Posts Tagged ‘Yanukovych’

MANAFORT’S UKRAINE CONNECTION SCRUTINISED

August 20, 2016

My repost of a Financial Times article published today, August 20

 

Konstantin Kilimnik’s suspected background in Russian intelligence raises concerns over former Trump manager

ROMAN OLEARCHYK — KIEV

NEIL BUCKLEY — LONDON

When Paul Manafort, now Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, arrived in Ukraine a decade ago to advise future president Viktor Yanukovich, he relied on one man to be his ears and voice as an interpreter.

That figure was a Russian citizen, Konstantin Kilimnik. But, say several people who used to work with him, it was an open secret among the Manafort team and at a previous employer that Mr Kilimnik — as an army-trained linguist — had a background in Russian military intelligence.

At the time, the connection was deemed unimportant — Mr Kilimnik was valued for his “excellent English”, these people say.

Today, with Mr Kilimnik still close to Mr Manafort, according to people who know both men, the links have taken on new significance. As Vladimir Putin, Russian president, likes to joke, there is no such thing as a former intelligence officer.

Revelations about Mr Kilimnik threaten to deepen the controversy over Mr Trump’s sympathetic comments towards Moscow and Mr Putin on the campaign trail — giving him a reputation as the US’s first pro-Russian ticket — and over Mr Manafort’s work for Mr Yanukovich, who was toppled by Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan revolution.

People close to Mr Manafort insisted his resignation from Mr Trump’s campaign had nothing to do with adverse publicity over his Ukrainian activities. Mr Trump’s campaign directed all questions about Mr Manafort’s relationship with Mr Kilimnik to Mr Manafort.

But one person with intimate knowledge of Mr Manafort’s operations said the relationship was grounds for concern.

“It is a very real issue if you have a known Russian intelligence officer one degree of separation from Donald Trump, presidential candidate,” he said. “Konstantin Kilimnik knows Paul very well, and Paul is at Trump’s right hand.”

Although Mr Manafort has said his work in Ukraine finished in 2014, one senior parliamentarian from Opposition Bloc, the rebranded Regions party once led by Mr Yanukovich, said Mr Kilimnik continued to advise the party, but that the role might not be “formal”.

Mr Kilimnik did not answer emailed questions from the Financial Times about whether he had worked in Russian military intelligence. But, responding to a report about the alleged links on the Politico website yesterday, he blamed an orchestrated “campaign” for seeking to “push Manafort away from Trump and annihilate his chances of winning”.

“I am just a minor casualty in the US political game, which honestly has nothing to do with Ukraine or its future,” he said.

Yet Mr Kilimnik’s role as a Manafort assistant gave him rare access to some of the region’s most senior figures, from Mr Yanukovich to billionaire oligarchs and senior western diplomats.

Born in Ukraine in 1970,Mr Kilimnik served in the Russian army. His first long-term job after leaving the military was as a translator in Moscow with the International Republican Institute, the US non- governmental organisation that promotes democracy, in the early

1990s.One former IRI employee said he was hired because of his proficiency in English. But another former IRI staffer said Mr Kilimnik’s background was a cause of concern for some staff, and it was assumed he continued to inform Russian intelligence.

A decade later, his language skills led to his recruitment as an interpreter for the Manafort team advising Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man, on an image makeover r.He remained with the team when it switched to advising Mr Yanukovich’s Regions party.

The interpreter was entrusted with more duties as the team helped Mr Yanukovich win the presidential electionin2010. “It was well known, I think, that he had some sort of intelligence background but that was never an issue for us because the embassy did not have much contact with Manafort’s operation,” a US official with experience in Ukraine recalled.

The Russian kept such a low profile:  there are no known photographs of him on the internet. Acquaintances describe him as highly intelligent, and a skilled political analyst.

Ukrainian politicians are now raising concerns about Mr Kilimnik’s proximity to Mr Manafort and through him, a potentiall  next US president .Volodymyr  Ariev, a pro-presidential MP, yesterday submitted a formal request for an investigation into Mr Kilimnik’s past. It came hours after Ukraine’s anti-corruption bureau published copies of entries totalling $12.7mtoMrManafort in an alleged ledger of off-the-books payments from the Regions party to political advisers, pundits and campaigners.

The bureau stressed, however, that it had not established if Mr Manafort received the payments. Mr Manafort this week denied ever receiving cash payments from the party.

Advertisements

FINITA LA COMEDIA

November 26, 2013

2013-11-26Yanuks-PromiseFor several months the Ukrainian media were propagandizing the benefits of the country’s association with the European Union. That was being done to such an extent that the Ukrainians had become energized with the idea of joining Europe.  Alas, the comedy is over! As it turned out, the Ukrainian president with a reputation of a jailbird had been playing nothing more than a game to raise the bids from Russia. Incidentally, his game was quite different from what the West thought it was. The West thought it was chess, but it proved to be a shell game. The thimble-rigger pulled a fast one on the EU and made a bolt to the other party — to the man in the Kremlin who feels rather smug and satisfied these days.  One European paper characterized the result of Putin’s latest engagement with the West in football terms: Putin 4, West 0 – the four scores being listed as Snowden, Syria, Armenia and Ukraine.

A different outcome could hardly have been expected: Yanukovych and Putin are a congenial company, even though Yanukovych may be afraid of Putin and Putin may despise Yanukovych.

HAPPY ENGLISH

May 17, 2012

Today I read a  linguistic joke. The joke looks rather hairy. It may have been applied to different presidents in different countries. However, the current Ukrainian president, known for putting his foot in his mouth too often, seems to be candidate No 1 for being in the center of the joke. Although, it may be no joke at all… Just sad truth.

In 2010 President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych was given some Basic English conversation training before he visited Washington and met President Barack Obama… The instructor told Victor Yanukovych, “When you shake hand with President Obama, please say ‘how r u’. Then Mr. Obama would say, ‘I am fine, and you?’ Now, you should say ‘me too’. Afterwards we, translators, will do the work for you.’ It looks quite simple, but the truth is… when Victor met Obama, he mistakenly said ‘who r u?’ (Instead of ‘How r u?’.) Mr. Obama was a bit shocked but still managed to react with humor: ‘Well, I’m Michelle’s husband, ha-ha…’ Then Victor Yanukovych replied ‘me too, ha-ha….’ Then there was a long silence in the meeting room.

SELECTIVE TRIALS, SELECTIVE REPORTING…

March 29, 2012

The presidents of the US and Ukraine Mr. Obama and Mr. Yanukovych met at a two-day summit on nuclear security in the capital of South Korea, Seoul. It was interesting to see readers’ comments on the meeting. The meeting lasted about 4 minutes. It looks like the presidents didn’t sit down to discuss things. One of the readers sarcastically writes that the meeting might have taken place near a men’s room – implying that during President Yanukovych’s visit to Strasbourg about a year ago Yanukovych’s bodyguards didn’t let Secretary-General of the Council of Europe Torbjørn Jagland into the men’s room because at that moment the Ukrainian president was there.

Another reader says that he has got a shorthand record of this meeting: YANUKOVYCH: “I am is a profffesor.” OBAMA: “Ok, ok…” (another implication: Yanukovich doesn’t speak English or any other foreign language besides Russian, and he is notoriously famous for spelling his scholarly rank “professor” with double “f”).

On a serious note, though: the presidents discussed the nuclear security and the U.S. President expressed gratitude for Ukraine’s cooperation in this matter. But he also drew Yanukovych’s attention to the fact that trials in Ukraine are being held selectively, the political opposition is persecuted and the opposition leaders are imprisoned. Obama’s observation about the trials and the opposition was not mentioned in the Ukrainian official report about the meeting.


%d bloggers like this: