LONDON – To the list of activities that caught the attention of prosecutors, former President of the campaign of President Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, has just added a new one: editor.
Oleg Voloshyn, former spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine under former President Viktor Yanukovych said in an interview that he drafted the unpublished editorial that the US special advisor, Robert Mueller, accused Manafort on December 4 of drafting under the twins to influence public opinion about their work in Ukraine. Voloshyn said he wrote the piece on his own initiative. He said he sent it to Manafort just to verify the facts and incorporated some of his suggestions.
It is a violation of a court order for Manafort to prove the case in the press, prosecutors say. Mueller is now trying to deny Manafort's attempt to free himself from house arrest before his trial because of the publisher. More generally, the dispute reveals how close Manafort is to his former colleagues in Ukraine, where he worked for a decade harvesting millions of dollars in payments that are now subject to legal scrutiny.
Voloshyn said he was surprised to see his unpublished opinion trigger the latest controversy in the case of Mueller against Manafort, who has been accused of conspiracy to launder money and act as an unregistered agent of Ukraine. Voloshyn said he sent his unpublished editorial last week to Konstantin Kilimnik, a former associate of Manafort in Ukraine, who then forwarded it to Manafort.
"He just recommended that I add that the Yanukovych government also worked actively with the United States on nuclear disarmament and with NATO," Voloshyn said of Manafort. "And as I also knew that, I accepted that they could be Valuable contributions to strengthen my message. "
Voloshyn said that he had asked the press service of the Opposition Bloc, a political party for which Manafort had worked in Ukraine, to send the editorial to the Kyiv Post in English. The opposition bloc emerged from the Party of Regions, which Manafort advised until Yanukovich fled to Russia in 2014.
Manafort Spokesman Jason Maloni declined to comment.
Brian Bonner, editor of Kyiv Post, said he received the editorial on Monday. The newspaper does not plan to publish the piece, Bonner said, calling it "highly suspicious" and "blatantly pro-Manafort."
Prosecutors say that last week, Manafort was writing the editorial with a long-time colleague linked to a Russian intelligence agency, seeking to put a positive spin on his work. for the Ukrainian government. The presentation does not identify Manafort's colleague, but Voloshyn said Kilimnik was his key person. Kilimnik, who was Manafort's right-hand man in Ukraine for almost a decade, declined to comment.
In documents filed with the US District Court. UU In Washington, prosecutors accused Manafort of a lack of confidence in drafting the brief and said that the defense now needed to offer greater security to ensure its continued appearance in court.
"The editorial was clearly undertaken to influence the public opinion of the defendant Manafort, or else there would be no reason to seek publication (much less for Manafort and his elders" The prosecutors wrote.
On Tuesday , the judge who oversaw the case ordered Manafort to explain on Thursday why he has not violated the court gag order.
Voloshyn disputed that his piece was anything but a fair and accurate account of Manafort's work in Ukraine. The editorial argued that Manafort was wrongly accused by the Western media of promoting pro-Russian interests in Ukraine.Without Manafort, Ukraine would not have been able to advance an association agreement with the European Union, Voloshyn wrote.
As I said, I can only ask myself why some US media dare to falsely claim that Paul Manafort pressed Russian interests in Ukraine and torpedoed the firm AA ", said the draft piece of Voloshyn, which was sent to Bloomberg News. "Without their input, Ukraine would not have had the command to focus on the reforms that were a national candidate for the EU."
Yanukovich's decision to refuse to sign the EU association agreement in November 2013 provoked protests in Kiev that eventually led to his expulsion in 2014, when he fled to Russia.
Voloshyn said that he left the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine in January 2013 and that since then he has worked as a political consultant and expert, with his own TV program in Ukraine entitled "World Politics" With Oleg Voloshyn. "Before joining the Yanukovych government, he was press attaché of the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow from 2008 to 2010 under Kostyantyn Hryshchenko, who later became Foreign Minister of Ukraine under Yanukovych.
Voloshyn said that he had worked with Manafort to change perceptions of Ukraine in the West when he was in the Foreign Office, he said he would be happy to talk to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation about how he wrote the piece, which he said had nothing to do with the charges against Manafort.
Voloshyn said he sent him to Manafort just to make sure he did not understand his facts. "I can only guess that they check his email," he said. "It's a big scandal about nothing. The Kiev Post is hardly known in the United States "
(David Voreacos contributed to this story).
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