by Casey Michel, Bellingcat, October 2019
Last month, leading anti-kleptocracy voices in the U.S., Ukraine, Russia, and elsewhere sounded the alarm about a massive donation that Len Blavatnik, a Soviet-born businessman with close ties to sanctioned Russian figures, made to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Blavatnik’s donation was, as one expert said, a clear instance of the “soft enabling of kleptocracy,” and fit firmly in Blavatnik’s history of using his funds for “image launder[ing].”
As new documents show, Blavatnik’s financial offer to CFR wasn’t the only substantial donation he’s made recently.
According to new filings with the Federal Election Commission, Blavatnik — who is estimated to be worth approximately $19 billion, and who has U.S. citizenship — has been offering record-breaking donations to American politicians and political committees on both sides of the aisle. Thus far, it appears that Democrats and Republicans alike are willing to take his money, despite major concerns from those who’ve followed Blavatnik’s career and/or those who work in the sphere of anti-kleptocracy.
As the filings show, just last month Blavatnik issued a $200,000 donation to the “McCarthy Victory Fund,” a joint fundraising committee for House GOP leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Blavatnik additionally offered two further donations to McCarthy’s reelection campaign, totaling $5,600.
McCarthy recently became one of President Donald Trump’s most ardent defenders regarding Trump’s willingness to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his family. McCarthy also famously said in leaked audio in 2016 that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin “pays” Trump.
Read the full story via Bellingcat
Read the accompanying post from October 10