TPM has obtained what appears to be the draft opinion article that Paul Manafort allegedly helped to ghostwrite, getting him in hot water with federal prosecutors and potentially the judge in his criminal case.
The draft op-ed was provided t0 TPM by Oleg Voloshyn, a former spokesman for Ukraine’s ministry of foreign affairs under the strongly pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych. Voloshyn claims to be its author, a claim first reported Tuesday by Bloomberg.
“I wrote it myself upon my own initiative as I couldn’t stand the allegations by McClatchy that Manafort had tried to derail the European integration although in fact he was its staunchest supporter,” Voloshyn told TPM.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team alleged this week that Manafort and an associate with alleged ties to Russian intelligence —revealed by the New York Times to be Konstantin Kilimnik—ghostwrote the draft op-ed in violation of the judge’s gag order in Manafort’s criminal case. The judge has ordered Manafort to respond to Mueller’s allegations by Thursday.
Voloshyn told Bloomberg he sent a draft of the op-ed to Kilimnik last week. Kilimnik, he said, forwarded it to Manafort, who “advised me to add that the Yanukovych government also worked actively with the U.S. on nuclear disarmament and with NATO,” which Voloshyn said he already knew.
The draft op-ed was submitted to the English-language Ukrainian news outlet called the Kyiv Post, which declined to run it. Editor Brian Bonner called it “highly suspicious” and “blatantly pro-Manafort” in an interview with Bloomberg. TPM emailed Bonner late Tuesday and he had not responded by press time.
Voloshyn responded with further comment after this story was published, saying in strong terms that he had written the op-ed by himself. The Mueller probe, he said, had not even contacted him about his role. He promised to provide TPM with further evidence of the extent of his role in writing the article.
The draft op-ed, which can be read in full at the bottom of this article, could be described as a love letter to Manafort, crediting him with a number of pro-Western advances in Ukraine:
[O]ne shouldn’t ignore the fact that Ukraine under Yanukovych made a number of major steps towards the EU and the West in general. And that Manafort was among those who made those paradoxical accomplishments real.It was that period when Ukraine finally met US requirements to get rid of the stocks of highly enriched uranium that could have potentially been used to produce nuclear weapons. Ukraine used to be the only non-NATO nation that took part in all peace-keeping and anti-terrorist operations of the Alliance world-wide.With an eye towards 2015, the Yanukovych government – to the surprise of so many in Moscow – managed to negotiate with the EU huge list of terms of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). No other nation had accomplished this task over such a brief period of time. Yanukovych’s government had the Association Agreement initialed by March of 2012. This pace shocked Moscow.This sense of commitment to the goal is actually the reason why Russia overreacted in the summer 2013 and imposed the trade blockade with Ukraine.Following the European track created multiple challenges that would never had been solved by a Ukraine Government except for the consistent promotion of what had to be done by Paul Manafort.
The op-ed is strikingly similar to the way Manafort has defended himself from charges of propping up a tyrant: The US-led denuclearization initiative, the NATO exercises, and the free trade agreement.
“Anyone who takes the time to review the very public record will find that my main activities, in addition to political consulting, were all directed at integrating Ukraine as a member of the European community including assisting the Obama Administration’s effort to denuclearize Ukraine,” Manafort told CBS News’s Major Garrett earlier this year, “expanding military exercises between NATO and Ukraine, and engaging in the process of negotiating the documents which were the basis of Ukraine becoming a part of the EU – the DCFTA and Association Agreements.”
Manafort was instrumental in bringing Yanukovych to power. Yanukovych’s administration and his political party, The Party of Regions, was widely seen as not merely friendly to but controlled by Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Putin reportedly sent advisers to help Yanukovych with a previous, unsuccessful presidential bid. Where they failed, Manafort succeeded, and since then he has sought to explain his motives—beyond the millions of dollars he was paid—in terms that will seem familiar to anyone who reads the op-ed Voloshyn provided.
Manafort’s spokesperson did not respond to TPM by press time. Mueller’s office declined to comment.
European Integration Unknown Soldier
By: Oleg Voloshyn, former spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
EU – Ukraine Association Agreement might have never appeared but for a person now falsely accused of lobbying Russian interests.
The night of March 4, 2010 turned out to be a nervous one for the staff of Ukrainian embassy in Moscow where I used to be a press-attaché.
The first visit to Russia of newly elected president Viktor Yanukovych was on the brink of cancellation. The Kremlin wouldn’t grant the already scheduled visit an official status. Russian state media also cancelled earlier agreed interviews with members of Yanukovych team. The explanation was rather simple although possibly unusual for contemporary observers who had a mistaken and simplified perception of the fourth Ukrainian president: Russian leadership was annoyed at Yanukovych’s decision to pay his first visit after inauguration to Brussels before heading to Moscow.
Even Yushchenko in 2005 did the opposite. There was one person the Russians blamed for this “treason of special relationship with brother nation”: the political consultant to Viktor Yanukovych, American strategist Paul Manafort.Manafort persuaded Yanukovych that going first to Brussels would demonstrate to all that as President, Yanukovych intended to bring the changes required to allow Ukraine to apply for formal membership in the European Union.
Manafort brought to the Ukrainian political consultancy business a very important rule: An effective leader needs to be consistent as a President with his promises as a candidate. In his Presidential campaign VY made it clear that it was important for Ukraine to maintain its historical and cultural relationship with Russia. However, Yanukovich had also promised to implement the changes that would begin the modernization of Ukraine that would be necessary for Ukraine to become a part of the EU. The Brussels trip sent this signal loudly and clearly to all – including Russia.
I can’t but stipulate that Yanukovich was a bad president and crook who by the end of his rule had effectively lost credibility even of his staunchest supporters. And finally betrayed them and fled to Russia only to see Ukraine fall in the hands of other kleptocrats now disguised as hooray-patriots and nationalists. But with all that said one shouldn’t ignore the fact that Ukraine under Yanukovych made a number of major steps towards the EU and the West in general. And that Manafort was among those who made those paradoxical accomplishments real.
It was that period when Ukraine finally met US requirements to get rid of the stocks of highly enriched uranium that could have potentially been used to produce nuclear weapons. Ukraine used to be the only non-NATO nation that took part in all peace-keeping and anti-terrorist operations of the Alliance world-wide.
With an eye towards 2015, the Yanukovych government – to the surprise of so many in Moscow – managed to negotiate with the EU huge list of terms of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). No other nation had accomplished this task over such a brief period of time. Yanukovych’s government had the Association Agreement initialed by March of 2012. This pace shocked Moscow.
This sense of commitment to the goal is actually the reason why Russia overreacted in the summer 2013 and imposed the trade blockade with Ukraine.
Following the European track created multiple challenges that would never had been solved by a Ukraine Government except for the consistent promotion of what had to be done by Paul Manafort.
Legislation such as Criminal-Administrative Code built on fundamentally new principles consistent with the Western practices and lauded by the Western institutions is one of the vivid examples.
Even at the end of the process Manafort was engaged in helping the Europeans and the Ukrainians negotiate the final terms.
Just three months before the summit it was the EU, not Yanukovych, who hesitated whether to sign the document or not. And Manafort contributed a lot to change of mood in Brussels and major European capitals while at the same time keeping Ukraine focused on finalizing the details of the DCFTA and Association Agreement. He was doing this while Russia was imposing the trade embargo and threatening even more drastic punishment to discourage Yanukovych from getting into DCFTA with the EU.
With all that said I can only wonder why some American media dare falsely claim that Paul Manafort lobbied Russian interests in Ukraine and torpedoed AA signing. Without his input Ukraine would not have had the command focus on reforms that were required to be a nation candidate to the EU.
All listed here facts can be easily verified. If only one pursues the truth. Not tends to twist the reality in line with his or her conviction that the dubious goal of undermining Trump’s presidency justifies most dishonest means.
This post has been updated.