A Ukrainian associate of Paul Manafort has come forward to say that Manafort didn’t help him ghostwrite a sympathetic editorial about Manafort’s lobbying work on behalf of the former Ukrainian government, Bloomberg reported.
Yesterday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller accused Manafort of violating his gag order by helping to ghostwrite the editorial, adding that the terms of a tentative bail agreement may need to be reexamined to account for Manafort’s purported disobedience, which prosecutors argued made him a greater flight risk.
Oleg Voloshyn, a former spokesman for Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs under ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, told Bloomberg that he drafted the editorial to help burnish his longtime friend’s public image, which he felt had been unjustly tarnished by the Mueller probe, according to Bloomberg.
Voloshyn said he only sent the draft to Manafort last week to ask him to check certain facts and figures. “I can only guess they screen his email,” Voloshyn said. Furthermore, the editorial was meant to run in the Kyiv Post, which is not widely read outside Ukraine.
Voloshyn said he’d worked with Manafort on changing perceptions of Ukraine in the West when he was at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He said he’d be happy to speak with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation about how he wrote the piece, which he said had nothing to do with the charges against Manafort.
Voloshyn said he sent it to Manafort only to make sure he didn’t get his facts wrong. “I can only guess they screen his email,” he said. “It’s a big scandal about nothing. The Kyiv Post is hardly known in America.”
Mueller is trying to have the terms of Manafort’s bail revoked after Manafort’s attorneys had reached a tentative deal with prosecutors whereby he would pledge four of his real estate properties in New York, Virginia, and Florida, which his lawyers claimed were worth a total of $11.65 million.
Additionally, Manafort and his wife have agreed not to travel internationally, and Manafort would also limit his domestic travel to Florida, Virginia, New York and the District of Columbia. For any additional domestic travel, Manafort would need to seek the permission of the court.
Of course, If Mueller succeeds in having the deal thrown out, Manafort would be confined to house arrest presumably until his trial.
Voloshyn said he asked the press service of the Opposition Bloc, a political party that Manafort had worked for in Ukraine, to send the editorial to the English-language Kyiv Post. The Opposition Bloc grew out of the Party of Regions, which Manafort advised until Yanukovych fled to Russia in 2014.
Brian Bonner, editor of the Kyiv Post, said that he received the editorial on Monday. The newspaper isn’t planning to published the piece, Bonner said, which he called “highly suspicious” and “blatantly pro-Manafort.”
Voloshyn said he was shocked to see his unpublished opinion piece spark the latest controversy in Mueller’s case against Manafort, who has been charged with conspiracy to launder money and acting as an unregistered agent for Ukraine. Voloshyn said that he sent his unpublished editorial last week to Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime associate of Manafort in Ukraine, who then forwarded it on to Manafort.
Voloshyn disputed that his piece was anything but a fair and accurate account of Manafort’s work in Ukraine.
Manafort’s gag order prevents him from making any statements in the media that could influence the outcome of his case.