Who is Konstantin Kilimnik, the suspected former Russian spy who worked closely with Paul Manafort?
The heavily-redacted memo accuses Manafort of lying to U.S. federal investigators about his interactions with 48-year-old Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate of Manafort’s with ties to Russia and Ukraine, as well as Kilimnik’s participation in a potential obstruction of justice.
Although much of the information in the memo is blacked out, a better picture of Kilimnik and his relationship with Manafort, who was the former campaign chairman of U.S. President Donald Trump, can be gleaned from a separate indictment that was filed in June.
That indictment showed Manafort and Kilimnik had a professional relationship in Davis Manafort Partners International (DMI), a company Manafort created in 2011 as an offshoot of his political consultancy.
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DMI engaged in political consulting, lobbying and public relations for the Government of Ukraine, as well as the Party of Regions, which was led by Viktor Yanukovych, the country’s former president who fled to Russia in 2014.
Kilimnik oversaw the DMI office in Kiev, and helped Manafort make pitches to clients in Ukraine and Russia.
These clients included wealthy Russians with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to records obtained by the Associated Press.
Obstruction of justice
The June indictment shows that Kilimnik helped Manafort retain a group of former politicians known as the “Hapsburg group” as part of a lobbying scheme.
These politicians would appear to provide independent assessments of the Ukraine government’s actions, even though they were acting as paid lobbyists in the country.
Manafort paid the group over €2 million, the indictment revealed.
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Manafort had lied about Kilimnik’s involvement in the “criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice,” which included trying to “corruptly persuade” two people with the aim of preventing testimony in an official proceeding, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s most recent report shows.
Mueller is interested in whether Kilimnik played a role in the alleged influencing campaign Russia orchestrated during the 2016 election — a campaign that U.S. intelligence says helped Trump win the election.
Mueller reported in a court filing in March that Kilimnik, referred to as “Person A,” has “ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016,” specifying that a source said that Kilimnik was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with the GRU, Russia’s secret intelligence agency.
Connecting Manafort to Eastern Europe
Before working for Manafort, Kilimnik had worked in Moscow as the acting head of the International Republican Institute (IRI), a U.S.-funded nonprofit that supported Western-friendly democratic movements.
By December 2004, Kilimnik had begun working with Manafort to undermine the institute, which led to him being fired in March 2005.
He later started working for Manafort full time, earning a base salary of $10,000 per month.
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One of their big-money clients was Russian oligarch Oleg Derispaska, an industrial tycoon who is said to be worth up to $3 billion and is close to Putin, according to The Guardian.
Deripaska has alleged that he is owed $25 million by Manafort and an associate.
Soon after Manafort joined the Trump campaign in 2016, Manafort was in contact with Kilimnik about how to pay back his debt to Deripaska.
Manafort suggested “private briefings” on the Trump campaign and told Kilimnik to pass the proposal on to Deripaska, according to July 2016 emails first revealed by the Washington Post. Both Kilimnik and Deripaska deny the proposal was formally made.
Kilimnik allegedly had a meeting with Deripaska and then later met with Manafort in early August to relay what Deripaska said, according to The Guardian.
Loyalty to Manafort
Even after Manafort was fired as his Trump’s campaign chairman and was indicted by Mueller, Kilimnik appears to have continued acting behind the scenes in support of Manafort.
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Kilimnik has been identified as helping to place $50,000 in Trump’s inauguration fund from a Ukrainian businessman as a means for him to attend the inauguration.
Kilimnik also defended Manafort in an op-ed he helped ghostwrite under the name Oleg Voloshyn, a former Ukrainian government official, and was in communication with Manafort to edit the piece.
Days after a Manafort associate pleaded guilty, prosecutors say Kilimnik tried to tamper with a witness by reaching out to a person connected with Manafort’s lobbying work.
As recently as April, Kilimnik contacted two witnesses in the Mueller investigation on behalf of Manafort via the messenger WhatsApp, according to court filings.
-With files from The Associated Press
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