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Sep 28, 2018 34 tweets 7 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Russian-US tycoon boasted of ‘active’ involvement in Trump election campaign

Exclusive: Simon Kukes was in contact with senior Kremlin official in 2016 while donating to Trump-supporting committee
A Russian-American businessman who donated a substantial sum to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election effort boasted to a senior figure in Moscow that he was “actively involved” in the Republican candidate’s campaign, the Guardian can reveal.
Kukes said he was helping Trump with “strategy development” & shared photos of his 29-year-old Ru girlfriend posing w Trump.

Kukes made the claims to Vyacheslav Pavlovsky, a career Kremlin official & former amb to Norway. Pavlovsky is currently vp of Russian Railways.
The disclosure raises questions about the role played by Kukes in the run-up to the election and what information, if anything, he was sending back to the Kremlin.

Kukes’s donations began two weeks after the JUNE 9 2016 TT MTG.
In total Kukes gave $273k to Trump Victory – a fundraising committee that distributes donations between the RNC, Trump and state Republican parties.

*He had no previous history of giving money to political causes.
During this period he was in regular contact with Pavlovsky.

July 2016 email:
Kukes wrote in Russian:
“I am actively involved in Trump’s election campaign, and am part of the group on strategy development.”
Kukes said that he would be in Switzerland from JUL 20⇾AUG 2, and asked Pavlovsky if he wanted to meet there.

Kukes emailed again a week later, saying he would like to introduce Pavlovsky to a “close friend”, a Moscow oil executive, “who has just flown in”.
They were discussing “very interesting projects for Russia and the US”, he wrote, adding: “I hope one of them will materialise.”
Pavlovsky had just left Russia’s foreign ministry and had begun a job as vp of Russian Railways, a powerful state entity previously headed by Vladimir Yakunin, one of Putin’s close KGB allies. The ex-amb said he could not meet because of work commitments. He signed off: “Hugs.”
The following month Kukes attended a Trump fundraising dinner in New York thrown by Woody Johnson, a prominent Republican supporter who is now the US ambassador in London.

The August 13th event took place at Johnson’s home in East Hampton. Tickets were $25k.
Kukes sent a photo of himself from the event to Pavlovsky.

Next to Kukes is Giuliani. Both were wearing “Make America Great Again” caps.

Another guest was Anthony Scaramucci.
“I was at a dinner with Donald Trump. I am in New York now. I think his chances are very good,” Kukes wrote to his friend in Moscow, adding: “In the photo is America’s most respected former mayor.” 😂
In 1996 he returned to Moscow. He spent the next two decades there and held a series of executive jobs in the Russian oil industry.

In 2011 he told a NY court he was not domiciled in the US and lived in Russia.
2016 he had based himself in US again, moving from Switzerland.
Kukes’s communications in summer 2016 are likely to be of interest to Robert Mueller.
They are revealed in a joint investigation by the Guardian, NBC News, and the London-based investigative unit Dossier.

Dossier is funded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Kremlin critic and former head of the oil firm Yukos
Federal agents working for Mueller recently questioned Vekselberg when he arrived in the US on a private plane. Vekselberg was sanctioned in April for playing a “key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities”.
Blavatnik gave $133,600 to the RNC in 2016 and another $1m to Trump’s inauguration through his company Access Industries.

He was born in Soviet Ukraine and has US and UK citizenship.
Two yrs ago today, on September 28 2016, Kukes gave $99k to Trump Victory, according to federal filings.

The next day Kukes attended a private Jewish fundraising event for Trump held at a Manhattan hotel.

He went with future wife/Ru National Svetlana Stanovkina.
In Oct Kukes forwarded the photo to Pavlovsky in Moscow: “At a dinner w Trump I saw Blavatnik. We had a very warm conversation. The person in the picture is Svetlana. We are together. How are things with you? What are your plans?”

Blavatnik said his donations were made “at his sole discretion as an American citizen” and “in full compliance with the law”. He declined to say whether he went to the Trump dinner and said he had donated to both Democrats and Republicans in support of a “pro-business agenda”.
The RNC said that all its guests went through a “formal vetting process” before they were allowed to attend events with Trump. Kukes was present at fundraising dinners, it confirmed.
Ilya Zaslavskiy, an assoc at Chatham House: Kukes is part of a “soft-power network” of rich Russian emigres & the Ru govt & security services were able to exert leverage on expatriates living abroad, & sometimes used them in sensitive proj's for “plausible deniability”.
Zaslavskiy, citing people who knew Kukes, described him as “cautious, friendly, civilized and westernized ” – and keen to distance himself from oligarchs.

Also, it would have been impossible for Kukes to enjoy senior positions in the Ru oil industry w/o official patronage.
One US intel expert described Kukes’s comms with Pavlovsky as suspicious. “this reads like an email.. between a source & a handler, or a source and headquarters,” -Lindsay Moran, former CIA officer.

Kukes was asked about the former CIA officer’s comments but did not respond.
Twitter broke thread 2 tweets in...
Here's remainder:

Kukes joined Yukos in 1996, then worked at TNK, owned by of Ru billionaires incl Fridman, Blavatnik, Khan & Vekselberg. Kukes was allegedly involved in armed takeover of a subsidiary belonging to Canadian-owned co, leading to 10+yrs of litigation in US &British Virgin Islands.
In 2002 the rival firm, Norex, sued Kukes in NY. It claimed he lived in the US & bought a $1.7m luxury apartment in the Trump Parc building in Manhattan.

Kukes said his wife at the time Clara lived there but “I remained in Russia”.
Norex’s suit included a CIA document which alleges Kukes bribed local Russian officials. Kukes denies this and Norex’s case was eventually thrown out on jurisdictional grounds. theguardian.com/business/2003/…

In 2003 Kukes left TNK and became head of Yukos. He replaced Khodorkovsky, whom the Kremlin arrested.
According to an investigation by Forbes, local organized crime groups protected its oil facility. #mob forbes.com/sites/richardb…
Nov 9, 2016, hours after Trump’s surprise "victory", Kukes got an email from Moscow.

It was from Pavlovsky. It said: “Hello, dear Semyon. Congratulations!”
Since giving money to Trump, Kukes has avoided publicity.

He founded a Houston-based consultancy, Nafta Consulting LLC, and invested in a company that develops US shale and oil assets.

He was an investor in Promstroy, an oil services company. proactiveinvestors.com/companies/news…
Kukes was born in Moscow in 1946. He left the USSR in 1977, while in his twenties. Kukes lived in Texas, Oklahoma and Illinois, became a US citizen in 1982, which allows him to make political donations, and worked for Phillips Petroleum and Amoco.
Idk why this thread broke 2 tweets in, but here are first two with source link:

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