- Thomson Reuters
On February 20, 2014, Ukrainian riot police opened fire on thousands of demonstrators who had gathered in central Kiev. They were protesting President Viktor Yanukovych’s last-minute decision to back out of a deal with the European Union that would have distanced Ukraine from Russia and fostered closer ties with the West.
A human-rights lawyer representing the victims of the mass police shootings, Eugenia Zakrevska, now wants to know who was advising or influencing Yanukovych when he ordered Ukrainian security forces to crush the protests with force.
One familiar name that has emerged in recent weeks is Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager who advised Yanukovych for nearly a decade.
Late last month, hackers broke into Manafort’s daughter’s iPhone and published four years’ worth of purported text messages – roughly 300,000 messages – on the dark web, an encrypted network that can be accessed only with a special browser.
Now, Zakrevska is calling on Manafort “to clarify the allegations contained in the text messages and to contact us with any information he may have” about the events that occurred in central Kiev between February 18 and 20, 2014, she told CNN earlier this month.
Reached for comment on Friday, Zakrevska told Business Insider that there was still “no answer to my request, and I don’t expect it so quickly.”
Manafort did not respond to request for comment from Business Insider. He confirmed to Politico late last month that his daughter Andrea had been hacked, and he corroborated some exchanges while declining to comment on others.
‘That money we have is blood money’
In a series of texts reviewed by Business Insider that appear to have been sent by Andrea to her sister, Jessica, in March 2015, Andrea said their father had “no moral or legal compass.”
“Don’t fool yourself,” Andrea wrote to her sister, according to the texts. “That money we have is blood money.”
“You know he has killed people in Ukraine? Knowingly,” she continued, according to the reviewed texts. “As a tactic to outrage the world and get focus on Ukraine. Remember when there were all those deaths taking place. A while back. About a year ago. Revolts and what not. Do you know whose strategy that was to cause that, to send those people out and get them slaughtered.”
- Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Andrea did not respond to a request for comment.
Paul was a top adviser to Yanukovych from 2004 to 2014. Ukrainian authorities have said Yanukovych created the conditions that led to the security forces opening fire. Ukraine’s interior minister issued a warrant for Yanukovych’s arrest shortly after the uprising. He fled to Russia and was granted asylum.
Manafort has not been linked to the killings.
Manafort, a Republican operative who had advised authoritarian leaders like the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Mobutu Sese Seko and the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos, is credited with revamping Yanukovych’s image and helping him win the presidency in 2010.
Manafort advised Yanukovych until he was ousted amid the protests. Manafort resurrected the Party of Regions in late 2014, rebranding it as the Opposition Bloc and expanding it to include parties that had been opposed to the protests and, later, to the new pro-EU president, Petro Poroshenko.
‘Ukraine is late in paying him’
In a series of texts to a friend in March 2015, Andrea appears to have said Ukraine was “late in paying” her father.
“He is cash poor right now,” the text said. “And now Ukraine is late in paying him.”
In a later exchange with a man who appeared to be Andrea’s cousin – and one of her father’s former employees – Collin Bond, Andrea appears to have said her mother and father couldn’t go through a “public divorce” because Manafort had “too many skeletons” and “his work and payment in Ukraine is legally questionable.”
Bond worked as a political consultant and election-law attorney for Manafort’s consulting firm, Davis Manafort Partners Inc., from 2005 to 2010, according to a LinkedIn page with his name. A description of his work at the firm says he “worked with a team that guided the client to victory in the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election.”
Bond did not respond to request for comment.
“He is a sick f—ing tyrant,” Andrea appears to have said to Bond about her father. “And we keep showing up and dancing for him. … We just keep showing up and eating the lobster. Nothing changes.”
Ledgers uncovered by an anticorruption center in Kiev in 2016 suggested that the Party of Regions had designated $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments for Manafort between 2007 and 2012. Manafort’s lawyer has denied that he ever collected the earmarked payments.
The New York Times reported on Monday that a Ukrainian member of parliament had accused Manafort of trying to hide $750,000 in payments from the Party of Regions by funneling it to offshore accounts. Manafort’s spokesman told The Times that the allegations were “baseless” and should be “summarily dismissed.”