Ukraine Court Reveals Officials Interfered in US Election by Naming Manafort

© REUTERS / Brendan McDermidPaul Manafort, senior advisor to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, exits following a meeting of Donald Trump's national finance team at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, U.S. (File)
Paul Manafort, senior advisor to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, exits following a meeting of Donald Trump's national finance team at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, U.S. (File) - Sputnik International
A Ukrainian court revealed Wednesday that two Ukrainian officials had violated the law by revealing information about illegal cash payments made to Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former presidential election campaign chair. The disclosure amounted to interference in a foreign election.

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A Kiev district court ruled Wednesday that Artem Sytnik, director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, and member of parliament Serhiy Leshchenko acted illegally when they disclosed Manafort's name from among the documents of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions, the Kyiv Post reported. By doing so, they acted in favor of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election.

In response to the ruling, Leshchenko wrote on Facebook that the judge's decision was an attempt to excuse removing Sytnik from office, the Post reported.

Radio Sputnik's Loud and Clear spoke with Mark Sleboda, an international affairs expert and security analyst, about the case.

​Sleboda said the revelation was "just the tip of the [Alexandra] Chalupa iceberg of Ukrainian interference in the US election and of collusion between the West-backed Ukrainian putsch regime and the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign, and there's a long history there."

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Chalupa, an operative for the Democratic National Committee, spoke to Politico for a January 2017 article titled "Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire: Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton." She said she'd been pulling on her sources in Washington and also in Kiev, obtained during political advisory work there, to try and turn up dirt on Trump after he began to become a serious contender in the Republican primary campaign in 2015.

Political consultant Andrii Telizhenko told Sputnik in September that while working at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington, DC, during the US 2016 presidential election season, he had been approached by Oksana Shulyar, an aide to the Ukrainian ambassador, and told, "if I had any information, or knew other people who did," then he should contact Chalupa.

"They were coordinating an investigation with the Hillary [Clinton] team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa," he told Politico. "Oksana was keeping it all quiet," but "the embassy worked very closely with" Chalupa.

Telizhenko recalled to Politico that Chalupa told him and Shulyar, "If we can get enough information on Paul [Manafort] or Trump's involvement with Russia, [Chalupa] can get a hearing in Congress by September."

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Chalupa had communicated with a legislative assistant on staff of Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat of Ohio, but "it didn't go anywhere," she told Politico. Separately, the same assistant accidentally forwarded an internal email to Politico in which the matter with the discussions with Chalup was reffered to as a "touchy subject."

Telizhenko said the results of that dirt digging eventually produced the Steele Dossier, which was compiled by paid researchers in Ukraine who were told simply to write salacious rumors "off the top of your head, something interesting, so that we can put it into a bigger document that we can use in the future."

Sleboda said that the fact that Manafort was "instrumental" in pushing Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions toward a pro-Western orientation, including the European Union association agreement that Yanukovych eventually rejected, which helped set in motion the series of protests on Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kiev in February 2014 that led to his overthrow and replacement with a sharply pro-Western, right-wing government.

Sleboda said that Manafort being portrayed as an agent of Russian influence instead was "one of the biggest bits of mis- or disinformation that is being presented about this whole thing."

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"During this whole thing, [Yanukovych] actually worked against Russia's interests, which actually had a free trade agreement with Ukraine, and he was actually working for US and European Union policy interests, pushing Ukraine into a neoliberal shock therapy diktat of an association agreement," Sleboda told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou.

Sleboda said that "forces in the new government felt that they had a very good reason to stop Trump from becoming president, because that would improve US relations with Russia — theoretically — and that would be seen as detrimental to the new putsch regime and Ukraine's interests. And this was launched by a journalist who then became an MP in the new regime, Serhiy Leshchenko, and someone who is the head, Artem Sytnik, who is the director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau."

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"But both of these people, while pro-Maidan political figures, belong to a different faction that is hostile to the oligarch president of the putsch regime in Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko. And the fact that this case, this court, has now decided that revealing this information — and it has to be noted that Manafort, or anyone else, was never charged with any crimes concerning this in Ukraine. None of it was illegal… and the courts decided this was interference that got Manafort removed as Trump's campaign manager and was seen as a blow against that."

"And this I think we have to read as an attempt by Poroshenko, 1, to try and improve relations with the Trump administration now, and 2, to remove this Artem Sytnik from the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, who has been going out of a lot of Poroshenko's oligarch allies on anti-corruption cases… this is seen as an excuse that the US will accept for getting rid of him, if it's done in the name that he interfered in the election on the behalf of Hillary Clinton."

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