The Russia connectionManafort wanted polling data sent to Ukrainians

Published 11 January 2019

When, during the 2016 campaign, Paul Manafort sent Trump campaign’s internal polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik – a cut-out for the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence branch — he intended that data to be handed off to two Kremlin-allied Ukrainian oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov. Manafort told his accountant in August 2016 he was expecting $2.4 million from Ukraine in November 2016. His spokesman insists that money was payment for an old debt and not the data.

According to CNN, when Paul Manafort sent polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik during the 2016 campaign, he intended that data to be handed off to two Kremlin-allied Ukrainian oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov.

Manafort told his accountant in August 2016 he was expecting $2.4 million from Ukraine in November 2016. His spokesman insists that money was payment for an old debt and not the data. 

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has been circling Lyovochkin and Akhmetov’s dealings with Manafort for a while, as they were both key, generous backers of Manafort’s Ukrainian lobbying work, prosecutors said at Manafort’s financial fraud trial last summer.

The Justice Department initially asked Mueller to look into the pro-Russian Ukrainians’ ties to Manafort, a former Trump campaign chairman, because of how they may relate to other allegations of Russian coordination with the Trump campaign.


Manafort earned millions from his Ukrainian political work over several years. That included wire transfers from Akhmetov and Lyovochkin through offshore bank accounts, prosecutors said at trial.

The revenue appeared to dry up by 2015. However, Manafort wrote in one August 2016 email to his accountant that he expected a payment of $2.4 million in November 2016 for work he did in Ukraine, according to trial documents.

A spokesman for Manafort confirmed Wednesday that Manafort expected to receive the $2.4 million in income from his Ukrainian political backers, including Lyovochkin and Akhmetov. But the money was meant to reimburse old debts that predated the Trump campaign, spokesman Jason Maloni added, and it was not a quid pro quo for the polling data.

Still, the developments of Manafort’s court filing Tuesday and the assertions Wednesday about the oligarchs confirm that Manafort had an interest in pocketing cash from a foreign country while he led Donald Trump’s campaign … 


Akhmetov is one of the richest men in Ukraine and bankrolled the Party of Regions, a Ukrainian political party aligned with Moscow that Manafort worked to bolster. Akhmetov reportedly introduced Manafort to the party’s leader, Viktor Yanukovych, and they embarked on a decade-long partnership that saw Yanukovych win the presidency and major victories at the polls. 


Lyovochkin was a senior official in Yanukovych’s administration, and secretly funneled millions of dollars to Manafort for his political consulting, according to testimony from Manafort’s trial. Lyovochkin survived the 2014 revolution that ousted Yanukovych, rebranding himself an opposition leader in the Ukrainian Parliament. He was implicated by federal prosecutors in a criminal scheme to steer foreign money to Trump’s inauguration committee, though he wasn’t mentioned by name in any of the court filings.

The Committee to Investigate Russia notes that Rinat Akhmetov’s name has come up before in the course of reporting on Russia investigation developments. Besides his longtime affiliation with Manafort, Akhmetov is close friends with Igor Krutoy, billionaire composer, music executive, and Vladimir Putin supporter. 

In 2010, Donald Trump was exploring a development deal in the Latvian capital of Riga with Krutoy, and by 2014, Latvia’s anti-corruption bureau was asking the FBI for help investigating the deal. 

The Guardian:

A senior Trump executive visited the city to scout for locations. Trump and his daughter Ivanka spent hours at Trump Tower with the Russian, Igor Krutoy, who also knows compatriots involved in arranging a fateful meeting at the same building during the 2016 US election campaign.

Then the Latvian government’s anti-corruption bureau began asking questions.

The Guardian has learned that talks with Trump’s company were abandoned after Krutoy and another of the businessmen were questioned by Latvian authorities as part of a major criminal inquiry there – and that the FBI later looked into Trump’s interactions with them at Latvia’s request.