Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 22.08.2018
Paul Manafort was convicted of tax fraud, bank fraud and failure to report a foreign bank account in an American court. The crimes were committed while Manafort was serving as Putin’s ‘grey cardinal’ to handle Viktor Yanukovych, an agent of influence of Russia in Ukraine. Paul Manafort’s guilt is established. Manafort was an agent of Russia’s war against Ukrainian democratic institutions from 2005 to 2014. Manafort’s efforts from 2015 onwards as a grey cardinal over Russia’s agent of influence Trump were a key part of Russia’s war against American democratic institutions.
Putin’s war against Ukrainian democracy began the moment he assumed power in 2000. Manafort joined Russia’s anti-Ukraine attack in late 2004. Russian agents and Ukrainian oligarchs botched their attempt to falsify the result of Ukraine’s presidential election on 21 November 2004. A massive demonstration of direct democracy by the Ukrainian people, which became known as the Orange Revolution, forced a repeat run-off of the vote between Russia’s agent of influence Yanukovych and the economic reformer Viktor Yushchenko. Putin’s agents had earlier poisoned Yushchenko with dioxin, and in December 2004 they brought in Paul Manafort to try to force Putin’s man Yanukovych through. Manafort had too little time, and Yushchenko won the presidency in a free and fair election that was held on 26 December 2004.
Always through intermediaries, Putin brought in Manafort full-time in 2005 to re-craft the image of Yanukovych and the Party of Regions. Yanukovych is an ex-convict from Donetsk who was presented as a ‘father of the nation’ politician. The Party of Regions was the oligarchy hiding its kleptocratic rapine of the Ukrainian nation behind parliamentary immunity, but Manafort put out the idea that it was a normal political party.
In May-June 2006, Manafort had his client Yanukovych instigate an anti-NATO protest in Feodosiya, Crimea, Ukraine. This led to a riot that involved an attack against US Marines. Manafort successfully used Putin’s agents provocateurs to make it appear that there was a pro-Russian/pro-Western split in Ukraine, and it cleaved along ethnic and linguistic lines. Putin used his grey cardinal Manafort to drive this false narrative all the way to a narrow victory for Putin’s man Yanukovych in the 2010 presidential election in Ukraine.
The kleptocratic rule of Yanukovych was catastrophic for Ukraine. The Yanukovych Clan in Ukraine mirrored the Putin-Kremlin crime syndicate in Russia. Manafort was instrumental in the “Lock Her Up!” campaign which led to the incarceration of Yanukovych’s rival for the presidency in 2010, Yulia Tymoshenko. She was in jail from October 2011 until February 2014.
Putin made his puppet Yanukovych pull out of the European Union-Ukraine Association Agreement in November 2013. Cheated of their rightful European choice, Ukrainians took to the streets in huge numbers in protest. This assertion of Ukrainian ‘viche’ direct democracy was known at first as EuroMaidan, but was called the Revolution of Dignity when Yanukovych and Manafort and their Russian advisors started to use violence against the Ukrainian people. Manafort was a part of the effort by Kremlin hate propaganda to project the Revolution of Dignity as a ‘coup’ by ‘NATO’ or by ‘Nazis.’ Manafort backed the demands of his boss Putin that Yanukovych ‘get tough’ with peaceful protestors who were demanding a better life for themselves and a Ukraine free from corruption. None of these men – Putin or Yanukovych or Manafort – have any belief that the democratic spirit is genuine, spontaneous, and nascent human beings. They think of politics only as manipulation, domination, and the exercise of greed. They were completely surprised by the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine.
Russian advisors and Manafort were the drivers of the plan to use snipers against what had become the unstoppable Revolution of Dignity. Over one hundred unarmed demonstrators were shot dead by Yanukovych’s security personnel and their Russian advisors. These Ukrainians who gave their lives in the Revolution of Dignity are known as the “Heaven’s Hundred” and are remembered, honoured, and revered throughout Ukraine.
Manafort and his family know full well the responsibility he bears for the “Heaven’s Hundred.” A year after the massacre, texts were sent between Manafort’s daughters. Andrea Manafort wrote to her sister Jessica Manafort in March 2015: “Don't fool yourself, that money we have is blood money. You know he has killed people in Ukraine? Knowingly, 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.” Paul Manafort’s money is blood money. The death of the “Heaven’s Hundred” is a consequence of Manafort’s service to Putin to handle Yanukovych.
With his war against Ukrainian democracy lost, Putin began a war against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Putin invaded Ukraine in Crimea in February 2014 and in Donbas in April 2014. The war is raging to this day, with over 4,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed in the defence of the homeland, over 10,000 civilians killed, and one and a half million Europeans who live in Ukraine refugees in their own country because of Putin’s War.
Putin made Manafort his grey cardinal to handle Trump. Manafort ensured that the only policy change made at the 2016 Republican National Convention was an anti-Ukraine one, against supplying weapons for Ukrainians to help defend themselves from Russia’s invasion. Manafort ensured that Mike Pence was made Trump’s vice-presidential running mate. Manafort exploited the benefits of Russian information warfare against Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. Manafort ensured that the grave weaknesses of American democratic institutions were exploited in Russia’s interest. One of those weaknesses is the profound ignorance of the US press about Ukraine and Russia’s war against it. Another weakness is the localized (state-run), partisan, and corrupt election apparatus in whose hands national elections are placed in the US.
The fall-out from Manafort’s conviction may turn out to be the fall of Trump. But Ukrainians hope that justice will served in their own country. Yanukovych and some of the Party of Regions kleptocrats are hiding in Russia. But many Ukrainian state officials who made payments to Manafort are still in Ukraine. None of them have been charged with any crime, let alone convicted and jailed. The reason is that despite its many reforms since 2014, Ukraine has not had lustration of the judiciary. The same judges who perverted justice in the Yanukovych years remain judges today. Nevertheless, efforts are underway to investigate state officials who made payments (paid bribes) to Paul Manafort. These investigations may include Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest oligarch.
Manafort will likely spend the rest of his life in jail. Yanukovych is a fugitive from justice in Russia. Americans have only begun to sort out their problems with Putin’s man Trump. The lesson is that the fate of democracy in the United States is intricately tied to its fate in Ukraine. There is not much time to learn and adapt because Russia is still invading Ukraine and subverting democracy everywhere. Manafort in jail is only one man down for Putin as he wages all-out war to destroy Western civilization.