When Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was looking to trade in his access to the campaign to pay off his debts to a Russian oligarch, he looked to a former spy named Victor Boyarkin.
Now, Time magazine has tracked Boyarkin down to a conference in Greece hosted by a friend of Vladimir Putin’s.
The Dec. 29 report chronicles how the magazine went on a hunt for Boyarkin, just weeks before the U.S. government slapped sanctions on Manafort’s Russian associate.
The man is a little-known but crucial associate of Oleg Deripaska, the Russian metal mogul who used to keep Manafort on contract and who has been in a prolonged battle with the U.S. government over the sanctioning of his main aluminum business Rusal. The FBI is reportedly interested in Deripaska as part of the ongoing investigation into meddling in the 2016 election.
But Boyarkin, a former agent of the same Russian military intelligence agency that was allegedly involved in meddling in the 2016 election and is accused of trying to poison a former Russian spy in England, has managed to evade detailed public scrutiny, despite his close ties to Deripaska and apparent interactions with Manafort during the campaign.
Email correspondence revealed in October 2017 shows Manafort proposing to an associate to take time off of his cushy job as Trump campaign chairman to give Deripaska private briefings on the campaign.
That proposal reportedly went through Boyarkin, who Manafort referred to as “V” in one email.
“Tell V boss that if he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote in a July 2016 email.
Boyarkin has kept a low profile, with few public appearances. His first name was known from the initial news reports based off the emails, but Time’s report reveals his full name – and true identity – for the first time.
A Facebook photo shows Boyarkin attending the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy in Moscow, a Russian policy NGO. Time found a reference to Boyarkin serving as a naval attache at the Russian embassy in Washington in the 1990s, from which he reportedly embarked on a career in arms trading, before meeting Manafort in 2006 in Montenegro.
Time tracked Boyarkin down to a conference in Rhodes, Greece, hosted by Putin friend and mysteriously wealthy railway manager Vladimir Yakunin.
At a coffee break between panels (even accused spies sit through those apparently), a Time reporter asked him about his relationship with Manafort, as Boyarkin was flanked by “a senior Russian diplomat and two young assistants from Moscow.”
“How did you find me here?” Boyarkin reportedly replied, after being asked about his ties to Manafort and saying “Yes, so what?”
Boyarkin went on to explain that “he owed us a lot of money.”
“And he was offering ways to pay it back,” Boyarkin added.
In the backdrop were Manafort’s debts to Deripaska. An affidavit from an FBI agent working on the Mueller investigation states that Manafort owed Deripaska $10 million, while a lawsuit that Deripaska filed in the Cayman Islands claimed that Manafort owed him around $25 million from a joint investment in Ukraine that collapsed.
Whatever the source of the debt, Boyarkin told Time that he’s been contacted by – and given the proverbial finger to – the special counsel.
“I told them to go dig a ditch,” he said.