Ukraine oligarch ‘top cash contributor’ to Clinton Foundation prior to Kiev crisis
In 2008, Viktor Pinchuk, who made a fortune in the pipe-building business, pledged a five-year, $29-million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a program that works to train future Ukrainian leaders “to modernize Ukraine.” The Wall Street Journal revealed the donations the fund received from foreigners abroad between 2009-2014 in their report published earlier this week .
Several alumni of the program have already graduated into the
ranks of Ukraine’s parliament, while a former Clinton pollster
went to work as a lobbyist for Pinchuk at the same time Clinton
was working in government.
Between 2009 and 2013, the very period when Hillary Clinton was serving as US secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation appears to have received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation.
That places Ukraine as the leading contributor among foreign donators to the Clinton Foundation.
Foreign Donors to Clinton Foundation by Ranking
Ukraine: $10.0 million
Saudi Arabia: $7.3 million
Germany: $6.7 million
Ireland: $6.5 million
India: $5.0 million
Canada: $4.5 million
Argentina: $2.0 million
United Arab Emirates: $1.4 million
Source: Wall Street analysis of Clinton Foundation disclosures
The Pinchuk foundation said its donations to the Clinton-family
organization were designed to make Ukraine “a successful,
free, modern country based on European values.” It went on
to remark that if Pinchuk was hoping to lobby the US State
Department about Ukraine, “this cannot be seen as anything
but a good thing,” WSJ quoted it as saying.
However, critics have pointed to some disturbing aspects regarding the donations, including the coincidence of the Ukrainian crisis, which began in November 2013, and the heavy amount of cash donations being made to the Clinton Foundation on behalf of wealthy Ukrainian businessmen. In any case, given that Hillary Clinton appears to be considering a possible run in the next presidential elections, more scrutiny will be devoted to her past work with the charity that bears the Clinton name.
First, as already mentioned, Clinton was serving as the US secretary of state at the time that the donations to her family’s charity were being made. Although it is true that the Clinton Foundation refused donations directly from foreign governments while Clinton was serving in the Obama administration, the door remained wide open to donations from public citizens like Pinchuk, who has advocated on behalf of stronger ties between Ukraine and the European Union.
Political connections in the Pinchuk family run deep. Not only did Viktor Pinchuk serve two terms as a Ukrainian parliamentarian, but his wife is the daughter of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.
After being introduced to former US President Bill Clinton by
Doug Schoen, a political analyst and pollster who has worked for
both Clintons, Pinchuk and his wife began making donations to
Clinton-family charities, WSJ reported.
During Hillary Clinton’s time at the State Department, Schoen began work as a congressional lobbyist for the Ukrainian oligarch. Schoen defended his lobbying activities, saying there was no connection to Pinchuk’s hefty donations.
“We were not seeking to use any leverage or any connections or anything of the sort relating to the foundation,” he said.
Schoen said he and Viktor Pinchuk met on several occasions with Clinton aides including Melanne Verveer, a Ukrainian-American who holds membership in the influential Council on Foreign Relations, as well as the Trilateral Commission.
The purpose of these meetings, according to Schoen, was to
encourage the US government to pressure Ukraine’s former
President Viktor Yanukovich to release his jailed political
opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko.
Whatever the case may be, Ukraine entered a period of severe crisis on November 21, 2013, when Yanukovich suspended plans for the implementation of an association agreement with the European Union. The announcement triggered mass protests that led to Yanukovich fleeing Kiev on February 22, 2014.
Social unrest eventually consumed the country, as the eastern part of Ukraine attempted to gain more independence from Kiev. Recently, both sides have agreed to a tense ceasefire, hammered out last month in Minsk, Belarus by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany.