Ukraine Investigating Trump Campaign's Paul Manafort for Inciting Crimean Separatism

Prosecutor alleges that Manafort helped fund anti-NATO and anti-Ukrainian demonstrations, The Times of London reports.

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Paul Manafort
Paul ManafortCredit: Carolyn Kaster/AP

New evidence suggests that Donald Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort played a role in creating the atmosphere prior to Crimea's annexation by Russia in 2014, according to a report by The Times of London.

A Ukrainian prosecutor is investigating Manafort, who ran Trump's presidential campaign for the past two months until a reshuffle this week, for "conspiring with a criminal organization" and "inciting ethnic hatred and separatism."

The Times reported that it had obtained a memo revealing Manafort's involvement on behalf of Viktor Yanukovych, whose election as president had been undone by the Orange Revolution in 2004 but eventually won the presidency in 2010.

According to the memo, Manafort engineered anti-NATO demonstrations, led by Yanukovych's Party of Regions, in 2006.

"It was his political effort to raise the prestige of Yanukovych and his party — the confrontation and division of society on ethnic and linguistic grounds is his trick from the time of the elections in Angola and the Philippines," reads the prosecutor's memo, referring to Manafort's advisory work for guerrilla leader Jonas Savimbi and dictator Ferdinand Marcos, respectively. "While I was in the Crimea I constantly saw evidence suggesting that Paul Manafort considered autonomy [from Ukraine] as a tool to enhance the reputation of Yanukovych and win over the local electorate."

After Yanukovych refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia, demonstrations led to a violent crisis culminating with his fleeing the country in early 2014, followed by Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported that Manafort had helped the Party of Regions to secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012, and did so in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party's efforts to influence U.S. policy.