A recent report published by the new investigative media outlet Project and picked up by The Guardian reveals that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort worked to further Russian interests not only in Ukraine but also in Kyrgystan, where he and partner Konstantin Kilimnik lobbied for the closing of the U.S. military base Manas.
According to the article, their travel was funded by a Russian oligarch who was later sanctioned [the sanctions have been lifted by the Trump administration] by the US over meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections.
“I heard about Kyrgyzstan – they went there to strengthen Russia’s position,” a former member of Manafort’s team from Ukraine said in the article, which was obtained by the Guardian before its release. A colleague of Kilimnik confirmed to Project that the two men worked there.
Kilimnik worked in the country for the then new president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who had come to power following an uprising dubbed the Tulip revolution. It would mark the second time Manafort appeared in a post-Soviet country shortly after a “coloured revolution”, as the uprisings sparked by contested elections which Moscow has blamed on malign US influence are known.
The report also claims that Kilimnik received money for his and Manafort’s travel from offices owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is closely linked with President Vladimir Putin and under U.S. sanctions.
Representatives of Deripaska denied to Project that he or the company, BasEl, had ever financed Kilimnik. The “private investment relations of Deripaska and Manafort, whose existence is not disputed, have never been aimed at achieving political goals”, a Deripaska representative told Project. The Guardian could not independently confirm the article’s conclusions.
Kilimnik has since returned to Russia, where he largely avoids the public, according to the report.
US officials have speculated about Kilimnik’s loyalties, and an indictment released by Robert Mueller alleged he had links to Russian intelligence. He has denied that, and Manafort has said he was promoting western values in places such as Ukraine. The Project report suggested Kilimnik was acting in the interests of his native country, Russia.
“He is absolutely a Soviet man, a patriot,” one of Kilimnik’s friends said.