Sunday, August 21, 2016

M.N.: This recently emerged "Manafort - Kilimkin affair" is another wake-up call, in a series, for the US Counterintelligence Community, politicians, the political observers and the political scientists. It needs a deep and comprehensive investigation. I think, it shows how far reaching the Russian efforts and activities are at subverting and destabilizing of the US political system. These efforts are unbelievably brazen and at the same time crude, and hopefully inefficient. However, their danger, scope, and hostile intents should not and cannot be underestimated: Manafort’s man in Kiev - POLITICO | Manafort deputy may have had link to Russian intelligence - FT | Manafort and Kilimnik - Google Search

M.N.: This recently emerged "Manafort - Kilimkin affair" is another wake-up call, in a series, for the US Counterintelligence Community, politicians, the political observers and the political scientists. It needs a deep and comprehensive investigation. I think, it shows how far reaching the Russian efforts and activities are at subverting and destabilizing of the US political system. These efforts are unbelievably brazen, at the same time crude, in this instance inept, and hopefully generally inefficient. They betray the lack of the true understanding of America as a society, her political and social cultures and the institute of the Free Press. However, the danger, scope, and hostile intents of these activities should not and cannot be underestimated. 

"Make no mistake about what Moscow’s up to here. This is a brazen effort to intimidate American elected officials, showing the Kremlin’s secret power over our country’s politics. In the Cold War we called this subversion, meaning trying to undermine our political system, and what Putin’s doing right now is nothing less than a direct, albeit covert, attack on our democracy."

See also: 

"We’re up against “the biggest counterintelligence threat faced by this country since the early Cold War..." - Vladimir Putin Has Already Won Our Election

"The gross intelligence failures of the Obama years combined with the Trump campaign’s bizarre bromance with Putin have birthed a genuine security crisis for the United States. We need to squarely face how bad things really are. This week a senior Intelligence Community official in Washington told me, with the GOP nominee acting as the Kremlin’s unwitting agent, we’re up against “the biggest counterintelligence threat faced by this country since the early Cold War... 
The bottom line is that Vladimir Putin has managed to penetrate our government and subvert our democracy in a fashion we haven’t seen in decades. Our press and politicians increasingly dance to a tune being called in Moscow. No matter who wins our election on November 8, the Kremlin looks set to be the real winner." - Vladimir Putin Has Already Won Our Election 


Russia’s Long History of Messing With Americans Minds Before the DNC Hack

Russia’s intelligence services have a long history of mingling sinister fiction with shards of fact and leaking through third parties to cover their tracks.
Michael Weiss


07.26.16 1:00 AM ET

Lord Byron observed, in skewering one of his favorite poetic targets of derision, that while the English have no word so good as the Frenchlongueurs to describe tedious, uninterrupted stretches of writing, they nevertheless “have the thing.” Similarly, there is no proper American term for what Russian intelligence calls aktivniye meropriyatiye, or active measures, but by now most Americans really ought to be used to the thing, as it might well decide our next presidential election.
As The Daily Beast reported Monday, the FBI now suspects that a year-long hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails and their subsequent publication on WikiLeaks was actually the work of Russian intelligence.

Manafort’s man in Kiev - POLITICO

All the while, Kilimnik has told people that he remains in touch with his old mentor. He told several people that he traveled to the United States and met with Manafort this spring. The trip and alleged meeting came at a time when Manafort was immersed in helping guide Trump’s campaign through the bitter Republican presidential primaries, and was trying to distance himself from his work in Ukraine... 

With Trump receiving his first classified security briefings, and concerns about him spiking in the intelligence community, talk of Kilimnik’s connections to Russian intelligence — combined with his affiliation with the Russia-allied Opposition Bloc — could become a liability for Trump, predict associates of Manafort and Kilimnik... 

Kilimnik attended a Soviet military school where he learned to speak fluent Swedish and English, which complemented the Russian and Ukrainian he already spoke. He joined the Russian Army as a translator, work that closely aligned him with the army’s intelligence services — an account pieced together from a handful of people who worked with him or were briefed on his background, including a former senior CIA official with direct knowledge of Kilimnik’s activities... 

Kilimnik did not hide his military past from his new employer. In fact, when he was asked how he learned to speak such fluent English, he responded “Russian military intelligence,” according to one IRI official, who quipped, “I never called [the Russian military intelligence agency] GRU headquarters for a reference.”
It soon became an article of faith in IRI circles that Kilimnik had been in the intelligence service, according to five people who worked in and around the group in Moscow, who said Kilimnik never sought to correct that impression... 

Kilimnik — presented with a series of questions about his background, his relationship with Manafort and his current work — declined to comment.

manafort and kilimnik - Google Search

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Story image for manafort and kilimnik from Politico

Manafort's man in Kiev

Politico-Aug 18, 2016
That's quite a turnabout from Manafort's work in Ukraine, where Kilimnik's Russian military background was seen as an advantage in working ...
Obama's Russia Delusions and Trump's
Commentary Magazine-Aug 15, 2016
Story image for manafort and kilimnik from Financial Times

Manafort deputy may have had link to Russian intelligence

Financial Times-Aug 19, 2016
But, say several people who used to work with him, it was an open secret among the Manafort team and at a previous employer that Mr Kilimnik ...
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Paul Manafort Wasn't the Problem
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manafort and kilimnik - Google Search

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In the news
Today, with Mr Kilimnik still close to Mr Manafort, according to people who know both men, ...
Manafort's man in Kiev - 2 days ago
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Manafort deputy may have had link to Russian intelligence

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Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort is surrounded by reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Sunday, July 17, 2016. Donald Trump's presidential campaign has hired new staffers to manage the efforts of newly named vice presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)©AP
Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's campaign chairman, has come under scrutiny over his work for Viktor Yanukovich, the pro-Russian former president of Ukraine
When Paul Manafort, now Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, arrived in Ukraine a decade ago to advise future president Viktor Yanukovich, he relied on one man to be his ears and voice as an interpreter.
That figure was a Russian citizen, Konstantin Kilimnik. But, say several people who used to work with him, it was an open secret among the Manafort team and at a previous employer that Mr Kilimnik, an army-trained linguist, had a background in Russian military intelligence.


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At the time, the connection was deemed unimportant — Mr Kilimnik was valued for his “excellent English”, these people say.
Today, with Mr Kilimnik still close to Mr Manafort, according to people who know both men, the links have taken on new significance. As Russian president Vladimir Putin likes to joke, there is no such thing as a former intelligence officer.
Revelations about Mr Kilimnik threaten to deepen the controversy over Mr Trump’s sympathetic comments towards Moscow and Mr Putin on the campaign trail — giving him a reputation as the US’s first pro-Russian ticket — and over Mr Manafort’s work for Mr Yanukovich, who was toppled by Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan revolution.
People close to Mr Manafort insisted that his resignation from Mr Trump’s campaign had nothing to do with adverse publicity over his Ukrainian activities. Mr Trump’s campaign directed all questions about Mr Manafort’s relationship with Mr Kilimnik to Mr Manafort.
But one person with intimate knowledge of Mr Manafort’s operations said that the relationship was grounds for concern.
“It’s a very real issue if you have a known Russian intelligence officer one degree of separation from Donald Trump, presidential candidate,” he said. “Konstantin Kilimnik knows Paul very well, and Paul is at Trump’s right hand.”
Although Mr Manafort has said that his work in Ukraine finished in 2014, one senior parliamentarian from Opposition Bloc, the rebranded Regions party once led by Mr Yanukovich, said that Mr Kilimnik continued to advise the party, but that the role might not be “formal”.
Mr Kilimnik did not answer emailed Financial Times questions about whether he had worked in Russian military intelligence. But, responding to a report about the alleged links on Friday’s Politico website, he blamed an orchestrated “campaign” for seeking to “push Manafort away from Trump and annihilate his chances of winning”.
“I am just a minor casualty in the US political game, which honestly has nothing to do with Ukraine or its future,” he said.
Yet Mr Kilimnik’s role as a key Manafort assistant gave him rare access to some of the region’s most senior figures, from Mr Yanukovich to billionaire oligarchs and senior western diplomats.
Born in Ukraine in 1970, Mr Kilimnik served in the Russian army. His first long-term job after leaving the military was as a translator in Moscow with the International Republican Institute, the US non-governmental organisation that promotes democracy, in the early 1990s. One former IRI employee said he was hired along with another military-trained linguist because of their proficiency in English.
“We knew that they were Russian military intelligence because that’s where they learned their English. It wasn’t a big deal,” this person said.
But another former IRI staffer said that Mr Kilimnik’s background was a cause of concern for some staff, and it was assumed that he continued to inform Russian intelligence.
Yet another said that there were suspicions that he had connections to Russian intelligence, and that sometimes he appeared to engage in activities that were unrelated to his job.
This person said the institute did not act on the suspicions because there was no hard evidence and because there was nothing about Mr Kilimnik’s IRI-related work that was secret and would be comprised if disclosed to Russian intelligence.
A decade later, Mr Kilimnik’s language skills led to his recruitment as an interpreter for the Manafort team advising Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man, on an image makeover. He remained with the team when it switched to advising Mr Yanukovich’s Party of Regions, of which Mr Akhmetov was a backer.
One team member at the time said Mr Kilimnik’s intelligence background was known about, as at IRI, and some suspected he was reporting back to Moscow, but this was again considered unimportant.
The interpreter was gradually entrusted with more duties as the team helped Mr Yanukovich recover from his disgrace after Ukraine’s 2004 Orange revolution to win the presidential election in 2010.
“It was well-known, I think, that he had some sort of intelligence background but that was never an issue for us because the embassy did not have much contact with Manafort’s operation,” a US official with experience in Ukraine recalled.
Mr Kilimnik also played a role in business dealings that Mr Manafort’s team pursued with two of the region’s richest oligarchs, Russia’s Oleg Deripaska and Ukraine’s Dmytro Firtash, former associates said. When Phil Griffin, who had run Mr Manafort’s Kiev office, left the team in 2011, Mr Kilimnik took over his position.
The Russian kept such a low profile that there are no known photographs of him on the internet. Acquaintances describe him as a highly intelligent, suave and polyglot communicator, and skilled political analyst.
Ukrainian politicians are now raising concerns about Mr Kilimnik’s proximity to Mr Manafort and through him, a potential next US president, when east-west tensions are again rising.
Volodymyr Ariev, a pro-presidential MP, on Friday submitted a formal request for an investigation into Mr Kilimnik’s past. “Given his biography, this individual could be linked to Russian intelligence services,” he wrote in a letter to Ukraine’s general prosecutor Yury Lutsenko.
His letter came hours after Ukraine’s anti-corruption bureau published copies of entries totalling $12.7m to Mr Manafort in an alleged ledger of off-the-books payments from Mr Yanukovich’s Party of Regions to political advisers, pundits and campaigners.
The bureau stressed, however, that it had not established if Mr Manafort actually received the payments. Mr Manafort this week denied ever receiving cash payments from the party.
additional reporting by Demetri Sevastopulo and Geoff Dyer in Washington
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Manafort’s man in Kiev - POLITICO

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How Putin’s Spies Infiltrated the Trump Campaign

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Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency entered a new crisis at the end of this week with the resignation of Paul Manafort, his campaign manager, amid allegations of dirty money and Kremlin connections.
Manafort was brought into the campaign in late March to give the Trump campaign focus as it prepared for the Republican party convention. His predecessor, Corey Lewandowski, possessed limited political experience and had been managing a sandwich shop before he was hired to head up Trump’s presidential bid.