Research & Analytics

Correspondence Hack: Russia Wanted to Buy Pinchuk Media and Public Projects

Euromaidanpress

According to an analysis of the hacked mail of the Boris Rapoport, a person in the Russian presidential administration, Russia wanted to buy Viktor Pinchuk’s TV channels and gain control over his foundation’s public projects. Among them are the YES (Yalta European Strategy) forum, the influential Aspen-Ukraine international program, “Ukrainian Charity Exchange,” the national scholarship program “Zavtra.UA.,” etc. It is unknown whether the agreement took place, but now Pinchuk is a member of the supervisory board of the “Babyn Yar” memorial, which is funded by Russian oligarchs,” Texty.org reports.

If you are paranoid, it does not mean that Russia is not behind another issue. Nothing raises suspicions about Russia’s covert influence so much as getting familiar with the action plans of Kremlin officials. If it seems to you that another scandal on the subject of language, “brother nations,” “Ukrainian Nazis” is not a coincidence, believe me: most likely, it does not seem so to you.

One can read an analysis of how Russia acts to impose its rule in the last year’s study of the Surkov Archive. Recently, another challenging work appeared, which deals with the methods of Russian influence as of 2020.

Another archive, the mail of Russian official Boris Rapoport, who in 2014 was one of the main executors in the Russian president administration in the “Ukrainian” direction and was responsible for the so-called “soft influence,” also contains many interesting facts. For example, this series is about a Russian agent with connections among ex-regionals, in the judiciary and law enforcement agencies, and about his anti-Ukrainian activities in 2014. According to the authors, this agent of influence was Andriy Portnov.

But today we will talk about a 58-year-old native of Bukovina, who became a Russian political technologist. He has been studying in Moscow since the early 1980s and has participated in numerous election campaigns since 1993. Today, he is one of the leaders of Russia’s “opposition” party “Civil Platform,” whose program includes the entire standard set of “Russian person,” from the fight against “colour” revolutions and the joy of Crimea annexation to the undisguised imperial ambitions.

The political technologist writes a letter to Rapoport with his thoughts on how to strengthen Russian influence in Ukraine.

On 21 November 2013, just at the beginning of Euromaidan, this political technologist wrote a letter to Rapoport with his thoughts on how to strengthen Russian influence in Ukraine. Of these, there was a suggestion of taking control over the large-scale Ukrainian online charity exchange to create the impression that “it is Russian structures and citizens who (wholeheartedly, lovingly) help the needy in Ukraine,” according to the quote.

Another proposal was to use the influence of the well-known international “platform for leaders” Ukrainian branch. “In 2-3 years it is possible to achieve a reasonable and hostile attitude towards Russia from several hundred of the most influential (in the nearest future) people.”  Besides, the author suggested achieving the same through the control over a private scholarship fund for young people, but in the long run.

Another, more ambitious project was to gain influence on an international network of experts via sponsorship with “trendy” annual forums to “explain Russia’s position to important figures in world politics in an informal environment.”

It needs no more than $4 million.

The proposal letter also states the budget: no more than four million dollars for everything. The political technologist also offers his comprehensive connections among politicians, political scientists, and journalists. Where does he have such contacts?

The political technologist’s name is Valery Vakaryuk, and at that time, he had been working as one of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation managers for 10 years. It was he (according to him) who developed all the mentioned projects: “Ukrainian Charity Exchange;” joint programs with the American Aspen Institute of the Aspen-Ukraine Foundation, which is currently inactive (do not get it confused with the actual Aspen Institute Kyiv, these are two different organisations with a similar name); the national scholarship program “Zavtra.UA” and, finally, the icing on the cake: International Forums YES (Yalta European Strategy) with access to dozens of influential world politicians who attend them.

We do not know whether Viktor Pinchuk himself knew about the plans of one of the foundation managers. However, the archive confirms that at about the same time, the Kremlin had an interest in Pinchuk’s assets, including his media group StarLightMedia (STB, Novy, ICTV, etc.). At the end of December 2013, Pinchuk and his wife were even issued a pass to the Russian presidential administration for a personal meeting (it is unknown if it took place).

In late December 2013, passes to the Russian President Administration were issued to Pinchuk and his wife.

Euromaidan significantly affected all these plans, and Vakaryuk sent a similar proposal to Rapoport for the second time in February 2014. He returned to Moscow later. Pinchuk still owns the media group. And we do not know whether Russia currently influences his fund’s projects (rather not).

But there is reason to believe that Pinchuk still leaves no contacts in Moscow and takes part in at least one of Russia’s propaganda projects. For the past few years, Pinchuk has been helping to create a powerful tool for Russia’s “soft power,” by the way, together with the “graduate” of the above-mentioned “Aspen Ukraine” Svyatoslav Vakarchuk.

That is the “Babyn Yar” Memorial, which they want to use to spread Russia’s view of history. Like another memorial, Yad Vashem in Israel was already used by Putin personally, which caused a major scandal because of his speech on the Holocaust with a “special” Russian interpretation of World War II.

Pinchuk and Vakarchuk enter the supervisory board of “Babyn Yar” together with the main sponsors – Russian oligarchs Khan and Friedman. Well-known Ukrainian Jews directly state that the project will be a weapon of Russian propaganda.

(From the editorial office: besides Vakarchuk, it is also strange to see Volodymyr Klychko in this supervisory board. On the other hand, Leonid Kravchuk entering there is not surprising at all).

The level of trust in projects involving Russia’s money or Russia’s participants should be zero.

Both the Surkov and Rapoport archives confirm an opinion that should be obvious after six years of war – the level of trust in projects involving Russia’s money or Russia’s participants should be zero by default. But the suspicion is to be maximum. Most likely, each new such project is another attempt by Russia to use the instrument of “soft power” to defeat us in a hybrid war, which has not stopped for a day.

Anatoly Bondarenko

The Aspen Institute Kyiv position

Regarding the text of the investigation, posted on the portal Texty.org.ua, Aspen Institute Kyiv explains about the following. The decision to establish the Aspen Institute in Kyiv was made by the International Council and the Board of Trustees of the Aspen Institute (USA) in late 2015. Aspen Institute Kyiv, established as a Ukrainian public union, began its activities in 2016, based on the Aspen Institute (USA) methodological framework, adapted to the Ukrainian realities with the participation of leading Ukrainian experts. The individuals and legal entities mentioned in the text did not have an impact on either the organisational or program components of the Aspen Institute in Kyiv activities. Since 2016, Aspen Institute Kyiv is the exclusive manager of the Aspen Institute brand in Ukraine. More details about the activities (including the list of donors of the organisation) can be found on the website: (http://aspeninstitutekyiv.org. organization)  http://aspeninstitutekyiv.org.

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