Pop star and lobbyist headline web of Kremlin connections
MOSCOW — A billionaire real estate mogul, his pop singer son and a music promoter. A property lawyer, Russia’s prosecutor general and a Russian-American lobbyist.
These unlikely figures have come to the fore as revelations that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign sought potentially damaging information in June 2016 from Russia about his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
A look at some of those involved in the email exchange and the meeting at Trump Tower that followed:
Aras and Emin Agalarov
Real estate tycoon Aras Agalarov, 61, and his 37-year-old singer-songwriter son, who goes by the stage name Emin, spent time with Trump in Russia after they bought the rights to hold the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.
Although Aras Agalarov does not belong to President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, he has amassed numerous government contracts, an indication of Kremlin patronage. Aras Agalarov tried to get Trump an audience with Putin in 2013, but the president canceled the session.
The British-born Goldstone is the co-founder of Oui 2 Entertainment, a Manhattanbased music management company that says on its website it has represented Michael Jackson and B.B. King, among others.
The Agalarovs hired Goldstone to help with the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.
In an interview Monday with the AP, Goldstone said he set up the 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr.
Veselnitskaya started her career at the prosecutor’s office in the Moscow region in 1999, but became known after 2001 for defending property deals that her opponents and activists labeled corporate land grabs.
In Russia’s notoriously corrupt court systems, good connections are important, and she has them. She is married to Alexander Mitusov, former deputy prosecutor for the Moscow region, and she has represented the family of Pyotr Katsyv, vice president of stateowned Russian Railways and former transportation minister for the Moscow region.
She also represented Katsyv’s son, Denis, in a moneylaundering case in Manhattan that was settled for $6 million in May, three days before it was to go to trial.
The case was related to a $230 million Russian tax-fraud scheme that was brought to light by a whistleblower named Sergei Magnitsky, who was arrested and died in a Moscow prison in 2009. An official Russian investigation of his death said he suffered a heart attack, but a report by the presidential human rights commission found Magnitsky was beaten and then denied medical treatment.
In 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Magnitsky Act, imposing sanctions on Russian officials involved in alleged human rights violations in the case. Russian lawmakers responded by passing a measure that banned Americans from adopting Russian children.
Chaika, prosecutor general since 2006, is a longtime confidant of Putin and one of Russia’s most powerful law enforcement officials.
Akhmetshin is a former military officer who has attracted congressional scrutiny over his political activities and has been shadowed by allegations of connections to Russian intelligence.
A naturalized American citizen who has lived in Washington since the early 1990s, Akhmetshin is known for having lobbied to weaken a U.S. law levying sanctions on Russians and his name has also surfaced in lawsuits, including one involving the hacking of a company’s computer systems.
Akhmetshin denied suggestions made in media reports, congressional letters and litigation that he is a former officer in Russia’s military intelligence service. Along with Veselnitskaya, Akhmetshin is known for lobbying efforts to undercut the Magnitsky Act.
Early in 2016, Akhmetshin said, he helped setup a nonprofit foundation based in Delaware, the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative, to lobby U.S. officials in an effort to strip Magnitsky’s name from the law.
Akhmetshin’s name has also surfaced in lawsuits, including a New York court case in which a mining company branded him a“former Soviet military counter intelligence officer” and accused him of involvement in the hacking of its computer systems. Those claims were withdrawn last year, court records show.
Clockwise from top left: Aras Agalarov, Emin Agalarov, Rob Goldstone, Rinat Akhmetshin and Natalia Veselnitskaya