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Clinton ally at heart of Ukraine strife

By Laurie Bennett

February 20, 2014 at 9:49am

One of the people at the center of the unrest in Ukraine is a billionaire with strong ties to the Clintons.

As the New York Times noted last week, Ukrainian business mogul Victor Pinchuk has worked for years to strengthen the country’s connections to the West.

Those views run contrary to recent actions of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who sparked protests by rejecting trade agreements with the European Union.

Pinchuk, son-in-law of former Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma, made his fortune manufacturing pipe.

Viktor Pinchuk and John Tefft
Viktor Pinchuk (left) with John Tefft,
former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine

In recent years, he had given away millions to programs in the West, as well as in his home country.

He has contributed more than $13 million to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation and invited the Clintons to the annual meeting of his own foundation, Yalta European Strategy. Hillary Clinton was the keynote speaker at the last conference, in September.

Pinchuk also has his own lobbyist in Washington, Doug Schoen, former adviser to Bill Clinton. Schoen reported meeting with State Department officials repeatedly during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary.

The ties between the oligarch and the possible presidential candidate are likely to draw more scrutiny as violence in Kiev escalates and 2016 approaches.

As Amy Davidson writes in the New Yorker: “If the old question about the Clintons was how many women there were, the new one might be: how many oligarchs are out there?”

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