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Russian Associate Of Trump Campaign Aide Faces Charges

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (file photo)

U.S. authorities have indicted a Russian man who was a key associate in Ukraine for President Donald Trump's ex-campaign chief on obstruction of justice and other charges.

The indictment, brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and unsealed in U.S. District Court on June 8, is the first time that Konstantin Kilimnik has been named in court papers, and comes after months of mounting evidence that he was a target for Mueller’s investigators.

The allegations were contained in a superseding indictment that brought new charges against Paul Manafort, who was Trump's campaign manager during the 2016 presidential election and who already faces a raft of charges in federal courts in Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

Prosecutors alleged that Manafort tried to tamper with witnesses ahead of his upcoming trial on felony charges related to foreign lobbying in the United States, charges that date back to before his time with the Trump campaign.

The new witness-tampering allegations, which were first detailed in June 4 court filings, relate to a group of unnamed European politicians known in court documents as the Hapsburg Group. According to the court filings, Manafort enlisted to lobby on behalf of a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine several years ago.

In the new indictment, prosecutors charged that Manafort and Kiliminik contacted the European politicians between February and April 2018 seeking to persuade them to lie about the scope of the Hapsburg Group lobbying.

The new indictment signals that Mueller's prosecutors are seeking to have a judge revoke Manafort's bail and order him jailed pending trial.

Manafort, who has denied all allegations, was fired from the campaign in August 2016 after revelations of a secret financial ledger in Ukraine that documented payments to him from the pro-Russia political party of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Kilimnik, whom U.S. authorities suspect of having ties to Russian intelligence, served as Manafort's point man in Ukraine. He is now believed to be in Russia and has told RFE/RL on two separate occasions that he had no links to Russian intelligence.

He did not respond to phone calls or text messages from RFE/RL seeking comment.

While most of the charges against Manafort predate his work for Trump, some relate to activities that took place into 2017, including alleged bank fraud and money laundering, according to prosecutors.

Mueller has been tasked with investigating interactions between Trump associates and Russian officials. In all, his criminal probe has brought indictments against 20 people and three companies on various related charges.

In addition to Manafort, Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has also been charged.

Five people have pleaded guilty to date, including Flynn and Manafort’s former business associate, Rick Gates.

In recent months, Trump has stepped up his attacks against Mueller's efforts, calling the investigation a "witch hunt" and asserting that the investigators were biased against him. Mueller has sought to interview Trump, but his lawyers appear to have persuaded him not to, fearing he might incriminate himself.

Christopher Miller contributed to this report from Kyiv
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    Mike Eckel

    Mike Eckel is a senior correspondent reporting on political and economic developments in Russia, Ukraine, and around the former Soviet Union, as well as news involving cybercrime and espionage. He's reported on the ground on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the wars in Chechnya and Georgia, and the 2004 Beslan hostage crisis, as well as the annexation of Crimea in 2014.