Former Donald Trump presidential campaigner Paul Manafort has worked secretly for a Russian billionaire to defend the interests of President Vladimir Putin, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press (AP).
Mr Manafort thus devised an ambitious political strategy ten years ago to undermine the opposition to the Kremlin in the former Soviet republics. These revelations seem to contradict MM. Manafort and Trump, who have already stated that he has never been in the pay of Russian interests.
In June 2005, Mr Manafort proposed a confidential strategy to influence the political, business and media spheres in the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics in favor of the Putin regime.
This plan would have been presented to the Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a member of the close guard of Putin whose fortune is valued at more than 5 billion US dollars by the magazine Forbes . Mr. Manafort and he would have agreed on an annual contract of 10 million US dollars starting in 2006, according to several sources and documents obtained by the PA.
It is not clear what tasks Mr. Manafort carried out under this agreement. He told the Associated Press that his role was only to represent Mr. Deripaska in the countries where he was doing business, and never to defend Russian political interests.
The plan presented by Mr. Manafort involved intensive lobbying by Western governments, the development of “long-term relations” with Western journalists, and several measures to improve the performance of pro-Kremlin political parties in Eastern Europe. In particular, Mr Manafort undertook to reinforce these formations in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Georgia, while at the same time undermining the opposition.
The US Federal Police is currently investigating the links between Mr. Trump’s campaign team and Russia.
Mr. Manafort chaired Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign between March and August 2016. Mr. Trump asked him to resign when the PA revealed that he had set up a secret lobbying campaign in Washington in 2014 In favor of the political party in power in Ukraine.