Who Is Dmitri Firtash And Why Is Giuliani Sharing The Same Attorneys With Him?
A man the Department of Justice has described as an "upper-echelon [associate] of Russian organized crime” reportedly is running the same circles as President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash — a “gas magnate who currently resides in Vienna pending extradition to the U.S. to face bribery charges” — has as his legal representation lawyers and GOP operatives Joe diGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing, according to Politico.
After dropping out of the running to help Trump with the special counsel’s Russia investigation due to conflicts of interest, the couple resurfaced “working in conjunction with efforts by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, to dig up dirt on former vice president Joe Biden.”
Much of that dirt centers around allegations by former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was ousted from his post in 2016 following pressure from the U.S. and other countries.
Shokin claims that Biden used the power of his office to have him fired, due to the fact that Biden’s son, Hunter, sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company that Shokin’s office had investigated.
Biden adamantly denies the claim and has pointed to pressure from other countries for Ukraine to remove Shokin as evidence that he was merely working to root out corruption in the country.
Shokin has since tied his boat to Firtash, Politico reported.
In a new filing in an Austrian court, Shokin “claims that Biden improperly pressured the government of Ukraine to prevent Firtash from entering Ukraine — from which he could not be legally extradited — and links those claims to his previous allegations about the motivations behind Biden’s role in his firing.”
Giuliani, who has openly said he is pushing the Biden narrative in an attempt to help his client, the president, reportedly was on his way to Vienna this week for undisclosed purposes.
Also headed to the city, where Firtash is currently located, were two other associates of Giuliani — Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were arrested in the U.S. on Wednesday — who were also helping the attorney with the Biden situation.
Giuliani said the two were traveling to Austria on business. Both were holding one-way plane tickets at the time of their arrest.
The Wall Street Journal reported that diGenova and Toensing had hired Parnas to serve as their interpreter in relation to their representation of Firtash. However, diGenova told the publication that Parnas’ planned travel to the city this week was not related to the case.
John Herbst, ambassador to Ukraine under George W. Bush, told Politico that Firtash’s association with Trump’s Ukraine efforts undermines the push for an investigation into Biden.
“The Giuliani team does not understand Ukraine. If it did, members of his team would not be representing Dmytro Firtash, perhaps the most odious oligarch in Ukraine,” he said. “Shokin’s defense of Firtash underscores that he was never and is not today a fighter against corruption.”
Adrian Karatnycky, a Ukraine expert and former president of the pro-democracy NGO Freedom House, noted that recent events indicate Russia’s involvement in the situation, considering Firtash’s links to Moscow.
"There is now a distinct possibility of a Russian hand in all this,” he told Politico.