There is a startling new development in the ongoing Trump/Russia story.
Last week I wrote about Michael Cohen and his extensive network of personal and business relationships in the Ukrainian-American emigre community. One of those was a man named Alex Oronov, who runs a major agribusiness concern in Ukraine. Oronov was a partner in the ethanol business Cohen and Cohen’s brother Bryan set up in Ukraine about a decade ago. Oronov is Bryan Cohen’s father-in-law. Today we learned that Oronov apparently organized that ‘peace plan’ meeting that brought together Ukrainian MP Artemenko, Cohen and Felix Sater. About four hours ago Andrii Artemenko, the Ukrainian parliamentarian who came to New York with that ‘peace plan’, went on Facebook to announce that Alex Oronov has died.
(I was first alerted to Artemenko’s post by Natasha Betrand of Business Insider who has been all over this story.)
The rest of the post is a sort of pained rant, blaming Oronov’s death on the reporting of The New York Times. The Times you’ll remember published the story on Feb. 19 describing the meeting between Artemenko, Michael Cohen and Felix Sater. Artemenko describes himself as a pawn caught up in a war between the Times and Donald Trump and said the stress created by the article and the subsequent press attention was too much for Oronov to bear.
A notable detail is that Artemenko says that it was Oronov who arranged the meeting described in that initial story by the Times. Here is a loose translation courtesy of a friend who is a Russian speaker: “Yes, I’m guilty …. Alex Oronov, my partner, my friend, my mentor, Alex was a family member of Michael Cohen. And he organized all kinds of stuff, including an introduction and a meeting for me with Michael Cohen.”
The remembrance website legacy.com has a listing for an Alex Oronov who died on March 2. The date of birth, June 9, 1948, matches the date of birth listed on Oronov’s Florida voter registration records. The condolence page also has one well-wisher describing selling farm equipment to Oronov for transshipment to Ukraine. So there’s little doubt that this is the Alex Oronov associated with Michael Cohen. A person who answered the phone Saturday night at an address associated with Oronov’s daughter told TPM the family had no comment.