kyiv. the trump administration’s preoccupation with ukraine traces back to the doxing of paul manafort’s daughter by a obscure darknet hactivist group named cyberguerilla. the dump contained almost 300,000 text messages linking manafort to millions of dollars in secret, illegal offshore payments for his work in ukraine. the messages confirmed suspicions that manafort is a crook and a sexual deviant.
calibre western media largely ignored the february 2017 dump, focusing instead on the so-called black ledger, a partial handwritten account of payouts to ex-ukrainian president’s viktor yanukovych’s minions, including manafort. the ledger was removed from yanukovych’s party of regions headquarters in kyiv on or around february 18, 2014 after anti-government protesters set fire to the building. bits of it popped up during the summer of 2016 when manafort was picked to manage trump’s election campaign, courtesy of ukrainian member of parliament serhiy leshchenko.
leshchenko’s scoop made headlines, but u.s. justice department’s money laundering and asset recovery section (mlars) two years earlier (in january 2014) began investigating manafort for money laundering. at least one black ledger payment for $750,000 through a shell company in belize involving manafort, was corroborated by mueller’s investigation, but that was the tip the iceberg.
for the past three years, ukraine has been a chip on trump’s shoulder. he saw allegations in 2016 about manafort as part of a plot to undermine his bid for the white house and reverse the election result.
trump’s true interest in ukraine lies in his ongoing obsession with the daft conspiracy theory that he was set up by the deep state and foreign intelligence services of several key u.s. allies. the goal of the imaginary plot was to destroy trump’s campaign and, if that didn’t work, his presidency. u.s. attorney general bill barr, secretary of state mike pompeo and at least a few u.s. senators today believe this is a legitimate line of inquiry and have promised to “leave no stone unturned” in investigating of meddling by ukraine in the 2016 u.s. presidential election.
six years since the start of the revolution of dignity, ukraine remains a sham democracy. it is a primitive post-soviet feudal autocracy. democracy here is not underpinned by elections or coordinated work of institutions, but by popular uprisings. absent them, even the illusion of democracy would not exist.