- The US on Thursday designated Manafort associate Konstanin Kilimnik as a “known Russian agent.”
- It’s the first time the US government has explicitly tied Kilimnik to the Russian government.
- Mueller and the Senate Intel Committee described him as someone with ties to Russian intelligence.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The US for the first time on Thursday designated a close associate of ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as a “known Russian agent.”
Konstantin Kilimnik was one of 16 individuals and 16 entities targeted in the latest round of US sanctions against Russia in retaliation for its efforts to meddle in the 2020 presidential election and its role in the devastating SolarWinds cyberattack.
In a press release announcing the sanctions, the Treasury Department described Kilimnik as a “Russian and Ukrainian political consultant and known Russian Intelligence Services agent implementing influence operations on their behalf.”
Kilimnik first came into the spotlight during the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The special counsel Robert Mueller indicted Manafort and Kilimnik in 2018 with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice in connection to the wide-ranging investigation.
Mueller also accused Manafort of sharing confidential Trump campaign polling data with Kilimnik, and the Treasury said in its release Thursday that “Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy.”
It continued: “Additionally, Kilimnik sought to promote the narrative that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” a false talking point started and frequently amplified by Russian President Vladimir Putin himself.
The press release also pointed to Kilimnik’s work for Viktor Yanukovych, the former pro-Russian Ukrainian president and strongman who has close ties to Manafort. “At Yanukovych’s direction, Kilimnik sought to institute a plan that would return Yanukovych to power in Ukraine,” the Treasury said.
The FBI is offering up to $250,000 in exchange for information leading to Kilimnik’s arrest, the press release said.
This is the first time the US has explicitly identified Kilimnik as a Russian agent.
The Mueller report described him as someone with ties to Russian intelligence, and the Senate Intelligence Committee said he “likely served as a channel to Manafort for Russian intelligence services, and that those services likely sought to exploit Manafort’s access to gain insight into the [Trump] Campaign.”
The Senate’s report went on to describe Manafort as a “grave counterintelligence threat” because of his ties to pro-Russian individuals and entities like Kilimnik.
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