­low­ing the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion protests. And in this WSJ pro­file, the ini­tial pur­pose of the Ukrain­ian work for Man­afort’s firm to assess US gov­ern­ment atti­tudes regard­ing the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion. So both accounts sound pret­ty sim­i­lar, although the Meduza pro­file char­ac­ter­izes the peo­ple who hired Man­afort’s firm as ‘allies of Yanukovych’ and does­n’t men­tion Deri­pas­ka being the per­son who ini­tial­ly hired Man­afort’s firm to do this kind of work.

    It was in late Decem­ber of 2004 when Deri­pas­ka dis­patched Man­afort to Donet­sk to meet Rinat Akhme­tov. Accord­ing to Grif­fin, “We told them about the mood in Wash­ing­ton,” regard­ing the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion and that that the U.S. wasn’t going to do any­thing to counter it. That’s also large­ly con­sis­tent with the Meduza pro­file in terms of what Akhme­tov was ini­tial­ly inter­estest­ed in.

    Akhme­tov then want­ed Man­afort to “West­ern­ize the image of his hold­ing com­pa­ny, Sys­tem Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment,” and pro­vide strat­e­gy and brand­ing assis­tance to help SCM sur­vive in Kiev’s new polit­i­cal atmos­phere. In oth­er words, Akhme­tov, the financier of the Par­ty of Regions, want­ed Man­afort to help him become more palat­able to the West.

    In the sum­mer of 2005, Man­afort and Grif­f­en go on to meet with a num­ber of Par­ty of Regions at the Baltschug Kempin­s­ki Hotel, across the Moscow Riv­er from the Krem­lin to meet with with Akhme­tov, Yanukovych and influ­en­tial Ukrain­ian busi­ness­men and offi­cials from the Par­ty of Regions. Akhme­tov pitch­es the project of pro­vid­ing con­sult­ing ser­vices for the Par­ty of Regions. Man­afort goes on to hire more than 40 con­sul­tants for the project, many from Wash­ing­ton. Deri­pas­ka was­n’t involved with this project accord­ing to Grif­fin. It was Akhme­tov’s idea.

    Man­afort then trav­eled to the US embassy in Kiev to inform then­then-ambas­sador John Herb­st of his work for Yanukovych. “He said this would be con­sis­tent with Amer­i­can inter­ests,” said Mr. Herb­st.

    Lat­er in 2005, Deri­pas­ka went on to hire Man­afort’s firm to do some work in Mon­tene­gro. The state was in the midst of an inde­pen­dence push Ser­bia and Deri­pas­ka was a major investor in the coun­try. Mon­tene­gro went on to gain inde­pen­dence.

    Final­ly, the arti­cle men­tions a 2007 project between Deri­pas­ka and Man­afort’s firm that even­tu­al­ly led to a falling out between the two. In 2007, Deri­pas­ka pledged $19 mil­lion for Per­i­cles Emerg­ing Mar­ket Part­ners, a Cay­man Islands-reg­is­tered pri­vate-equi­ty fund run by Davis and Man­afort. The mon­ey was to be invest­ed in a Ukrain­ian telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­ny. Mr. Deri­pas­ka also paid the part­ners a $7.3 mil­lion man­age­ment fee. Deri­pas­ka lat­er con­clud­ed that he was swin­dled out of ~$1 mil­lion by Man­afort and Davis, lead­ing to falling out. It’s assumed that this ongo­ing dis­pute and debt to Deri­pas­ka is the basis for Man­afort’s pledge dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign to give pri­vate brief­in­gs to Deri­pas­ka and “get whole”. Also note that this dis­pute between Man­afort and Deri­pas­ka implies that Man­afort’s ties to the Krem­lin were prob­a­bly frayed quite a bit in recent years.

    So was we can see, the Meduza and WSJ pro­files do over­lap quite a bit, but with the notable excep­tion of the role Oleg Deri­pas­ka. In both cas­es is sounds like the ini­tial inter­est in Man­afort’s ser­vices had to do with seek­ing West­ern help for Yanukovych in the midst of the 2004 Orange Rev­o­lu­tion. In the Meduza pro­file, Deri­pas­ka is a minor fig­ure in how Man­afort and Kil­imnik end­ed up work­ing for Yanukovych. But in the WSJ pro­file Deri­pas­ka played a cen­tral role and start­ed his rela­tion­ship with Man­afort in ear­ly 2004 for a project involv­ing Geor­gia:

    The Wall Street Jour­nal

    Paul Manafort’s Over­seas Polit­i­cal Work Had a Notable Patron: A Russ­ian Oli­garch
    Efforts by the for­mer Trump cam­paign chair­man to advance inter­ests in Ukraine, Geor­gia and Mon­tene­gro were often con­nect­ed to Oleg Deri­pas­ka

    By Brett For­rest
    Aug. 30, 2017 6:25 p.m. ET

    Paul Manafort’s polit­i­cal-con­sult­ing firm was active for more than a decade doing work that often dove­tailed with Russ­ian polit­i­cal inter­ests not only in Ukraine, but also in Geor­gia and Mon­tene­gro, oth­er coun­tries the Krem­lin con­sid­ered to be in its sphere of influ­ence.

    A Wall Street Jour­nal exam­i­na­tion shows these efforts were broad­er in scope and ambi­tion, and took place for longer, than pre­vi­ous­ly reported—starting in 2004 and con­tin­u­ing through 2015.

    They often involved one prin­ci­pal fig­ure, Russ­ian oli­garch Oleg Deri­pas­ka, a polit­i­cal­ly con­nect­ed inter­na­tion­al oper­a­tor whose ven­tures have some­times aligned with Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s for­eign-pol­i­cy objec­tives. “I don’t sep­a­rate myself from the state,” he told the Finan­cial Times in 2007. “I have no oth­er inter­ests.”

    ...

    Though Mr. Man­afort and Mr. Deri­pas­ka even­tu­al­ly had a falling out over mon­ey, cul­mi­nat­ing in a 2014 legal peti­tion in the Cay­man Islands, Mr. Man­afort con­tin­ued to work in Ukraine for years. Ear­li­er this year, Mr. Man­afort report­ed in a gov­ern­ment fil­ing that his firm earned more than $17 mil­lion for work for pro-Russ­ian par­ties in Ukraine from 2012 to 2014. His fail­ure to dis­close the full extent of his work in Ukraine led to his depar­ture as Mr. Trump’s cam­paign chair­man in August 2016.

    ...

    Mr. Man­afort built a career pro­vid­ing polit­i­cal exper­tise to inter­na­tion­al strong­men such as Zaire’s Mobu­tu Sese Seko, Fer­di­nand Mar­cos of the Philip­pines and Angolan rebel Jonas Sav­im­bi through sev­er­al firms over the years. Much of his work with Rus­sia-friend­ly inter­ests was through Davis Man­afort Part­ners, or DMP, the polit­i­cal-con­sult­ing firm he ran with part­ner Rick Davis.

    Dis­pens­ing Amer­i­can polit­i­cal wis­dom abroad isn’t ille­gal. Rather, Mr. Man­afort, work­ing with Mr. Deri­pas­ka, some­times appeared to engage in for­eign work that some—including some for­mer U.S. ambas­sadors in the region—saw as poten­tial­ly at odds with stat­ed U.S. posi­tions at the time. The two men’s per­son­al rela­tion­ship dates back to 2004 and con­tin­ued at least through 2007, although Mr. Man­afort and his firm con­tin­ued to advise par­ties friend­ly to Mr. Deri­pas­ka through 2015.

    ...

    The Geor­gia project

    In one ear­ly project, which wasn’t pre­vi­ous­ly pub­licly known, Mr. Manafort’s firm worked with Mr. Deri­pas­ka to try return­ing an exiled pro-Russ­ian politi­cian to Geor­gia, which had elect­ed a West­ern-lean­ing pres­i­dent in 2004 after the so-called Rose Rev­o­lu­tion in 2003.

    In ear­ly 2004, one of Mr. Deripaska’s invest­ing part­ners, Nathaniel Roth­schild, a scion of the U.K. busi­ness fam­i­ly, invit­ed Mr. Davis, Mr. Manafort’s part­ner, to the Moscow office of the oligarch’s hold­ing com­pa­ny, Basic Ele­ment, said a polit­i­cal con­sul­tant famil­iar with DMP. There, they met Igor Gior­gadze, a for­mer Geor­gian Min­is­ter of State Secu­ri­ty, the con­sul­tant said—the meeting’s objec­tive: Help devise a plan to return Mr. Gior­gadze to influ­ence in Geor­gia..

    Mr. Deri­pas­ka hired DMP to shep­herd the Geor­gia plan, said the con­sul­tant.

    Geor­gian author­i­ties had accused Mr. Gior­gadze of orches­trat­ing a 1995 assas­si­na­tion attempt on Geor­gian Pres­i­dent Eduard She­vard­nadze. From self-imposed exile in Moscow, Mr. Gior­gadze had estab­lished a Russ­ian-backed polit­i­cal par­ty.

    After the Rose Rev­o­lu­tion, the new pres­i­dent tilt­ed Geor­gia away from the Krem­lin. Pres­i­dent George W. Bush backed his approach.

    Mr. Deri­pas­ka was coun­ter­ing with a Rus­sia-friend­ly strat­e­gy, the polit­i­cal con­sul­tant said. Mr. Roth­schild would invest in Georgia—first in vineyards—then peti­tion the gov­ern­ment to let Mr. Gior­gadze safe­ly return.

    “Gior­gadze would have been a loy­al, trust­wor­thy sub­al­tern” to Rus­sia, said Ken­neth Yalowitz, U.S. ambas­sador to Geor­gia from 1998 to 2001, now direc­tor of George­town University’s con­flict-res­o­lu­tion pro­gram, “who would not have gone West­ward.”

    Mr. Roth­schild couldn’t be reached for com­ment. Mr. Davis didn’t respond to requests for com­ment, nor did Mr. Giorgadze’s lawyer, Gagi Mosi­ashvili.

    In late 2004, Mr. Roth­schild and Mr. Davis dined in the cap­i­tal, Tbil­isi, with Georgia’s new pres­i­dent, Mikheil Saakashvili, but he scut­tled their plans, the con­sul­tant said—effectively shelv­ing the project.

    Mr. Mal­oni said DMP was involved in the Geor­gia project but Mr. Man­afort played no per­son­al role; he didn’t address whether Mr. Deri­pas­ka was involved in the project. Mr. Saakashvili declined to com­ment.

    Orange Rev­o­lu­tion

    DMP’s atten­tion shift­ed to Ukraine, where the firm again dealt with Mr. Deripaska—this time to gath­er intel­li­gence for a busi­ness­man and polit­i­cal par­ty friend­ly with Rus­sia, said the polit­i­cal con­sul­tant.

    On Nov. 21, 2004, Ukraine’s Rus­sia-aligned prime min­is­ter, Vik­tor Yanukovych, won a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion against Vik­tor Yushchenko, who favored Euro­pean inte­gra­tion. The defeat­ed parliamentarian’s sup­port­ers, along with the U.S. and EU, deemed the elec­tion fraud­u­lent, insti­gat­ing an upris­ing dubbed the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion.

    A con­sul­tant work­ing with DMP in Geor­gia, Philip Grif­fin, said he was trav­el­ing home from Tbil­isi when Mr. Davis called, rerout­ing him to Ukraine to help Mr. Deri­pas­ka and Mr. Roth­schild. Mr. Grif­fin, who had pre­vi­ous­ly worked in the Moscow office of the Inter­na­tion­al Repub­li­can Insti­tute, a U.S. Con­gress-fund­ed pro-democ­ra­cy group, said: “The mis­sion to me this time was clear: intel­li­gence gath­er­ing.”

    Mr. Man­afort led this project. Between Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas 2004, he and Mr. Grif­fin hud­dled in Wash­ing­ton, where they met with polit­i­cal con­tacts and gauged the U.S. atti­tude toward events in Ukraine, said Mr. Grif­fin.

    In late Decem­ber, Mr. Grif­fin said, Mr. Deri­pas­ka dis­patched Mr. Man­afort to Donet­sk, an east­ern-Ukraine city with strong busi­ness and cul­tur­al ties to Moscow. There, Mr. Deri­pas­ka arranged for Mr. Man­afort to meet Rinat Akhme­tov, a coal and steel mag­nate. Mr. Akhme­tov main­tained close rela­tions with the Krem­lin, said a Ukrain­ian for­mer anti-orga­nized-crime chief.

    “We told them about the mood in Wash­ing­ton,” that the U.S. wasn’t going to do any­thing to counter the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion, said Mr. Grif­fin, now a free­lance polit­i­cal con­sul­tant. “We told them this train is not going to be stopped.”

    ...

    Mr. Yushchenko, the can­di­date who favored close Euro­pean ties, won a new pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Jan­u­ary 2005.

    Mr. Akhme­tov inten­si­fied a cam­paign to West­ern­ize the image of his hold­ing com­pa­ny, Sys­tem Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, and hired DMP to pro­vide strat­e­gy and brand­ing assis­tance to help SCM sur­vive in Kiev’s new polit­i­cal atmos­phere, Mr. Grif­fin said.

    ...

    Mr. Man­afort went on to deal with Mr. Akhme­tov on anoth­er project, this time for a Rus­sia-friend­ly polit­i­cal par­ty in Ukraine. Mr. Deri­pas­ka wasn’t involved, said the con­sul­tant.

    In sum­mer 2005, in advance of Ukraine’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tions the fol­low­ing year, Mr. Man­afort and Mr. Grif­fin trav­eled to the Baltschug Kempin­s­ki Hotel, across the Moscow Riv­er from the Krem­lin, said the con­sul­tant. There, they met with Mr. Akhme­tov, Mr. Yanukovych and influ­en­tial Ukrain­ian busi­ness­men and offi­cials from Mr. Yanukovych’s Par­ty of Regions.

    Mr. Akhme­tov want­ed Mr. Manafort’s polit­i­cal-con­sult­ing ser­vices for the group, Mr. Grif­fin said. For the project, Mr. Man­afort hired more than 40 con­sul­tants, many from Wash­ing­ton, he said. DMP fur­nished a vari­ety of ser­vices: polling Ukrain­ian vot­ers to iden­ti­fy crit­i­cal eco­nom­ic and social issues, pro­vid­ing guid­ance on adver­tis­ing and help­ing for­mu­late an over­all strat­e­gy for the pro-Russ­ian Par­ty of Regions.

    ...

    The Par­ty of Regions won 32.1% of the 2006 vote, and Mr. Yanukovych was reap­point­ed prime min­is­ter. The West­ern-friend­ly Orange Rev­o­lu­tion was effec­tive­ly undone.

    ...

    Mr. Man­afort vis­it­ed the U.S. embassy in Kiev to inform then-ambas­sador John Herb­st of Mr. Manafort’s duties for Mr. Yanukovych. “He said this would be con­sis­tent with Amer­i­can inter­ests,” said Mr. Herb­st, now direc­tor of the Dinu Patri­ciu Eura­sia cen­ter at the Atlantic Coun­cil, a Wash­ing­ton inter­na­tion­al-affairs think tank. Mr. Mal­oni con­firms the meet­ing.

    ...

    Mr. Yanukovych leaned on Mr. Man­afort to man­age his pub­lic pro­file and gen­er­ate talk­ing points, Mr. Grif­fin said. In con­cert with oth­er strate­gists, Mr. Man­afort also advised the Yanukovych cam­paign to stoke issues that excit­ed his base in the Rus­sia-friend­ly Ukrain­ian east, Mr. Grif­fin said, in line with Moscow’s pol­i­cy. That includ­ed oppo­si­tion to a pro­posed dec­la­ra­tion of Ukrain­ian as the nation­al lan­guage and dis­ap­proval of Mr. Yushchenko’s dal­liance with the North Atlantic Treaty Orga­ni­za­tion.

    As Washington’s rela­tions soured with Moscow, some Amer­i­can offi­cials grew con­cerned about Mr. Manafort’s sup­port for a can­di­date in Ukraine who appeared to be work­ing counter to U.S. inter­ests. “We didn’t see it as help­ful,” said William Tay­lor, then U.S. ambas­sador to Ukraine and now exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States Insti­tute of Peace, a fed­er­al body devot­ed the reduc­tion of vio­lent con­flict.

    Mr. Man­afort adjust­ed his approach, sell­ing Mr. Yanukovych as a West­ern-friend­ly can­di­date, said a for­mer U.S. gov­ern­ment offi­cial. “He was try­ing to pol­ish an unpol­ish­able stone.”

    Mr. Mal­oni said: “For years Ukraine was caught in a proxy war between the West and Rus­sia. Mr. Manafort’s work for the Par­ty of Regions aimed to bridge this divide, bring Ukraine clos­er to the West, and pro­vide greater eco­nom­ic sta­bil­i­ty and secu­ri­ty.”

    Mr. Deri­pas­ka went on in 2005 to hire DMP to work in Mon­tene­gro, which was pro­gress­ing toward inde­pen­dence from the State Union of Ser­bia and Mon­tene­gro. Mr. Deri­pas­ka was com­plet­ing his acqui­si­tion of a smelter and baux­ite mine there.

    ...

    When the inde­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum passed by a slim mar­gin in May 2006, Rus­sia quick­ly rec­og­nized Mon­tene­grin sov­er­eign­ty. Mr. Deri­pas­ka ulti­mate­ly left Mon­tene­gro when pro-EU forces gained the upper hand polit­i­cal­ly and the state cut sub­si­dies to his busi­ness there, crip­pling it, said Mr. Polt, the for­mer ambas­sador.

    In 2007, Mr. Deri­pas­ka pledged $19 mil­lion for Messrs. Davis and Manafort’s Cay­man Islands-reg­is­tered pri­vate-equi­ty fund, Per­i­cles Emerg­ing Mar­ket Part­ners, to invest in a Ukrain­ian telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­ny. Mr. Deri­pas­ka also paid the part­ners a $7.3 mil­lion man­age­ment fee.

    Those details are part of a peti­tion Mr. Deri­pas­ka filed in 2014 in the Grand Court of the Cay­man Islands against Per­i­cles for the recov­ery of funds. Mr. Mal­oni didn’t respond to requests for com­ment on the peti­tion. The Ogi­er law firm, which rep­re­sents Mr. Deri­pas­ka in the Cay­mans, declined to com­ment, as did the court.

    ...

    ———-

    “Paul Manafort’s Over­seas Polit­i­cal Work Had a Notable Patron: A Russ­ian Oli­garch” by Brett For­rest; The Wall Street Jour­nal; 08/30/2017

    “Paul Manafort’s polit­i­cal-con­sult­ing firm was active for more than a decade doing work that often dove­tailed with Russ­ian polit­i­cal inter­ests not only in Ukraine, but also in Geor­gia and Mon­tene­gro, oth­er coun­tries the Krem­lin con­sid­ered to be in its sphere of influ­ence.”

    As we can see, Oleg Deri­pas­ka played a crit­i­cal role in Paul Man­afort rise as a go-to polit­i­cal con­sul­tant for the for­mer Sovi­ety Union, with jobs for Deri­pas­ka in Geor­gia and Mon­tene­gro in addi­tion to Ukraine. And it’s that rela­tion­ship with Deri­pas­ka that led to Man­afort’s work with Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik.

    At the same time, Man­afort’s rela­tion­ship with Deri­pas­ka is only described as con­tin­u­ing through at least 2007. That’s because it was 2007 when Deri­pas­ka made his ill-fat­ed invest­ment in Man­afort’s pri­vate equi­ty fund that Deri­pas­ka asserts result­ed in him being defraud­ed by Man­afort and Davis:

    ...
    They often involved one prin­ci­pal fig­ure, Russ­ian oli­garch Oleg Deri­pas­ka, a polit­i­cal­ly con­nect­ed inter­na­tion­al oper­a­tor whose ven­tures have some­times aligned with Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s for­eign-pol­i­cy objec­tives. “I don’t sep­a­rate myself from the state,” he told the Finan­cial Times in 2007. “I have no oth­er inter­ests.”

    ...

    Dis­pens­ing Amer­i­can polit­i­cal wis­dom abroad isn’t ille­gal. Rather, Mr. Man­afort, work­ing with Mr. Deri­pas­ka, some­times appeared to engage in for­eign work that some—including some for­mer U.S. ambas­sadors in the region—saw as poten­tial­ly at odds with stat­ed U.S. posi­tions at the time. The two men’s per­son­al rela­tion­ship dates back to 2004 and con­tin­ued at least through 2007, although Mr. Man­afort and his firm con­tin­ued to advise par­ties friend­ly to Mr. Deri­pas­ka through 2015.

    ...

    In 2007, Mr. Deri­pas­ka pledged $19 mil­lion for Messrs. Davis and Manafort’s Cay­man Islands-reg­is­tered pri­vate-equi­ty fund, Per­i­cles Emerg­ing Mar­ket Part­ners, to invest in a Ukrain­ian telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­ny. Mr. Deri­pas­ka also paid the part­ners a $7.3 mil­lion man­age­ment fee.

    Those details are part of a peti­tion Mr. Deri­pas­ka filed in 2014 in the Grand Court of the Cay­man Islands against Per­i­cles for the recov­ery of funds. Mr. Mal­oni didn’t respond to requests for com­ment on the peti­tion. The Ogi­er law firm, which rep­re­sents Mr. Deri­pas­ka in the Cay­mans, declined to com­ment, as did the court.
    ...

    And this rela­tion­ship with Man­afort appears to have begun in ear­ly 2004, when Deri­pas­ka hired Man­afort and Rick Davis to for­mu­late a strat­e­gy for return­ing Igor Gior­gadze to Geor­gia:

    ...
    The Geor­gia project

    In one ear­ly project, which wasn’t pre­vi­ous­ly pub­licly known, Mr. Manafort’s firm worked with Mr. Deri­pas­ka to try return­ing an exiled pro-Russ­ian politi­cian to Geor­gia, which had elect­ed a West­ern-lean­ing pres­i­dent in 2004 after the so-called Rose Rev­o­lu­tion in 2003.

    In ear­ly 2004, one of Mr. Deripaska’s invest­ing part­ners, Nathaniel Roth­schild, a scion of the U.K. busi­ness fam­i­ly, invit­ed Mr. Davis, Mr. Manafort’s part­ner, to the Moscow office of the oligarch’s hold­ing com­pa­ny, Basic Ele­ment, said a polit­i­cal con­sul­tant famil­iar with DMP. There, they met Igor Gior­gadze, a for­mer Geor­gian Min­is­ter of State Secu­ri­ty, the con­sul­tant said—the meeting’s objec­tive: Help devise a plan to return Mr. Gior­gadze to influ­ence in Geor­gia..

    ...

    In late 2004, Mr. Roth­schild and Mr. Davis dined in the cap­i­tal, Tbil­isi, with Georgia’s new pres­i­dent, Mikheil Saakashvili, but he scut­tled their plans, the con­sul­tant said—effectively shelv­ing the project.
    ...

    The Geor­gia scheme did­n’t pan out, but Deri­pas­ka had anoth­er polit­i­cal emer­gency erupt­ed for Deri­pas­ka: Ukraine’s Orange Rev­o­lu­tion. This appears to be where Man­afort and Davis start their work in Ukraine:

    ...
    Orange Rev­o­lu­tion

    DMP’s atten­tion shift­ed to Ukraine, where the firm again dealt with Mr. Deripaska—this time to gath­er intel­li­gence for a busi­ness­man and polit­i­cal par­ty friend­ly with Rus­sia, said the polit­i­cal con­sul­tant.

    On Nov. 21, 2004, Ukraine’s Rus­sia-aligned prime min­is­ter, Vik­tor Yanukovych, won a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion against Vik­tor Yushchenko, who favored Euro­pean inte­gra­tion. The defeat­ed parliamentarian’s sup­port­ers, along with the U.S. and EU, deemed the elec­tion fraud­u­lent, insti­gat­ing an upris­ing dubbed the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion.
    ...

    And look which employ­ee of Man­afort’s firm first made the trip to Ukraine to gath­er intel­li­gence: Philip Grif­fin, a for­mer employ­ee of IRI’s Moscow office (who actu­al­ly head­ed the office):

    ...
    A con­sul­tant work­ing with DMP in Geor­gia, Philip Grif­fin, said he was trav­el­ing home from Tbil­isi when Mr. Davis called, rerout­ing him to Ukraine to help Mr. Deri­pas­ka and Mr. Roth­schild. Mr. Grif­fin, who had pre­vi­ous­ly worked in the Moscow office of the Inter­na­tion­al Repub­li­can Insti­tute, a U.S. Con­gress-fund­ed pro-democ­ra­cy group, said: “The mis­sion to me this time was clear: intel­li­gence gath­er­ing.”
    ...

    At the begin­ning of this project, before the revote in late Decem­ber, it sounds like Man­afort and Grif­fin actu­al­ly spent their time in Wash­ing­ton try­ing to get a sense of how DC felt about the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion protests. In oth­er words, Deri­pas­ka hired Man­afort to lob­by DC. In late Decem­ber, Deri­pas­ka has Man­fort meet Rinat Akhme­tov, the chief financier of the Par­ty of Regions. It was con­clud­ed by Man­afort that DC was com­mit­ted to the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion:

    ...
    Mr. Man­afort led this project. Between Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas 2004, he and Mr. Grif­fin hud­dled in Wash­ing­ton, where they met with polit­i­cal con­tacts and gauged the U.S. atti­tude toward events in Ukraine, said Mr. Grif­fin.

    In late Decem­ber, Mr. Grif­fin said, Mr. Deri­pas­ka dis­patched Mr. Man­afort to Donet­sk, an east­ern-Ukraine city with strong busi­ness and cul­tur­al ties to Moscow. There, Mr. Deri­pas­ka arranged for Mr. Man­afort to meet Rinat Akhme­tov, a coal and steel mag­nate. Mr. Akhme­tov main­tained close rela­tions with the Krem­lin, said a Ukrain­ian for­mer anti-orga­nized-crime chief.

    “We told them about the mood in Wash­ing­ton,” that the U.S. wasn’t going to do any­thing to counter the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion, said Mr. Grif­fin, now a free­lance polit­i­cal con­sul­tant. “We told them this train is not going to be stopped.”
    ...

    So Akhme­tov, appar­ent­ly see­ing the way the polit­i­cal winds are blow­ing, decides to hire Man­afort to rebrand his hold­ing com­pa­ny to deal with the new polit­i­cal real­i­ties:

    ...
    Mr. Akhme­tov inten­si­fied a cam­paign to West­ern­ize the image of his hold­ing com­pa­ny, Sys­tem Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, and hired DMP to pro­vide strat­e­gy and brand­ing assis­tance to help SCM sur­vive in Kiev’s new polit­i­cal atmos­phere, Mr. Grif­fin said.
    ...

    Yanukovych goes on to lose the revote and in Jan­u­ary of 2005 Vik­tor Yushchenko (backed by the IRI) goes on to become Ukraine’s pres­i­dent. So Akhme­tov hires Man­afort’s firm for a new project: rebrand­ing Par­ty of Regions. It was a wild suc­cess:

    ...
    Mr. Man­afort went on to deal with Mr. Akhme­tov on anoth­er project, this time for a Rus­sia-friend­ly polit­i­cal par­ty in Ukraine. Mr. Deri­pas­ka wasn’t involved, said the con­sul­tant.

    In sum­mer 2005, in advance of Ukraine’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tions the fol­low­ing year, Mr. Man­afort and Mr. Grif­fin trav­eled to the Baltschug Kempin­s­ki Hotel, across the Moscow Riv­er from the Krem­lin, said the con­sul­tant. There, they met with Mr. Akhme­tov, Mr. Yanukovych and influ­en­tial Ukrain­ian busi­ness­men and offi­cials from Mr. Yanukovych’s Par­ty of Regions.

    Mr. Akhme­tov want­ed Mr. Manafort’s polit­i­cal-con­sult­ing ser­vices for the group, Mr. Grif­fin said. For the project, Mr. Man­afort hired more than 40 con­sul­tants, many from Wash­ing­ton, he said. DMP fur­nished a vari­ety of ser­vices: polling Ukrain­ian vot­ers to iden­ti­fy crit­i­cal eco­nom­ic and social issues, pro­vid­ing guid­ance on adver­tis­ing and help­ing for­mu­late an over­all strat­e­gy for the pro-Russ­ian Par­ty of Regions.

    ...

    The Par­ty of Regions won 32.1% of the 2006 vote, and Mr. Yanukovych was reap­point­ed prime min­is­ter. The West­ern-friend­ly Orange Rev­o­lu­tion was effec­tive­ly undone.
    ...

    Inter­est­ing­ly, the US ambas­sador to Kiev at the time recalls Man­afort inform­ing him that his work for the Par­ty of Regions “would be con­sis­tent with Amer­i­can inter­ests”:

    ...
    Mr. Man­afort vis­it­ed the U.S. embassy in Kiev to inform then-ambas­sador John Herb­st of Mr. Manafort’s duties for Mr. Yanukovych. “He said this would be con­sis­tent with Amer­i­can inter­ests,” said Mr. Herb­st, now direc­tor of the Dinu Patri­ciu Eura­sia cen­ter at the Atlantic Coun­cil, a Wash­ing­ton inter­na­tion­al-affairs think tank. Mr. Mal­oni con­firms the meet­ing.
    ...

    And as we saw with the “Haps­burg Group” lob­by­ing effort, he did appear to be push­ing Yanukovych and the Par­ty of Regions towards clos­er ties to the West.

    Final­ly, Deri­pas­ka hires Man­afort for anoth­er project that year: Mon­tene­gro’s inde­pen­dence dri­ve:

    ...
    Mr. Deri­pas­ka went on in 2005 to hire DMP to work in Mon­tene­gro, which was pro­gress­ing toward inde­pen­dence from the State Union of Ser­bia and Mon­tene­gro. Mr. Deri­pas­ka was com­plet­ing his acqui­si­tion of a smelter and baux­ite mine there.

    ...

    When the inde­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum passed by a slim mar­gin in May 2006, Rus­sia quick­ly rec­og­nized Mon­tene­grin sov­er­eign­ty. Mr. Deri­pas­ka ulti­mate­ly left Mon­tene­gro when pro-EU forces gained the upper hand polit­i­cal­ly and the state cut sub­si­dies to his busi­ness there, crip­pling it, said Mr. Polt, the for­mer ambas­sador.
    ...

    Keep in mind that Deri­paska’s and Moscow’s back­ing for Mon­tene­gro’s inde­pen­dence had an inter­est­ing ally in the US: Sen­a­tor John McCain, one of the pri­ma­ry back­ers of the IRI. Also keep in mind that Rick Davis used to be McCain’s top polit­i­cal strate­gist. Small world. So while Man­afort’s work on Mon­tene­gro’s inde­pen­dence might seem like anoth­er instance of Man­afort work­ing against US inter­ests, it’s more com­pli­cat­ed than that.

    So that all should give some addi­tion­al con­text about Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik, Paul Man­afort, and the work they did in Ukraine.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 11, 2018, 8:34 am
  10. Here’s a pair of arti­cles with some inter­est­ing infor­ma­tion about Paul Man­fort’s work in Ukraine and his work­ing rela­tion­ships with clients in Rus­sia. And it also includes a rather intrigu­ing fun fact point­ing to a pos­si­ble rela­tion­ship between Man­afort and Andrii Arte­menko going back to 2013 in the midst of the talks over Ukraine enter­ing into a trade union with the EU (i.e. the “Haps­burg Group” lob­by­ing push):

    McClatchy got Paul Man­afort’s flight records into and out of Ukraine from 2004 to 2015. Accord­ing to those records, Man­afort vis­it­ed Ukraine at least 138 times dur­ing that peri­od.

    Records also show Man­afort took at least 18 trips to Moscow dur­ing this peri­od. Although all of those trips took place between 2005 and 2011 and were most­ly in 2005–2006. Note that this time­line, with most of the trips to Moscow in 2005 and 2006, is con­sis­tent with the pro­file of Man­afort begin­ning his con­sult­ing work for Russ­ian oli­garch Oleg Deri­pas­ka in 2004 but then hav­ing a falling out in 2007 over Deri­paska’s sus­pi­cions Man­afort’s firm stole over $1 mil­lion from Deri­paska’s invest­ments in the Per­i­cles pri­vate equi­ty fund. So based on Paul Man­afort’s flight records it looks like his rela­tion­ship to Moscow clients were prob­a­bly pret­ty lim­it­ed to work for Oleg Deri­pas­ka.

    And here’s the flight infor­ma­tion relat­ed to Andrii Arte­menko and the “Haps­burg Group”: in July of 2013, Man­afort and Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik flew from east­ern Ukraine to Frank­furt on a pri­vate plane owned by a Ukrain­ian air­craft com­pa­ny, Bel­bek Avia. And Bel­bek Avi­a’s founders includ­ed the father of Andrii Arte­menko. Since Art­menko is con­sis­tent­ly described in the press as a “pro-Russ­ian” Ukrain­ian politi­cian — which is the oppo­site of the avail­able infor­ma­tion about him — this trip to Frank­furt is char­ac­ter­ized as a pos­si­ble sign of a Man­afort coor­di­nat­ing with Moscow to derail the EU trade union talks.

    And it’s worth recall­ing that one of the more intrigu­ing aspects of the “Haps­burg Group” is the involve­ment of Ger­man politi­cians. Specif­i­cal­ly, SPD leader Mar­tin Schulz. And now we learn about a flight to Frank­furt in July of 2013 on a plane owned by a com­pa­ny co-found­ed by Andrii Arte­menko’s dad.

    The arti­cle also includes some com­ments about the work Man­afort did for the Oppo­si­tion Bloc (for­mer­ly the Par­ty of Regions) in 2014 fol­low­ing the Maid­an protests and col­lapse of the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment. Man­afort is hailed as “a genius” by Oppo­si­tion Bloc leader Nestor Shufrych for his advice encour­ag­ing the par­ty to be the “voice of Rus­sians in (Ukraine’s) East” and to take an anti-NATO stance. This is being cit­ed as an exam­ple of how Man­afort was act­ing as a Krem­lin agent.

    But as we’ll see in the sec­ond arti­cle, Man­afort would have had to have been implau­si­bly neg­li­gent as a polit­i­cal advi­sor if he did­n’t give that exact advice and it was the kind of advice the Oppo­si­tion Bloc prob­a­bly did­n’t need because it was so obvi­ous. As Gallup point­ed out in March of 2014, Ukraini­ans in gen­er­al had nev­er warmed to the idea of join­ing NATO. It was more pop­u­lar in the West and Cen­tral-Ukraine, but not the South and East and that had been the case all along. And the new inno­va­tion Man­afort brought to Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics was mod­ern polling tech­niques, which revealed a gen­er­al lack of sup­port for join­ing NATO as far back as 2006 when the Par­ty of Regions first took it up. So while Man­afort appeared to gen­er­al­ly be push­ing Yanukovy­ch’s par­ty towards the West, there was no plau­si­ble way Man­afort could have ignored those polls while dis­pens­ing his polit­i­cal advice.

    So let’s start off with a look at Paul Man­afort’s flight records. Flight records that appear to show a sig­nif­i­cant drop off in his trips to Moscow after 2006 and a rather mys­te­ri­ous flight to Frank­furt in 2013 that sure looks a lot like it could be relat­ed to the “Haps­burg Group” diplo­mat­ic push to get Ukraine in the EU trade union:

    McClatchy DC

    Exclu­sive: Man­afort flight records show deep­er Krem­lin ties than pre­vi­ous­ly known

    By Peter Stone And Greg Gor­don
    Novem­ber 27, 2017 05:00 AM

    WASHINGTON

    Polit­i­cal guru Paul Man­afort took at least 18 trips to Moscow and was in fre­quent con­tact with Vladimir Putin’s allies for near­ly a decade as a con­sul­tant in Rus­sia and Ukraine for oli­garchs and pro-Krem­lin par­ties.

    Even after the Feb­ru­ary 2014 fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, who won office with the help of a Man­afort-engi­neered image makeover, the Amer­i­can con­sul­tant flew to Kiev anoth­er 19 times over the next 20 months while work­ing for the small­er, pro-Russ­ian Oppo­si­tion Bloc par­ty. Man­afort went so far as to sug­gest the par­ty take an anti-NATO stance, an Oppo Bloc archi­tect has said. A key ally of that par­ty leader, oli­garch Vik­tor Medved­chuk, was iden­ti­fied by an ear­li­er Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent as a for­mer Russ­ian intel­li­gence agent, “100 per­cent.”

    It was this back­ground that Man­afort brought to Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, which he joined in ear­ly 2016 and soon led. His web of con­nec­tions to Rus­sia-loy­al poten­tates is now a focus of fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors.

    Manafort’s flight records in and out of Ukraine, which McClatchy obtained from a gov­ern­ment source in Kiev, and inter­views with more than a dozen peo­ple famil­iar with his activ­i­ties, includ­ing cur­rent and for­mer gov­ern­ment offi­cials, sug­gest the links between Trump’s for­mer cam­paign man­ag­er and Rus­sia sym­pa­thiz­ers run deep­er than pre­vi­ous­ly thought.

    What’s now known leads some Rus­sia experts to sus­pect that the Kremlin’s emis­saries at times turned Man­afort into an asset act­ing on Russia’s behalf. “You can make a case that all along he ...was either work­ing prin­ci­pal­ly for Moscow, or he was try­ing to play both sides against each oth­er just to max­i­mize his prof­its,” said Daniel Fried, a for­mer assis­tant sec­re­tary of state who com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Man­afort dur­ing Yanukovych’s reign in Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s sec­ond term.

    “He’s at best got a con­flict of inter­est and at worst is real­ly doing Putin’s bid­ding,” said Fried, now a fel­low with the Atlantic Coun­cil.

    ...

    Land of the oli­garchs

    The trail of Manafort’s decade of deal­ings 5,000 miles from America’s cap­i­tal is murky. But the pre­vi­ous­ly unre­port­ed flight records, span­ning from late 2004 through 2015, reflect a man seem­ing­ly always on the move. Over those years, Man­afort vis­it­ed Ukraine at least 138 times. His trips between Ukraine and Moscow all occurred between 2005 and 2011 and were most­ly in 2005 and 2006.

    Pros­e­cu­tors have charged that Man­afort and asso­ciate Rick Gates fun­neled through a maze of for­eign accounts at least $75 mil­lion in con­sult­ing fees from an array of Krem­lin-lean­ing clients: Russ­ian bil­lion­aire Oleg Deri­pas­ka, who secret­ly paid them $10 mil­lion annu­al­ly for sev­er­al years; a sec­ond Ukrain­ian oli­garch; and the rul­ing Par­ty of Regions, which sup­port­ed Yanukovych until cor­rup­tion alle­ga­tions and bloody protests led to his over­throw in Feb­ru­ary 2014.

    Mal­oni said Manafort’s trips to Rus­sia were “relat­ed to his work on behalf of Oleg Deripaska’s com­mer­cial inter­ests.”

    The fur­ther unmask­ing of Manafort’s rela­tion­ship with Deri­pas­ka in recent months, how­ev­er, has height­ened sus­pi­cions about Man­afort.

    In July 2016, weeks after he was named Trump’s cam­paign chair­man, Man­afort craft­ed an unusu­al, eye­brow-rais­ing pro­pos­al for Deri­pas­ka, a mem­ber of Putin’s inner cir­cle. In emails first report­ed by the Wash­ing­ton Post, Man­afort offered in seem­ing­ly cod­ed lan­guage to pro­vide “pri­vate brief­in­gs” on the U.S. pres­i­den­tial race for the Russ­ian alu­minum mag­nate. Man­afort direct­ed a trust­ed asso­ciate, Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik, to relay his mes­sage to Deri­pas­ka, remark­ing that it could be a way to make him­self “whole” — pos­si­bly an allu­sion to a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar legal action Deri­pas­ka had filed against Man­afort. Kil­imnik, a Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen, once attend­ed a Russ­ian mil­i­tary acad­e­my known for train­ing spies.

    ...

    Globe-trot­ting con­sul­tant

    Man­afort first began to estab­lish con­nec­tions in Ukraine – ground zero in the geopo­lit­i­cal strug­gle between Putin’s Rus­sia and the West – in late 2004. His rep­u­ta­tion as a mas­ter­ful polit­i­cal strate­gist and fix­er was earned over decades hop­ping planes to the Con­go, Philip­pines and else­where to advise author­i­tar­i­an rulers friend­ly with the Unit­ed States.

    By the end of that year, the for­mer Sovi­et repub­lic of Ukraine was par­a­lyzed by wide­spread protests amid alle­ga­tions that Yanukovych, the prime min­is­ter in a gov­ern­ment rife with cor­rup­tion, had won the pres­i­den­cy in a rigged elec­tion. What became the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion per­sist­ed until anoth­er, inter­na­tion­al­ly mon­i­tored vote was held and rival Vic­tor Yushchenko was declared the win­ner.

    Man­afort and a part­ner formed Davis Man­afort Part­ners Inc. in ear­ly 2005 and opened offices in Kiev.

    Manafort’s first client in Ukraine was Rinat Akhme­tov, the country’s rich­est man and a key fun­der of Yanukovych’s Par­ty of Regions. Deri­pas­ka intro­duced Man­afort to Akhme­tov, who hailed from Rus­sia-lean­ing East­ern Ukraine. In the sum­mer of 2005, Akhme­tov tapped Man­afort to help Yanukovych and his par­ty in the 2006 elec­tions, accord­ing to an Amer­i­can con­sul­tant based in Kiev, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to avoid dam­ag­ing rela­tion­ships.

    ...

    Man­afort spent the next sev­er­al years advis­ing Deri­pas­ka, Akhme­tov and oth­er Ukrain­ian oli­garchs and giv­ing the gruff-talk­ing Yanukovych a makeover down to his hair style and attire. Yanukovych won the pres­i­den­cy in 2010.

    In 2014, how­ev­er, Manafort’s busi­ness took a hit when Yanukovych fled to Rus­sia, days before Krem­lin-backed forces invad­ed East­ern Ukraine. He was quick­ly hired by the Oppo­si­tion Bloc, which leaned even more toward Moscow.

    His work drew rave reviews from one Oppo Bloc leader, Nestor Shufrych, whom mul­ti­ple peo­ple in posi­tions to know described as a close ally of Medved­chuk. Shufrych told a Ukrain­ian pub­li­ca­tion that Man­afort urged the new par­ty to take an anti-NATO stance and be the “voice of Rus­sians in (Ukraine’s) East.”

    Call­ing Man­afort “a genius,” Shufrych said the par­ty had paid him about $1 mil­lion, and the invest­ment “paid off.”

    Philip Grif­fin, a for­mer asso­ciate of Manafort’s who con­sults in Kiev, said he could not imag­ine Man­afort oppos­ing NATO. “Paul Man­afort is a Rea­gan Repub­li­can,” Grif­fin said. “He would nev­er betray that lega­cy by doing Russia’s bid­ding.”

    Mal­oni said Man­afort argued strong­ly that “Ukraine was bet­ter served by hav­ing clos­er rela­tions with the West and NATO.”

    He also said Man­afort suc­ceed­ed in push­ing “a num­ber of major ini­tia­tives that were strong­ly sup­port­ed by the U.S. gov­ern­ment and opposed by Rus­sia,” includ­ing the denu­cleariza­tion of Ukraine and the expan­sion of NATO exer­cis­es in the region.

    ...

    One of Shufrych’s and Oppo Bloc’s behind-the-scenes allies was Medved­chuk, who is so close to Putin that the Russ­ian pres­i­dent is the god­fa­ther of his daugh­ter.

    Par­tial tran­scripts from tape record­ings of then-Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent Leonid Kuch­ma, pub­lished in 2002, show Kum­cha say­ing: “Well, we know about it, that he was a KGB agent, 100 per­cent.”

    Details of Manafort’s con­tacts with Medved­chuk could not be learned. But Medved­chuk, who is under U.S. sanc­tions, has acknowl­edged meet­ing Man­afort once in 2014.

    Flights of inter­est

    ...

    Anoth­er Man­afort trip that could inter­est inves­ti­ga­tors took place in July 2013 when Man­afort and Kil­imnik flew from east­ern Ukraine to Frank­furt on a pri­vate plane owned by Bel­bek Avia, accord­ing to the flight records. The air­craft com­pa­ny’s founders includ­ed the father of Andrey Arte­menko, a Ukrain­ian leg­is­la­tor. Through an attor­ney, Andrey Arte­menko denied that Bel­bek Avia ever owned an air­craft.

    Amer­i­can experts on Rus­sia said pri­vate­ly they sus­pect the trip was a pre­lude to a broad­er Russ­ian influ­ence effort to dis­suade Yanukovych’s gov­ern­ment from sign­ing an agree­ment to asso­ciate with the Euro­pean Union. That deci­sion, experts say, opened the door to Russia’s 2014 inva­sion of east­ern Ukraine. This year, Arte­menko was expelled from the Ukrain­ian leg­is­la­ture and his cit­i­zen­ship was revoked after dis­clo­sures he and a Trump attor­ney had pitched a “peace plan” for Ukraine and Rus­sia wide­ly seen as favor­ing Moscow.

    ...

    Cor­rec­tion and clar­i­fi­ca­tion: The sto­ry has been updat­ed to say that the air­craft used on one flight was not owned by Andrey Arte­menko, but rather by an air­craft com­pa­ny whose founders includ­ed his father; and to include that Arte­menko denies that the com­pa­ny ever owned an air­craft or that he has ever been “pro-Russ­ian.”

    ———-

    “Exclu­sive: Man­afort flight records show deep­er Krem­lin ties than pre­vi­ous­ly known” by Peter Stone And Greg Gor­don; McClatchy DC; 11/27/2017

    Even after the Feb­ru­ary 2014 fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, who won office with the help of a Man­afort-engi­neered image makeover, the Amer­i­can con­sul­tant flew to Kiev anoth­er 19 times over the next 20 months while work­ing for the small­er, pro-Russ­ian Oppo­si­tion Bloc par­ty. Man­afort went so far as to sug­gest the par­ty take an anti-NATO stance, an Oppo Bloc archi­tect has said. A key ally of that par­ty leader, oli­garch Vik­tor Medved­chuk, was iden­ti­fied by an ear­li­er Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent as a for­mer Russ­ian intel­li­gence agent, “100 per­cent.””

    Even after the fall of Yanukovy­ch’s gov­ern­ment fol­low­ing the Maid­an protests, Paul Man­afort still made 19 trips to Kiev as part of his work remak­ing the Par­ty of Regions as the “Oppo­si­tion Bloc”. It’s actu­al­ly quite rem­i­nis­cent of Man­afort get­ting hired by the Rinat Akhme­tov in 2005 to advise the Par­ty of Regions fol­low­ing the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion: Man­afort com­ing to the res­cue of the Par­ty of Regions with savvy polit­i­cal advice after a mass protest top­ples the gov­ern­ment:

    ...
    Globe-trot­ting con­sul­tant

    Man­afort first began to estab­lish con­nec­tions in Ukraine – ground zero in the geopo­lit­i­cal strug­gle between Putin’s Rus­sia and the West – in late 2004. His rep­u­ta­tion as a mas­ter­ful polit­i­cal strate­gist and fix­er was earned over decades hop­ping planes to the Con­go, Philip­pines and else­where to advise author­i­tar­i­an rulers friend­ly with the Unit­ed States.

    By the end of that year, the for­mer Sovi­et repub­lic of Ukraine was par­a­lyzed by wide­spread protests amid alle­ga­tions that Yanukovych, the prime min­is­ter in a gov­ern­ment rife with cor­rup­tion, had won the pres­i­den­cy in a rigged elec­tion. What became the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion per­sist­ed until anoth­er, inter­na­tion­al­ly mon­i­tored vote was held and rival Vic­tor Yushchenko was declared the win­ner.

    Man­afort and a part­ner formed Davis Man­afort Part­ners Inc. in ear­ly 2005 and opened offices in Kiev.

    Manafort’s first client in Ukraine was Rinat Akhme­tov, the country’s rich­est man and a key fun­der of Yanukovych’s Par­ty of Regions. Deri­pas­ka intro­duced Man­afort to Akhme­tov, who hailed from Rus­sia-lean­ing East­ern Ukraine. In the sum­mer of 2005, Akhme­tov tapped Man­afort to help Yanukovych and his par­ty in the 2006 elec­tions, accord­ing to an Amer­i­can con­sul­tant based in Kiev, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to avoid dam­ag­ing rela­tion­ships.

    The mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar polit­i­cal con­sult­ing deal was sealed at a meet­ing in an elite Moscow hotel attend­ed by Man­afort, Akhme­tov and a half dozen oth­er wealthy Ukraini­ans.

    Man­afort spent the next sev­er­al years advis­ing Deri­pas­ka, Akhme­tov and oth­er Ukrain­ian oli­garchs and giv­ing the gruff-talk­ing Yanukovych a makeover down to his hair style and attire. Yanukovych won the pres­i­den­cy in 2010.
    ...

    And Man­afort’s advice cer­tain­ly got rave reviews by some in the Par­ty of Regions/Oppo Bloc, like Nestor Shufrych, who called Man­afort’s advice for the Oppo Bloc to take an anti-NATO stance and frame itself as the ““voice of Rus­sians in (Ukraine’s) East,” as genius:

    ...
    In 2014, how­ev­er, Manafort’s busi­ness took a hit when Yanukovych fled to Rus­sia, days before Krem­lin-backed forces invad­ed East­ern Ukraine. He was quick­ly hired by the Oppo­si­tion Bloc, which leaned even more toward Moscow.

    His work drew rave reviews from one Oppo Bloc leader, Nestor Shufrych, whom mul­ti­ple peo­ple in posi­tions to know described as a close ally of Medved­chuk. Shufrych told a Ukrain­ian pub­li­ca­tion that Man­afort urged the new par­ty to take an anti-NATO stance and be the “voice of Rus­sians in (Ukraine’s) East.”

    Call­ing Man­afort “a genius,” Shufrych said the par­ty had paid him about $1 mil­lion, and the invest­ment “paid off.”
    ...

    Although peo­ple close to Man­afort, like Philip Grif­fin (who was the for­mer head of the Moscow branch of the Inter­na­tion­al Repub­li­can Insti­tute before join­ing Man­afort’s con­sult­ing firm), assert that Man­afort, a “Rea­gan Repub­li­can” would have nev­er con­sid­ered encour­ag­ing Ukraine to take an anti-NATO stance:

    ...
    Philip Grif­fin, a for­mer asso­ciate of Manafort’s who con­sults in Kiev, said he could not imag­ine Man­afort oppos­ing NATO. “Paul Man­afort is a Rea­gan Repub­li­can,” Grif­fin said. “He would nev­er betray that lega­cy by doing Russia’s bid­ding.”

    Mal­oni said Man­afort argued strong­ly that “Ukraine was bet­ter served by hav­ing clos­er rela­tions with the West and NATO.”

    He also said Man­afort suc­ceed­ed in push­ing “a num­ber of major ini­tia­tives that were strong­ly sup­port­ed by the U.S. gov­ern­ment and opposed by Rus­sia,” includ­ing the denu­cleariza­tion of Ukraine and the expan­sion of NATO exer­cis­es in the region.
    ...

    Of course, as we’re going to see in the fol­low­ing arti­cles, Man­afort would have had to have been brain dead not to advise the Oppo Bloc to take an anti-NATO stance because anti-NATO stances are wild­ly pop­u­lar with Ukrain­ian vot­ers in the East and South and have been for years. In oth­er words, advis­ing the Oppo Bloc to take an anti-NATO posi­tion was­n’t an act of polit­i­cal “genius”. It was so obvi­ous­ly the thing to do that Man­afort would have been dis­cred­it­ing him­self as a plau­si­ble polit­i­cal advi­sor if he did­n’t make that rec­om­men­da­tion.

    But that anti-NATO advice Man­afort gave is still inevitably cit­ed as an exam­ple of how he was actu­al­ly act­ing as a Krem­lin agent dur­ing his years of work­ing in Ukraine. And that’s part of what makes the flights logs to Moscow rather inter­est­ing. Because those logs do indeed show 18 flights to Moscow, but they all occurred between 2005 and 2011 and most of them hap­pened in 2005–2006. And as we saw, Man­afort’s work for Russ­ian oli­garch Oleg Deri­pas­ka appeared to fiz­zle out by 2007 over the Per­i­cles pri­vate equi­ty fund that Deri­pas­ka felt Man­afort used to cheat him. So learn­ing that his trips to Moscow dropped off after 2006 appears to reflect that falling out with Deri­pas­ka and points towards these flights pri­mar­i­ly involv­ing Man­afort’s work for Deri­pas­ka:

    ...
    Polit­i­cal guru Paul Man­afort took at least 18 trips to Moscow and was in fre­quent con­tact with Vladimir Putin’s allies for near­ly a decade as a con­sul­tant in Rus­sia and Ukraine for oli­garchs and pro-Krem­lin par­ties.

    ...

    Land of the oli­garchs

    The trail of Manafort’s decade of deal­ings 5,000 miles from America’s cap­i­tal is murky. But the pre­vi­ous­ly unre­port­ed flight records, span­ning from late 2004 through 2015, reflect a man seem­ing­ly always on the move. Over those years, Man­afort vis­it­ed Ukraine at least 138 times. His trips between Ukraine and Moscow all occurred between 2005 and 2011 and were most­ly in 2005 and 2006.

    Pros­e­cu­tors have charged that Man­afort and asso­ciate Rick Gates fun­neled through a maze of for­eign accounts at least $75 mil­lion in con­sult­ing fees from an array of Krem­lin-lean­ing clients: Russ­ian bil­lion­aire Oleg Deri­pas­ka, who secret­ly paid them $10 mil­lion annu­al­ly for sev­er­al years; a sec­ond Ukrain­ian oli­garch; and the rul­ing Par­ty of Regions, which sup­port­ed Yanukovych until cor­rup­tion alle­ga­tions and bloody protests led to his over­throw in Feb­ru­ary 2014.

    Mal­oni said Manafort’s trips to Rus­sia were “relat­ed to his work on behalf of Oleg Deripaska’s com­mer­cial inter­ests.”

    The fur­ther unmask­ing of Manafort’s rela­tion­ship with Deri­pas­ka in recent months, how­ev­er, has height­ened sus­pi­cions about Man­afort.

    In July 2016, weeks after he was named Trump’s cam­paign chair­man, Man­afort craft­ed an unusu­al, eye­brow-rais­ing pro­pos­al for Deri­pas­ka, a mem­ber of Putin’s inner cir­cle. In emails first report­ed by the Wash­ing­ton Post, Man­afort offered in seem­ing­ly cod­ed lan­guage to pro­vide “pri­vate brief­in­gs” on the U.S. pres­i­den­tial race for the Russ­ian alu­minum mag­nate. Man­afort direct­ed a trust­ed asso­ciate, Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik, to relay his mes­sage to Deri­pas­ka, remark­ing that it could be a way to make him­self “whole” — pos­si­bly an allu­sion to a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar legal action Deri­pas­ka had filed against Man­afort. Kil­imnik, a Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen, once attend­ed a Russ­ian mil­i­tary acad­e­my known for train­ing spies.
    ...

    But by far the most inter­est­ing flight in those flight logs is a curi­ous flight July 20th, 2013 flight that Man­afort and Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik (anoth­er for­mer Inter­na­tion­al Repub­li­can Insti­tute employ­ee who, along with Philip Grif­fin, joined Man­afort’s con­sult­ing firm) took from east­ern Ukraine to Frank­furt on a pri­vate plane owned by Bel­bek Avia. And one of the co-founders of Bel­bek Avia is Andrii Arte­menko’s father:

    ...
    Flights of inter­est

    ...

    Anoth­er Man­afort trip that could inter­est inves­ti­ga­tors took place in July 2013 when Man­afort and Kil­imnik flew from east­ern Ukraine to Frank­furt on a pri­vate plane owned by Bel­bek Avia, accord­ing to the flight records. The air­craft com­pa­ny’s founders includ­ed the father of Andrey Arte­menko, a Ukrain­ian leg­is­la­tor. Through an attor­ney, Andrey Arte­menko denied that Bel­bek Avia ever owned an air­craft.
    ...

    And a big part of what makes this mys­tery flight so mys­te­ri­ous is that it hap­pened right in the mid­dle of the final diplo­mat­ic tus­sle over Ukraine’s accep­tance into a trade union with the EU which puts it right in the mid­dle of the “Haps­burg Group” ini­tia­tive — an ini­tia­tive to con­vince the US and Euro­pean gov­ern­ments to allow Ukraine into the EU trade union despite their mis­giv­ings over issues like the jail­ing of Yulia Tymoshenko — Man­afort is accused of secret­ly man­ag­ing. And some of Ger­many’s top politi­cians appeared to be involved with the Haps­burg Group diplo­ma­cy. Recall how the politi­cians recruit­ed to assist with the “Haps­burg Group” claimed to also be work­ing with Mar­tin Schulz of Ger­many’s SPD. In oth­er words, there was a clear Ger­man com­po­nent of the “Haps­burg Group” lob­by­ing push, and now we learn about a to Frank­furt on a pri­vate plane right in the mid­dle of that effort in July of 2013 and the plane was appar­ent­ly owned by a com­pa­ny co-found­ed by Andrii Arte­menko’s dad.

    Also don’t for­get that Arte­menko’s polit­i­cal back­ground puts him square­ly in the Tymoshenko camp ear­ly on in his polit­i­cal career before mov­ing on to the Rad­i­cal Par­ty and close ties with Right Sec­tor. So one big ques­tion raised by the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Arte­menko was also engaged with this “Haps­burg Group” diplo­mat­ic ini­tia­tive is whether or not he was on the side of those who argued Tymoshenko’s release from jail should be required or not to allow Ukraine into a trade union. The jail­ing of Tymoshenko was a key stick­ing point over those trade union nego­ti­a­tions. Did Arte­menko believe Tymoshenko’s release should be a stick­ing point? It would be an inter­est­ing fun fact to learn.

    Of course, this mys­tery flight is being char­ac­ter­ized as a pos­si­ble “pre­lude to a broad­er Russ­ian influ­ence effort to dis­suade Yanukovych’s gov­ern­ment from sign­ing an agree­ment to asso­ciate with the Euro­pean Union”:

    ...
    Amer­i­can experts on Rus­sia said pri­vate­ly they sus­pect the trip was a pre­lude to a broad­er Russ­ian influ­ence effort to dis­suade Yanukovych’s gov­ern­ment from sign­ing an agree­ment to asso­ciate with the Euro­pean Union. That deci­sion, experts say, opened the door to Russia’s 2014 inva­sion of east­ern Ukraine. This year, Arte­menko was expelled from the Ukrain­ian leg­is­la­ture and his cit­i­zen­ship was revoked after dis­clo­sures he and a Trump attor­ney had pitched a “peace plan” for Ukraine and Rus­sia wide­ly seen as favor­ing Moscow.
    ...

    So it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that, in addi­tion to the EU/US demands for the release of Tymoshenko, anoth­er key rea­son Yanukovych end­ed the trade union nego­ti­a­tions in late 2013 is that the EU real­ly did offer a very crap­py deal. There were mas­sive­ly expen­sive demands that Ukraine mod­ern­ize its econ­o­my but very lit­tle finan­cial assis­tance. And this was hap­pen­ing dur­ing the peak of the EU’s aus­ter­i­ty mad­ness where bud­get short­falls were used to jus­ti­fy mas­sive­ly unpop­u­lar aus­ter­i­ty. So a trade union with the EU was excep­tion­al­ly unap­pe­tiz­ing at that par­tic­u­lar moment in time all thanks to the EU’s excep­tion­al­ly ill-advised aus­ter­i­ty poli­cies. In oth­er words, one like­ly motive for pin­ning the blame on Ukraine back­ing out of the EU trade union nego­ti­a­tions at the last minute on Paul Man­afort is to avoid con­fronting the fact that the EU’s aus­ter­i­ty bru­tal­i­ty prob­a­bly played a big role in sink­ing the deal.

    Final­ly, let’s note the com­ments from Daniel Fried, an Atlantic Coun­cil mem­ber and a for­mer assis­tant sec­re­tary of state who was in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Man­afort dur­ing George W. Bush’s sec­ond term while Man­afort was advis­ing Yanukovych and Deri­pas­ka (indi­cat­ing that Man­afort was talk­ing to the US gov­ern­ment dur­ing this time). Fried has a rather reveal­ing com­ment about what Man­afort was telling the US gov­ern­ment:

    ...
    It was this back­ground that Man­afort brought to Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, which he joined in ear­ly 2016 and soon led. His web of con­nec­tions to Rus­sia-loy­al poten­tates is now a focus of fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors.

    Manafort’s flight records in and out of Ukraine, which McClatchy obtained from a gov­ern­ment source in Kiev, and inter­views with more than a dozen peo­ple famil­iar with his activ­i­ties, includ­ing cur­rent and for­mer gov­ern­ment offi­cials, sug­gest the links between Trump’s for­mer cam­paign man­ag­er and Rus­sia sym­pa­thiz­ers run deep­er than pre­vi­ous­ly thought.

    What’s now known leads some Rus­sia experts to sus­pect that the Kremlin’s emis­saries at times turned Man­afort into an asset act­ing on Russia’s behalf. “You can make a case that all along he ...was either work­ing prin­ci­pal­ly for Moscow, or he was try­ing to play both sides against each oth­er just to max­i­mize his prof­its,” said Daniel Fried, a for­mer assis­tant sec­re­tary of state who com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Man­afort dur­ing Yanukovych’s reign in Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s sec­ond term.

    “He’s at best got a con­flict of inter­est and at worst is real­ly doing Putin’s bid­ding,” said Fried, now a fel­low with the Atlantic Coun­cil.
    ...

    “What’s now known leads some Rus­sia experts to sus­pect that the Kremlin’s emis­saries at times turned Man­afort into an asset act­ing on Russia’s behalf. “You can make a case that all along he ...was either work­ing prin­ci­pal­ly for Moscow, or he was try­ing to play both sides against each oth­er just to max­i­mize his prof­its,” said Daniel Fried, a for­mer assis­tant sec­re­tary of state who com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Man­afort dur­ing Yanukovych’s reign in Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s sec­ond term.

    As Fried, who was in con­tact with Man­afort, describes it, you could make the case that Man­afort was a Russ­ian asset “all along”. Or maybe he was just try­ing to play both sides against each oth­er for per­son­al gain. That’s how Fried sees it. So it’s worth not­ing that those two sce­nar­ios Fried sees as plau­si­ble are actu­al­ly two very dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios and high­lights the ambigu­ous nature of the infor­ma­tion on Man­afort. Play­ing “both sides against each oth­er” isn’t the kind of thing you would expect from a Krem­lin or US asset.

    A fas­cist asset, on the oth­er hand, would be more than hap­py to play the US and Rus­sia against each oth­er. So don’t for­get to con­sid­er the sce­nario that Man­afort real­ly was act­ing for a for­eign pow­er, but not Rus­sia. And that for­eign pow­er might be a non-nation state like the Under­ground Reich or some oth­er pow­er net­work inter­est­ed in see­ing the US and Rus­sia head towards con­flict in Ukraine (the Hab­s­burgs, per­haps?).

    At the same time, the fact that Yanukovy­ch’s sud­den turn away from the EU trade union nego­ti­a­tions was rea­son­able giv­en the crap deal the EU was offer­ing is a reminder that the nego­ti­a­tions may have fall­en apart despite Man­afort’s best efforts to keep them going. As Fried indi­cat­ed in his com­ments, there’s a wide vari­ety of sce­nar­ios that fit the data we have on Man­afort, and that includes the sce­nario where he made a legit­i­mate push to get Ukraine into that trade union and the deal still fell apart. Or the sce­nario he was work­ing both sides against each oth­er.

    There are a vari­ety of sce­nar­ios that fit the data. But as we’ll see from Fried’s com­ments in the fol­low­ing arti­cle, Man­afort appeared to be com­mu­ni­cat­ing with cer­tain­ty to the US gov­ern­ment that Yanukovych was indeed some­one who would move Ukraine close to the West. As Fried puts it: “Manafort’s guy turned out to be not the guy Man­afort said he was...Either Man­afort was unable to deliv­er the guy or he was spin­ning us and had no inten­tion of doing any­thing but col­lect­ing his very large fees.”

    So Man­afort was telling the US that Yanukovych was “the guy”, accord­ing to Fried. Recall how the pro­files of Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik indi­cat­ed that the Yanukovych team con­clud­ed they need­ed to work with some­one from “the oth­er side” to win after the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion protests and Man­afort pro­ceed­ed to hire to for­mer employ­ees of the Moscow branch of the Inter­na­tion­al Repub­li­can Insti­tute, Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik and Philip Grif­fin, to assist with that con­sult­ing effort. Might Man­afort have been telling the US gov­ern­ment Yanukovych was “the guy” who would move Ukraine clos­er to the West when Kil­imnik and Grif­fin left the Inter­na­tion­al Repub­li­can Insti­tute in 2005 to help advise Yanukovych and the Par­ty of Regions?

    Man­afort also told the US that Yanukovych was the one Ukrain­ian who could Ukraine clos­er to the West at a pace Putin could stand. That’s also accord­ing to Fried. So while it’s some­what ambigu­ous who Man­afort was ulti­mate­ly work­ing for, he appeared to be active­ly try­ing to con­vince the US State Depart­ment he was ulti­mate­ly work­ing for them:

    Bloomberg

    Paul Manafort’s Lucra­tive Ukraine Years Are Cen­tral to the Rus­sia Probe

    Trump’s for­mer cam­paign man­ag­er had reced­ed into the back­ground, but there’s renewed inter­est in the mil­lions he made pro­mot­ing Krem­lin-friend­ly inter­ests.

    By Stephanie Bak­er and Dary­na Kras­no­lut­ska
    May 22, 2017, 3:00 AM CDT

    Jim Slat­tery arrived at the Stal­in-era pres­i­den­tial head­quar­ters in Kiev, Ukraine, with an unusu­al gift for the nation’s strong­man leader: a bust of Abra­ham Lin­coln.

    It was March 2013, and the for­mer U.S. con­gress­man had trav­eled to Ukraine to per­suade Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, an ally of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, to free Yanukovych’s arch rival from prison. The stat­uette came with a hope­ful mes­sage: You, Slat­tery told the pres­i­dent, could be the Lin­coln of Ukraine—a leader who binds up the nation’s wounds.

    What Slat­tery didn’t know was that anoth­er Amer­i­can oper­a­tive was help­ing the pres­i­dent defend the impris­on­ment of Yulia Tymoshenko, an act wide­ly con­demned in the West­ern world.

    His name: Paul Man­afort, future pres­i­den­tial cam­paign man­ag­er for Don­ald Trump. Today, Man­afort sits at the cen­ter of the con­cen­tric cir­cles of wor­ry and sus­pi­cion over what Pres­i­dent Trump has called “this Rus­sia thing.” What began with ques­tions about Moscow’s med­dling in the 2016 U.S. elec­tion has Democ­rats, and even some Repub­li­cans, now warn­ing of Trump’s Water­gate.

    ...

    Two dozen inter­views in Ukraine, Rus­sia and the U.S., as well as a review of scores of doc­u­ments from Ukrain­ian pros­e­cu­tors, offer a detailed por­trait of Manafort’s work in Kiev, which pro­vid­ed a tem­plate for some aspects of Trump’s pop­ulist cam­paign, includ­ing sev­er­al key mem­bers of the team.

    In the decade before he worked for Trump, Manafort’s efforts did for Moscow what its finest polit­i­cal minds had failed to do: help get a pro-Russ­ian can­di­date installed in Kiev. It cul­mi­nat­ed in Russia’s annex­a­tion of Crimea, the revival of Cold War ten­sions, West­ern sanc­tions on Russia’s ener­gy and bank­ing sec­tors and Russia’s cam­paign to get those sanc­tions removed.

    Man­afort, 68, had claimed Yanukovych was the one Ukrain­ian who could lead his coun­try clos­er to the West at a pace Putin could stand, accord­ing to Dan Fried, a for­mer U.S. assis­tant sec­re­tary of state for the region which includes Ukraine. But that proved false.

    “Manafort’s guy turned out to be not the guy Man­afort said he was,” Fried said. “Either Man­afort was unable to deliv­er the guy or he was spin­ning us and had no inten­tion of doing any­thing but col­lect­ing his very large fees.”

    Jason Mal­oni, a Man­afort spokesman, denied that his work helped Rus­sia. He said, “Although Mr. Manafort’s focus was always domes­tic Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics, that work did make a dif­fer­ence and helped move the Ukraine towards a West­ern orbit and fur­ther from a Russ­ian orbit.”

    Man­afort, who denies any con­tact with Russ­ian gov­ern­ment offi­cials, nev­er reg­is­tered as a lob­by­ist for a for­eign gov­ern­ment for his Ukrain­ian work. His spokesman said Man­afort had “received for­mal guid­ance recent­ly from the author­i­ties” on reg­is­ter­ing under the For­eign Agents Reg­is­tra­tion Act for some of his work, none of which, he con­tend­ed, was for the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment.

    ...

    Ukrain­ian pros­e­cu­tors are inves­ti­gat­ing what they call a “crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion” set up by Yanukovych via bribes and theft of state assets before he fled to Moscow after the killing of more than 100 pro­test­ers in 2014, and they are look­ing at what role Man­afort may have played in the sus­pect­ed scheme. They’ve repeat­ed­ly asked the FBI for help to ques­tion Man­afort as part of their inquiry into a New York law firm in con­nec­tion to a report that large­ly defend­ed the Tymoshenko pros­e­cu­tion.

    “We’re wait­ing for a response,” says Ser­hiy Gor­batyuk, Ukraine’s head of spe­cial pros­e­cu­tions, his desk piled high with papers.

    ...

    In the five-year peri­od from 2007 to 2012, Man­afort was paid at least $12.7 mil­lion, accord­ing to a hand­writ­ten Par­ty of Regions ledger found lat­er in its head office. Ukraine’s anti-cor­rup­tion bureau and the FBI are inves­ti­gat­ing whether the ledger reflect­ed any ille­gal pay­ments to Man­afort and to oth­ers. Manafort’s spokesman says that after being paid he had many expens­es and so the pay­ment fig­ure does not rep­re­sent prof­it. One pay­ment to Man­afort on the ledger match­es an invoice he signed in 2009 to sell $750,000 of com­put­ers to a Belize-reg­is­tered com­pa­ny called Neo­com Sys­tems Ltd., accord­ing to doc­u­ments obtained by Leshchenko from Manafort’s Kiev office.

    ...

    Manafort’s con­tacts with pro-Russ­ian politi­cians go beyond Yanukovych and the Par­ty of Regions. Vik­tor Medved­chuk said he met Man­afort in 2014. Medved­chuk is so close to the Krem­lin that Putin is god­fa­ther to his daugh­ter and he is under U.S. sanc­tions because of his role in the con­flict in east­ern Ukraine. In a writ­ten response to ques­tions, he said of Man­afort that he was “the best, both among for­eign and domes­tic polit­i­cal con­sul­tants. The events of the past year in the Unit­ed States have only strength­ened my opin­ion.” He said he had not had con­tact with Man­afort since then. Manafort’s spokesman con­firmed the 2014 meet­ing but said he didn’t recall inter­act­ing with Medved­chuk direct­ly.

    Even after Rus­sia annexed Crimea in 2014 and Yanukovych fled to Rus­sia, Man­afort returned to Ukraine 17 times, earn­ing at least $1 mil­lion to help reelect pro-Rus­sia politi­cians, accord­ing to a par­ty offi­cial who worked with him. Manafort’s spokesman declined to com­ment on that pay­ment.

    The idea of work­ing in Ukraine first came to Man­afort in 2004 from Oleg Deri­pas­ka, a Russ­ian bil­lion­aire who con­trols alu­minum pro­duc­er Rusal, accord­ing to a per­son famil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion. Ukraine was in the throes of the Orange Revolution—protests over alle­ga­tions of elec­toral fraud in Yanukovych’s Novem­ber 2004 vic­to­ry. The Supreme Court ordered a new elec­tion. Manafort’s then-part­ner, Rick Davis, went to Kiev and con­clud­ed it was too late to help. Yanukovych’s pro-West­ern rival Vik­tor Yushchenko won.

    Man­afort arrived in 2005 to advise Ukraine’s rich­est man, bil­lion­aire Rinat Akhme­tov, who was wor­ried his busi­ness inter­ests might be seized by Pres­i­dent Yushchenko. That same year, Davis Man­afort Part­ners Inc. reg­is­tered a com­pa­ny in Moscow at an address used by more than 80 oth­er firms. It’s unclear whether the com­pa­ny actu­al­ly func­tioned, and Manafort’s spokesman said no such office was opened. While work­ing in Ukraine, Man­afort earned mil­lions from a side pri­vate equi­ty fund with Deri­pas­ka, accord­ing to a law­suit by Deri­pas­ka, who is suing Man­afort in the Cay­man Islands over the soured busi­ness part­ner­ship. Deri­pas­ka declined to com­ment.

    Akhme­tov, then a major finan­cial backer of the Par­ty of Regions, asked Man­afort to help Yanukovych’s 2006 par­lia­men­tary elec­tion cam­paign. Man­afort hired as many as 40 top-flight U.S. cam­paign work­ers, some of whom lat­er worked on the Trump cam­paign, includ­ing Tim Unes, who orga­nized Trump’s ral­lies, and Rick Gates.

    A worka­holic who answers emails at 3 a.m., Man­afort and his team set about por­tray­ing Yanukovych as a strong leader, pic­tur­ing him beside Putin and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel. Cru­cial to the strategy—and new to Ukraine—was research from focus groups and bet­ter polling to dri­ve mes­sag­ing. Among the issues: the rights of Russ­ian-speak­ers and oppo­si­tion to Ukraine’s join­ing NATO.

    “He was going for vis­cer­al issues and an emo­tion­al reac­tion,” says Katery­na Yushchenko, the Amer­i­can-born wife of for­mer Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yushchenko and a one­time State Depart­ment and White House offi­cial. “When I con­front­ed his peo­ple about it, they said, ‘That’s pol­i­tics.’ I said this isn’t like gun rights or abor­tion. Here it could lead to war.”

    Even though he hired Man­afort, Yanukovych retained Russ­ian advis­ers from Moscow, includ­ing Vyach­eslav Nikonov, a mem­ber of Putin’s Unit­ed Rus­sia fac­tion, and Sergei Glazyev, Putin’s cur­rent advis­er on Ukraine, accord­ing to Taras Chornovil, a top Par­ty of Regions offi­cial until 2008. A spokesman for Glazyev con­firmed he advised Yanukovych from 2004 to 2009 but didn’t con­sult with Man­afort. Nikonov didn’t respond to requests for com­ment. Manafort’s spokesman said he doesn’t recall inter­act­ing with either one.

    The Par­ty of Regions emerged from the 2006 elec­tion with the largest num­ber of seats in par­lia­ment; Yanukovych became prime min­is­ter. His vic­to­ry was short-lived, how­ev­er. His polit­i­cal strug­gle with Pres­i­dent Yushchenko result­ed in elec­tions a year lat­er. This time Man­afort ran a cook­ie-cut­ter cam­paign. In one ad, a Par­ty of Regions poster showed what was pur­port­ed­ly a smil­ing blonde Ukrain­ian girl hold­ing a bright yel­low umbrel­la under the slo­gan “Sta­bil­i­ty and Pros­per­i­ty.” In real­i­ty, Manafort’s advis­ers had plucked a stock pho­to­graph of an Amer­i­can girl.

    His par­ty did well but Yanukovych was pushed into oppo­si­tion after Tymoshenko cob­bled togeth­er a rul­ing coali­tion. In 2008, then-Pres­i­dent Yushchenko announced a cam­paign for even­tu­al Ukrain­ian mem­ber­ship in NATO. To exploit wide­spread oppo­si­tion to NATO, Manafort’s team brought a truck to the par­lia­ment filled with anti-NATO bal­loons and instruct­ed par­lia­men­tar­i­ans to each take one into the cham­ber.

    Ukraine’s hope of join­ing NATO end­ed with its 2010 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. With Man­afort guid­ing him, Yanukovych won nar­row­ly. Man­afort pre­pared Yanukovych’s first vis­it as head of state to Wash­ing­ton that April. He advised Yanukovych to give up Ukraine’s remain­ing stock of high­ly enriched ura­ni­um, accord­ing to a per­son close to the sit­u­a­tion. Ukraine had giv­en up its nuclear weapons in 1994 and there was lit­tle sac­ri­fice involved in yield­ing the ura­ni­um. But it helped Yanukovych clinch a major prize: a pho­to of him beam­ing along­side Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma.

    With­in months of his vic­to­ry, Yanukovych ordered crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tions into Tymoshenko, cul­mi­nat­ing in a sen­tence of sev­en years in jail. Con­demned around the world, her pros­e­cu­tion would become a flash­point in nego­ti­a­tions between Ukraine and the Euro­pean Union on an asso­ci­a­tion agree­ment.

    Man­afort was close­ly involved in recruit­ing the firm of Skad­den Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLC on behalf of the Ukrain­ian Jus­tice Min­istry to write a lengthy report on Tymoshenko’s pros­e­cu­tion. He met with Jus­tice Min­is­ter Olek­san­dr Lavrynovych to go over the con­tract with Skad­den and emailed with Skad­den part­ner Greg Craig, accord­ing to doc­u­ments uncov­ered by Ukrain­ian pros­e­cu­tors. The min­istry agreed to pay Skad­den a mere $12,000, just below the thresh­old requir­ing it to go to a pub­lic ten­der. But much more mon­ey was to come to Skad­den.

    Pros­e­cu­tors believe Man­afort drew up a six-page media strat­e­gy plan with FTI Con­sult­ing on how to use the Skad­den report, based on doc­u­ments they have exam­ined. The report, released at the end of 2012, crit­i­cized some aspects of the case but con­clud­ed that the evi­dence sup­port­ed her con­vic­tion and that her due process rights hadn’t been vio­lat­ed. After the document’s release, Skad­den signed a new con­tract with the min­istry in 2013 that envis­aged “addi­tion­al work” and paid the firm $1 mil­lion, the pros­e­cu­tors say, not­ing that no addi­tion­al work was done. FTI declined to com­ment.

    ...

    After Skad­den pre­pared its report, Man­afort was prep­ping the Par­ty of Regions for anoth­er par­lia­men­tary elec­tion in Octo­ber 2012, bring­ing in Tony Fab­rizio, who would lat­er become the Trump campaign’s chief poll­ster. Inter­na­tion­al mon­i­tors said the elec­tions were marked by the abuse of state resources and lack of trans­paren­cy in par­ty financ­ing.

    Man­afort advised Yanukovych to push ahead with an asso­ci­a­tion agree­ment with the EU. But the EU insist­ed he release Tymoshenko, while Putin pres­sured him to aban­don the deal. In Novem­ber 2013, Yanukovych ter­mi­nat­ed nego­ti­a­tions with the EU. The move trig­gered wide­spread protests.

    Thou­sands camped out on Kiev’s Inde­pen­dence Square. More than 100 were killed in 2014 right before Yanukovych fled to Moscow. Ukrain­ian pros­e­cu­tors are inves­ti­gat­ing who’s respon­si­ble and have combed through hacked text mes­sages from Manafort’s daugh­ter, Andrea, about her father’s role in crack­ing down on the upris­ing. Her texts say their mon­ey is “blood mon­ey.” Andrea Man­afort didn’t respond to requests for com­ment.

    Months after Rus­sia annexed Crimea, Man­afort returned to Ukraine to advise the pro-Russ­ian anti-NATO par­ty, now known as the Oppo­si­tion Bloc, for the 2014 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, again bring­ing Fab­rizio on board. Nestor Shufrych, one of the par­ty lead­ers, says Man­afort pushed for them to be the voice of Rus­sians in the east. Shufrych thought they had no chance but they got near­ly 10 per­cent, with 29 seats. Man­afort per­son­al­ly approved the list of can­di­dates, accord­ing to anoth­er par­ty offi­cial.

    Shufrych says the par­ty paid Man­afort rough­ly $1 mil­lion. The two cel­e­brat­ed over a bot­tle of cognac at Manafort’s Kiev office.

    “The invest­ment in Man­afort paid off,” he said. “He’s a genius.”

    ———-

    “Paul Manafort’s Lucra­tive Ukraine Years Are Cen­tral to the Rus­sia Probe” by Stephanie Bak­er and Dary­na Kras­no­lut­ska; Bloomberg; 05/22/2017

    ““Manafort’s guy turned out to be not the guy Man­afort said he was,” Fried said. “Either Man­afort was unable to deliv­er the guy or he was spin­ning us and had no inten­tion of doing any­thing but col­lect­ing his very large fees.””

    As we can see, Dan Fried, the for­mer U.S. assis­tant sec­re­tary of state for the region which includes Ukraine for George W. Bush’s sec­ond term, is bas­ing his sus­pi­cions of Man­afort work­ing for the Krem­lin on a pal­pa­ble sense of betray­al. Man­afort was “spin­ning us” about Yanukovych and Man­afort could­n’t “deliv­er” like he claimed he would. It’s a sense of betray­al that appears to ignore how Man­afort spent years slow­ing get­ting Yanukovy­ch’s gov­ern­ment deeply involved in trade union nego­ti­a­tions that fell apart at the last min­ue with the EU’s crap offer and aus­ter­i­ty bonan­za. As Fried put it, Man­afort assured them he was mov­ing Ukraine clos­er to the West “at a pace Putin could stand”. And he did indeed appear to do that:

    ...
    Man­afort, 68, had claimed Yanukovych was the one Ukrain­ian who could lead his coun­try clos­er to the West at a pace Putin could stand, accord­ing to Dan Fried, a for­mer U.S. assis­tant sec­re­tary of state for the region which includes Ukraine. But that proved false.
    ...

    And note how Man­afort’s work help­ing Yanukovych defend the jail­ing of Yulia Tymoshenko is char­ac­ter­ized work­ing in Moscow’s inter­ests, which ignores how, as Yanukovy­ch’s advis­er, the most ‘pro-West’ thing Man­afort could have done is help Yanukovych make the case that the jail­ing should­n’t get in the way of a trade union with the EU. Which, again, is much of what the entire “Haps­burg Group” ini­tia­tive was all about:

    ...
    Jim Slat­tery arrived at the Stal­in-era pres­i­den­tial head­quar­ters in Kiev, Ukraine, with an unusu­al gift for the nation’s strong­man leader: a bust of Abra­ham Lin­coln.

    It was March 2013, and the for­mer U.S. con­gress­man had trav­eled to Ukraine to per­suade Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, an ally of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, to free Yanukovych’s arch rival from prison. The stat­uette came with a hope­ful mes­sage: You, Slat­tery told the pres­i­dent, could be the Lin­coln of Ukraine—a leader who binds up the nation’s wounds.

    What Slat­tery didn’t know was that anoth­er Amer­i­can oper­a­tive was help­ing the pres­i­dent defend the impris­on­ment of Yulia Tymoshenko, an act wide­ly con­demned in the West­ern world.
    ...

    And that “Haps­burg Group” lob­by­ing effort Man­afort was lead­ing in 2012 and 2013 to con­vince US and EU lead­ers that Tymoshenko’s jail­ing should­n’t stand in the way of the EU-Ukraine trade union involved Man­afort recruit­ing the firm of Skad­den Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLC on behalf of the Ukrain­ian Jus­tice Min­istry to write a lengthy report on Tymoshenko’s pros­e­cu­tion. Don’t for­get that the par­tic­u­lar Skad­den Arps lawyer who worked on that 2012 report — Alex van der Zwaan, the Dutch lawyer and son-in-law of Alfa bank co-founder Ger­man Khan — end­ed up get­ting pros­e­cut­ed by the US for lying to the FBI about the extent of his com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Man­afort’s part­ner Rick Gates in 2016. Then Man­afort wrote up a media strat­e­gy based on using this report. A media strat­e­gy designed to con­vince peo­ple that the jail­ing of Tymoshenko did­n’t vio­late her due process and should­n’t stand in the way of the trade union:

    ...
    With­in months of his vic­to­ry, Yanukovych ordered crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tions into Tymoshenko, cul­mi­nat­ing in a sen­tence of sev­en years in jail. Con­demned around the world, her pros­e­cu­tion would become a flash­point in nego­ti­a­tions between Ukraine and the Euro­pean Union on an asso­ci­a­tion agree­ment.

    Man­afort was close­ly involved in recruit­ing the firm of Skad­den Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLC on behalf of the Ukrain­ian Jus­tice Min­istry to write a lengthy report on Tymoshenko’s pros­e­cu­tion. He met with Jus­tice Min­is­ter Olek­san­dr Lavrynovych to go over the con­tract with Skad­den and emailed with Skad­den part­ner Greg Craig, accord­ing to doc­u­ments uncov­ered by Ukrain­ian pros­e­cu­tors. The min­istry agreed to pay Skad­den a mere $12,000, just below the thresh­old requir­ing it to go to a pub­lic ten­der. But much more mon­ey was to come to Skad­den.

    Pros­e­cu­tors believe Man­afort drew up a six-page media strat­e­gy plan with FTI Con­sult­ing on how to use the Skad­den report, based on doc­u­ments they have exam­ined. The report, released at the end of 2012, crit­i­cized some aspects of the case but con­clud­ed that the evi­dence sup­port­ed her con­vic­tion and that her due process rights hadn’t been vio­lat­ed. After the document’s release, Skad­den signed a new con­tract with the min­istry in 2013 that envis­aged “addi­tion­al work” and paid the firm $1 mil­lion, the pros­e­cu­tors say, not­ing that no addi­tion­al work was done. FTI declined to com­ment.
    ...

    Then, after the Skad­den report is released, Man­afort starts prep­ping for the Par­ty of Regions for the Octo­ber 2012 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, bring­ing on board Tony Fab­rizio, who would lat­er become the Trump cam­paign’s chief poll­ster. Note that Fab­rizio is a vet­er­an GOP poll­ster. He was chief poll­ster for Bob Doles 1996 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and has worked for dozens of US Sen­a­tors and Gov­er­nors. And in 2012 he was recruit­ed by Man­afort to help the Par­ty of Regions:

    ...
    After Skad­den pre­pared its report, Man­afort was prep­ping the Par­ty of Regions for anoth­er par­lia­men­tary elec­tion in Octo­ber 2012, bring­ing in Tony Fab­rizio, who would lat­er become the Trump campaign’s chief poll­ster. Inter­na­tion­al mon­i­tors said the elec­tions were marked by the abuse of state resources and lack of trans­paren­cy in par­ty financ­ing.
    ...

    And at the same time Man­afort is bring­ing on board a vet­er­an GOP poll­ster to work for the Par­ty of Regions he’s advis­ing Yanukovych to push ahead with the trade union. The talks, which had a heavy focus on Tymoshenko’s release, con­tin­ue through 2013 until Yanukovych ends the nego­ti­a­tions and sud­den­ly decides to take Putin’s offer (don’t for­get that the EU’s offer was crap and aus­ter­i­ty). The sub­se­quent protests over the pro-EU forces spi­ral into the Maid­an protests that end with the col­lapse of Yanukovy­ch’s gov­ern­ment fol­low­ing the sniper attacks. Sniper attacks that Paul Man­afort appar­ent­ly played a role in accord­ing to the hacked text mes­sages of his daugh­ter:

    ...
    Man­afort advised Yanukovych to push ahead with an asso­ci­a­tion agree­ment with the EU. But the EU insist­ed he release Tymoshenko, while Putin pres­sured him to aban­don the deal. In Novem­ber 2013, Yanukovych ter­mi­nat­ed nego­ti­a­tions with the EU. The move trig­gered wide­spread protests.

    Thou­sands camped out on Kiev’s Inde­pen­dence Square. More than 100 were killed in 2014 right before Yanukovych fled to Moscow. Ukrain­ian pros­e­cu­tors are inves­ti­gat­ing who’s respon­si­ble and have combed through hacked text mes­sages from Manafort’s daugh­ter, Andrea, about her father’s role in crack­ing down on the upris­ing. Her texts say their mon­ey is “blood mon­ey.” Andrea Man­afort didn’t respond to requests for com­ment.
    ...

    And the financ­ing of this lob­by­ing effort was doc­u­ment­ed, at least in part, in the “Black Ledger” dis­cov­ered in 2016. Recall that doc­u­ments dis­cov­ered in Man­afort’s old Kiev office appear to corrab­o­rate at least some of those ledger entries, but the gov­ern­ment inves­ti­ga­tion into the ledger had effec­tive­ly froze last year due to fears of how many peo­ple out­side of the Par­ty of Regions in might impli­cate in Yanukovy­ch’s kick-back sys­tem. So while Ukrain­ian pros­e­cu­tors are indeed inves­ti­gat­ing the bribery sys­tem in place when Yanukovych was in pow­er, it’s very unclear if those inves­ti­ga­tions will be allowed to actu­al­ly pro­ceed:

    ...
    Ukrain­ian pros­e­cu­tors are inves­ti­gat­ing what they call a “crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion” set up by Yanukovych via bribes and theft of state assets before he fled to Moscow after the killing of more than 100 pro­test­ers in 2014, and they are look­ing at what role Man­afort may have played in the sus­pect­ed scheme. They’ve repeat­ed­ly asked the FBI for help to ques­tion Man­afort as part of their inquiry into a New York law firm in con­nec­tion to a report that large­ly defend­ed the Tymoshenko pros­e­cu­tion.

    “We’re wait­ing for a response,” says Ser­hiy Gor­batyuk, Ukraine’s head of spe­cial pros­e­cu­tions, his desk piled high with papers.

    ...

    In the five-year peri­od from 2007 to 2012, Man­afort was paid at least $12.7 mil­lion, accord­ing to a hand­writ­ten Par­ty of Regions ledger found lat­er in its head office. Ukraine’s anti-cor­rup­tion bureau and the FBI are inves­ti­gat­ing whether the ledger reflect­ed any ille­gal pay­ments to Man­afort and to oth­ers. Manafort’s spokesman says that after being paid he had many expens­es and so the pay­ment fig­ure does not rep­re­sent prof­it. One pay­ment to Man­afort on the ledger match­es an invoice he signed in 2009 to sell $750,000 of com­put­ers to a Belize-reg­is­tered com­pa­ny called Neo­com Sys­tems Ltd., accord­ing to doc­u­ments obtained by Leshchenko from Manafort’s Kiev office.
    ...

    But because that lob­by­ing effort to get Ukraine into the EU trade union despite the jail­ing of Yulia Tymoshenko ulti­mate­ly failed, it is now wide­ly char­ac­ter­ized as some­how work­ing for Moscow. As yet, Dan Fried revealed when he com­plained, “either Man­afort was unable to deliv­er the guy or he was spin­ning us,” Man­afort was clear­ly tell the US he could “deliv­er the guy”. And he almost did! So either Man­afort and Yanukovych were engaged in some sort of incred­i­bly high­stakes strat­e­gy of pre­tend­ing move Ukraine towards the EU with the plan of switch­ing at the last moment, or it real­ly is the case that Man­afort tried but failed (because, again, the EU’s offer was crap).

    Sim­i­lar­ly, Man­afort’s advice to Yanukovych and the Par­ty of Regions that they cam­paign of issues like oppo­si­tion to NATO or being the voice of Russ­ian-speak­ing Ukraini­ans is por­trayed as a sign of his Moscow pup­pet­mas­ter strings by many while it’s hailed as “genius!” by peo­ple from the Par­ty of Regions. And yet, as the arti­cle points out, all Man­afort was doing was run­ning polls and dis­cov­er­ing these were already pop­u­lar ideas. That was his “genius” that led him to advise the Par­ty of Regions adopt poli­cies like oppo­si­tion to push­ing Ukraine into NATO: run­ning polls and respond­ing to them:

    ...
    Akhme­tov, then a major finan­cial backer of the Par­ty of Regions, asked Man­afort to help Yanukovych’s 2006 par­lia­men­tary elec­tion cam­paign. Man­afort hired as many as 40 top-flight U.S. cam­paign work­ers, some of whom lat­er worked on the Trump cam­paign, includ­ing Tim Unes, who orga­nized Trump’s ral­lies, and Rick Gates.

    A worka­holic who answers emails at 3 a.m., Man­afort and his team set about por­tray­ing Yanukovych as a strong leader, pic­tur­ing him beside Putin and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel. Cru­cial to the strategy—and new to Ukraine—was research from focus groups and bet­ter polling to dri­ve mes­sag­ing. Among the issues: the rights of Russ­ian-speak­ers and oppo­si­tion to Ukraine’s join­ing NATO.

    “He was going for vis­cer­al issues and an emo­tion­al reac­tion,” says Katery­na Yushchenko, the Amer­i­can-born wife of for­mer Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yushchenko and a one­time State Depart­ment and White House offi­cial. “When I con­front­ed his peo­ple about it, they said, ‘That’s pol­i­tics.’ I said this isn’t like gun rights or abor­tion. Here it could lead to war.”
    ...

    “Cru­cial to the strategy—and new to Ukraine—was research from focus groups and bet­ter polling to dri­ve mes­sag­ing. Among the issues: the rights of Russ­ian-speak­ers and oppo­si­tion to Ukraine’s join­ing NATO.”

    Yep, when Man­afort first advised the Par­ty of Regions to adopt an anti-NATO posi­tion in the 2006 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, he was bas­ing it on some­thing that had was new to Ukraine: polls show­ing this was already pop­u­lar. Genius!

    And then, in 2008, Vik­tor Yushchenko announces his plans to cam­paign for even­tu­al NATO mem­ber­ship for Ukraine and Man­afort rec­om­mends the same genius strat­e­gy of focus­ing on exist­ing anti-NATO sen­ti­ments. More genius!:

    ...
    The Par­ty of Regions emerged from the 2006 elec­tion with the largest num­ber of seats in par­lia­ment; Yanukovych became prime min­is­ter. His vic­to­ry was short-lived, how­ev­er. His polit­i­cal strug­gle with Pres­i­dent Yushchenko result­ed in elec­tions a year lat­er. This time Man­afort ran a cook­ie-cut­ter cam­paign. In one ad, a Par­ty of Regions poster showed what was pur­port­ed­ly a smil­ing blonde Ukrain­ian girl hold­ing a bright yel­low umbrel­la under the slo­gan “Sta­bil­i­ty and Pros­per­i­ty.” In real­i­ty, Manafort’s advis­ers had plucked a stock pho­to­graph of an Amer­i­can girl.

    His par­ty did well but Yanukovych was pushed into oppo­si­tion after Tymoshenko cob­bled togeth­er a rul­ing coali­tion. In 2008, then-Pres­i­dent Yushchenko announced a cam­paign for even­tu­al Ukrain­ian mem­ber­ship in NATO. To exploit wide­spread oppo­si­tion to NATO, Manafort’s team brought a truck to the par­lia­ment filled with anti-NATO bal­loons and instruct­ed par­lia­men­tar­i­ans to each take one into the cham­ber.
    ...

    Then fol­low­ing Yanukovy­ch’s ouster in 2014, Man­afort agrees to con­tin­ue advis­ing the Par­ty of Regions, rebrand­ed as the Oppo­si­tion Bloc. And look who he retains: GOP vet­er­an poll­ster Tony Fab­rizio. So Man­afort had a major GOP poll­ster help him poll Ukraini­ans and come up rec­om­men­da­tions like brand­ing the Oppo Bloc as the “voice of Rus­sians in the east.” A “genius” rec­om­men­da­tion, as Nestor Shu­fych put it:

    ...
    Months after Rus­sia annexed Crimea, Man­afort returned to Ukraine to advise the pro-Russ­ian anti-NATO par­ty, now known as the Oppo­si­tion Bloc, for the 2014 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, again bring­ing Fab­rizio on board. Nestor Shufrych, one of the par­ty lead­ers, says Man­afort pushed for them to be the voice of Rus­sians in the east. Shufrych thought they had no chance but they got near­ly 10 per­cent, with 29 seats. Man­afort per­son­al­ly approved the list of can­di­dates, accord­ing to anoth­er par­ty offi­cial.

    Shufrych says the par­ty paid Man­afort rough­ly $1 mil­lion. The two cel­e­brat­ed over a bot­tle of cognac at Manafort’s Kiev office.

    “The invest­ment in Man­afort paid off,” he said. “He’s a genius.”
    ...

    Don’t for­get, in March of 2014, Gallup found that Ukraini­ans still weren’t gen­er­al­ly inter­est­ed in join­ing NATO even after the col­lapse of the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment fol­low­ing the sniper attacks. So Man­afort’s anti-NATO ‘genius’ advice was still Pol­i­tics 101 even in 2014.

    And, of course, that anti-NATO advice was cou­pled with Man­afort’s pro-EU trade union advice. Don’t for­get what Dan Fried told us: that Man­afort was telling the US gov­ern­ment that Yanukovych was “the guy” who could move Ukraine clos­er to the West, at a pace Putin could stand. And based on Fried’s pal­pa­ble sense of betray­al, it would seem that the US gov­ern­ment more or less accept­ed that assess­ment. It’s anoth­er rea­son why Man­afort’s anti-NATO advice should­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly be seen as an indi­ca­tion that Man­afort was some Krem­lin crony the whole time, in addi­tion to the gen­er­al unpop­u­lar­i­ty of the idea among Urkaine’s pop­u­lace.

    And it’s in that larg­er con­text that we now learn about the mys­te­ri­ous flight to Frank­furt on a pri­vate plane owned by the father of Andrii Arte­menko in the mid­dle of the “Haps­burg Group” lob­by­ing effort to get Ukraine into that trade union. Which rais­es an inter­est­ing ques­tion: Arte­menko entered the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment in 2014, and accord­ing to the par­lia­men­t’s web­site Arte­menko was the deputy head of the Euro­pean Inte­gra­tion Com­mit­tee and respon­si­ble for diplo­mat­ic con­nec­tions with Sau­di Ara­bia, Qatar, Unit­ed States, Kuwait, Lithua­nia and Belarus. Arte­menko also has busi­ness ties to the US. So Arte­men­tko was involved with diplo­ma­cy with the US while in par­lia­ment and this flight on Arte­menko’s dad’s com­pa­ny plane in July of 2013 hap­pened right before he joined the par­lia­ment and right in the mid­dle of the big “Haps­burg Group” diplo­mat­ic push with the US. So was Arte­menko him­self part of the “Haps­burg Group” lob­by­ing effort too?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 17, 2018, 8:26 am
  11. Some sup­ple­men­tal info about Maid­an & the snipers from Strate­gic Cul­ture. https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/06/03/how-why-us-government-perpetrated-2014-coup-ukraine.html

    Posted by Susan Shpak | July 4, 2018, 1:57 am
  12. Since Man­afort appears to have been sur­rep­ti­tious­ly maneu­ver­ing Ukraine toward the West­ern sphere & that means was to be by the EU Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment, Man­afort could not have been blind to the fact that the EUAA requires a com­mon secu­ri­ty and defense force (like­ly NATO), see com­ment on FTR #1008 for link. Thus Man­afort was also try­ing to also sneak Ukraine into NATO through the EUAA, despite what he por­trayed as being against it. He was a spook, thats what spooks do...lie.

    Posted by Susan Shpak | July 4, 2018, 2:07 am
  13. Amaz­ing details, Pter­rafractyl, my appaluse!

    Posted by Susan Shpak | July 7, 2018, 12:03 am
  14. Here’s a recent arti­cle that shed some new light on the ori­gins of the ‘Ukrain­ian peace plan’ scheme devel­oped by Andrii Arte­menko, Felix Sater, and Michael Cohen.

    First, recall how we recent­ly learned that for­mer GOP con­gress­man Curt Wel­don was also report­ed­ly involved with the devel­op­ment of this scheme and Wel­don claimed to asso­ciates that Russ­ian oli­garch Vik­tor Vek­sel­berg endorsed the scheme and was plan­ning on financ­ing the pro­mo­tion of it. And recall how Arte­menko and Wel­don both spoke at a Feb­ru­ary 2016 event at Manor Col­lege about the sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine. You can watch the video on YouTub, where Arte­men­tko talks about how he was among the first to take up an armed resis­tance against the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment dur­ing the Maid­an protests (~33:50–34:00 in the video). Curt Wel­don’s talk starts at ~17:00, when he dis­cuss­es his close ties to the Ukrain­ian dias­po­ra and at ~26:00 he talks about the need for the US and inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to sup­port Ukraine against Russ­ian aggres­sionin the video.

    So, as we learn in the fol­low­ing arti­cle, it turns out that it was at the side­lines of that Feb­ru­ary 2016 event at Manor Col­lege where the ‘peace plan’ pro­pos­al was first hatched between Wel­don and Arte­menko. And there was anoth­er speak­er at that event who was also report­ed­ly part of the scheme: Alexan­der Rovt, a Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can oli­garch and New York real estate mogul.

    As we should expect at this point, Rovt’s involve­ment is being char­ac­ter­ized as fur­ther evi­dence that this scheme was con­coct­ed by the Krem­lin. And as we should also expect at this point, when you look into Rovt he appears to fall into the cat­e­go­ry of Ukraini­an’s opposed to Krem­lin influ­ence in Ukraine. In fact, you can lis­ten to the ~10 min­utes talk he gave at Manor Col­lege and it’s large­ly about the need for the West to counter Krem­lin pro­pa­gan­da and the need to iso­late the Russ­ian peo­ple the same way the West has done to Iran in order to bring Rus­sia to the bar­gain­ing table. Rovt’s seg­ment at the the Manor Col­lege event starts at ~40 min­utes. This is the guy who is being cit­ed as anoth­er link to the Krem­lin.

    Also recall that, while Arte­menko is sug­gest­ing Feb­ru­ary 2016 is now the ori­gin of this peace plan, we’ve already heard from Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, the for­mer head of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine and a polit­i­cal ally of Yulia Tymoshenko, who claims he gave some sort of peace plan mate­r­i­al to Arte­menko in 2015. And while Naly­vaichenko says he doesn’t back Artemenko’s peace plan, he did admit to sub­mit a peace plan of his own to the US gov­ern­ment.. And Arte­menko has already admit­ted to dis­cussing his peace plan with Tymoshenko. So we have strong indi­ca­tions that the Tymoshenko fac­tion of Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics was already try­ing to work out a ‘peace plan’ of some sort before this Feb­ru­ary 2016 event. But it’s still notable to learn when the Arte­menko peace plan ‘offi­cial­ly’ took shape.

    So this all helps flesh out the time­line for the ‘peace plan’ scheme: It appar­ent­ly got start­ed in Feb­ru­ary of 2016 a Manor Col­lege event where Andrii Arte­menko, Curt Wel­don, and Alexan­der Rovt all spoke about the sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine and the need to counter Russ­ian aggres­sion:

    McClatchy

    Inside the Ukraine peace plan in Mueller probe: More authors, ear­li­er draft­ing than believed

    By Peter Stone
    Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

    June 22, 2018 12:47 PM
    Updat­ed June 22, 2018 01:38 PM

    A con­tro­ver­sial peace plan for Ukraine and Rus­sia that has drawn head­lines and scruti­ny from Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller was ini­tial­ly devised in ear­ly 2016 with sig­nif­i­cant input from an ex-con­gress­man and a Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can bil­lion­aire, accord­ing to a for­mer Ukrain­ian leg­is­la­tor who pro­mot­ed the pro­pos­al before Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion.

    Ex-Ukrain­ian leg­is­la­tor Andrii Arte­menko told McClatchy in sev­er­al recent inter­views that the peace pro­pos­al, which some ana­lysts believe had a pro-Moscow tilt, was hatched in Feb­ru­ary 2016 dur­ing side dis­cus­sions at a Ukraine-focused con­fer­ence at Manor Col­lege in sub­ur­ban Philadel­phia. For­mer Repub­li­can Rep. Curt Wel­don and New York real estate mogul Alexan­der Rovt were involved, said Arte­menko, who also par­tic­i­pat­ed.

    “It was called the Rovt-Wel­don plan,” said Arte­menko, not­ing that he had been friends with Wel­don for almost a decade.

    Nei­ther the roles of Wel­don and Rovt in the ear­ly fram­ing of the plan, nor the fact that it was being devised near­ly a year before it was giv­en to a Trump asso­ciate for deliv­ery to the admin­is­tra­tion, have been report­ed pre­vi­ous­ly. The new names add to a ros­ter of indi­vid­u­als with close ties to Trump who have been iden­ti­fied in con­nec­tion with the pro­pos­al: Trump’s per­son­al lawyer and “fix­er,” Michael Cohen; a for­mer some­times-real estate part­ner, Felix Sater, who was also an old friend of Cohen; and the president’s first nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, Michael Fly­nn, who has plead­ed guilty to lying to the FBI about his con­tacts with the Russ­ian ambas­sador dur­ing the tran­si­tion and is coop­er­at­ing with the Mueller probe.

    Some observers say the new names, tim­ing and oth­er details raise ques­tions about whether and to what extent Moscow or its allies influ­enced the pro­pos­al.

    Mueller and con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tors have been prob­ing the Kremlin’s inter­fer­ence with the 2016 elec­tions and whether there was any coor­di­na­tion between the Trump cam­paign and Moscow. Some of the wit­ness­es before a Mueller grand jury have been asked about the plan.

    The pro­pos­al would have lift­ed sanc­tions on Moscow if the Krem­lin with­drew Russ­ian forces from East­ern Ukraine; it also could have per­mit­ted Rus­sia to keep con­trol of Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

    Sen. Dianne Fein­stein, the senior Demo­c­rat on the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee, has indi­cat­ed inter­est in inter­view­ing Wel­don “because of his con­nec­tions to both Rus­sia and the Trump cam­paign,” said Fein­stein spokesman Tom Mentzer. Weldon’s name also was includ­ed in a let­ter to Cohen from Feinstein’s office instruct­ing him to save any com­mu­ni­ca­tions with a long list of indi­vid­u­als, as the Atlantic first report­ed.

    Arte­menko said Wel­don “intro­duced me to high soci­ety in the U.S.,” includ­ing oth­er law­mak­ers such as Rep. Dana Rohrabach­er, R‑Calif., who is some­times called Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s best friend in Wash­ing­ton, GOP Sen. Rob Port­man of Ohio, and Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep. Mar­cy Kap­tur of Ohio.

    Wel­don and Rovt have each had links to Russ­ian busi­ness inter­ests.

    Weldon’s two decade career in Con­gress end­ed with the 2006 elec­tions, weeks after the FBI raid­ed his then-29-year-old daughter’s office and home. The Jus­tice Depart­ment was prob­ing his actions to sup­port a Russ­ian-man­aged oil and gas com­pa­ny that gave his daugh­ter a $500,000 con­tract to do pub­lic rela­tions work, Soon after the con­tract was signed, Wel­don helped cor­ral some 30 law­mak­ers for a din­ner, which his daughter’s firm worked on too, to hon­or the chair­man of the Russ­ian com­pa­ny, Itera Inter­na­tion­al Ener­gy Co, and Wel­don also inter­vened to help Itera when fed­er­al agen­cies can­celed a con­tract with the com­pa­ny. Wel­don was nev­er charged.

    Rovt made his for­tune ini­tial­ly in the fer­til­iz­er busi­ness, with some oper­a­tions in Rus­sia, but sold most of his for­eign fer­til­iz­er assets in 2007 to anoth­er Ukrain­ian, oli­garch Dmit­ry Fir­tash, who was a chief financier of ex-Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych’s pro-Russ­ian polit­i­cal par­ty before Yanukovych was oust­ed in 2014 and fled to Moscow. That par­ty paid mil­lions of dol­lars to yet anoth­er fig­ure in the Trump-Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion, lob­by­ist and polit­i­cal con­sul­tant Paul Man­afort, who was a key Yanukovych advis­er before he became Trump’s cam­paign chair­man. Man­afort has since been indict­ed by two Mueller grand juries on charges includ­ing mon­ey laun­der­ing, tax eva­sion, bank fraud and obstruc­tion.

    NBC has report­ed that Rovt was an investor with Spruce Cap­i­tal, a sub­sidiary of which made a $3.5 mil­lion dol­lar mort­gage loan to a small com­pa­ny set up by Man­afort right after he left his cam­paign perch in August 2016; that was a focus of fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors’ atten­tion last year, pri­or to the mul­ti­ple crim­i­nal charges that were filed against Man­afort.

    Wel­don didn’t respond to phone and writ­ten requests for com­ment. Rovt could not be reached for com­ment.

    Artemenko’s inter­views with McClatchy pro­vid­ed oth­er new details about his 2016 efforts to pro­mote the plan in Rus­sia and in the U.S. before Trump’s elec­tion.

    * Just a few weeks before the elec­tion, the Ukrain­ian said he start­ed talk­ing about the peace ini­tia­tive with Sater, whom Arte­menko had met ear­li­er in 2016, dur­ing a vis­it to Sater’s Long Island home

    * Arte­menko said he also met in Rus­sia in 2016 with two mem­bers of the Russ­ian Duma to brief them on the plan and that they “respond­ed pos­i­tive­ly to the ideas.” The Ukrain­ian said he also dis­cussed his plan with for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Yulia Tymoshenko.

    Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead­ing Demo­c­rat on the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee and an out­spo­ken crit­ic of Russia’s inter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tions, said in a state­ment that “The fact that this pro­pos­al was being con­sid­ered a year in advance of its pro­vi­sion to the White House rais­es seri­ous ques­tions about how far along the dis­cus­sion had pro­gressed and the extent to which Rus­sia was involved in the plan­ning or con­sid­er­a­tion of the pro­pos­al.”

    Schiff also not­ed that inves­ti­ga­tors for the com­mit­tee had long “been inter­est­ed in the Trump Administration’s poten­tial will­ing­ness to pro­vide Rus­sia a sig­nif­i­cant give­away that might be at odds with the for­eign pol­i­cy posi­tion of the Unit­ed States and our allies.”

    Sim­i­lar­ly, some Rus­sia experts say that the involve­ment of Wel­don and Rovt and oth­er new details pro­vid­ed by Arte­menko sug­gest that the plan had links to Moscow.

    “There remain a lot of unan­swered ques­tions about who ulti­mate­ly stood behind this so-called ‘peace plan,’” said Michael Car­pen­ter, a top Rus­sia pol­i­cy ana­lyst in the Pen­ta­gon under Pres­i­dent Oba­ma. “ Giv­en the nature of the peo­ple involved in dis­sem­i­nat­ing the pro­pos­al, it seems like­ly that its ulti­mate spon­sors were either Krem­lin sur­ro­gates or pro-Rus­sia forces in Ukraine.”

    When the plan was first detailed in Feb­ru­ary 2017 by the New York Times the paper said it includ­ed a pro­vi­sion that called for a ref­er­en­dum to be held in Ukraine after Russ­ian troops with­drew on whether Crimea, which Moscow had annexed, would be leased to Rus­sia for 50 to 100 years. But Arte­menko, who in 2016 was an obscure leg­is­la­tor allied with a right wing par­ty in his coun­try, and Sater told McClatchy sep­a­rate­ly that the plan includ­ed no such lease lan­guage. How­ev­er, Arte­menko said the plan did call for a ref­er­en­dum on whether Crimea should be part of Rus­sia, Ukraine or inde­pen­dent.

    On June 8th, Arte­menko tes­ti­fied for sev­er­al hours before a Wash­ing­ton, D.C., grand jury tied to the Mueller inves­ti­ga­tion. The Ukrain­ian, who was oust­ed from his country’s leg­is­la­ture and lost his cit­i­zen­ship because of fall­out from the ini­tial rev­e­la­tion of the plan and its per­ceived pro-Moscow tilt, said that Cohen was a major focus of the grand jury ques­tions he field­ed.

    After his grand jury appear­ance, Arte­menko added, he real­ized that Cohen “is a tar­get” of inter­est to Mueller.

    A spokesman for Mueller’s office declined to com­ment on ques­tions about Cohen and Arte­menko. Cohen did not reply to sev­er­al writ­ten ques­tions about his role with the peace plan.

    The peace plan is one of a few areas involv­ing Cohen that are part of Mueller’s sprawl­ing inquiry. Mueller also has been prob­ing Cohen and Sater’s efforts to secure a deal for a Trump Tow­er in Moscow, a project they worked on dur­ing the last months of 2015.

    Cohen is also fac­ing close exam­i­na­tion by fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors in New York’s South­ern Dis­trict who have been look­ing into whether he com­mit­ted crimes with some of his oth­er ven­tures, includ­ing a once-lucra­tive taxi oper­a­tion and the $130,000 pay­ment he made to porn star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence just before the 2016 elec­tion; Daniels says she had sex with Trump in 2006, but Trump has denied the affair.

    The Ukraine Russ­ian peace ini­tia­tive fiz­zled in ear­ly 2017 after the Times dis­closed its exis­tence along with a late Jan­u­ary meet­ing in New York that Arte­menko and Sater had with Cohen to per­suade him to pass it along to a top admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial, like Fly­nn. Both Arte­menko and Sater told McClatchy that Cohen agreed to do so.

    Arte­menko “asked me if I could help intro­duce him to the admin­is­tra­tion,” Sater recalled in an inter­view, adding that Cohen promised he would “get the plan” to Fly­nn.

    Arte­menko said he nev­er gave Cohen any­thing in writ­ing about the plan. But a few days after they met, Sater phoned the Ukrain­ian and read him a few sen­tences that con­tained the gist of it; Arte­menko signed off on the lan­guage — which Sater described as “four bul­let points” — for Cohen to give to Fly­nn.

    A few days lat­er Arte­menko said that in anoth­er call with Sater he was informed that “the pack­age had been deliv­ered” to Fly­nn.

    Cohen has offered shift­ing and con­tra­dic­to­ry state­ments about what he did with the doc­u­ment. Ini­tial­ly, he told the New York Times that he deliv­ered the plan to Flynn’s office.

    But Cohen quick­ly changed his sto­ry, telling the Wash­ing­ton Post with­in days that he nev­er gave it to Fly­nn or any­one in the White House. Then Cohen changed his account again in two sub­se­quent inter­views. He said at one point that he threw the enve­lope, unopened, in the trash.

    These con­tra­dic­to­ry accounts by Cohen have like­ly spurred Mueller’s team to look more close­ly at the plan, say for­mer pros­e­cu­tors.

    “When­ev­er a sub­ject changes his sto­ry, espe­cial­ly mul­ti­ple times, he draws a lot more inter­est from pros­e­cu­tors, who will want to know what he’s hid­ing,” said for­mer New York pros­e­cu­tor Jaimie Nawa­day who’s now a part­ner at Kel­ley Drye & War­ren.

    With increas­ing scruti­ny from Mueller’s grand jury and New York pros­e­cu­tors, Cohen has late­ly sig­naled to asso­ciates that he expects to face charges soon — and that he may be will­ing to cut a deal and coop­er­ate with pros­e­cu­tors to avoid a poten­tial­ly lengthy jail sen­tence.

    In recent days Cohen switched lawyers in a sign of his deep­en­ing legal trou­bles. Pre­vi­ous­ly rep­re­sent­ed by vet­er­an white col­lar lawyer Stephen Ryan, Cohen tapped Guy Petril­lo, a for­mer chief of the crim­i­nal divi­sion in the South­ern Dis­trict and a well estab­lished crim­i­nal defense lawyer.

    ...

    ———-

    “Inside the Ukraine peace plan in Mueller probe: More authors, ear­li­er draft­ing than believed” by Peter Stone; McClatchy; 06/22/2018

    “Ex-Ukrain­ian leg­is­la­tor Andrii Arte­menko told McClatchy in sev­er­al recent inter­views that the peace pro­pos­al, which some ana­lysts believe had a pro-Moscow tilt, was hatched in Feb­ru­ary 2016 dur­ing side dis­cus­sions at a Ukraine-focused con­fer­ence at Manor Col­lege in sub­ur­ban Philadel­phia. For­mer Repub­li­can Rep. Curt Wel­don and New York real estate mogul Alexan­der Rovt were involved, said Arte­menko, who also par­tic­i­pat­ed.

    That’s where the Artkemenko/Sater/Cohen scheme was appar­ent­ly ini­tial­ly hatched: at the Feb­ru­ary 2016 Manor Col­lege event. And it was Arte­menko, Curt Wel­don, and Alexan­der Rovt who hatched it. It was called the Rovt-Wel­don plan accord­ing to Arte­menko:

    ...
    “It was called the Rovt-Wel­don plan,” said Arte­menko, not­ing that he had been friends with Wel­don for almost a decade.
    ...

    Accord­ing to Arte­menko, it was Wel­don who intro­duced him to “high soci­ety in the US” :

    ...
    Arte­menko said Wel­don “intro­duced me to high soci­ety in the U.S.,” includ­ing oth­er law­mak­ers such as Rep. Dana Rohrabach­er, R‑Calif., who is some­times called Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s best friend in Wash­ing­ton, GOP Sen. Rob Port­man of Ohio, and Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep. Mar­cy Kap­tur of Ohio.

    ...

    And note that while the arti­cle points out that Wel­don intro­duced Arte­menko to Dana Rohrabach­er, who is known as Putin’s best friend in Wash­ing­ton, the oth­er two con­gres­sion­al fig­ures list­ed have very dif­fer­ent pedi­grees when it comes to rela­tions with Russ­ian Ukraine. Mar­cy Kap­tor is con­sid­er one of Ukraine’s best friends in con­gress and Rob Port­man backs the sale of lethal mil­i­tary hard­ware to Ukraine.

    But it’s Wel­don and Rovt Russ­ian busi­ness links that are point­ed to as the key evi­dence of their Krem­lin alle­giance, as if that pre­cludes him from even­tu­al­ly align­ing with pro-Ukrain­ian inter­ests years lat­er (and ignores Wel­don’s busi­ness ties to Ukrain­ian defense con­trac­tors):

    ...
    Wel­don and Rovt have each had links to Russ­ian busi­ness inter­ests.

    Weldon’s two decade career in Con­gress end­ed with the 2006 elec­tions, weeks after the FBI raid­ed his then-29-year-old daughter’s office and home. The Jus­tice Depart­ment was prob­ing his actions to sup­port a Russ­ian-man­aged oil and gas com­pa­ny that gave his daugh­ter a $500,000 con­tract to do pub­lic rela­tions work, Soon after the con­tract was signed, Wel­don helped cor­ral some 30 law­mak­ers for a din­ner, which his daughter’s firm worked on too, to hon­or the chair­man of the Russ­ian com­pa­ny, Itera Inter­na­tion­al Ener­gy Co, and Wel­don also inter­vened to help Itera when fed­er­al agen­cies can­celed a con­tract with the com­pa­ny. Wel­don was nev­er charged.
    ...

    And Rovt’s Russ­ian busi­ness ties appear to large­ly be lim­it­ed to the sale of his Ukrain­ian fer­til­iz­er busi­ness to Dmit­ry Fir­tash, a Ukrain­ian oli­garch close to the Par­ty of Regions and Vik­tor Yanukovych gov­ern­ment. So it’s not even clear if Rovt has any sub­stan­tial direct links to Russ­ian busi­ness­es:

    ...
    Rovt made his for­tune ini­tial­ly in the fer­til­iz­er busi­ness, with some oper­a­tions in Rus­sia, but sold most of his for­eign fer­til­iz­er assets in 2007 to anoth­er Ukrain­ian, oli­garch Dmit­ry Fir­tash, who was a chief financier of ex-Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych’s pro-Russ­ian polit­i­cal par­ty before Yanukovych was oust­ed in 2014 and fled to Moscow. That par­ty paid mil­lions of dol­lars to yet anoth­er fig­ure in the Trump-Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion, lob­by­ist and polit­i­cal con­sul­tant Paul Man­afort, who was a key Yanukovych advis­er before he became Trump’s cam­paign chair­man. Man­afort has since been indict­ed by two Mueller grand juries on charges includ­ing mon­ey laun­der­ing, tax eva­sion, bank fraud and obstruc­tion.
    ...

    So that’s the evi­dence put for­ward that Wel­don and Rovt are Krem­lin oper­a­tives: Wel­don had a poten­tial­ly cor­rupt busi­ness rela­tion­ship with a Russ­ian-man­aged oil and gas com­pa­ny in 2006 and Rovt sold his fer­til­iz­er busi­ness to a Ukrain­ian oli­garch close to Vik­tor Yanukovych and the Par­ty of Regions. It’s not exact­ly com­pelling evi­dence.

    But Rovt does have one busi­ness inter­est that direct­ly relates to the #TrumpRus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion: Rovt was an investor in Spruce Cap­i­tal. And a sub­sidiary of Spruce Cap­i­tal just hap­pened to make a $3.5 mil­lion mort­gage loan to a small com­pa­ny set up by Paul Man­afort right after he left the Trump cam­paign in August of 2016:

    ...
    NBC has report­ed that Rovt was an investor with Spruce Cap­i­tal, a sub­sidiary of which made a $3.5 mil­lion dol­lar mort­gage loan to a small com­pa­ny set up by Man­afort right after he left his cam­paign perch in August 2016; that was a focus of fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors’ atten­tion last year, pri­or to the mul­ti­ple crim­i­nal charges that were filed against Man­afort.
    ...

    So Rovt appears to tie into the Trump cam­paign shenani­gans in two key areas: he was there was the ‘peace plan’ idea was alleged con­ceived in Feb­ru­ary of 2016 and his finan­cial firm made a sus­pi­cious loan to Paul Man­afort in August of 2016 right after Man­afort left the cam­paign.

    And in addi­tion to Arte­menko telling McClatchy that he dis­cussed the plan with Yulia Tymoshenko and a pair of Russ­ian MPs (dis­cussed here), anoth­er new detail Arte­menko told McClatchy in this inter­view is that it was just a few weeks before the 2016 elec­tion that Arte­menko even start­ed dis­cussing the ‘peace plan’ with Felix Sater. If true, that would place Sater at a rel­a­tive­ly late point in the devel­op­ment of this scheme. Of course, there’s lit­tle rea­son to assume that’s true giv­en how much the sto­ry of this plan has changed, but it’s still worth not­ing:

    ...
    Artemenko’s inter­views with McClatchy pro­vid­ed oth­er new details about his 2016 efforts to pro­mote the plan in Rus­sia and in the U.S. before Trump’s elec­tion.

    * Just a few weeks before the elec­tion, the Ukrain­ian said he start­ed talk­ing about the peace ini­tia­tive with Sater, whom Arte­menko had met ear­li­er in 2016, dur­ing a vis­it to Sater’s Long Island home

    * Arte­menko said he also met in Rus­sia in 2016 with two mem­bers of the Russ­ian Duma to brief them on the plan and that they “respond­ed pos­i­tive­ly to the ideas.” The Ukrain­ian said he also dis­cussed his plan with for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Yulia Tymoshenko.
    ...

    And it’s worth not­ing that both Arte­menko and Sater told McClatchy that the plan nev­er includ­ed the pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed lan­guage that would have leased Crimea to Rus­sia, although Arte­menko now said the plan did includ­ed a ref­er­en­dum for Crimea on whether or not it should be part of Ukraine, Rus­sia, or Inde­pen­dent:

    ...
    When the plan was first detailed in Feb­ru­ary 2017 by the New York Times the paper said it includ­ed a pro­vi­sion that called for a ref­er­en­dum to be held in Ukraine after Russ­ian troops with­drew on whether Crimea, which Moscow had annexed, would be leased to Rus­sia for 50 to 100 years. But Arte­menko, who in 2016 was an obscure leg­is­la­tor allied with a right wing par­ty in his coun­try, and Sater told McClatchy sep­a­rate­ly that the plan includ­ed no such lease lan­guage. How­ev­er, Arte­menko said the plan did call for a ref­er­en­dum on whether Crimea should be part of Rus­sia, Ukraine or inde­pen­dent.
    ...

    Regard­ing Arte­menko’s new claims that the plan involved a ref­er­en­dum that would include the pos­si­bil­i­ty of inde­pen­dence for Crimea, it would be inter­est­ing to learn if the Crimea pop­u­la­tion has strong desires for inde­pen­dence. If so, that could make such a ref­er­en­dum still poten­tial­ly quite desir­able for Rus­si­a’s oppo­nents even if it did­n’t result in Crimea being returned to Ukraine.

    Both Arte­menko and Sater also give some addi­tion­al details on how the plan was passed along to the Trump team: Arte­menko asked Sater if Sater could help intro­duce him to the admin­is­tra­tion;

    ...
    The Ukraine Russ­ian peace ini­tia­tive fiz­zled in ear­ly 2017 after the Times dis­closed its exis­tence along with a late Jan­u­ary meet­ing in New York that Arte­menko and Sater had with Cohen to per­suade him to pass it along to a top admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial, like Fly­nn. Both Arte­menko and Sater told McClatchy that Cohen agreed to do so.

    Arte­menko “asked me if I could help intro­duce him to the admin­is­tra­tion,” Sater recalled in an inter­view, adding that Cohen promised he would “get the plan” to Fly­nn.
    ...

    Recall that Arte­menko was actu­al­ly at the 2016 GOP con­ven­tion in Cleve­land and the Trump inau­gu­ra­tion in Jan­u­ary of 2017 and was appar­ent­ly get­ting intro­duced to “US high soci­ety” by Curt Wel­don. So it’s notable that he appar­ent­ly felt the need to approach Felix Sater about pass­ing this plan along to the Trump team.

    And, as with so much of this case, the sto­ry of what Michael Cohen actu­al­ly did with the pro­pos­al kept chang­ing. Arte­menko tells McClatchy that Sater informed him that “The pack­age had been deliv­ered” to Michael Fly­nn. And Cohen ini­tial­ly said he deliv­ered the plan to Michael Fly­nn. But days lat­er said he nev­er gave it to Fly­nn or any­one and threw the plan in the trash:

    ...
    Arte­menko said he nev­er gave Cohen any­thing in writ­ing about the plan. But a few days after they met, Sater phoned the Ukrain­ian and read him a few sen­tences that con­tained the gist of it; Arte­menko signed off on the lan­guage — which Sater described as “four bul­let points” — for Cohen to give to Fly­nn.

    A few days lat­er Arte­menko said that in anoth­er call with Sater he was informed that “the pack­age had been deliv­ered” to Fly­nn.

    Cohen has offered shift­ing and con­tra­dic­to­ry state­ments about what he did with the doc­u­ment. Ini­tial­ly, he told the New York Times that he deliv­ered the plan to Flynn’s office.

    But Cohen quick­ly changed his sto­ry, telling the Wash­ing­ton Post with­in days that he nev­er gave it to Fly­nn or any­one in the White House. Then Cohen changed his account again in two sub­se­quent inter­views. He said at one point that he threw the enve­lope, unopened, in the trash.

    These con­tra­dic­to­ry accounts by Cohen have like­ly spurred Mueller’s team to look more close­ly at the plan, say for­mer pros­e­cu­tors.

    “When­ev­er a sub­ject changes his sto­ry, espe­cial­ly mul­ti­ple times, he draws a lot more inter­est from pros­e­cu­tors, who will want to know what he’s hid­ing,” said for­mer New York pros­e­cu­tor Jaimie Nawa­day who’s now a part­ner at Kel­ley Drye & War­ren.
    ...

    So that’s the update from McClatchy a few weeks ago that intro­duce Alexan­der Rovt as a key fig­ure behind the ‘peace plan’ as well as a fig­ure pos­si­bly involved with pay­ing off Paul Man­afort.

    But this was­n’t the first time Rovt’s name has come up in all this. Those sus­pi­cious pay­outs to Man­afort were report­ed on over a year ago. As the fol­low­ing arti­cle describes, Man­afort set up a shell com­pa­ny on the day he stepped down from the Trump cam­paign in August of 2016 and that shell com­pa­ny end­ed up receiv­ing $13 mil­lion in loans from two dif­fer­ent busi­ness­es. One of those busi­ness was Rovt’s Spruce Cap­i­tal when lent to Man­afort in Sep­tem­ber of 2016. The sec­ond busi­ness, Fed­er­al Sav­ings Bank of Chica­go, focus­es on afford­able mort­gages for mil­i­tary vet­er­ans and is head­ed by Stephen M. Calk, a senior Trump eco­nom­ic advis­er at the time and gave Man­afort a loan short­ly after Trump won the elec­tion.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, while Rovt made a last minute $10,000 dona­tion to the Trump cam­paign on Elec­tion Day (which of which was returned because it exceed­ed the $2,700 max­i­mum), pri­or to that Rovt had donat­ed almost exclu­sive­ly to Democ­rats, includ­ing $2,700 to Hillary Clin­ton in Feb­ru­ary 2016. So dur­ing the same month that Rovt attend­ed that Manor Col­lege event where he talked about the need to counter Russ­ian aggres­sion and the ‘peace plan’ was secret­ly con­coct­ed, he also donat­ed the max­i­mum amount to Hillary Clin­ton’s cam­paign. It’s anoth­er data point high­light­ing how Rovt does­n’t actu­al­ly fit the pro­file of a pro-Krem­lin oli­garch.

    And as the arti­cle points out, Rovt’s invest­ment part­ner in Spruce Cap­i­tal, Joshua Crane, had pre­vi­ous­ly been involved in two Trump projects, includ­ing a Trump Inter­na­tion­al Hotel & Tow­er in Waiki­ki. So Spruce Cap­i­tal has ties to Ukraine (and, in turn, poten­tial Man­afort) via Rovt, but also direct ties to the Trump orga­ni­za­tion via Joshua Crane, mak­ing the motive for this loan to Man­afort extra obscure:

    The New York Times

    After Cam­paign Exit, Man­afort Bor­rowed From Busi­ness­es With Trump Ties

    By Mike McIn­tire
    April 12, 2017

    Aug. 19 was an event­ful day for Paul Man­afort.

    That morn­ing, he stepped down from guid­ing Don­ald J. Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, after a brief tenure dur­ing which Mr. Trump won the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion, Democ­rats’ emails were hacked and the campaign’s con­tacts with Rus­sia came under scruti­ny. Dogged by rev­e­la­tions about past finan­cial deal­ings in Ukraine, Mr. Man­afort retreat­ed from pub­lic view.

    But behind the scenes, he was busy with oth­er mat­ters. Papers were record­ed that same day cre­at­ing a shell com­pa­ny con­trolled by Mr. Man­afort that soon received $13 mil­lion in loans from two busi­ness­es with ties to Mr. Trump, includ­ing one that part­ners with a Ukrain­ian-born bil­lion­aire and anoth­er led by a Trump eco­nom­ic advis­er. They were among $20 mil­lion in loans secured by prop­er­ties belong­ing to Mr. Man­afort and his wife.

    The pur­pose of the loans is unstat­ed in pub­lic records, although at least some of them appear to be part of an effort by Mr. Man­afort to stave off a per­son­al finan­cial cri­sis stem­ming from failed invest­ments with his son-in-law.

    The trans­ac­tions raise a num­ber of ques­tions, includ­ing whether Mr. Manafort’s deci­sion to turn to Trump-con­nect­ed lenders was relat­ed to his role in the cam­paign, where he had agreed to serve for free.

    They also shine a light on the rich real estate port­fo­lio that Mr. Man­afort acquired dur­ing and after the years he worked in Ukraine. Mr. Man­afort, often using shell com­pa­nies, invest­ed mil­lions of dol­lars in var­i­ous prop­er­ties, includ­ing apart­ments and con­dos in New York, homes in Flori­da and Vir­ginia and lux­u­ry hous­es in Los Ange­les.

    Mr. Manafort’s ties to Ukraine and Rus­sia have come under scruti­ny as fed­er­al offi­cials inves­ti­gate Russ­ian med­dling in the Amer­i­can pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Inves­ti­ga­tors are known to have exam­ined aspects of his finances, includ­ing bank accounts he had in the secre­tive tax haven of Cyprus; there is no indi­ca­tion his recent loans are part of the inquiry.

    The source of the mon­ey for the real estate pur­chas­es is not clear, and Mr. Man­afort nev­er filed lob­by­ing reg­is­tra­tions for his work in Ukraine that would have dis­closed his com­pen­sa­tion. Such reg­is­tra­tions are nec­es­sary for activ­i­ties that involve influ­enc­ing pol­i­cy and pub­lic opin­ion in the Unit­ed States, and some of Mr. Manafort’s Ukraine work appeared to fall into that cat­e­go­ry. Anti-cor­rup­tion offi­cials in Ukraine say $12.7 mil­lion in “off the books” cash pay­ments were ear­marked for him in a hand­writ­ten ledger kept by the polit­i­cal par­ty of the deposed strong­man Vik­tor F. Yanukovych.

    Last month, a Ukrain­ian law­mak­er released doc­u­ments that appeared to cor­rob­o­rate one of the ledger entries, and on Wednes­day The Asso­ci­at­ed Press report­ed con­fir­ma­tion of anoth­er pay­ment. The two pay­ments in 2007 and 2009, total­ing $1.2 mil­lion, were rout­ed through shell com­pa­nies in Belize to a bank account in Vir­ginia belong­ing to Mr. Manafort’s con­sult­ing firm.

    Mr. Man­afort has pre­vi­ous­ly claimed the ledger is a fake. On Wednes­day, he issued a state­ment that did not dis­pute the ledger entries, but sug­gest­ed that any pay­ments he received were legal because they were not made in cash.

    “Mr. Man­afort has always denied that he ever received any cash pay­ments for his work and has con­sis­tent­ly main­tained that he received all of his pay­ments, for ser­vices ren­dered, through wire trans­fers con­duct­ed through the inter­na­tion­al bank­ing sys­tem,” the state­ment said.

    Sep­a­rate­ly on Wednes­day, a spokesman for Mr. Man­afort said he had “received for­mal guid­ance recent­ly from the author­i­ties” on the need to reg­is­ter, retroac­tive­ly, for lob­by­ing work in Ukraine, and was “tak­ing appro­pri­ate steps in response.” Mr. Man­afort was advised last week that he should file the belat­ed reg­is­tra­tion with­in 30 days to come into com­pli­ance with the law, accord­ing to a per­son with direct knowl­edge of con­ver­sa­tions between Mr. Manafort’s lawyers and the Jus­tice Depart­ment.

    One of Mr. Manafort’s recent loans, pre­vi­ous­ly unre­port­ed, was for $3.5 mil­lion in Sep­tem­ber from the pri­vate lend­ing unit of Spruce Cap­i­tal, a small New York invest­ment firm that has a Ukrain­ian con­nec­tion through the bil­lion­aire Alexan­der Rovt. An Amer­i­can cit­i­zen who made his for­tune in the pri­va­ti­za­tion of the fer­til­iz­er indus­try in post-Sovi­et Ukraine and has long done busi­ness in that part of the world, Mr. Rovt is a finan­cial backer of Spruce, whose co-founder Joshua Crane has been a devel­op­er of Trump hotel projects.

    Mr. Crane did not respond to requests for com­ment. Mr. Rovt, who donat­ed $10,000 to Mr. Trump’s cam­paign on Elec­tion Day — the cam­paign refund­ed most of it because it was over the legal max­i­mum of $2,700 — said he had nev­er met Mr. Man­afort and was not involved in the loan to him. “I did not rec­om­mend him or put the par­ties togeth­er,” Mr. Rovt said in an email pro­vid­ed by his lawyer.

    Mr. Man­afort declined to answer spe­cif­ic ques­tions about any of his loans, oth­er than to say that they “are per­son­al and all reflect arm’s‑length trans­ac­tions at or above mar­ket rates.” He derid­ed the inter­est that his finances had gen­er­at­ed in the news media and among do-it-your­self researchers, some of whom have even set up a web­site that dis­sects his loans.

    ...

    A Trail of Scan­dal

    Scan­dal has trailed Mr. Man­afort since his ear­li­est work as an inter­na­tion­al lob­by­ist and con­sul­tant in the 1980s, when he tes­ti­fied before Con­gress about influ­ence ped­dling to win fed­er­al hous­ing con­tracts and was linked to $10 mil­lion in cash that a con­fi­dant of the Philip­pine dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos claimed was deliv­ered to Mr. Man­afort in a suit­case. In the 1990s, Mr. Manafort’s work for clients such as the Angolan rebel leader Jonas Sav­im­bi was cit­ed in a human rights watch­dog report, “The Tor­tur­ers’ Lob­by,” which exam­ined Wash­ing­ton con­sul­tants who catered to bru­tal regimes.

    Mr. Man­afort went to work for Mr. Yanukovych and his Russ­ian-backed Par­ty of Regions in the mid-2000s, and dur­ing that time also entered into busi­ness deals with two oli­garchs, Oleg Deri­pas­ka of Rus­sia and Dmytro Fir­tash of Ukraine. Both deals, which were ulti­mate­ly unsuc­cess­ful, involved the use of murky off­shore com­pa­nies and were taint­ed by alle­ga­tions that cronies of Mr. Yanukovych’s schemed to fun­nel assets out of Ukraine.

    The trans­ac­tion with Mr. Deri­pas­ka, a bil­lion­aire indus­tri­al­ist close to Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin of Rus­sia, involved the attempt­ed pur­chase of a Ukrain­ian cable telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions busi­ness using $18.9 mil­lion that Mr. Deri­pas­ka invest­ed in a Cay­man Islands part­ner­ship man­aged by Mr. Man­afort. The cable busi­ness was con­trolled by off­shore shell com­pa­nies that Ukrain­ian anti-cor­rup­tion inves­ti­ga­tors said were used by Mr. Yanukovych’s inner cir­cle to loot pub­lic assets.

    And last sum­mer, the Ukrain­ian inves­ti­ga­tors announced the dis­cov­ery of the hand­writ­ten ledger, said to have been kept in the offices of Mr. Yanukovych’s polit­i­cal par­ty before he was oust­ed in 2014, which showed the $12.7 mil­lion in pay­ments des­ig­nat­ed for Mr. Man­afort.

    The nature of Mr. Manafort’s work in Ukraine appeared to con­cern his fam­i­ly, accord­ing to text mes­sages belong­ing to one of his adult daugh­ters, Andrea, which were hacked last year and post­ed on a web­site used by Ukrain­ian hack­ers. The thou­sands of mes­sages span from 2012 to 2016 and include ref­er­ences to mil­lions of dol­lars Mr. Man­afort appar­ent­ly trans­ferred to his two daugh­ters.

    In one text writ­ten in 2015, Ms. Man­afort, a lawyer, called her father’s activ­i­ties in Ukraine “legal­ly ques­tion­able,” and in a sep­a­rate exchange with her sis­ter, Jes­si­ca, she wor­ried that cash he gave them was taint­ed by the vio­lent response to the upris­ing that ulti­mate­ly led to the down­fall of Mr. Manafort’s client, Mr. Yanukovych.

    “Don’t fool your­self,” Ms. Man­afort wrote. “That mon­ey we have is blood mon­ey.”

    In addi­tion to the mon­ey he gave his daugh­ters, Mr. Man­afort also began acquir­ing a num­ber of real estate assets dur­ing the years he worked in Ukraine, sev­er­al of them cost­ing mil­lions of dol­lars and bought with cash. Among them is an apart­ment in Trump Tow­er in Man­hat­tan, bought in 2006 for $3.7 mil­lion, and a Brook­lyn brown­stone bought in 2012 for $3 mil­lion.

    Being able to cite his Trump Tow­er address came in handy when he pitched his ser­vices to Mr. Trump’s cam­paign ear­ly in 2016. By then, Mr. Man­afort had been out of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics for many years, but he expressed a desire to get back in the game and offered to work free, sug­gest­ing that he did not need the mon­ey.

    Soon, how­ev­er, he was embark­ing on a bor­row­ing spree, using his many prop­er­ties as col­lat­er­al, includ­ing a sum­mer home in the Hamp­tons val­ued at more than $11 mil­lion. The trans­ac­tions began with the fil­ing of papers that cre­at­ed the shell com­pa­ny, Sum­mer­breeze L.L.C., on Aug. 19 as Mr. Manafort’s res­ig­na­tion as cam­paign chair­man was being announced. Short­ly there­after, Sum­mer­breeze obtained the $3.5 mil­lion loan from the Spruce Cap­i­tal unit.

    In Novem­ber, after Mr. Trump won the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Sum­mer­breeze received a sec­ond loan, for $9.5 mil­lion, from Fed­er­al Sav­ings Bank of Chica­go, which focus­es on afford­able mort­gages for mil­i­tary vet­er­ans and is head­ed by Stephen M. Calk, a senior eco­nom­ic advis­er to Mr. Trump at the time. The col­lat­er­al for the loan includ­ed Mr. Manafort’s Hamp­tons home and oth­er assets.

    In addi­tion to the loans tak­en out on the Hamp­tons house, Mr. Man­afort has recent­ly obtained mort­gages on anoth­er prop­er­ty. Those loans, total­ing $6.6 mil­lion, were obtained in Jan­u­ary on a brown­stone in Brook­lyn and also came from Fed­er­al Sav­ings Bank in Chica­go.

    Soured Invest­ments

    Mr. Man­afort declined to explain the pur­pose of his loans. But a review of pub­lic records sug­gests at least some of them are con­nect­ed to efforts to sal­vage invest­ments he made with Jes­si­ca Manafort’s hus­band, Jef­frey Yohai, whose real estate busi­ness filed for bank­rupt­cy in Decem­ber. Mr. Yohai faces a law­suit by anoth­er co-investor who claims he exploit­ed his con­nec­tions to Mr. Man­afort “to meet numer­ous pub­lic fig­ures and celebri­ties” and solic­it invest­ments from them; Mr. Yohai denies the accu­sa­tions.

    In an affi­davit filed in the bank­rupt­cy case, Mr. Man­afort said he had decid­ed to “assist with addi­tion­al fund­ing to pro­tect my exist­ing invest­ments,” total­ing more than $4 mil­lion, in sev­er­al lux­u­ry prop­er­ties in Cal­i­for­nia owned by lim­it­ed lia­bil­i­ty com­pa­nies con­trolled by Mr. Yohai.

    Why Mr. Man­afort opt­ed to go to Spruce Cap­i­tal and the Chica­go bank for the loans is unclear.

    For Fed­er­al Sav­ings, Mr. Manafort’s loans amount to about 5.4 per­cent of the bank’s total assets. Mr. Calk did not respond to mes­sages seek­ing com­ment, and a spokes­woman for Fed­er­al Sav­ings said it would not dis­cuss its cus­tomers’ busi­ness.

    At Spruce Cap­i­tal, the loan secured by the Hamp­tons house appeared to be some­what unusu­al. Of the 40 trans­ac­tions list­ed under “recent activ­i­ties” on the invest­ment group’s lend­ing unit web­site, it was the only one out­side of New York City and the sole loan involv­ing a sin­gle-fam­i­ly house. Mr. Crane, the co-founder of Spruce Cap­i­tal, had pre­vi­ous­ly been involved in two Trump projects, includ­ing a Trump Inter­na­tion­al Hotel & Tow­er in Waiki­ki.

    Mr. Rovt, who has part­nered with Mr. Crane’s firm on sev­er­al major real estate invest­ments in New York and is an investor in its lend­ing busi­ness, is active in the Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty. Last year, he took part in a small pan­el dis­cus­sion on Ukrain­ian rela­tions at Manor Col­lege in Penn­syl­va­nia, where he shared the stage with Andrii V. Arte­menko, a mem­ber of the Ukrain­ian Par­lia­ment.

    The New York Times report­ed in Feb­ru­ary that Mr. Arte­menko worked behind the scenes with Michael D. Cohen, Pres­i­dent Trump’s per­son­al lawyer, and Felix H. Sater, a for­mer busi­ness asso­ciate of Mr. Trump’s, to relay a pro­posed Ukrain­ian-Russ­ian peace plan to the White House. Mr. Rovt, through his lawyer, said that he knew Mr. Arte­menko, but that he was “not involved in any peace pro­pos­al.”

    As for his exces­sive last-minute dona­tion to Mr. Trump in Novem­ber, it stands out, giv­en that Mr. Rovt had pre­vi­ous­ly donat­ed almost exclu­sive­ly to Democ­rats dur­ing the elec­tion —– includ­ing $2,700 to Hillary Clin­ton in Feb­ru­ary 2016. Mr. Rovt said the rea­son was sim­ple: Friends had been encour­ag­ing him to sup­port the Trump cam­paign.

    “So,” he said, “I final­ly did.”

    ———-

    “After Cam­paign Exit, Man­afort Bor­rowed From Busi­ness­es With Trump Ties” by Mike McIn­tire; The New York Times; 04/12/2017

    “But behind the scenes, he was busy with oth­er mat­ters. Papers were record­ed that same day cre­at­ing a shell com­pa­ny con­trolled by Mr. Man­afort that soon received $13 mil­lion in loans from two busi­ness­es with ties to Mr. Trump, includ­ing one that part­ners with a Ukrain­ian-born bil­lion­aire and anoth­er led by a Trump eco­nom­ic advis­er. They were among $20 mil­lion in loans secured by prop­er­ties belong­ing to Mr. Man­afort and his wife.”

    So on the same day Man­afort steps down as chair­man of Trump’s cam­paign, he sets up a shell com­pa­ny that will soon receive $13 mil­lion in loans from Spruce Cap­i­tal and Fed­er­al Sav­ings Bank of Chica­go. It’s cer­tain­ly inter­est­ing tim­ing, espe­cial­ly giv­en the fact that Man­afort was an unpaid cam­paign man­ag­er:

    ...
    The pur­pose of the loans is unstat­ed in pub­lic records, although at least some of them appear to be part of an effort by Mr. Man­afort to stave off a per­son­al finan­cial cri­sis stem­ming from failed invest­ments with his son-in-law.

    The trans­ac­tions raise a num­ber of ques­tions, includ­ing whether Mr. Manafort’s deci­sion to turn to Trump-con­nect­ed lenders was relat­ed to his role in the cam­paign, where he had agreed to serve for free.
    ...

    And since the col­lat­er­al for these loans were Man­afort’s sub­stan­tial real estate port­fo­lio, the whole thing high­lights the impor­tance real estate was to Man­afort’s sav­ings. He clear­ly had a taste for real estate giv­en how many prop­er­ties he owned:

    ...
    They also shine a light on the rich real estate port­fo­lio that Mr. Man­afort acquired dur­ing and after the years he worked in Ukraine. Mr. Man­afort, often using shell com­pa­nies, invest­ed mil­lions of dol­lars in var­i­ous prop­er­ties, includ­ing apart­ments and con­dos in New York, homes in Flori­da and Vir­ginia and lux­u­ry hous­es in Los Ange­les.

    Mr. Manafort’s ties to Ukraine and Rus­sia have come under scruti­ny as fed­er­al offi­cials inves­ti­gate Russ­ian med­dling in the Amer­i­can pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Inves­ti­ga­tors are known to have exam­ined aspects of his finances, includ­ing bank accounts he had in the secre­tive tax haven of Cyprus; there is no indi­ca­tion his recent loans are part of the inquiry.

    The source of the mon­ey for the real estate pur­chas­es is not clear, and Mr. Man­afort nev­er filed lob­by­ing reg­is­tra­tions for his work in Ukraine that would have dis­closed his com­pen­sa­tion. Such reg­is­tra­tions are nec­es­sary for activ­i­ties that involve influ­enc­ing pol­i­cy and pub­lic opin­ion in the Unit­ed States, and some of Mr. Manafort’s Ukraine work appeared to fall into that cat­e­go­ry. Anti-cor­rup­tion offi­cials in Ukraine say $12.7 mil­lion in “off the books” cash pay­ments were ear­marked for him in a hand­writ­ten ledger kept by the polit­i­cal par­ty of the deposed strong­man Vik­tor F. Yanukovych.

    ...

    In addi­tion to the mon­ey he gave his daugh­ters, Mr. Man­afort also began acquir­ing a num­ber of real estate assets dur­ing the years he worked in Ukraine, sev­er­al of them cost­ing mil­lions of dol­lars and bought with cash. Among them is an apart­ment in Trump Tow­er in Man­hat­tan, bought in 2006 for $3.7 mil­lion, and a Brook­lyn brown­stone bought in 2012 for $3 mil­lion.

    Being able to cite his Trump Tow­er address came in handy when he pitched his ser­vices to Mr. Trump’s cam­paign ear­ly in 2016. By then, Mr. Man­afort had been out of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics for many years, but he expressed a desire to get back in the game and offered to work free, sug­gest­ing that he did not need the mon­ey.

    Soon, how­ev­er, he was embark­ing on a bor­row­ing spree, using his many prop­er­ties as col­lat­er­al, includ­ing a sum­mer home in the Hamp­tons val­ued at more than $11 mil­lion. The trans­ac­tions began with the fil­ing of papers that cre­at­ed the shell com­pa­ny, Sum­mer­breeze L.L.C., on Aug. 19 as Mr. Manafort’s res­ig­na­tion as cam­paign chair­man was being announced. Short­ly there­after, Sum­mer­breeze obtained the $3.5 mil­lion loan from the Spruce Cap­i­tal unit.

    In Novem­ber, after Mr. Trump won the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Sum­mer­breeze received a sec­ond loan, for $9.5 mil­lion, from Fed­er­al Sav­ings Bank of Chica­go, which focus­es on afford­able mort­gages for mil­i­tary vet­er­ans and is head­ed by Stephen M. Calk, a senior eco­nom­ic advis­er to Mr. Trump at the time. The col­lat­er­al for the loan includ­ed Mr. Manafort’s Hamp­tons home and oth­er assets.

    In addi­tion to the loans tak­en out on the Hamp­tons house, Mr. Man­afort has recent­ly obtained mort­gages on anoth­er prop­er­ty. Those loans, total­ing $6.6 mil­lion, were obtained in Jan­u­ary on a brown­stone in Brook­lyn and also came from Fed­er­al Sav­ings Bank in Chica­go.
    ...

    And because real estate lends itself to all sorts of pos­si­ble mon­ey laun­der­ing activ­i­ties, like the records of alleged secret pay­ments Man­afort received found in the Ukrain­ian “black ledger”, there’s going to be a high lev­el of inves­ti­ga­tor inter­est in any sus­pi­cious activ­i­ty involv­ing Paul Man­afort’s real estate:

    ...
    Last month, a Ukrain­ian law­mak­er released doc­u­ments that appeared to cor­rob­o­rate one of the ledger entries, and on Wednes­day The Asso­ci­at­ed Press report­ed con­fir­ma­tion of anoth­er pay­ment. The two pay­ments in 2007 and 2009, total­ing $1.2 mil­lion, were rout­ed through shell com­pa­nies in Belize to a bank account in Vir­ginia belong­ing to Mr. Manafort’s con­sult­ing firm.

    Mr. Man­afort has pre­vi­ous­ly claimed the ledger is a fake. On Wednes­day, he issued a state­ment that did not dis­pute the ledger entries, but sug­gest­ed that any pay­ments he received were legal because they were not made in cash.

    “Mr. Man­afort has always denied that he ever received any cash pay­ments for his work and has con­sis­tent­ly main­tained that he received all of his pay­ments, for ser­vices ren­dered, through wire trans­fers con­duct­ed through the inter­na­tion­al bank­ing sys­tem,” the state­ment said.
    ...

    When it comes to Spruce Cap­i­tal’s $3.5 mil­lion loan to Man­afort in Sep­tem­ber of 2016, the fact that Rovt is a Ukrain­ian has clear­ly drawn the inter­est of inves­ti­ga­tors. But the fact that Rovt’s part­ner in Spruce, Joshua Crane, has been a devel­op­er of Trump hotel projects should also be kept in mind when try­ing to deter­mine which ties helped prompt this unusu­al loan to Man­afort:

    ...
    One of Mr. Manafort’s recent loans, pre­vi­ous­ly unre­port­ed, was for $3.5 mil­lion in Sep­tem­ber from the pri­vate lend­ing unit of Spruce Cap­i­tal, a small New York invest­ment firm that has a Ukrain­ian con­nec­tion through the bil­lion­aire Alexan­der Rovt. An Amer­i­can cit­i­zen who made his for­tune in the pri­va­ti­za­tion of the fer­til­iz­er indus­try in post-Sovi­et Ukraine and has long done busi­ness in that part of the world, Mr. Rovt is a finan­cial backer of Spruce, whose co-founder Joshua Crane has been a devel­op­er of Trump hotel projects.

    ...

    Mr. Man­afort declined to answer spe­cif­ic ques­tions about any of his loans, oth­er than to say that they “are per­son­al and all reflect arm’s‑length trans­ac­tions at or above mar­ket rates.” He derid­ed the inter­est that his finances had gen­er­at­ed in the news media and among do-it-your­self researchers, some of whom have even set up a web­site that dis­sects his loans.
    ...

    Man­afort’s expla­na­tion for the loans is that he deicd­ed to “assist with addi­tion­al fund­ing to pro­tect my exist­ing invest­ments,” total­ing more than $4 mil­lion, in sev­er­al lux­u­ry prop­er­ties in Cal­i­for­nia owned by lim­it­ed lia­bil­i­ty com­pa­nies con­trolled by” his son-on-law, Jef­frey Yohai. But there isn’t real­ly an expla­na­tion of why those two com­pa­nies, Spruce Cap­i­tal, and Fed­er­al Sav­ings, were the com­pa­nies Man­afort went to for those loans:

    ...
    Soured Invest­ments

    Mr. Man­afort declined to explain the pur­pose of his loans. But a review of pub­lic records sug­gests at least some of them are con­nect­ed to efforts to sal­vage invest­ments he made with Jes­si­ca Manafort’s hus­band, Jef­frey Yohai, whose real estate busi­ness filed for bank­rupt­cy in Decem­ber. Mr. Yohai faces a law­suit by anoth­er co-investor who claims he exploit­ed his con­nec­tions to Mr. Man­afort “to meet numer­ous pub­lic fig­ures and celebri­ties” and solic­it invest­ments from them; Mr. Yohai denies the accu­sa­tions.

    In an affi­davit filed in the bank­rupt­cy case, Mr. Man­afort said he had decid­ed to “assist with addi­tion­al fund­ing to pro­tect my exist­ing invest­ments,” total­ing more than $4 mil­lion, in sev­er­al lux­u­ry prop­er­ties in Cal­i­for­nia owned by lim­it­ed lia­bil­i­ty com­pa­nies con­trolled by Mr. Yohai.

    Why Mr. Man­afort opt­ed to go to Spruce Cap­i­tal and the Chica­go bank for the loans is unclear.

    For Fed­er­al Sav­ings, Mr. Manafort’s loans amount to about 5.4 per­cent of the bank’s total assets. Mr. Calk did not respond to mes­sages seek­ing com­ment, and a spokes­woman for Fed­er­al Sav­ings said it would not dis­cuss its cus­tomers’ busi­ness.

    At Spruce Cap­i­tal, the loan secured by the Hamp­tons house appeared to be some­what unusu­al. Of the 40 trans­ac­tions list­ed under “recent activ­i­ties” on the invest­ment group’s lend­ing unit web­site, it was the only one out­side of New York City and the sole loan involv­ing a sin­gle-fam­i­ly house. Mr. Crane, the co-founder of Spruce Cap­i­tal, had pre­vi­ous­ly been involved in two Trump projects, includ­ing a Trump Inter­na­tion­al Hotel & Tow­er in Waiki­ki.
    ...

    And that’s all part of why the sus­pi­cion involv­ing Man­afort’s finances over­lap with the sus­pi­cions involv­ing the Ukrain­ian ‘peace plan’: one of the devel­op­ers of the ‘peace plan’, Alexan­der Rovt, also hap­pens to be a part­ner in one of the com­pa­nies that make an anom­alous loan to Man­afort.

    And while some of those sus­pi­cions are under­stand­able and rea­son­able, those sus­pi­cions are also root­ed, in part, in a reflex­ie assump­tion that Rovt move be some sort of Krem­lin dupe, despite all the signs point­ing in the oth­er direc­tion. So it’s worth not­ing that, while Rovt made a $10,000 dona­tion to the Trump cam­paign on Elec­tion Day (most of which had to be returned because it exceed­ed the $2,700 max­i­mum lim­it), Rovt had pre­vi­ous­ly almost exclu­sive­ly donat­ed to Democ­rats, includ­ing $2,700 to Hillary Clin­ton in Feb­ru­ary of 2016, the same month of the Manor Col­lege Ukraine event:

    ...
    Mr. Crane did not respond to requests for com­ment. Mr. Rovt, who donat­ed $10,000 to Mr. Trump’s cam­paign on Elec­tion Day — the cam­paign refund­ed most of it because it was over the legal max­i­mum of $2,700 — said he had nev­er met Mr. Man­afort and was not involved in the loan to him. “I did not rec­om­mend him or put the par­ties togeth­er,” Mr. Rovt said in an email pro­vid­ed by his lawyer.

    ...

    Mr. Rovt, who has part­nered with Mr. Crane’s firm on sev­er­al major real estate invest­ments in New York and is an investor in its lend­ing busi­ness, is active in the Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty. Last year, he took part in a small pan­el dis­cus­sion on Ukrain­ian rela­tions at Manor Col­lege in Penn­syl­va­nia, where he shared the stage with Andrii V. Arte­menko, a mem­ber of the Ukrain­ian Par­lia­ment.

    The New York Times report­ed in Feb­ru­ary that Mr. Arte­menko worked behind the scenes with Michael D. Cohen, Pres­i­dent Trump’s per­son­al lawyer, and Felix H. Sater, a for­mer busi­ness asso­ciate of Mr. Trump’s, to relay a pro­posed Ukrain­ian-Russ­ian peace plan to the White House. Mr. Rovt, through his lawyer, said that he knew Mr. Arte­menko, but that he was “not involved in any peace pro­pos­al.”

    As for his exces­sive last-minute dona­tion to Mr. Trump in Novem­ber, it stands out, giv­en that Mr. Rovt had pre­vi­ous­ly donat­ed almost exclu­sive­ly to Democ­rats dur­ing the elec­tion —– includ­ing $2,700 to Hillary Clin­ton in Feb­ru­ary 2016. Mr. Rovt said the rea­son was sim­ple: Friends had been encour­ag­ing him to sup­port the Trump cam­paign.

    “So,” he said, “I final­ly did.”

    And note how Rovt is described as “active in the Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty”. It will be inter­est­ing to see what more can be learned about Rovt’s Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty activ­i­ties. Because if some­one is described as being active in the Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty that strong­ly implied they are active in decry­ing Rus­sia and the Krem­lin, gen­er­al­ly speak­ing these days. The two go hand in hand since 2014. And that’s clear­ly the case giv­en his atten­dance at the Manor Col­lege event where he railed about how Ukraine need­ed to get bet­ter at coun­ter­ing Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da.

    So that’s what we know at this point about the lat­est fig­ure to be intro­duced into the #TrumpRus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion: Alexan­der Rovt, a Ukrain­ian oli­garch who appears to have helped con­ceived the ‘peace plan’ at an event where he called on the West to take a much stronger stance against Rus­sia. Sur­prise!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 11, 2018, 4:24 pm
  15. With Paul Man­fort’s tri­al cur­rent­ly under­way, here’s a fas­ci­nat­ing arti­cle that gives a lot of details about Paul Man­afort lat­er years in Ukraine and his work with the ‘Haps­burg Group’. The arti­cle is from bne IntelliNews, a busi­ness pub­li­ca­tion spe­cial­iz­ing in Euro­pean mar­kets. And while the arti­cle is no longer avail­able on bne IntelliNews, it is thank­ful­ly still avail­able on the Inter­net Way­back Machine which is very for­tu­itous because it turns out this arti­cle is a trea­sure trove of infor­ma­tion.

    Most of the arti­cle is based on Man­afort’s flight records from 2012–2015 and describes how Man­afort’s flights to dif­fer­ent cities align with key meet­ings held by the Haps­burg Group. Recall the ear­li­er report on Man­afort’s flight records that indi­cat­ed he may have flown on plane owned by Andrii Arte­menko’s father’s com­pa­ny to a meet­ing in Frank­furt in 2013 that may have been involved with the Haps­burg Group lob­by­ing push. So this new­er report is anoth­er exam­ple of Man­afort’s flight records pro­vid­ing poten­tial­ly impor­tant clues in terms of what Man­afort did and who he was work­ing with.

    But there’s anoth­er angle of Man­afort’s time in Ukraine that the arti­cle explores: the cryp­tic hacked texts of Paul Man­afort’s daugh­ter where she told her sis­ter that it was Paul Manafort’s idea “to send those peo­ple out and get them slaugh­tered. Do you know whose strat­e­gy that was to cause that Revolts [sic] and what not […] As a tac­tic to out­rage the world and get focus on Ukraine.” Andrea Man­afort then called her father’s mon­ey “blood mon­ey.” This arti­cle sug­gests that these texts were not in ref­er­ence to the Maid­an sniper attacks of Feb­ru­ary 2014 that pre­cip­i­tat­ed the col­lapse of the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment. Instead, the arti­cle sug­gests that Andrea Man­afort’s texts were refer­ring to a role Man­afort may have played in insti­gat­ing the ini­tial con­flict in Novem­ber of 2013 between pro-EU pro­tes­tors and the Ukrain­ian police that sparked the Maid­an in the first place. No one was killed dur­ing that ini­tial scuf­fle but it took place short­ly after the col­lapse of the EU-Ukraine Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment talks and had a big effect of on the coun­try’s psy­chol­o­gy at that moment. If the riot police had­n’t been called in at that moment there’s there’s a good chance the Maid­an protests would have nev­er grown as large as they did.

    This arti­cle sug­gests that these texts were not in ref­er­ence to the Maid­an sniper attacks of Feb­ru­ary 2014 that pre­cip­i­tat­ed the col­lapse of the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment. Instead, the arti­cle sug­gests that Andrea Man­afort’s texts were refer­ring to a role Man­afort may have played in insti­gat­ing the ini­tial con­flict on Novem­ber 29, 2013 between pro-EU pro­tes­tors and the Ukrain­ian police that sparked the Maid­an in the first place. No one was killed dur­ing that ini­tial scuf­fle but it had a BIG effect of on the coun­try’s psy­chol­o­gy at that key moment.

    Part of the cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence sug­gest­ing Man­afort may have played a role in encour­ag­ing those ini­tial protests cen­ters around Vik­tor Yanukovy­ch’s for­mer chief of staff, Ser­hii Lovochkin and his sis­ter Yulia Lovochk­i­na who is a Ukrain­ian MP. It turns out that Lovochkin was a big sup­port­er of the EU Trade Asso­ci­a­tion agree­ment and his sis­ter Yulia was par­tic­i­pat­ing at some of the events held by the ‘Haps­burg Group’.

    Here’s a quick run­down of the cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence that sug­gests Lovochkin and Lovochk­i­na were part of the pro-EU lob­by­ing effort:

    1. Yulia addressed a secret March 6, 2013, meet­ing in Rome of for­mer Euro­pean heads of state dis­cussing the fate of Ukraine’s bid to join the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with the EU. Flight records show Man­afort flew with her on one of the Lovochkin fam­i­ly’s pri­vate jets to the meet­ing and was in the audi­ence.

    2. At that meet­ing, Yulia declared that, “Ukraine has made its irrev­o­ca­ble choice and is com­mit­ted to being a part of Europe, part of the Euro­pean Union...The pres­i­dent of Ukraine reit­er­at­ed that he is ready to imple­ment all the nec­es­sary mea­sures.” All of the speak­ers at this event expressed a desire to do the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment deal and there was an under­cur­rent to their speech­es that the sign­ing of the agree­ment should be sep­a­rate from the issue of releas­ing Yulia Tymoshenko, which was in stark con­trast to Brus­sels’ ini­tial line.

    3. Ser­hii is a co-own­er of Ukrain­ian tele­vi­sion sta­tion with Ukrain­ian oli­garch Dmytro Fir­tash. On Novem­ber 28, 2013, the day before the police clash with the pro­tes­tors, reporters not­ed that Yulia Lovochk­i­na was open­ly frat­er­niz­ing with the stu­dents on the Maid­an. Lovochk­in’s TV crews cov­ered the protest close­ly, includ­ing the 4am clash with police. Ser­hii ten­dered his res­ig­na­tion as Yanukovy­ch’s chief of staff imme­di­ate­ly after the police vio­lence. The next day, Lovoshk­in’s TV chan­nel played footage of the worst of vio­lence on heavy rota­tion on prime time news and news anchors intoned that Yanukovych had “shed the blood of Ukrain­ian chil­dren.”

    4. On Novem­ber 29, 2016, the third anniver­sary of the police clash with the pro­test­ers, Ukraine’s inte­ri­or min­is­ter Arsen Avakov told the BBC that “Lovochkin was the author of the dis­per­sal of the [stu­dents’] Maid­an, and should be in prison, not in par­lia­ment.”

    5. Man­afort had a close work­ing rela­tion­ship with Ser­hii (which makes sense giv­en their respec­tive jobs work­ing for Yanukovych).

    6. Flight records indi­cate Man­afort fre­quent­ly flew of the Lovochkin fam­i­ly’s pri­vate jet to meet­ings in Europe involved with the Haps­burg Group lob­by­ing effort.

    So when you con­sid­er all of those facts, the idea that Andrea Man­afort’s texts to her sis­ter could have been refer­ring to that Novem­ber 29, 2013, clash with police starts sound­ing pret­ty plau­si­ble. So what might have Man­afort’s role been? Did he encour­age Yanukovych to call in the riot police? We he mere­ly coor­di­nat­ing with Lovochkin in hatch­ing the plan?

    Also keep in mind that, if Man­afort was indeed some­how involved with insti­gat­ing the Novem­ber 29, 2013, clash with police that sparked the Maid­an protests, that does­n’t mean he was­n’t involved with the Feb­ru­ary 2014 sniper attacks too. If any­thing it would make him more of a sus­pect in those attacks.

    The arti­cle also gives us more insight into how the Haps­burg Group ini­tial­ly formed and some of the fig­ures involved with it:

    1. The idea of recruit­ing Euro­pean politi­cians to lob­by for Ukraine’s admis­sion into the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with­out release Yulia Tymoshenko appar­ent­ly came in a June 2012 memo to Man­afort by Ital­ian-based US jour­nal­ist Alan Fried­man. Fried­man chaired the March 2013 con­fer­ence in Rome.

    2. Fried­man’s memo sug­gest­ed recruit­ing Alexan­der Kwas­niews­ki to the group.

    3. The memo also not­ed that Kwas­niews­ki would have a con­flict of inter­ests because Kwas­niews­ki was the lead­ing fig­ure in the Euro­pean Parliament’s mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion to Ukraine.

    4. In light of Kwas­niewski’s con­flict of inter­est, Fried­man sug­gest­ed that Alred Gusen­bauer be appoint­ed the ‘leader’ of the Haps­burg Group who would direct the rest of the group. Gusen­bauer would then “take direc­tion from us infor­mal­ly”.

    And that all helps elu­ci­date one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing aspects of this whole sto­ry: one of the mem­bers of the Haps­burg Group, Kwas­niews­ki, was­n’t just an ‘ex-politi­cian’, like the rest of the Haps­burg Group mem­bers. He was the lead­ing fig­ure of the EU’s mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion to Ukraine! That’s wild­ly scan­dalous and yet almost com­plete­ly ignored (which, itself, is wild­ly scan­dalous and ignored).

    One of the big ques­tions swirling around this Haps­burg Group sto­ry has been the ques­tion of whether or not the Haps­burg Group was pri­mar­i­ly work­ing for the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment, or work­ing for EU forces, or both. And while that memo by Fried­man to Man­afort makes it clear that the Haps­burg Group was def­i­nite­ly work­ing for Man­afort, the ques­tion remains as to whether or not it was also work­ing for a fac­tion of the EU that want­ed to sep­a­rate he issue of free­ing Yulia Tymoshenko and the Agree­ment. Because it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble the Haps­burg Group was sort of a joint oper­a­tion, where Gusen­bauer was act­ing as the con­duit for Yanukovych/Manafort and Kwas­niews­ki was act­ing as the EU’s nego­tia­tor in this shared mis­sion to make the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment hap­pen. And learn­ing that the lead fig­ure in the EU mis­sion to Ukraine was part of the Haps­burg Group points towards the that sce­nario where the Haps­burg Group was a kind of coor­di­nat­ed effort between the EU forces that want­ed to see the agree­ment hap­pen and the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment.

    Don’t for­get that the pic­ture that emerges when you look over the news reports from this 2012–2013 peri­od lead­ing up to Novem­ber 2013 is a Yanukovych gov­ern­ment that was very inter­est­ed in the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment until the EU made its final super crap­py offer that includ­ed lit­tle finan­cial assis­tance and mas­sive costs to Ukraine’s econ­o­my. And part of that pic­ture includ­ed the Haps­burg Group appar­ent­ly work­ing with peo­ple like Mar­tin Schulz who was pres­i­dent of the EU par­lia­ment from 2012–2017.

    We already had indi­ca­tions that this Haps­burg Group ini­tia­tive was at least work­ing in coor­di­na­tion with a fac­tion of the EU. Learn­ing that Alexan­der Kwas­niews­ki, the leader of the EU’s mis­sion to Ukraine, was also involved with the Haps­burg Group just adds evi­dence that this was, in real­i­ty, a joint oper­a­tion. If true, it’s pret­ty scan­dalous, although per­haps not near­ly as scan­dalous as it would be if Kwas­niews­ki was secret­ly tak­ing orders from Kiev on his own and not as part of a coor­di­na­tion cam­paign with an EU fac­tion.

    So it’s clear there’s an impres­sive scan­dal at the heart of this Haps­burg Group ini­tia­tive. It’s more of a ques­tion of what kind of scan­dal at this point. And based on the fol­low­ing arti­cle, it’s look­ing increas­ing­ly like the Haps­burg Group was a joint Kiev/EU-fac­tion oper­a­tion. And it’s also look­ing more and more like Paul Man­afort real­ly was involved in insti­gat­ing an attack on pro­tes­tors:

    bne Intellinews

    Wheels up: Paul Man­afort’s flight records show how he super­vised EU top brass in the run-up to Ukraine rev­o­lu­tion

    By Gra­ham Stack in Berlin July 2, 2018

    Infa­mous US lob­by­ist Paul Man­afort organ­ised EU lumi­nar­ies to plead with Brus­sels to sign off on an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with Ukraine with­out the free­ing of jailed oppo­si­tion leader Yulia Tymoshenko in 2012–2013, his flight records, revealed by bne IntelliNews for the first time, show.

    Man­afort organ­ised the lob­by­ing cam­paign on the orders of Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, who was oust­ed by mass demon­stra­tions in Kyiv when he even­tu­al­ly failed to sign the deal.

    The infor­ma­tion backs up alle­ga­tions made by US spe­cial con­sul Robert Mueller that, as part of the cam­paign to do an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment deal, Man­afort retained EU “super VIPs” to lob­by for Yanukovych.

    The flight records also reveal Man­afort remained a play­er in Ukraine after the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion until as late as 2015 – only months before he signed up as US pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign man­ag­er.

    And Manafort’s rela­tion­ship to a top Yanukovych aide, who turned against his mas­ter dur­ing the Euro­maid­an move­ment, rais­es ques­tions about the spin doctor’s role in Ukraine’s 2013–14 rev­o­lu­tion.

    VIP trips

    The sto­ry starts with a key meet­ing in Rome in 2013. Flanked by EU elder states­men, all for­mer heads of their respec­tive states, Yulia Lovochk­i­na, a Ukrain­ian MP, addressed a select gath­er­ing in Rome on the top­ic of Ukraine’s goal of sign­ing an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with the EU.

    “Ukraine has made its irrev­o­ca­ble choice and is com­mit­ted to being a part of Europe, part of the Euro­pean Union,” she said, refer­ring to plans to sign an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with the EU at a sum­mit in Vil­nius slat­ed for Novem­ber 2013. “The pres­i­dent of Ukraine reit­er­at­ed that he is ready to imple­ment all the nec­es­sary mea­sures,” she added.

    The date of the Rome meet­ing was March 6, 2013, and the speak­er Yulia Lovochk­i­na was none oth­er the sis­ter of Ser­hii Lovochkin, Yanukovych’s pow­er­ful chief of staff. Despite the assur­ances of com­mit­ment to the EU, less than a year lat­er, Yanukovych’s secu­ri­ty forces would mas­sacre 100 pro-EU pro­tes­tors in the heart of Kyiv. Three days lat­er he fled Ukraine for Rus­sia.

    Tymoshenko, leader of Ukraine’s oppo­si­tion at the time, was lan­guish­ing in prison. She had lost to Yanukovych in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions of 2010 — and Yanukovych prompt­ly jailed her in 2011. The inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty were out­raged, call­ing her jail­ing polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed and link­ing her release to the pas­sage of the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment deal.

    All the speak­ers at the Rome meet­ing were unit­ed by a desire to do the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment deal, but the under­cur­rent to their speech­es was an insis­tence that the sign­ing of the agree­ment and Tymoshenko’s fate were two sep­a­rate issues, which was in stark con­trast to Brus­sels’ ini­tial line.

    In her speech, Lovochk­i­na was explic­it: the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment should be signed inde­pen­dent­ly from Tymoshenko’s case. “It [sign­ing the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment] can­not be held hostage by a sin­gle crim­i­nal case […] by the future of Yulia Tymoshenko because it is an issue con­cern­ing the future of Ukraine,” she said.

    As a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Yanukovych admin­is­tra­tion, Lovochkina’s line was pre­dictable. But more sur­pris­ing­ly was the sup­port she got from the emi­nent Euro­pean VIPs who backed her up. Using a vari­ety of euphemisms, they pushed essen­tial­ly the same argu­ment: that the issue of the EU-Ukraine Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment, and the issue of Tymoshenko’s impris­on­ment, should be kept sep­a­rate from each oth­er.

    “The ques­tion of the des­tiny of Ukraine and its Euro­pean future can­not depend on one sin­gle case,” Alfred Gusen­bauer, for­mer chan­cel­lor of Aus­tria, said. “In the case of Tymoshenko it is nec­es­sary to look for solu­tions with­out mak­ing a com­pli­cat­ed sit­u­a­tion more com­pli­cat­ed,” said Alexan­der Kwas­niews­ki, for­mer pres­i­dent of Poland, who was also the senior part­ner in the Euro­pean Parliament’s “mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion” to Ukraine that had been tasked with resolv­ing the impasse caused by Tymoshenko’s impris­on­ment.

    Con­clud­ing the con­fer­ence, Roman Pro­di, for­mer prime min­is­ter of Italy and pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, argued that the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion to Ukraine — run by Kwas­niews­ki — should exam­ine the Tymoshenko case as “the cor­rect frame­work for a Euro­pean Union that helps pro­motes rights, but at the same time does not close off a rela­tion­ship which is valu­able for Ukraine and Europe.”

    As the audi­ence applaud­ed the awk­ward group­ing on the podi­um, one man in the audi­ence may have been par­tic­u­lar­ly hap­py: US spin doc­tor Paul Man­afort, who had flown to Rome that day with Lovochk­i­na in one of the Lovochkin family’s pri­vate jets. Man­afort had assem­bled the speak­ers sit­ting in front of him on the podi­um, and was pulling the strings at the meet­ing.

    Jail­ing Yulia Tymoshenko

    A few months ear­li­er West­ern lead­ers and EU offi­cials had made Ukraine’s sign­ing of an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment con­di­tion­al on the release of Tymoshenko.

    ...

    Man­afort was Yanukovych’s ace in the cam­paign to win over the west.

    In part as a result of Manafort’s lob­by­ing efforts, by Novem­ber 2013 the EU had agreed to sign the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with Ukraine in Vil­nius, with­out hav­ing secured Tymoshenko’s release. Instead she was to be allowed to leave Ukraine for med­ical treat­ment, exil­ing her from Ukraine.

    This was Manafort’s hour of tri­umph. But Russ­ian fury at the thought of Ukraine slip­ping from its grasp meant that it was short-lived. On Novem­ber 21, 2013, Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment announced it would not sign the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with the EU on Novem­ber 28.

    The Haps­burg PR

    ...

    On Feb­ru­ary 28, US Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller indict­ed Man­afort for ille­gal lob­by­ing. The details of the indict­ment point to Man­afort pulling the strings at the March 6 Rome con­fer­ence.

    Mueller’s indict­ment states that Man­afort “secret­ly retained a group for for­mer senior Euro­pean politi­cians to take posi­tions favourable to Ukraine. The plan was for the for­mer politi­cians, infor­mal­ly called the “Haps­burg Group,” to appear to be pro­vid­ing an inde­pen­dent assess­ment of the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine actions, when in fact they were paid lob­by­ists for Ukraine.”

    Accord­ing to the indict­ment Man­afort paid over €2mn to the “super VIPs” from off­shore accounts in 2012 and 2013.

    While the politi­cians were unnamed, the indict­ment spec­i­fies a Euro­pean “chan­cel­lor” as head­ing the group. An ini­tial­ly unredact­ed doc­u­ment filed on June 13 iden­ti­fied for­mer Aus­tri­an chan­cel­lor Gusen­bauer by name as part of the Haps­burg group.

    The doc­u­ment was a mem­o­ran­dum to Man­afort authored in June 2012 by Ital­ian-based US jour­nal­ist Alan Fried­man — the man who chaired the March 2013 con­fer­ence in Rome.

    In the memo, Fried­man sug­gest­ed recruit­ing Kwas­niews­ki to the group. But he not­ed that Kwas­niews­ki would have a con­flict of inter­ests because Kwas­niews­ki was the lead­ing fig­ure in the Euro­pean Parliament’s mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion to Ukraine.

    The mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion was tasked with judg­ing whether Ukraine was fit to sign an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with the Euro­pean Union. A leader of the mon­i­tor­ing to mis­sion could hard­ly also pub­licly lob­by in favour of Ukraine.

    Fried­man then sug­gest­ed to Man­afort that Kwas­niews­ki appear at con­fer­ences togeth­er with Gusen­bauer, with con­fer­ences planned for Berlin, Rome and Brus­sels. Those recruit­ed for the group would “take direc­tion from us infor­mal­ly and via Alfred [Gusen­bauer].”

    “I par­tic­i­pat­ed in sev­er­al inter­na­tion­al con­fer­ences as a speak­er and for this rea­son, like oth­er par­tic­i­pants, I have received a hon­o­rar­i­um,” Kwas­niews­ki acknowl­edges. “I have not received any finan­cial grat­i­fi­ca­tion from the [Man­afort-linked lob­by­ists] Cen­tre for Mod­ern Ukraine or Mer­cury, I have nev­er received any sug­ges­tions for my con­tri­bu­tions from Mr. Man­afort, Mr. Fried­man or any­one else. In all my polit­i­cal activ­i­ties I have pre­sent­ed my own opin­ions,” Kwas­niews­ki added.

    In Kwasniewski’s ghost-writ­ten account of his activ­i­ties in Ukraine 2012–2014, he describes hav­ing had a “dou­ble-hat­ted role … as Ukraine’s ambas­sador in Europe and the Unit­ed States and as ambas­sador of the transat­lantic com­mu­ni­ty in Ukraine.”

    “It [the mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion] always kept an eye on its inde­pen­dence and impar­tial­i­ty […] not allow­ing any side to use the mis­sion for its own pur­pos­es […] it is our belief that this inde­pen­dence and impar­tial­i­ty was ful­ly achieved,” Euro­pean Par­lia­ment press offi­cer Sanne De Ryck said.

    ”Alexan­der Kwas­niews­ki had a dou­ble role, work­ing for Ukrain­ian oli­garchs and the EU […] This cre­ates con­flicts of inter­est, which is indeed prob­lem­at­ic,” Ste­fan Meis­ter, expert at the Ger­man Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions told bne IntelliNews.

    Flight-track­ing Man­afort

    bne IntelliNews obtained flight data for Manafort’s Ukraine vis­its for those years. His flight data made it pos­si­ble to track his lob­by­ing activ­i­ties in 2012–2015, in the run-up to the Euro­maid­an rev­o­lu­tion of Feb­ru­ary 2014 and its after­math.

    The flight data points to inten­sive Man­afort super­vi­sion of the “Haps­burg Group” mem­bers such as Gusen­bauer, Kwas­niews­ki, and Pro­di. Man­afort fre­quent­ly flew on the Lovochkin family’s per­son­al jets between Ukraine and Europe to attend their con­fer­ences or meet indi­vid­u­al­ly.

    Manafort’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jason Mal­oni declined to com­ment on the flight data. A source close to Man­afort, how­ev­er, argued that he had “con­sis­tent­ly advo­cat­ed for Ukraine to have clos­er ties to the West.”

    Kwas­niews­ki con­firmed this. “He [Man­afort] was in favour of sign­ing the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment.”

    Yulia Lovochk­i­na acknowl­edged own­ing an exec­u­tive jet busi­ness. “Its ser­vices were open to every­one on the mar­ket,” she said. She also acknowl­edged fly­ing with Man­afort to the Rome con­fer­ence on one of the planes. She “paid for the tick­et her­self and had her own agen­da for the trip,” she said.

    Man­afort lost lit­tle time after the cre­ation of the Haps­burg group in June 2012. On Sep­tem­ber 20, 2012, Gusen­berg and Pro­di spoke at a con­fer­ence organ­ised by the Otto Ren­ner Insti­tut. Man­afort flew to Vien­na on its con­clu­sion the fol­low­ing day.

    On Octo­ber 23, 2012, he flew on a one-day trip from Kyiv to Berlin, where the Haps­burg group — includ­ing Kwas­niews­ki — were appear­ing at a con­fer­ence organ­ised by the East­ern Econ­o­my Com­mit­tee. Kwas­niews­ki con­firmed a meet­ing with Man­afort here.

    By the end of 2012, the lob­by­ing effort was begin­ning to pay off. The crown­ing came on Decem­ber 18, 2012, when Manafort’s vis­it to Kyiv coin­cid­ed with the 11th Cox-Kwas­niews­ki mis­sion vis­it. Kwas­niews­ki con­firmed meet­ing Man­afort on this occa­sion.

    Yanukovych, orig­i­nal­ly sched­uled to be vis­it­ing Moscow, can­celled on the Krem­lin with no notice to meet Cox and Kwas­niews­ki

    In return, Cox and Kwas­niews­ki heaped praise on Ukraine’s then prime min­is­ter Myko­la Azarov on the occa­sion of his birth­day in an open let­ter. This was a huge turn­around com­pared to sev­en months ear­li­er, when Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil Her­man van Rompuy had told jour­nal­ists that Azarov “should stay at home” instead of vis­it­ing Brus­sels.

    The road to Vil­nius

    The lob­by­ing effort accel­er­at­ed in 2013, start­ing with the March 2013 Rome con­fer­ence. The EU’s Vil­nius sum­mit slat­ed for Novem­ber 2013 was approach­ing where Ukraine was expect­ed to sign the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment.

    On May 15–17, 2013, Man­afort flew again for a week­end in War­saw and Brus­sels, return­ing on a Lovochkin exec­u­tive jet. In War­saw he met one-on-one with Kwas­niews­ki. On May 17, Pro­di and Gusen­bauer were in Brus­sels for the Ukraine on the road to Vil­nius con­fer­ence.

    Two months lat­er, Man­afort was again air bound on a Lovochkin plane, on a one day vis­it from Frank­furt, land­ing from the US, bound for the Crimea on July 29. He flew back from Crimea to Frank­furt on the same day.

    One day before, Rus­sia and Ukraine had joint­ly cel­e­brat­ed the Sovi­et-era Navy Day with a shared dis­play of their two fleets that was attend­ed by Putin and Yanukovych. Join manoeu­vres dis­played the close con­tacts between the top brass of the two fleets that pre­fig­ured Russia’s annex­a­tion of the Crimean penin­su­la only nine months lat­er.

    But it was not for Navy Day that Man­afort flew to Crimea, togeth­er with his assis­tant Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik, one day lat­er. His mis­sion was to bol­ster Yanukovych’s deci­sion to go for Europe.

    Cox and Kwas­nievs­ki arrived in Crimea on the same day as Man­afort. On the morn­ing of July 30, they were sched­uled to meet with Yanukovych in Crimea for anoth­er ses­sion on Tymoshenko’s fate. Kwas­niews­ki said Man­afort did not meet with the mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion in Crimea that day.

    But as the pace of events quick­ened in sum­mer and autumn 2013, Man­afort had a series of one-to-one meet­ings with Kwas­niews­ki in War­saw, the for­mer Pol­ish pres­i­dent acknowl­edged.

    These cul­mi­nat­ed in Man­afort fly­ing to War­saw on Octo­ber 18 — on Lovochkin’s plane — to meet Kwas­niews­ki. Lat­er the same day Yanukovych said he would be ready to let Tymoshenko depart to Ger­many for treat­ment, as soon as Ukraine’s par­lia­ment passed leg­is­la­tion enabling this.

    The Fir­tash con­nec­tion

    The pri­vate jet flights and per­son­al con­nec­tions show that Manafort’s part­ner in this lob­by­ing effort was Yanukovych’s chief of staff Lovochkin.

    Lovochkin said that he had also “always been a strong sup­port­er of the Euro­pean inte­gra­tion of Ukraine,” but denied that he had super­vised Manafort’s lob­by­ing. Kwas­niews­ki con­firmed that Lovochkin was in the pro-EU camp.

    Lovochkin is the junior part­ner of bil­lion­aire oli­garch Dmytro Fir­tash, who had made his for­tune trad­ing gas via noto­ri­ous com­pa­ny Rosukren­er­go, that alleged­ly skimmed off hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars for the Russ­ian and Ukrain­ian elite. Lovochkin and Fir­tash togeth­er also con­trol Ukraine’s largest TV chan­nel, Inter.

    Manafort’s con­tin­ued par­tic­i­pa­tion in post-Yanukovych Ukraine also points to his ties to Lovochkin and Fir­tash. While most mem­bers of the Yanukovych admin­is­tra­tion fled to Rus­sia or were arrest­ed after Feb­ru­ary 2014, Lovochkin has con­tin­ued his polit­i­cal career with impuni­ty, despite hav­ing served at the heart of Yanukovych’s regime for four years.

    Post Yanukovych’s oust­ing, Man­afort may have attend­ed top-lev­el Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal meet­ings where the oli­garchs decid­ed who would gov­ern.

    On March 25 he flew out of Vien­na to Kyiv. His vis­it to Vien­na had coin­cid­ed with a cru­cial meet­ing between Petro Poroshenko and Vien­na-based Fir­tash in that city. Lovochkin had also attend­ed the meet­ing at which Fir­tash agreed to back Poroshenko for the post of pres­i­dent, rather than for­mer box­er Vitaly Klichko, effec­tive­ly crown­ing Poroshenko pres­i­dent.

    In Novem­ber 13, 2014, as details of a new gov­ern­ment were being ham­mered out after the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, the flight data records that Man­afort flew from Kyiv to Nice, France, on a pri­vate jet with Ihor Tara­siuk, the busi­ness part­ner of Poroshenko’s first deputy chief of staff, Yuri Kosiuk. Tara­siuk denied tak­ing the flight to bne IntelliNews, although he con­firmed the per­son­al data pro­vid­ed was cor­rect.

    Manafort’s Ukraine engage­ments actu­al­ly increased fol­low­ing Yanukovych’s ouster in Feb­ru­ary 2014. In March to June 2014, he spent a total of 27 days in Ukraine, where­as dur­ing the four pre­ced­ing Euro­maid­an months, Novem­ber-Feb­ru­ary 2014, Man­afort only vis­it­ed Ukraine three times for a total of nine days.

    Accord­ing to the Mueller indict­ment, Man­afort was engaged as lob­by­ist for Lovochkin’s new par­ty Oppo­si­tion Bloc, wide­ly regard­ed as fund­ed by Fir­tash. This explains Manafort’s long stays in Ukraine dur­ing the post-Maid­an elec­tion cam­paigns, accord­ing to the flight data: one week pri­or to the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in May 2014, and one month pri­or to the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in Octo­ber 2014.

    Manafort’s flight data con­cludes with a four-week stay in Ukraine through to Octo­ber 27, 2015. This peri­od coin­cides with the cam­paign for region­al elec­tions, which cement­ed Lovochkin’s Oppo­si­tion Bloc as a dom­i­nant force across south and east Ukraine. Only months after the close of elec­tion­eer­ing in con­flict-wracked Ukraine, Man­afort was elec­tion­eer­ing in the US, on behalf of the con­tro­ver­sial can­di­date for the world’s most pow­er­ful office.

    Maid­an mys­tery

    Manafort’s flight data sheds no light how­ev­er on his rela­tion­ship, if any, to the Euro­maid­an rev­o­lu­tion. Euro­maid­an was trig­gered by events in Kyiv on the night of Novem­ber 29, when police vio­lent­ly dis­persed a small demon­stra­tion of pro-EU stu­dents who were protest­ing after Yanukovych refused to sign the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment. The vio­lence prompt­ed a huge demon­stra­tion occu­py­ing the heart of Kyiv on Decem­ber 1.

    All we have are cryp­tic mes­sages exchanged between Manafort’s daugh­ters, one of whose phones was hacked in 2016. Man­afort con­firmed the hack and cor­rob­o­rat­ed some of the mes­sages to Politi­co.

    Accord­ing to mes­sages between the sis­ters dis­cussing Manafort’s actions in Ukraine, it was Manafort’s idea “to send those peo­ple out and get them slaugh­tered. Do you know whose strat­e­gy that was to cause that Revolts [sic] and what not […] As a tac­tic to out­rage the world and get focus on Ukraine.” Manafort’s daugh­ter called her father’s mon­ey “blood mon­ey.”

    The remarks were made by those privy to the deep­est secrets of Manafort’s per­son­al life. They evoke the sus­pi­cion that Man­afort manip­u­lat­ed the Maid­an protests and the police vio­lence to influ­ence inter­na­tion­al opin­ion.

    The appear­ance of the Man­afort mes­sages in 2016 reignit­ed spec­u­la­tion in Ukraine that none oth­er than Lovochkin insti­gat­ed the attack on the stu­dents’ demon­stra­tion on Novem­ber 29, 2013, to trig­ger out­rage against Yanukovych.

    Some of the time­line fits this inter­pre­ta­tion: On the day before the police attack, reporters not­ed Yulia Lovochk­i­na open­ly frater­nising with the stu­dents on the Maid­an. Lovochkin’s TV crews cov­ered the 4am events close­ly, and Lovochkin imme­di­ate­ly ten­dered his res­ig­na­tion in protest at the police vio­lence.

    The next day, Lovochkin’s TV chan­nel played footage of the worst of the police vio­lence on heavy rota­tion on prime time news. News anchors intoned that Yanukovych had “shed the blood of Ukrain­ian chil­dren.” Where­as the stu­dent protests had attract­ed hun­dreds, protests on Sun­day Decem­ber 1 against the police vio­lence attract­ed hun­dreds of thou­sands. This was the start of Euro­maid­an.

    Author­i­ta­tive chron­i­cler of the Euro­maid­an rev­o­lu­tion Sonya Koshk­i­na, as well as Ukrain­ian pros­e­cu­tors, have argued it was anti-EU hard­lin­ers who were respon­si­ble for attack­ing the stu­dents.

    But on the third anniver­sary of events, Novem­ber 29, 2016, Ukraine’s inte­ri­or min­is­ter Arsen Avakov told the BBC that “Lovochkin was the author of the dis­per­sal of the [stu­dents’] Maid­an, and should be in prison, not in par­lia­ment.”

    Lovochkin denies any role in the attack on the stu­dents. “I sub­mit­ted my res­ig­na­tion because of Pres­i­dent Yanukovych’s deci­sion to decline sign­ing the Deep and Com­pre­hen­sive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) […] and the use of force against peace­ful pro­test­ers in Kyiv fol­low­ing it,” he said.

    What was Lovochkin’s moti­va­tion to break with Yanukovych so abrupt­ly over Europe, whether or not he was involved in the vio­lence? Accord­ing to Koshk­i­na, Lovochkin was “a place­man of Fir­tash and one of the archi­tects of the regime,” hard­ly a nation­al­ist or free­dom-lov­ing lib­er­al. But in June 2013 the US had indict­ed Fir­tash for alleged bribery in India. On Octo­ber 30 2013 — as Yanukovych was waver­ing over the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with the EU — the US issued an arrest war­rant for Fir­tash.

    The US with­drew the arrest war­rant four days lat­er — after US deputy sec­re­tary of state Vic­to­ria Nuland met Yanukovych in Kyiv, and received assur­ances that Yanukovych would sign the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment, Fir­tash said dur­ing extra­di­tion hear­ings in Vien­na in 2015 that first revealed the details of the case. But come the Vil­nius Sum­mit, Yanukovych failed to sign. The arrest war­rant was reis­sued in March 2014, and Fir­tash was arrest­ed in Vien­na on March 12, 2014.

    Legal pro­ceed­ings in Ukraine have yet to estab­lish ulti­mate respon­si­bil­i­ty for the police attack on stu­dents on Novem­ber 29 and indeed for much of the vio­lence against pro­tes­tors in the win­ter of 2013–2014. On June 23, plans to abol­ish the prosecutor’s spe­cial office inves­ti­gat­ing crimes against Euro­maid­an demon­stra­tors became known.

    ...

    ———-

    “Wheels up: Paul Man­afort’s flight records show how he super­vised EU top brass in the run-up to Ukraine rev­o­lu­tion” by Gra­ham Stack in Berlin; BNE Intellinews; 07/02/2018

    “Infa­mous US lob­by­ist Paul Man­afort organ­ised EU lumi­nar­ies to plead with Brus­sels to sign off on an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with Ukraine with­out the free­ing of jailed oppo­si­tion leader Yulia Tymoshenko in 2012–2013, his flight records, revealed by bne IntelliNews for the first time, show.”

    Man­afort orga­nized EU lumi­nar­ies to plead­ing with the EU to let Ukraine join the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment. That’s the cen­tral ele­ment of this whole sto­ry that is simul­ta­ne­ous­ly nev­er refut­ed, reg­u­lar­ly acknowl­eged, and yet some­how nev­er real­ly rec­og­nized. It’s kind of amaz­ing.

    Yes, Yanukovy­ch’s gov­ern­ment real­ly, real­ly, real­ly want­ed to keep Yulia Tymoshenko in jail at the same time they real­ly, real­ly, real­ly want­ed to get Ukraine clos­er to the EU, but the fact that this was a seri­ous push to get Ukraine much clos­er to the EU is a pret­ty unde­ni­able aspect of this whole sto­ry.

    And as Man­afort’s flight records also reveal, Man­afort remained an impor­tant play­er in Ukraine’s polit­i­cal land­scape long after Yanukovych fled, high­light­ing how Man­afort’s ties to Ukraine weren’t lim­it­ed to a close work­ing rela­tion­ship with Yanukovych that start­ed in 2005 and end­ed in Feb­ru­ary 2014. His advice remained val­ued by the post-Yanukovych left­overs of the Par­ty of Regions that mor­phed into the Oppo­si­tion Bloc. Part of that polit­i­cal resiliance in Ukraine appears to be root­ed in his close ties to Yanukovy­ch’s chief of staff Ser­heii Lovochkin. And it’s those ties to Lovochkin, and Lovochk­in’s own pos­si­ble role in insti­gat­ing the Novem­ber 29, 2013, clash with police, that raise the ques­tion of whether or not Man­afort and Lovochkin helped trig­ger the inci­dent that sparked the Maid­an protests:

    ...
    Man­afort organ­ised the lob­by­ing cam­paign on the orders of Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, who was oust­ed by mass demon­stra­tions in Kyiv when he even­tu­al­ly failed to sign the deal.

    The infor­ma­tion backs up alle­ga­tions made by US spe­cial con­sul Robert Mueller that, as part of the cam­paign to do an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment deal, Man­afort retained EU “super VIPs” to lob­by for Yanukovych.

    The flight records also reveal Man­afort remained a play­er in Ukraine after the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion until as late as 2015 – only months before he signed up as US pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign man­ag­er.

    And Manafort’s rela­tion­ship to a top Yanukovych aide, who turned against his mas­ter dur­ing the Euro­maid­an move­ment, rais­es ques­tions about the spin doctor’s role in Ukraine’s 2013–14 rev­o­lu­tion.
    ...

    Man­afort’s ties to Lovochkin appear to be key to under­stand­ing the peo­ple behind the Haps­burg Group because it turns out Ser­hei­i’s sis­ter and Ukrain­ian MP, Yulia Lovochk­i­na, was at a key meet­ing in Rome in March of 2013, where Yulia made the case to a select gath­er­ing that the EU Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment need­ed to be han­dled sep­a­rate­ly from the issue of the free­ing of Yulia Tymoshenko:

    ...
    VIP trips

    The sto­ry starts with a key meet­ing in Rome in 2013. Flanked by EU elder states­men, all for­mer heads of their respec­tive states, Yulia Lovochk­i­na, a Ukrain­ian MP, addressed a select gath­er­ing in Rome on the top­ic of Ukraine’s goal of sign­ing an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with the EU.

    ...

    The date of the Rome meet­ing was March 6, 2013, and the speak­er Yulia Lovochk­i­na was none oth­er the sis­ter of Ser­hii Lovochkin, Yanukovych’s pow­er­ful chief of staff. Despite the assur­ances of com­mit­ment to the EU, less than a year lat­er, Yanukovych’s secu­ri­ty forces would mas­sacre 100 pro-EU pro­tes­tors in the heart of Kyiv. Three days lat­er he fled Ukraine for Rus­sia.

    Tymoshenko, leader of Ukraine’s oppo­si­tion at the time, was lan­guish­ing in prison. She had lost to Yanukovych in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions of 2010 — and Yanukovych prompt­ly jailed her in 2011. The inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty were out­raged, call­ing her jail­ing polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed and link­ing her release to the pas­sage of the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment deal.
    ...

    And while it sounds like all Yuli­a’s desires to see these issues han­dled sep­a­rate­ly was shared by the rest of speak­ers. Speak­ers who it turns out were part of the Haps­burg Group: Alfred Gusen­bauer, Romano Pro­di, and Alexan­der Kwas­niews­ki:

    ...
    All the speak­ers at the Rome meet­ing were unit­ed by a desire to do the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment deal, but the under­cur­rent to their speech­es was an insis­tence that the sign­ing of the agree­ment and Tymoshenko’s fate were two sep­a­rate issues, which was in stark con­trast to Brus­sels’ ini­tial line.

    In her speech, Lovochk­i­na was explic­it: the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment should be signed inde­pen­dent­ly from Tymoshenko’s case. “It [sign­ing the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment] can­not be held hostage by a sin­gle crim­i­nal case […] by the future of Yulia Tymoshenko because it is an issue con­cern­ing the future of Ukraine,” she said.

    As a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Yanukovych admin­is­tra­tion, Lovochkina’s line was pre­dictable. But more sur­pris­ing­ly was the sup­port she got from the emi­nent Euro­pean VIPs who backed her up. Using a vari­ety of euphemisms, they pushed essen­tial­ly the same argu­ment: that the issue of the EU-Ukraine Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment, and the issue of Tymoshenko’s impris­on­ment, should be kept sep­a­rate from each oth­er.

    “The ques­tion of the des­tiny of Ukraine and its Euro­pean future can­not depend on one sin­gle case,” Alfred Gusen­bauer, for­mer chan­cel­lor of Aus­tria, said. “In the case of Tymoshenko it is nec­es­sary to look for solu­tions with­out mak­ing a com­pli­cat­ed sit­u­a­tion more com­pli­cat­ed,” said Alexan­der Kwas­niews­ki, for­mer pres­i­dent of Poland, who was also the senior part­ner in the Euro­pean Parliament’s “mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion” to Ukraine that had been tasked with resolv­ing the impasse caused by Tymoshenko’s impris­on­ment.

    Con­clud­ing the con­fer­ence, Roman Pro­di, for­mer prime min­is­ter of Italy and pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, argued that the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion to Ukraine — run by Kwas­niews­ki — should exam­ine the Tymoshenko case as “the cor­rect frame­work for a Euro­pean Union that helps pro­motes rights, but at the same time does not close off a rela­tion­ship which is valu­able for Ukraine and Europe.”
    ...

    Also in atten­dance was Paul Man­afort, who flew to the meet­ing with Yulia on one of the Lovochkin fam­i­ly’s pri­vate jets. It was Man­afort who assem­bed the speak­ers:

    ...
    As the audi­ence applaud­ed the awk­ward group­ing on the podi­um, one man in the audi­ence may have been par­tic­u­lar­ly hap­py: US spin doc­tor Paul Man­afort, who had flown to Rome that day with Lovochk­i­na in one of the Lovochkin family’s pri­vate jets. Man­afort had assem­bled the speak­ers sit­ting in front of him on the podi­um, and was pulling the strings at the meet­ing.
    ...

    It’s also impor­tant to rec­og­nize how close Man­afort and the Lovochkins came in accom­plish­ing their goal. Thanks to Man­afort’s lob­by­ing effort, the EU even­tu­al­ly agreed to allow Ukraine into the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment as long as Yulia Tymoshenko was released and allowed to get med­ical treat­ment in Ger­many. But that did­n’t change the fact that the EU’s offer was still poten­tial­ly finan­cial­ly dev­as­tat­ing to Ukraine and it did­n’t include the firm offer of Ukraine even­tu­al­ly join­ing the EU, lead­ing to the even­tu­al col­lapse of the talks. But it did almost work. Man­afort was actu­al­ly remark­ably suc­cess­ful con­sid­er­ing the cir­cum­stances:

    ...
    Jail­ing Yulia Tymoshenko

    A few months ear­li­er West­ern lead­ers and EU offi­cials had made Ukraine’s sign­ing of an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment con­di­tion­al on the release of Tymoshenko.

    ...

    Man­afort was Yanukovych’s ace in the cam­paign to win over the west.

    In part as a result of Manafort’s lob­by­ing efforts, by Novem­ber 2013 the EU had agreed to sign the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with Ukraine in Vil­nius, with­out hav­ing secured Tymoshenko’s release. Instead she was to be allowed to leave Ukraine for med­ical treat­ment, exil­ing her from Ukraine.

    This was Manafort’s hour of tri­umph. But Russ­ian fury at the thought of Ukraine slip­ping from its grasp meant that it was short-lived. On Novem­ber 21, 2013, Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment announced it would not sign the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with the EU on Novem­ber 28.
    ...

    But that lob­by­ing effort was­n’t free, and the mon­ey flows involved with it are part of what’s cre­at­ed legal trou­ble for Man­afort under the Mueller inves­ti­ga­tion. Don’t for­get that the Haps­burg Group lob­by­ing involved lob­by­ing the US gov­ern­ment, mak­ing the Haps­burg Group’s finances a poten­tial vio­la­tion of US for­eign lob­by­ing laws:

    ...
    The Haps­burg PR

    ...

    On Feb­ru­ary 28, US Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller indict­ed Man­afort for ille­gal lob­by­ing. The details of the indict­ment point to Man­afort pulling the strings at the March 6 Rome con­fer­ence.

    Mueller’s indict­ment states that Man­afort “secret­ly retained a group for for­mer senior Euro­pean politi­cians to take posi­tions favourable to Ukraine. The plan was for the for­mer politi­cians, infor­mal­ly called the “Haps­burg Group,” to appear to be pro­vid­ing an inde­pen­dent assess­ment of the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine actions, when in fact they were paid lob­by­ists for Ukraine.”

    Accord­ing to the indict­ment Man­afort paid over €2mn to the “super VIPs” from off­shore accounts in 2012 and 2013.
    ...

    Inter­est­ing­ly, it appears to be Ital­ian-based US jour­nal­ist Alan Fried­man who con­ceived of the plan Haps­burg Group. Fried­man wrote a memo to Man­afort where he explic­it­ly sug­gests recruit­ing Alexan­der Kwas­niews­ki, the lead mem­ber of the EU mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion to Ukraine. And because this would be an obvi­ous con­flict of inter­est, Fried­man rec­om­mend­ed that Man­afort get ex-Aus­tri­an Chan­cel­lor Alfred Gusen­bauer to act as the mid­dle-man: Man­afort would give order to Gusen­bauer, who would relay them to Kwas­niews­ki. This appears to be the dynam­ic that was secret­ly play­ing out that the Rome meet­ing and the var­i­ous oth­er Haps­burg Group meet­ings:

    ...
    The doc­u­ment was a mem­o­ran­dum to Man­afort authored in June 2012 by Ital­ian-based US jour­nal­ist Alan Fried­man — the man who chaired the March 2013 con­fer­ence in Rome.

    In the memo, Fried­man sug­gest­ed recruit­ing Kwas­niews­ki to the group. But he not­ed that Kwas­niews­ki would have a con­flict of inter­ests because Kwas­niews­ki was the lead­ing fig­ure in the Euro­pean Parliament’s mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion to Ukraine.

    The mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion was tasked with judg­ing whether Ukraine was fit to sign an Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment with the Euro­pean Union. A leader of the mon­i­tor­ing to mis­sion could hard­ly also pub­licly lob­by in favour of Ukraine.

    Fried­man then sug­gest­ed to Man­afort that Kwas­niews­ki appear at con­fer­ences togeth­er with Gusen­bauer, with con­fer­ences planned for Berlin, Rome and Brus­sels. Those recruit­ed for the group would “take direc­tion from us infor­mal­ly and via Alfred [Gusen­bauer].”
    ...

    Kwas­niews­ki denies being part of the Haps­burg Group, which he obvi­ous­ly has to deny giv­en his role as the lead fig­ure in the EU mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion. But he still acknowl­edged hav­ing a “dou­ble-hat­ted role” as Ukraine’s ambas­sador in Europe and the Unit­ed States and as ambas­sador of the transat­lantic com­mu­ni­ty in Ukraine:

    ...
    In Kwasniewski’s ghost-writ­ten account of his activ­i­ties in Ukraine 2012–2014, he describes hav­ing had a “dou­ble-hat­ted role … as Ukraine’s ambas­sador in Europe and the Unit­ed States and as ambas­sador of the transat­lantic com­mu­ni­ty in Ukraine.”

    “It [the mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion] always kept an eye on its inde­pen­dence and impar­tial­i­ty […] not allow­ing any side to use the mis­sion for its own pur­pos­es […] it is our belief that this inde­pen­dence and impar­tial­i­ty was ful­ly achieved,” Euro­pean Par­lia­ment press offi­cer Sanne De Ryck said.

    ”Alexan­der Kwas­niews­ki had a dou­ble role, work­ing for Ukrain­ian oli­garchs and the EU […] This cre­ates con­flicts of inter­est, which is indeed prob­lem­at­ic,” Ste­fan Meis­ter, expert at the Ger­man Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions told bne IntelliNews.
    ...

    As part of Man­afort’s direct role in super­vis­ing the Haps­burg Group he appears to have used the Lovochkin fam­i­ly’s pri­vate jet fre­quent­ly to either fly out to con­fer­ences (like the one in Rome) or meet with Haps­burg Group mem­bers indi­vid­u­al­ly. This rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not Ser­heii or his sis­ter Yulia were also on those flights, as Yulia was for that March 2013 Rome meet­ing:

    ...
    Flight-track­ing Man­afort

    bne IntelliNews obtained flight data for Manafort’s Ukraine vis­its for those years. His flight data made it pos­si­ble to track his lob­by­ing activ­i­ties in 2012–2015, in the run-up to the Euro­maid­an rev­o­lu­tion of Feb­ru­ary 2014 and its after­math.

    The flight data points to inten­sive Man­afort super­vi­sion of the “Haps­burg Group” mem­bers such as Gusen­bauer, Kwas­niews­ki, and Pro­di. Man­afort fre­quent­ly flew on the Lovochkin family’s per­son­al jets between Ukraine and Europe to attend their con­fer­ences or meet indi­vid­u­al­ly.

    Manafort’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jason Mal­oni declined to com­ment on the flight data. A source close to Man­afort, how­ev­er, argued that he had “con­sis­tent­ly advo­cat­ed for Ukraine to have clos­er ties to the West.”

    Kwas­niews­ki con­firmed this. “He [Man­afort] was in favour of sign­ing the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment.”

    ...

    Man­afort lost lit­tle time after the cre­ation of the Haps­burg group in June 2012. On Sep­tem­ber 20, 2012, Gusen­berg and Pro­di spoke at a con­fer­ence organ­ised by the Otto Ren­ner Insti­tut. Man­afort flew to Vien­na on its con­clu­sion the fol­low­ing day.

    On Octo­ber 23, 2012, he flew on a one-day trip from Kyiv to Berlin, where the Haps­burg group — includ­ing Kwas­niews­ki — were appear­ing at a con­fer­ence organ­ised by the East­ern Econ­o­my Com­mit­tee. Kwas­niews­ki con­firmed a meet­ing with Man­afort here.

    By the end of 2012, the lob­by­ing effort was begin­ning to pay off. The crown­ing came on Decem­ber 18, 2012, when Manafort’s vis­it to Kyiv coin­cid­ed with the 11th Cox-Kwas­niews­ki mis­sion vis­it. Kwas­niews­ki con­firmed meet­ing Man­afort on this occa­sion.

    Yanukovych, orig­i­nal­ly sched­uled to be vis­it­ing Moscow, can­celled on the Krem­lin with no notice to meet Cox and Kwas­niews­ki

    In return, Cox and Kwas­niews­ki heaped praise on Ukraine’s then prime min­is­ter Myko­la Azarov on the occa­sion of his birth­day in an open let­ter. This was a huge turn­around com­pared to sev­en months ear­li­er, when Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil Her­man van Rompuy had told jour­nal­ists that Azarov “should stay at home” instead of vis­it­ing Brus­sels.
    ...

    Note that Yulia Lovochk­i­na owns an exec­u­tive jet busi­ness, so while these appear to be basi­cal­ly Lovochkin fam­i­ly pri­vate planes, they are like­ly oper­at­ing as part of this exec­u­tive jet busi­ness. Also note that Lovochk­i­na is act­ing like the flight she and Man­afort took to Rome on her jet was just coin­ci­den­tal. She lit­er­al­ly says she had “her own agen­da for the trip”, which is far­ci­cal giv­en the cir­cum­stances:

    ...
    Yulia Lovochk­i­na acknowl­edged own­ing an exec­u­tive jet busi­ness. “Its ser­vices were open to every­one on the mar­ket,” she said. She also acknowl­edged fly­ing with Man­afort to the Rome con­fer­ence on one of the planes. She “paid for the tick­et her­self and had her own agen­da for the trip,” she said.
    ...

    One of the flight records involv­ing the use of the Lovochkin plane involved a July trip to Frank­furt. It’s worth recall­ing that the pre­vi­ous report on Man­afort’s flight records involv­ing a plane oper­at­ed by a busi­ness owned by Andrii Arte­menko’s dad also involved a trip to Frank­furt. So it would be iter­est­ing to learn how often Man­afort’s flights were on these pri­vate planes dur­ing this 2012–2013 peri­od. Were most of them on pri­vate planes or just some flights? Fol­low­ing that one day vis­it to Frank­furt, Man­afort flew to Crimea. Kwas­nievs­ki and Patrick Cox (anoth­er Haps­burg Group mem­ber) arrived in Crimea that same day:

    ...
    The road to Vil­nius

    The lob­by­ing effort accel­er­at­ed in 2013, start­ing with the March 2013 Rome con­fer­ence. The EU’s Vil­nius sum­mit slat­ed for Novem­ber 2013 was approach­ing where Ukraine was expect­ed to sign the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment.

    On May 15–17, 2013, Man­afort flew again for a week­end in War­saw and Brus­sels, return­ing on a Lovochkin exec­u­tive jet. In War­saw he met one-on-one with Kwas­niews­ki. On May 17, Pro­di and Gusen­bauer were in Brus­sels for the Ukraine on the road to Vil­nius con­fer­ence.

    Two months lat­er, Man­afort was again air bound on a Lovochkin plane, on a one day vis­it from Frank­furt, land­ing from the US, bound for the Crimea on July 29. He flew back from Crimea to Frank­furt on the same day.

    ...

    But it was not for Navy Day that Man­afort flew to Crimea, togeth­er with his assis­tant Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik, one day lat­er. His mis­sion was to bol­ster Yanukovych’s deci­sion to go for Europe.

    Cox and Kwas­nievs­ki arrived in Crimea on the same day as Man­afort. On the morn­ing of July 30, they were sched­uled to meet with Yanukovych in Crimea for anoth­er ses­sion on Tymoshenko’s fate. Kwas­niews­ki said Man­afort did not meet with the mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion in Crimea that day.
    ...

    Kwas­niews­ki also acknowl­edges that he had a series of one-on-one meet­ings with Man­afort in the sum­mer and autumn of 2013. This is a good exam­ple of how Kwas­niews­ki was prob­a­bly act­ing as a backchan­nel between the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment and EU forces who want­ed to see this Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment hap­pen. Man­afort even­tu­al­ly makes a flight to War­saw on Octo­ber 18 (about a month before the col­lapse of the talks) on a Lovochkin plane. It was after that meet­ing that Yanukovych agrees to allow Tymoshenko to get med­ical treat­ment in Ger­many, pend­ing approval by the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment. That bill that would release Tymoshenko was even­tu­al­ly reject­ed by the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment hours after Yanukovych pulled out of the nego­ti­a­tions on Novem­ber 21, 2013, but, again, this is how close this came to hap­pen­ing, high­light­ing how seri­ous Yanukovych and Man­afort were in mak­ing this hap­pen:

    ...
    But as the pace of events quick­ened in sum­mer and autumn 2013, Man­afort had a series of one-to-one meet­ings with Kwas­niews­ki in War­saw, the for­mer Pol­ish pres­i­dent acknowl­edged.

    These cul­mi­nat­ed in Man­afort fly­ing to War­saw on Octo­ber 18 — on Lovochkin’s plane — to meet Kwas­niews­ki. Lat­er the same day Yanukovych said he would be ready to let Tymoshenko depart to Ger­many for treat­ment, as soon as Ukraine’s par­lia­ment passed leg­is­la­tion enabling this.
    ...

    It’s also impor­tant to rec­og­nize that the sup­port of the Lovochkins for the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment points towards the sup­port of a much more sig­nif­i­cant Ukrain­ian oli­garch: Dmytro Fir­tash. Ser­heii is described as a junior part­ner of Fir­tash.

    The arti­cle also notes that Lovochkin con­tin­ued his polit­i­cal career with impuni­ty after Yanukovych fled, which is rather remark­able giv­en that he was Yanukovy­ch’s chief of staff:

    ...
    The Fir­tash con­nec­tion

    The pri­vate jet flights and per­son­al con­nec­tions show that Manafort’s part­ner in this lob­by­ing effort was Yanukovych’s chief of staff Lovochkin.

    ...

    Lovochkin is the junior part­ner of bil­lion­aire oli­garch Dmytro Fir­tash, who had made his for­tune trad­ing gas via noto­ri­ous com­pa­ny Rosukren­er­go, that alleged­ly skimmed off hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars for the Russ­ian and Ukrain­ian elite. Lovochkin and Fir­tash togeth­er also con­trol Ukraine’s largest TV chan­nel, Inter.

    Manafort’s con­tin­ued par­tic­i­pa­tion in post-Yanukovych Ukraine also points to his ties to Lovochkin and Fir­tash. While most mem­bers of the Yanukovych admin­is­tra­tion fled to Rus­sia or were arrest­ed after Feb­ru­ary 2014, Lovochkin has con­tin­ued his polit­i­cal career with impuni­ty, despite hav­ing served at the heart of Yanukovych’s regime for four years.
    ...

    So the Lovochkins are clear­ly part of the post-Yanukovych Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment. And flight records indi­cate Paul Man­afort may have attend­ed a March 25, 2014, meet­ing where that post-Yanukovych estab­lish­ment was estab­lished. On that date he flew from Vien­na to Kyiv, where is the date of a meet­ing were Fir­tash agreed to back Petro Poroshenko for pres­i­dent, effec­tive­ly crown­ing Poroshenko pres­i­dent:

    ...
    Post Yanukovych’s oust­ing, Man­afort may have attend­ed top-lev­el Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal meet­ings where the oli­garchs decid­ed who would gov­ern.

    On March 25 he flew out of Vien­na to Kyiv. His vis­it to Vien­na had coin­cid­ed with a cru­cial meet­ing between Petro Poroshenko and Vien­na-based Fir­tash in that city. Lovochkin had also attend­ed the meet­ing at which Fir­tash agreed to back Poroshenko for the post of pres­i­dent, rather than for­mer box­er Vitaly Klichko, effec­tive­ly crown­ing Poroshenko pres­i­dent.
    ...

    And that was just one of a num­ber of flight records that indi­cate Man­afort’s ser­vices were very much in demand in the post-Yanukovych era, espe­cial­ly with the Oppo­si­tion Bloc being large­ly fund­ed by Fir­tash:

    ...
    In Novem­ber 13, 2014, as details of a new gov­ern­ment were being ham­mered out after the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, the flight data records that Man­afort flew from Kyiv to Nice, France, on a pri­vate jet with Ihor Tara­siuk, the busi­ness part­ner of Poroshenko’s first deputy chief of staff, Yuri Kosiuk. Tara­siuk denied tak­ing the flight to bne IntelliNews, although he con­firmed the per­son­al data pro­vid­ed was cor­rect.

    Manafort’s Ukraine engage­ments actu­al­ly increased fol­low­ing Yanukovych’s ouster in Feb­ru­ary 2014. In March to June 2014, he spent a total of 27 days in Ukraine, where­as dur­ing the four pre­ced­ing Euro­maid­an months, Novem­ber-Feb­ru­ary 2014, Man­afort only vis­it­ed Ukraine three times for a total of nine days.

    Accord­ing to the Mueller indict­ment, Man­afort was engaged as lob­by­ist for Lovochkin’s new par­ty Oppo­si­tion Bloc, wide­ly regard­ed as fund­ed by Fir­tash. This explains Manafort’s long stays in Ukraine dur­ing the post-Maid­an elec­tion cam­paigns, accord­ing to the flight data: one week pri­or to the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in May 2014, and one month pri­or to the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in Octo­ber 2014.

    Manafort’s flight data con­cludes with a four-week stay in Ukraine through to Octo­ber 27, 2015. This peri­od coin­cides with the cam­paign for region­al elec­tions, which cement­ed Lovochkin’s Oppo­si­tion Bloc as a dom­i­nant force across south and east Ukraine. Only months after the close of elec­tion­eer­ing in con­flict-wracked Ukraine, Man­afort was elec­tion­eer­ing in the US, on behalf of the con­tro­ver­sial can­di­date for the world’s most pow­er­ful office.
    ...

    And those close ties between Man­afort, the Lovochkins, and Fir­tash is part of what has led to spec­u­la­tion that they were all involved with insti­gat­ing the Novem­ber 29, 2013, clash­es between riot police and pro­tes­tors that sparked the Maid­an protests:

    .
    ...
    Maid­an mys­tery

    ...

    Accord­ing to mes­sages between the sis­ters dis­cussing Manafort’s actions in Ukraine, it was Manafort’s idea “to send those peo­ple out and get them slaugh­tered. Do you know whose strat­e­gy that was to cause that Revolts [sic] and what not […] As a tac­tic to out­rage the world and get focus on Ukraine.” Manafort’s daugh­ter called her father’s mon­ey “blood mon­ey.”

    The remarks were made by those privy to the deep­est secrets of Manafort’s per­son­al life. They evoke the sus­pi­cion that Man­afort manip­u­lat­ed the Maid­an protests and the police vio­lence to influ­ence inter­na­tion­al opin­ion.

    The appear­ance of the Man­afort mes­sages in 2016 reignit­ed spec­u­la­tion in Ukraine that none oth­er than Lovochkin insti­gat­ed the attack on the stu­dents’ demon­stra­tion on Novem­ber 29, 2013, to trig­ger out­rage against Yanukovych.
    ...

    Specif­i­cal­ly, on the day before the police attack, we have the reports that Yulia Lovhk­i­na was open­ly frat­er­niz­ing with pro­tes­tors the day before the attack. When the riot police were sent in to dis­perse the stu­dents, the TV chan­nel owned by Lovochkin and Fir­tash cov­ered the events close­ly. And the next day footage of the attack was played heav­i­ly in prime time, with the anchors inton­ing the Yanukovych had “shed the blood of Ukrain­ian chil­dren.” Again, this is from the TV sta­tion owned by Yanukovy­ch’s chief of staff, but a chief of staff who would have been enraged by the pull out of the Asso­ci­a­tion Agree­ment talks a week ear­li­er:

    ...
    Some of the time­line fits this inter­pre­ta­tion: On the day before the police attack, reporters not­ed Yulia Lovochk­i­na open­ly frater­nising with the stu­dents on the Maid­an. Lovochkin’s TV crews cov­ered the 4am events close­ly, and Lovochkin imme­di­ate­ly ten­dered his res­ig­na­tion in protest at the police vio­lence.

    The next day, Lovochkin’s TV chan­nel played footage of the worst of the police vio­lence on heavy rota­tion on prime time news. News anchors intoned that Yanukovych had “shed the blood of Ukrain­ian chil­dren.” Where­as the stu­dent protests had attract­ed hun­dreds, protests on Sun­day Decem­ber 1 against the police vio­lence attract­ed hun­dreds of thou­sands. This was the start of Euro­maid­an.
    ...

    And for what it’s worth, Ukraine’s inte­ri­or min­is­ter alleged in 2016 that Ser­heii Lovochkin was indeed the author of the order to dis­perse the stu­dents that night. Keep in mind that there’s no com­pelling region to believe Avakov in gen­er­al, but his claims do appear to be con­sis­tent with the rest of the avail­able evi­dence:

    ...
    But on the third anniver­sary of events, Novem­ber 29, 2016, Ukraine’s inte­ri­or min­is­ter Arsen Avakov told the BBC that “Lovochkin was the author of the dis­per­sal of the [stu­dents’] Maid­an, and should be in prison, not in par­lia­ment.”
    ...

    Final­ly, it’s worth not­ing that the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment itself still has­n’t issued a rul­ing on who was behind the deci­sion to order the police attack on the stu­dents. Or the Feb­ru­ary 2014 sniper attacks. It’s the kind of delay that sug­gests a strong desire to not know who was behind the vio­lence:

    ...
    Legal pro­ceed­ings in Ukraine have yet to estab­lish ulti­mate respon­si­bil­i­ty for the police attack on stu­dents on Novem­ber 29 and indeed for much of the vio­lence against pro­tes­tors in the win­ter of 2013–2014. On June 23, plans to abol­ish the prosecutor’s spe­cial office inves­ti­gat­ing crimes against Euro­maid­an demon­stra­tors became known.
    ...

    And, of course, we can’t for­get about the warn­ings from Ukraine’s Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko that the Ukrain­ian pub­lic will be shocked when they learn that the man who helped so-called “black hun­dred” of police task force Berkut flee Kyiv and delib­er­ate­ly drowned their weapons to con­ceal evi­dence was part of the Maid­an protests.

    So that all sheds quite a bit of light on what we know about Paul Man­afort and the Haps­burg Group lob­by­ing effort. We’re learn­ing that it was a lob­by­ing effort that had Man­afort work­ing close­ly with Vik­tor Yanukovy­ch’s chief of staff, Ser­heii Lovochkin. We’re also learn­ing that Lovochkin hap­pens to be a prime sus­pect for giv­ing the order for the Novem­ber 29. 2013, police to attack the stu­dents and polit­i­cal­ly cap­i­tal­ize on the out­rage.

    Was Paul Man­afort also involved in giv­ing that attack order? That remains to be seen but it sure looks like it.

    And we’re also learn­ing that Alexan­der Kwas­niews­ki was appar­ent­ly both a mem­ber of the Haps­burg Group and the lead fig­ure in the EU’s mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion to Ukraine. So the Haps­burg Group was either a joint coor­di­na­tion effort between Kiev and an EU fac­tion that want­ed to see Ukraine join the EU regard­less of the fate of Tymoshenko, with is pret­ty scan­dalous for the EU, or Kwas­niews­ki was secret­ly work­ing for the Haps­burg Group will offi­cial­ly act­ing as the head of the EU mon­i­tor­ing mis­sion to Ukraine, which would be incred­i­bly scan­dalous for Kwas­nies­ki per­son­al­ly.

    It’s one of the endur­ing themes of this sto­ry: the more we learn, the more scan­dalous it gets and yet the more mys­te­ri­ous it gets too, with one of the biggest mys­ter­ies and why there’s so lit­tle gen­er­al inter­est in actu­al­ly mak­ing sense of this scan­dal.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 11, 2018, 3:35 pm

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