|Known for||Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections|
Konstantin V. Kilimnik (Russian: Константин Килимник; Ukrainian: Костянтин Килимник; born 27 April 1970) is a Russian/Ukrainian political consultant. In the United States, he became a person of interest in multiple investigations regarding Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, particularly due to his ties with Paul Manafort, an American political consultant, who was a campaign chairman for Donald Trump.
Kilimnik is believed by CNN and The New York Times to be "Person A" listed in court documents filed by the Special Counsel against Manafort. He is also believed to be Person A in court documents filed in the criminal indictment of Alex van der Zwaan. The April 2019 Mueller Report concluded Kilimnik was connected to Russian intelligence agencies, while the August 2020 final report on 2016 election interference from the Senate Intelligence Committee characterized him as a "Russian intelligence officer." In 2017, Kilimnik denied having ties to Russian intelligence agencies. Kilimnik was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's grand jury on 8 June 2018 on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice by attempting to tamper with a witness on behalf of Manafort.
Kilimnik was born on 27 April 1970 at Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, Soviet Union. Fluent in Russian and Ukrainian before his service in the Soviet Army, he became fluent in Swedish and English as a linguist at the Military University of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, which trained interpreters for the Soviet Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). He was a translator in the Soviet Army and worked closely with its GRU. He took Russian citizenship after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He worked in Sweden as an interpreter for a Russian arms dealer. In Moscow, Kilimnik then worked for the International Republican Institute (IRI) from 1995 to early 2005, an organisation which receives funding from the United States government to support democracy. According to anonymous sources, when applying for his position with the IRI, he responded to the question about how he learned English by stating that the "Russian military intelligence" taught him and he became known among Moscow political operatives as "Kostya, the guy from the GRU". In 1997, he traveled to the United States using a Russian diplomatic passport. He was dismissed in the early 2000s after the Federal Security Service's chief gave a speech discussing internal private meetings at the Institute. Kilimnik himself told The New York Times that he had been dismissed for having freelanced as an interpreter for Manafort, which was effectively confirmed by a spokesman for the IRI who said such an action ran counter to the organizations code of ethics. In the Mueller Report, a former colleague is reported to have told the FBI that Kilimnik was fired because of his strong links to Russian intelligence services.
Employment by Manafort
Recruited by Philip M. Griffin as a translator for oligarch Rinat Akhmetov and seeking a better income than available at IRI, Kilimnik met Paul Manafort in 2005 and became an employee of Manafort's consulting firm. After leaving IRI in April 2005, he lived and worked in Kyiv and Moscow while his wife and two children remained in Moscow living in a modest house near the Sheremetyevo International Airport. Some reports say Kilimnik ran the Kyiv office of Manafort's firm, Davis Manafort International, and was Manafort's right-hand man in Kyiv. They began working for Viktor Yanukovych after the 2004 Orange Revolution cost him the Presidency. With help from Manafort and Kilimnik, Yanukovych became President in 2010. Kilimnik then spent 90% of his time inside the Presidential administration. From 2011 to 2013 with liaison to Viktor Yanukovych's chief of staff Serhiy Lyovochkin, Kilimnik, Manafort, Alan Friedman, Eckart Sager, who was a one time CNN producer, and Rick Gates advised on an international public relations strategy. This effort supported the administration of President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych hired Manafort's company Global Endeavour, a St. Vincent and Grenadines based consulting and lobbying company, which during the end of Yanukovych's presidency transferred $750,000 out of Ukraine and also paid Kilimnik $53,000 during November and December 2013. When Yanukovych fled the country, Manafort and Kilimnik gained employment with the Ukrainian party Opposition Bloc which is backed by the same oligarchs who backed Yanukovych. At some point, Opposition Bloc stopped paying Manafort's firm but even though the non-payment forced Manafort's firm to shut down their Kyiv office, Kilimnik continued to advise the party while working to collect unpaid fees for Manafort's firm.
Kilimnik and Manafort actively assisted Ukrainian oligarchs and Russian oligarchs that are close to the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin. Also, they worked to ensure that Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions would reduce and eventually sever Ukraine's ties to the United States and Europe so that Ukraine would become much closer to Russia, the Kremlin, and Vladimir Putin.
In 2017, Kilimnik helped Manafort write an op-ed for a Kyiv newspaper. A journalist in Ukraine, Oleg Voloshyn, has disputed this assertion stating that he and Manafort wrote the op-ed and that he e-mailed the rough draft to Kilimnik. The op-ed may have violated a gag order issued against Manafort by a US court and may have been a breach of Manafort's bail conditions.
Prosecutor General of Ukraine investigation of Kilimnik
From August until December 2016, Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko conducted an investigation into Konstantin Kilimnik but did not arrest him. Kilimnik managed Davis Manafort International in Kyiv. Kilimnik left Ukraine for Russia in June 2016. Davis Manafort International in Kyiv had been accused of money laundering by Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation. Mueller considered Kilimnik a vital witness in the Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. The National Anti-Corruption Bureau informed the United States Department of State that Lutsenko had both thwarted Ukraine's investigation into Kilimink and allowed Kilimnik to leave Ukraine for Russia.
Mentions in court filings
Court filings in late March 2018 allege that he knew that Kilimnik was a former officer with the Russian military intelligence service. These came after Gates reached a plea deal in exchange for cooperation in the investigation. The sentencing memo for Alex van der Zwaan filed by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller states that Gates told van der Zwaan that Person A, believed to be Kilimnik, was a former intelligence officer with the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU).
Kilimnik also featured in the documents filed by Mueller in early December 2018 that explained why he believed Manafort had lied to investigators during the investigation conducted by Mueller's team.
On 8 June 2018, Kilimnik was indicted by Mueller on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, in conjunction with Manafort, regarding unregistered lobbying work.
Connection to the Trump campaign
Through numerous regular email exchanges, Kilimnik conferred with Manafort after Manafort became Donald Trump's campaign manager in April 2016 and requested that Manafort give "private briefings" about the Trump campaign to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire and close ally to Vladimir Putin. On 2 August 2016, Kilimnik met with Manafort and Rick Gates at the Grand Havana Room at 666 Fifth Avenue. The encounter which, according to prosecutor Andrew Weissmann goes “very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating,” included a handoff by Manafort of internal polling data from Trump’s presidential campaign to Kilimnik. Gates later testified the three left the premises separately, each using different exits.
According Mueller's court filings, Kilimnik was still working with Russian intelligence when, during September and October 2016, he was known to be communicating with the Trump campaign. Both Rick Gates and Paul Manafort were in contact with him at the time. Manafort has said that he and Kilimnik discussed the Democratic National Committee cyber attack and release of emails, now known to be undertaken by Russian hacker groups known as Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear.
Kilimnik and Manafort had been involved in the Pericles Fund together, an unsuccessful business venture financed by Oleg Deripaska. In July 2016, Manafort told Kilimnik to offer Deripaska private information in exchange for resolving multimillion-dollar disputes about the venture.
Per a 2018 classified State Department assessment Ukraine’s former Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko allowed Kilimnik to escape from Ukraine to Russia after the US federal grand jury charged Kilimnik with obstruction of justice. The New York Times reported on 31 August 2018 that an unnamed Russian political operative and a Ukrainian businessman had illegally purchased four tickets to the inauguration of Donald Trump on behalf of Kilimnik. The tickets, valued at $50,000, were purchased with funds that had flowed through a Cypriot bank account. The transaction was facilitated by Sam Patten, an American lobbyist who had related work with Paul Manafort and pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent. Kilimnik attended Trump's inauguration.
In January 2019, Manafort's lawyers submitted a filing to the court, in response to the Special Counsel's accusation that he had lied to investigators while supposedly co-operating with them. Through an error in redacting, the document accidentally revealed that while he was campaign chairman, Manafort met with Kilimnik, gave him polling data related to the 2016 campaign, and discussed a Ukrainian peace plan with him. Most of the polling data was reportedly public, although some was private Trump campaign polling data.[a] Manafort asked Kilimnik to pass the data to Ukrainians Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov. Manafort also asked Kilimnik to pass polling data to Oleg Deripaska who is close to Putin.
In its August 2020 final report on the 2016 election interference, the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee characterized Kilimnik as a "Russian intelligence officer" who worked with Manafort while he was Trump campaign manager to deflect suspicions of interference away from Russia and onto Ukraine. This effort became a major element of conspiracy theories related to the Trump–Ukraine scandal promoted by President Trump and his associates.
Since at least August 2018, Kilimnik and his wife have been living in a $2 million home located at a heavily guarded elite gated community northwest of the Moscow Region outside the Moscow Ring Road (MKAD).
- Conspiracy theories related to the Trump–Ukraine scandal
- Mueller Report
- Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections
- Yuriy Lutsenko
- According to the Mueller Report, Manafort shared with Kilimnik, who was to give the private information to Oleg Deripaska, 2016 Trump Campaign's confidential polling data from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota in which states many Russian GRU agents were covertly targeting in support of Trump's campaign especially during the final days of the 2016 campaign.
- Bertrand, Natasha (29 March 2018). "The Shadowy Operative at the Center of the Russia Scandal". The Atlantic.
- Mazzetti, Mark (28 March 2018). "Trump Aide Spoke During Campaign to Associate Tied to Russian Intelligence". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
- Mazzetti, Mark; Fandos, Nicholas (18 August 2020). "G.O.P.-Led Senate Panel Details Ties Between 2016 Trump Campaign and Russia" – via NYTimes.com.
- Polantz, Katelyn; Perez, Evan (29 March 2018). "Source: Mueller pushed for Gates' help on collusion". CNN. Atlanta, Georgia: Turner Broadcasting Systems.
- Gerstein, Josh (8 June 2018). "Mueller hits Manafort with new indictment for alleged obstruction of justice". Politico.
- Mueller, Robert S. (8 June 2018). "Case 1:17-cr-00201-ABJ Document 318". United States Department of Justice.
- Mueller, Robert S. (March 2019). "Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election Volume I" (PDF). Retrieved 19 April 2019.
- Vogel, Kenneth P. (18 August 2016). "Manafort's man in Kiev". Politico. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
- Miller, Christopher (23 February 2017). "Who Is Paul Manafort's Man In Kyiv? An Interview With Konstantin Kilimnik". rferl.org. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
- "The Absolute Soviet Man" at Proyekt (22 August 2018).
- Kramer, Andrew E. (7 April 2018). "He Says He's an Innocent Victim. Robert Mueller Says He's a Spy". The New York Times. p. A7. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
- Vogel, Kenneth P.; Kramer, Andrew E. (23 February 2019). "Russian Spy or Hustling Political Operative? The Enigmatic Figure at the Heart of Mueller's Inquiry". The News York Times. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
- Fryer-Biggs, Zachary (29 March 2018). "Mueller just connected a top Trump campaign staffer to Russian intelligence". Vox. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
- Shane, Scott; Kramer, Andrew E. (3 March 2017). "Trump Team's Links to Russia Crisscross in Washington". NYT. Archived from the original on 5 March 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
- Harding, Luke (5 May 2018). "Former Trump aide approved 'black ops' to help Ukraine president: Paul Manafort authorised secret media operation that sought to discredit key opponent of then Ukrainian president". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
- Leopold, Jason; Cormier, Anthony (29 October 2017). "These 13 Wire Transfers Are A Focus Of The FBI Probe Into Paul Manafort: BuzzFeed News has learned of a series of wire transfers, made by companies linked to Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, that federal officials deemed suspicious. Many of the wires went from offshore companies controlled by Manafort to American businesses". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
- Moore, Jack (29 October 2017). "Robert Mueller Probe: Manafort 'Suspicious' Wire Transfers Focus of FBI Trump-Russia Investigation". Newsweek. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
- Waas, Murray (8 October 2019). "Ukraine Continued: How a Crucial Witness Escaped". The New York Review of Books. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
- Helderman, Rosalind S. (5 December 2017). "Ukrainian pundit says Paul Manafort did not 'ghostwrite' his pro-Manafort opinion piece". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
- "Russian charged with Trump's ex-campaign chief was key figure in pro-Russia strategy". CNBC. Associated Press. 3 July 2018. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
- Kramer, Andrew E. (2 May 2018). "Ukraine, Seeking U.S. Missiles, Halted Cooperation With Mueller Investigation". NYT. Archived from the original on 27 September 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
- Vogel, Kenneth P. (4 December 2017). "Manafort Associate Has Russian Intelligence Ties, Court Document Says". NYT. Archived from the original on 5 December 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
- Vogel, Kenneth P.; Goldstein, Matthew (24 February 2018). "How Skadden, the Giant Law Firm, Got Entangled in the Mueller Investigation". NYT. Archived from the original on 24 February 2018. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
- Polantz, Katelyn; Perez, Evan (29 March 2018). "Source: Mueller pushed for Gates' help on collusion". CNN.
- Hsu, Spencer S.; Helderman, Rosalind S. (28 March 2018). "Manafort associate had Russian intelligence ties during 2016 campaign, prosecutors say". Chicago Tribune.
- Freidman, Dan (20 February 2018). "What this lawyer's guilty plea tells us about Mueller's investigation". Mother Jones. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
- Friedman, Dan (29 March 2018). "Could an ex-Russian operative and an imprisoned escort crack open the Trump-Russia case?". Mother Jones.
- Prokop, Andrew (7 December 2018). "Read: Mueller's new filing accusing Paul Manafort of lying to the government". Vox. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
- Swaine, Jon; McCarthy, Tom (8 December 2018). "Cohen spoke with Russian to set up Trump-Putin meeting, Mueller reveals". The Guardian. London, England: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
- Harris, Andrew M.; Schoenberg, Tom; Baker, Stephanie (8 June 2018). "Mueller Indicts Konstantin Kilimnik, Manafort's Ukraine Fixer". Bloomberg News.
- Stone, Peter (9 November 2018). "Konstantin Kilimnik: elusive Russian with ties to Manafort faces fresh Mueller scrutiny". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 9 November 2018.
- Bertrand, Natasha (21 September 2017). "Paul Manafort's offer to brief a Putin ally about the campaign sheds new light on Russia's election interference". Business Insider. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
- Hamburger, Tom; Helderman, Rosalind S.; Leoning, Carol D.; Entous, Adam (20 September 2017). "Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire 'private briefings' on 2016 campaign". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
- LaFraniere, Sharon; Vogel, Kenneth P.; Shane, Scott (10 February 2019). "In Closed Hearing, a Clue About 'the Heart' of Mueller's Russia Inquiry" – via NYTimes.com.
- Helderman, Rosalind S.; Hamburger, Tom (12 February 2019). "How Manafort's 2016 contact with Russian goes to 'heart' of Mueller's probe". The Washington Post.
- Vogel, Kenneth P.; LaFraniere, Sharon; Goldman, Adam (31 August 2018). "Lobbyist Pleads Guilty to Steering Foreign Funds to Trump Inaugural". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
- "Russian-Ukrainian Operative Was at Trump Inauguration, Filing Shows". Reuters. 7 February 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2019 – via VOANews.com.
- Polantz, Katelyn (8 January 2019). "Mueller believes Manafort fed information to Russian with intel ties". CNN. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
- LaFraniere, Sharon; Vogel, Kenneth P.; Haberman, Maggie (8 January 2019). "Manafort Accused of Sharing Trump Polling Data With Russian Associate". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
- Demirjian, Karoun; Nakashima, Ellen (18 August 2020). "Trump's 2016 campaign chair was a 'grave counterintelligence threat,' had repeated contact with Russian intelligence, Senate panel finds". The Washington Post.
- Жолобова, Мария (Zholobova, Maria); Баданин, Роман (Badanin, Roman) (22 August 2018). "Абсолютно советский человек. Портрет Константина Килимника, российского патриота, работавшего на окружение Дональда Трампа. "Проект" разыскал в Подмосковье Константина Килимника, таинственного россиянина из дела о вмешательстве России в американские выборы. Оказалось, что Килимник работал с Полом Манафортом не только на Украине, но и в Киргизии. И там, и там они отстаивали внешнеполитические интересы России, а часть этой работы могла оплачиваться в компании миллиардера Олега Дерипаски" [Absolutely Soviet people. Portrait of Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian patriot who worked for Donald Trump's entourage. “Project” found in the suburbs of Moscow, Konstantin Kilimnik, a mysterious Russian from the case of Russian interference in the US election. It turned out that Kilimnik worked with Paul Manafort not only in Ukraine, but also in Kyrgyzstan. Again and again they defended Russia's foreign policy interests, and part of this work was paid by the company of billionaire Oleg Deripaska.]. Проект Медиа (Proekt) (in Russian). Retrieved 2 January 2020.