On February 20, 2014, Ukrainian riot police opened fire on thousands of demonstrators who had gathered in central Kiev. They were protesting then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s last-minute decision to back out of a deal with the European Union that would have distanced Ukraine from Russia and fostered closer ties with the West.
A human-rights lawyer representing the victims of the mass police shootings, Eugenia Zakrevska, now wants to know who was advising or influencing Yanukovych when he ordered Ukrainian security forces to crush the protests with force. One familiar name that has emerged in recent weeks: Paul Manafort, the former chair of Donald Trump’s US presidential election campaign.
Late last month, hackers broke into Manafort’s daughter’s iPhone and published four years of purported text messages — roughly 300,000 messages — on the dark web, an encrypted network that can only be accessed with a special browser.
Now, Zakrevska is calling on Manafort “to clarify the allegations contained in the text messages and to contact us with any information he may have” on the events that occurred in central Kiev between February 18-20, 2014, she told CNN earlier this month.
Reached for comment on Friday, Zakrevska told Business Insider that “there is still no answer to my request and I don’t expect it so quickly.”
Manafort did not respond to request for comment from Business Insider. He confirmed to Politico late last month that his daughter, Andrea, had been hacked, and he corroborated specific exchanges while declining to comment on others.
‘That money we have is blood money’
In a series of texts reviewed by Business Insider allegedly sent by Andrea to her sister, Jessica, in March 2015, Andrea said that their father “has no moral or legal compass.”
“Don’t fool yourself,” Andrea Manafort allegedly wrote to her sister. “That money we have is blood money.”
“You know he has killed people in Ukraine? Knowingly,” she continued, according to the reviewed messages. “As a tactic to outrage the world and get focus on Ukraine. Remember when there were all those deaths taking place. A while back. About a year ago. Revolts and what not. Do you know whose strategy that was to cause that, to send those people out and get them slaughtered.”
Andrea Manafort did not respond to a request for comment.
Manafort was a top adviser to Yanukovych from 2004 to 2014. Ukrainian authorities have said Yanukovych created the conditions that led to the security forces opening fire. Ukraine’s interior minister issued a warrant for his arrest shortly after the uprising. He fled to Russia and was granted asylum.
Manafort has not been linked to the killings.
Manafort, a Republican operative who had advised authoritarian leaders like the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Mobutu Sese Seko and the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos, is credited with revamping Yanukovych’s image and helping him win the presidency in 2010.
Manafort continued advising Yanukovych until he was ousted amid the Euromaidan protests and forced to flee to Russia, where he is now living under the Kremlin’s protection. Manafort resurrected the Party of Regions in late 2014, rebranding it as the Opposition Bloc and expanding it to include parties that were opposed to the protests and, later, to the new pro-EU president Petro Poroshenko.
‘Ukraine is late in paying him’
In a series of texts to another friend in March 2015, Andrea allegedly wrote that Ukraine was “late in paying” her father.
“He is cash poor right now,” the text read. “And now Ukraine is late in paying him.”
In a later exchange with a man who appeared to be Andrea’s cousin — and one of her father’s former employees — Collin Bond, Andrea allegedly wrote that her mother and father couldn’t go through a “public divorce” because Manafort has “too many skeletons” and “his work and payment in Ukraine is legally questionable.”
Bond worked as a political consultant and election law attorney for Manafort’s consulting firm, Davis Manafort Partners, Inc., from 2005 to 2010, according to a LinkedIn page with his name. A description of his work at the firm says that he “worked with a team that guided the client to victory in the 2010 Ukrainian Presidential election.”
Bond did not respond to request for comment.
“He is a sick f—— tyrant,” Andrea allegedly wrote to Bond about her father. “And we keep showing up and dancing for him … We just keep showing up and eating the lobster. Nothing changes.”
Secret ledgers uncovered by an anti-corruption center in Kiev in 2016 suggested that the Party of Regions had designated $US12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments for Manafort between 2007 and 2012. Manafort’s lawyer has denied that he ever collected the earmarked payments.
The New York Times reported on Monday that a Ukrainain member of parliament has accused Manafort of trying to hide $US750,000 in payments from the Party of Regions by funelling it to offshore accounts. Manafort’s spokesman told the Times that allegations were “baseless” and should be “summarily dismissed.”
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