Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 10.01.2018
Russia falsified the United States presidential election of 2016. This successful attack by the Putin regime against US democracy cannot be understood without knowing about Putin regime aggression against Ukraine and Ukrainian democratic institutions. In particular, Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine needs to be analyzed in detail from 2004 onward. 2004 is when Russia played a large part in the falsification of the Ukrainian presidential election, making it appear that pro-Putin candidate Viktor Yanukovych had won over reform-minded candidate Viktor Yushchenko. 2004 is when the Ukrainian people rose up in the Orange Revolution, and brought about a free and fair repeat run-off election which overturned that falsified election result. From this seed grew Russia’s successful efforts to make pro-Putin candidate Donald Trump appear to win the US presidential election of 2016.
On January 9, US Senator Dianne Feinstein released a transcript of testimony given by Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS about Russia’s efforts to make Trump the US president. One brief exchange is worth unpacking, because a thread runs through it that connects Vladimir Putin, Viktor Yanukovych, Paul Manafort, and Donald Trump. This is on pages 301 and 302 of the transcript, which can be found here
Lara Quint, Chief Counsel for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: “What was your focus when you had looked into Manafort? What main areas were you familiar with?”
Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS: “Over the years, originally at the Wall Street Journal we learned of his relationship with Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs. … He was subject of some litigation over his business dealings in New York. There was a lawsuit filed by the opposition politician from Ukraine accusing him of involvement in corruption in Ukraine.”
The “opposition politician from Ukraine” Simpson is talking about is Yulia Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko was with Yushchenko on the stage on Maidan in Kyiv during the Orange Revolution. She became Prime Minister of Ukraine but had a falling out with Yushchenko. She ran in the Ukrainian presidential election of 2010 and narrowly lost to Yanukovych. A vengeful Yanukovych vowed to “Lock her up!” and he did imprison Tymoshenko, from mid-2011 until the events of the Revolution of Dignity led to her release in February 2014. Tymoshenko ran for president in May 2014, but lost badly to Petro Poroshenko. To many Ukrainians, Yulia Tymoshenko is a figure from the past who doesn’t speak to present-day concerns. Tymoshenko bears too much responsibility for the failure of the Orange Revolution. She is too tied up in the corrupt gas trade between Russia and Ukraine that built the illicit wealth of oligarchs like her, in the 1990s and 2000s.
The lawsuit Simpson is talking about was filed by Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011, while she was being politically persecuted and subject to selective justice by Yanukovych. The lawsuit was against Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash. Vladimir Putin’s “grey cardinal” Paul Manafort was named as a defendant in this lawsuit.
Firtash is a natural gas trade oligarch, like Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko’s lawsuit against Firtash alleged that he “skimmed” money from gas contracts and then laundered the money through bogus New York real estate transactions. The lawsuit alleged that Manafort used his offices and bank accounts to carry out the scheme. The lawsuit was dismissed in December 2015.
Firtash has been indicted in an alleged conspiracy to bribe government officials in India to mine titanium minerals. The US government is seeking to extradite Firtash from Austria. The US has won its appeal up to the Supreme Court of Austria, and the case has now been referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union. Should he stand trial in the US – or give evidence to avoid standing trial – Firtash will be able to give a lot of information about how the Yanukovych/Party of Regions kleptocracy operated in Ukraine and what Paul Manafort was doing on behalf of Russia against Ukraine from 2005 until 2014.
Paul Manafort is Putin’s “grey cardinal” who managed the public rehabilitation of Yanukovych leading up to the 2010 Ukrainian election. For example, Manafort engineered the anti-NATO, anti-US riots in 2006 in Crimea, during which US Marines were stoned by a rent-a-mob. Manafort was rewarded with multi-million dollar cash payments from the Yanukovych Clan, funnelled through the Party of Regions. A “black ledger” documenting some of these payments was discovered after a fire at the headquarters of the Party of Regions in Kyiv, which occurred in February 2014 during the tumultuous events of the Revolution of Dignity.
Yanukovych fled Ukraine with the triumph of the Ukrainian people in the Revolution of Dignity. Russia invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014 and has been waging war ever since. Putin no longer required Manafort’s services to manage Yanukovych. When Putin chose Trump to be Russia’s candidate for US president, he chose Manafort to be his grey cardinal. Putin knew Manafort was the right man for the job, as Manafort could steer the Trump-for-president campaign as ably as he steered the Yanukovych-for-president campaign. The Russian agent Manafort became campaign chairman, ousted the traditional Republic Party leadership, took control of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July 2016, and made the one and only policy platform change a pro-Russian, anti-Ukraine one.
Manafort has been charged with the crimes of conspiracy, money laundering, being an unregistered foreign agent, and other crimes. The substance of the charges mostly has to do with his work on behalf of the Putin-Kremlin crime syndicate against Ukraine from 2006 to 2014. These charges that were filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller are only the tip of the iceberg. The denouement of Trump – whether it is impeachment or resignation or flight to Russia – will expose that a criminal conspiracy involving money laundering was at the root of it all.
Russia is a crime syndicate in the form of a state. Russia is at war with the West. Realpolitik is understanding that these two facts underlie the Putin-Trump conspiracy to falsify the US election. The beginning of every act of war of Russia against the US is always an act of war against Ukraine. Glenn Simpson’s testimony about Paul Manafort exposes a thread that runs from the falsified Ukrainian election of 21 November 2004 to the falsified US election of 8 November 2016. To Putin, Trump is merely the next Yanukovych.