|Known for||Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections|
Konstantin V. Kilimnik (Russian: Константин Килимник; Ukrainian: Костянтин Килимник; born April 27, 1970) is a Russian/Ukrainian political consultant. In the United States, he has become a person of interest in the 2017 Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, particularly due to his ties with Paul Manafort, an American political consultant, who served as 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 claim that Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence agencies, or is a Russian intelligence operative, was a central part of the thesis of the Mueller Report. In 2017 Kilimnik denied having ties to Russian intelligence agencies. In June 2019, in an opinion piece written by The Hill's John Solomon, Solomon claimed to have reviewed State Department e-mails and conducted two interviews that established Kilimnik had worked as an intel source for the United States Department of State since at least 2013.
Kilimnik was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's grand jury on June 8, 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 in 1970 at Kryvyi Rih, Dnipropetrovsk, 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 served in the Soviet Army as a translator and worked closely with the Soviet Army's 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. 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". He claims he was dismissed in the early 2000s after the Federal Security Service's chief gave a speech discussing internal private meetings at the Institute.
Employment by Manafort
Recruited by Philip M. Griffin as a translator for pro-Russia Ukrainian Rinat Akhmetov and seeking better pay than 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 Kiev 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 Kiev office of Manafort's firm and was Manafort's right-hand man in Kiev. They began working for Viktor Yanukovych after the 2004 Orange Revolution cost him the Presidency. With help from Manafort and Kilimnik, the Russian backed 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 devised a strategy to discredit Yulia Tymoshenko along with Hillary Clinton. This effort supported the pro-Russia administration of then President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych hired Paul 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 pro-Russia 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 Kiev office, Kilimnik continued to advise the party while working to collect unpaid fees for Manafort's firm.
In 2017 Kilimnik helped Manafort write an op-ed for a Kiev newspaper. A journalist in Ukraine, Oleg Voloshyn, has disputed this, 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.
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 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 Special Counsel Mueller in early December 2018 that explained why he believed Paul Manafort had lied to investigators during the investigation conducted by Mueller's team.
On June 8, 2018, Kilimnik was indicted by Special Counsel to the United States Robert Mueller on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, in conjunction with Paul 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 August 2, 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.
The New York Times reported on August 31, 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. Manafort asked Kilimnik to pass the data to Ukrainians Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov.
- Mueller Report
- Timeline of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections
- Timeline of investigations into Trump and Russia (2018)
- Timeline of investigations into Trump and Russia (2019)
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