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Oleg Deripaska: The Russian Oligarch Trump’s Campaign Manager Was Indebted To


  • Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch, has wielded unparalleled influence in Russia and the U.S.
  • The intricate relationship between U.S. politics and Russian interests reveals a multifaceted geopolitical narrative.
  • His ties touch key figures such as Paul Manafort and Rudy Giuliani and connections to Russian intelligence.
  • In 2016, Paul Manafort was former President Donald Trump’s campaign manager after Corey Lewandowski was removed from the role.
  • In 2016, Paul Manafort was willing to work for the Trump campaign in return for $0.
  • Revelations about senior FBI officials amplify concerns about U.S. national security.
  • Deripaska and Manafort’s questionable roles during the 2016 U.S. elections raise eyebrows.
  • Recent investments in Kentucky demonstrate Deripaska’s ongoing impact on U.S. industries.

Oleg Deripaska: A Deep Dive into the Oligarch’s Rise, Influence, and Controversies

Oleg Deripaska stands as a testament to the complexities of the post-Soviet business world, a realm where ambition meets geopolitics. From a modest upbringing to becoming one of the most influential figures in global business, Deripaska’s journey is a narrative filled with ambition, success, and its fair share of controversies.

Humble Beginnings to Industrial Tycoon

Born in the Russian town of Dzerzhinsk, Deripaska’s early life was far from the opulence he would later come to embody. He lost both his parents at a young age and was raised by his grandparents. This adversity, however, didn’t deter him. By his late 20s, thanks in part to Russia’s privatization push in the 1990s, he was already leading a major aluminum smelting plant.

Russia’s tumultuous transition from communism presented opportunities for the shrewd and adaptable. As The Economist once pointed out, “Russia’s ‘Wild East’ period was a time of chaos and opportunity.” It was in this chaos that Deripaska found his opportunity, consolidating shares and establishing himself as a primary player in the aluminum industry. By 2000, he was at the helm of Rusal, positioning it to become a dominant force in the global aluminum market.

A Web of Connections and Influence

Deripaska’s rise was not solely a story of business acumen. As with many oligarchs of the era, political connections played a crucial role. His marriage to Polina Yumasheva, the daughter of Boris Yeltsin’s chief of staff, further solidified his standing within the Russian elite. This nexus between business and politics became a hallmark of Deripaska’s influence.

While connections at home were pivotal for Deripaska, it was his relationships abroad that drew international attention. As detailed by The Washington Post, Deripaska maintained contacts with figures like Paul Manafort, further intertwining his narrative with global political events.

Sanctions: A Symbol of Geopolitical Tensions

The 21st century saw Deripaska’s name frequently associated with geopolitical tensions. Perhaps the most glaring manifestation of this was the 2018 U.S. sanctions. As per Reuters, these sanctions were imposed in response to Russia’s “malign activities.” They targeted not only Deripaska but other influential Russian business figures, highlighting the U.S.’s intent to exert pressure on the Kremlin’s inner circle.

The sanctions hit Deripaska hard. His net worth, according to Bloomberg, saw a drastic reduction. Rusal’s stock also plummeted, sending shockwaves through the global aluminum market.

Oleg Deripaska and the 2016 Election

The 2016 U.S. presidential elections illuminated the bonds between Deripaska and Manafort. Their relationship wasn’t ephemeral; it was anchored in deep financial ties and political interests. Manafort, submerged in debts to Deripaska worth millions, reportedly proposed personal briefings about the Trump campaign’s internal strategies. Deripaska’s connections to Manafort became a focal point in the investigations into the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Allegedly, Manafort owed Deripaska millions over a failed business deal, as reported by The New York Times. While Deripaska’s direct role in election interference remains unproven, the intricate web of his associations brought him under scrutiny.

Manafort and Deripaska: Business Ties and Debts

Paul Manafort and Oleg Deripaska’s relationship can be traced back to the mid-2000s. As reported by Time in December 2018, Manafort had amassed significant debts to Deripaska. This debt became an underlying tension in their relationship. A former Russian intelligence officer, Victor Boyarkin, was even tasked with reclaiming the money Manafort owed to the oligarch.

Their business relationship further deepened when, as reported by the Associated Press, Manafort pitched a plan that would “greatly benefit the Putin Government”. The proposal, intended to offer a strategy for Deripaska, was a clear indication of Manafort’s willingness to serve interests that aligned with the Russian government.

Data Sharing and Russian Interference

During the 2016 campaign, Paul Manafort had access to valuable polling data. The New Yorker in January 2019 raised an important question: “Why would Paul Manafort share polling data with Russia?” The person in question was Konstantin Kilimnik, a figure believed to have ties to Russian intelligence.

Tony Fabrizio, a renowned Republican pollster, provided Manafort with this data, which was then passed on to Kilimnik. The sharing of such sensitive information led to widespread speculation. The data, containing information on voters, could have potentially been used to target specific demographics through platforms like Facebook, sowing societal upheaval and possibly influencing the outcome in favor of Trump.

Working for Trump: Why for Free?

Manafort’s willingness to work for Trump’s campaign for free has been a point of interest. By offering his services without a fee, some suggest that he might have viewed the position as an opportunity. Not just for political clout, but potentially to resolve or alleviate his debt to Deripaska and other Russian interests.

The Missing Link

The bipartisan Senate report, as detailed by NPR in August 2020, provided even more insights into Manafort’s connections to Russia. He had deeper ties with Deripaska and was in regular contact with Kilimnik throughout the campaign.

With these revelations, Manafort’s role began to seem less of a campaign manager and more of a bridge, connecting the Trump campaign to Russian interests. It’s worth noting that while many connections were found, a direct line that proves collusion remains elusive. Yet, as an NYT article from August 2020 puts it, there were clear “ties between the 2016 Trump Campaign and Russia”.

Kentucky’s Aluminum Investment

In 2019, RUSAL, a company closely associated with Deripaska, announced a significant investment in an aluminum rolling mill in Kentucky. This move was highlighted by Time as one of the first major investments after the U.S. government lifted sanctions on RUSAL. The pressing question was: Why would a Russian enterprise invest heavily in a Kentucky aluminum facility?

McConnell’s Role

Senator Mitch McConnell was instrumental in the decision to lift sanctions on RUSAL, a point emphasized by The Washington Post. Representing Kentucky in the U.S. Senate, McConnell’s supportive stance on lifting the sanctions received considerable criticism, with speculations suggesting a direct link between his decision and RUSAL’s impending investment in Kentucky. The emphasis wasn’t solely about the sanctions but rather their peculiar timing, which favored the Kentucky project, giving rise to suspicions of a potential quid pro quo.

Why Was This Unusual?

This investment transpired against the backdrop of Russia’s contentious actions on the global stage, notably its 2014 invasion of Ukraine. With global sentiment leaning against Russia during this period, a substantial investment from a Russian entity into U.S. territory, coupled with the related political decisions, inevitably raised eyebrows.

Further adding to the intrigue, Deripaska’s associations with political scandals were well-documented. His connections to Paul Manafort, who had ties with pro-Russian factions in Ukraine and later chaired Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, were brought to light by sources like Time and Associated Press. These intricate relationships underscored the depth of ties between Russian business interests and U.S. political figures.

The Controversy

The central concern was the speculation that RUSAL’s investment in Kentucky might not solely be for economic advantage. Given previous revelations, as noted by Time, about Russian attempts to exert influence on U.S. politics, this financial venture was perceived by some as another tactic to secure a stronger position within the U.S. There were also underlying questions regarding the extent of influence foreign bodies might wield over American politicians, especially when vast investments are on the line.

McConnell’s actions and advocacy also attracted scrutiny. His initiative to remove sanctions was perceived by many as being oddly favorable to Deripaska. The prevailing sentiment was whether there were more intricate layers to the Kentucky investment, especially considering Deripaska’s known affiliations with influential American figures, as reported by Politico.

The Deripaska-FBI Nexus: Implications for the U.S. National Security

Oleg Deripaska has repeatedly found himself at the intersection of business and political intrigue. While his connections to figures like Paul Manafort are well-documented by Time and Associated Press, a newer association has emerged, shedding light on the labyrinthine world of geopolitics and espionage. This link ties him to Charles McGonigal, an ex-FBI Special Agent in Charge of the New York FBI Counterintelligence Division, as outlined by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York.

So, why does this association matter? And how does it impact the United States?

Uncovering the Connection

Deripaska’s expansive reach, both business-wise and politically, is no secret. His alleged ties to key figures within the Trump administration, as reported by Time, raised questions about the nature and depth of his influence. However, his association with McGonigal takes the narrative in a distinctly worrisome direction.

McGonigal, a stalwart in the FBI, had always maintained a reputable stance. Yet, charges of violating U.S. sanctions on Russia emerged, revealing potential vulnerabilities within our intelligence community.

In a detailed report by Forbes, it was hinted that Deripaska might have used McGonigal to probe another Russian magnate, Vladimir Potanin. If true, this signals a deeply entrenched espionage play, with actors from the very institutions Americans trust for their safety.


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