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Putin Suggests Clinton Campaign Was 'Financed' By Ukrainian Oligarchs

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

President of the Russian Federation

“[S]ome [Ukrainian] oligarchs -- surely with approval from the political leadership -- financed a woman candidate. Now [the Ukrainian authorities] need to mend ties with the current U.S. administration amid a conflict… It's always easier to drag the current [U.S.] administration in solving Ukrainian problems and establish a dialogue this way.”

Likely False
... records show no campaign contributions from Ukrainians.

President Vladimir Putin does not indicate which Ukrainian oligarchs, or oligarch, he is talking about regarding supposed financial support of a "female candidate," most likely Hillary Clinton.

No evidence of any contribution of a Ukrainian oligarch to Clinton’s presidential campaign has been found.

However, accessible records do indicate at least one wealthy Ukrainian, Viktor Pinchuk, the son-in-law of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, did contribute money not to Clinton herself, but to the foundation run by her and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

As the Wall Street Journal reported March 19, 2015, the Clinton Foundation, the Clintons’ philanthropic organization, did not take donations from foreign governments while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state (until 2013). Yet the Clinton Foundation did receive donations from foreigners who had connections to their own governments, as the foundation's own disclosures indicate.

Russian state media have failed to point out that the way the media and the public are aware of the Clinton Foundation's foreign contributions is because they are required by the Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit tax-exempt organization under section 501-c-3 of the Internal Revenue Code to file a list of all donors over $5,000.

Pinchuk is founder of EastOne Group LLC and Interpipe Group, one of Ukraine's leading pipe producers. He served two terms as a member of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, and advocates closers ties between Ukraine and Europe.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Pinchuk gave $8.6 million to the Clinton Foundation from 2009-2013 while Clinton was secretary of state. In 2008, he also pledged $29 million for a program to train future Ukrainian leaders and professionals, but only contributed $1.8 of that pledge, apparently due to the financial crisis that began that year.

The point of assessing contributions by foreigners is not merely to expose the connection but to see if this served as a possible channel to influence policy. While Clinton was in office, Doug Schoen, a lobbyist registered for Pinchuk, met with Ambassador Melanne Verveer, a Ukrainian-American who then served as ambassador-at-large for global women's issues. She also had worked in the past with Hillary Clinton's program for women during the administration of her husband Bill Clinton.

Schoen said the purpose of the meetings with Pinchuk was to encourage U.S. pressure on Ukraine's then-president Viktor Yanukovych to free Yulia Tymoshenko, who was sentenced to seven years in prison in October 2011 after being convicted of exceeding her powers as premier while negotiating a gas contract with Russia. Among others, the European court of human rights ruled her imprisonment was "politically motivated."

The U.S. government position in 2013 as previous years was to express concern about what it saw as the politically-motivated prosecution of opposition leaders in Ukraine and to advocate the release of Tymoshenko to enable her to travel to Germany for medical aid. (She was released in February 2014).

Washington condemned Tymoshenko's arrest in August 2011 under the Obama Administration while Clinton was secretary of state. Even before he was elected president and Clinton was appointed, as a senator, Obama traveled to Ukraine in October 2005 where he met with Tymoshenko among others.

Also, before Obama was elected president in 2008 and took up office in 2009, when Clinton was appointed, the United States supported the “Orange Revolution” that brought President Viktor Yushchenko to power along with Tymoshenko, whom he appointed prime minister. Therefore, it seems likely that U.S. policy would have supported Tymoshenko’s release from prison regardless of the donation from Pinchuk to the Clinton Foundation.

The United States had provided significant aid to Ukraine before Obama was elected and Clinton was appointed. More than $5 billion has been supplied since 1992 just for democracy programming, a fact that has been falsely claimed in the Russian media as exclusively aid for Maidan in 2014.

In 2008, total U.S. aid to Ukraine was $83.9 million; in 2009 this was increased to $97.8 million and to $142.4 million in 2010. But it fell to $67.6 million in 2011, which suggests that aid, which must be approved by the U.S. Congress, was unrelated to the contributions made to the Clinton Foundation by Pinchuk or any other Ukrainian figure.