Rinat Akhmetshin

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Rinat Akhmetshin
Native name Ринат Ахметшин
Born 1967 (age 49–50)
Soviet Union
Nationality
Occupation Lobbyist
Known for Attendance at the Trump campaign–Russian meeting

Rinat R. Akhmetshin[a] (born 1967) is a Soviet Union–born Russian-American[1] lobbyist. He came to American media spotlight in July 2017 as a registered lobbyist for an organisation run by Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya,[2] who, along with him, had a meeting with Donald Trump's election campaign officials in June 2016.[3][4]

Biography[edit]

According to his statements, from 1986 to 1988 Rinat Akhmetshin served as a draftee in a unit of the Soviet military that had responsibility for law enforcement issues as well as some counterintelligence matters.[1][5]

He moved to the United States in 1994.[5] In 1998, he set up the Washington D.C. office of the International Eurasian Institute for Economic and Political Research to “help expand democracy and the rule of law in Eurasia.”[6] He has been tied to lobbying for political opposition to Kazakhstan's ruling president Nursultan Nazarbayev, efforts to discredit former member of Russia's parliament Ashot Egiazaryan who fled to the U.S., as well as major corporate disputes.[6]

In 2009, he obtained citizenship of the United States.[6] In 2016 Akhmetshin told Politico: "Just because I was born in Russia doesn't mean I am an agent of [the] Kremlin."[3]

Lobbying against Magnitsky Act[edit]

Akhmetshin was linked to Fusion GPS in Washington, D.C., and involved in a pro-Russian campaign in 2016 which involved lobbying congressional staffers to undermine the Magnitsky Act. Both Fusion GPS and Akhmetshin were subject of a complaint by United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley for failure to register as foreign agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.[7]

Allegations[edit]

2015 hacking[edit]

In a lawsuit filed in July 2015 with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, it was alleged by International Mineral Resources (IMR) that Akhmetshin committed corporate espionage on behalf of Russian oligarch and industrialist Andrey Melnichenko[8]. The filings regarded a sophisticated data breach by Russian hackers that compromised gigabytes of IMR corporate data.

In the filings, sworn statements by private investigator Akis Phanartizis stated that Akhmetshin boasted that the hacking of IMR's computer system was organized by him. Akhmetshin refused to answer a number of questions under oath or produce 261 requested documents.

2016 United States elections[edit]

On 14 July 2017, it was confirmed by multiple sources, including Akhmetshin himself[9][10][11] that he was a fifth and previously undisclosed attendee who met with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya in the Trump campaign–Russian meeting at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016[12]

Asked about Akhmetshin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: "We don't know anything about this person."[13]

2017 Berlin meeting with American congressman[edit]

Atrium lobby of The Westin Grand Berlin, 2011

On the night of April 11, 2017, Akhmetshin met with US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher in the lobby of The Westin Grand Berlin in Berlin, Germany.[14] There was a discussion about a high profile money laundering case, along with related sanctions against Russia. The two had meet previously in May 2016 in a meeting in Rohrabacher's office.[15] In a recording from June 2016, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had told a group of colleagues that he believed Rohrabacher, along with Donald Trump, was being paid by Vladimir Putin.[16]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

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References[edit]

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  1. ^ a b Russian American lobbyist was present at Trump Jr.'s meeting with Kremlin-connected lawyer The Washington Post, July 14, 2017.
  2. ^ Trump Tower Russia meeting: At least eight people in the room
  3. ^ a b Arnsdorf, Isaac (November 23, 2016). "Putin's favorite congressman". Politico. 
  4. ^ Marshall Cohen, Tal Kopan and Adam Chan (July 15, 2017). "The new figure in the Trump-Russia controversy: Rinat Akhmetshin". CNN. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  5. ^ a b "The new figure in the Trump-Russia controversy: Rinat Akhmetshin". CNN. July 15, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c Eckel, Mike (July 17, 2016). "Russian 'Gun-For-Hire' Lurks In Shadows Of Washington's Lobbying World". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 
  7. ^ Grassley, Chuck. "Complaint: Firm behind Dossier & Former Russian Intel Officer Joined Lobbying Effort to Kill Pro-Whistleblower Sanctions for Kremlin". 
  8. ^ Poulsen, Kevin; Hines, Nico; Zavadski, Katie. "Trump Team Met Russian Accused of International Hacking Conspiracy". The Daily Beast. 
  9. ^ Russian-American lobbyist says he was in Trump son’s meeting AP, 14 july 2017.
  10. ^ Bertrand, Natasha. "A Soviet military officer-turned-lobbyist attended the Donald Trump Jr. meeting — and 'there is only one person who fits that profile'". 
  11. ^ Manchester, Julia. "Ex-Soviet officer was also in Trump Jr. meeting: report". 
  12. ^ Twohey, Megan. "How a Pageant Led to a Trump Son’s Meeting With a Russian Lawyer". 
  13. ^ "Russian Gave Trump's Son Folder With Information Damaging To Clinton: Report". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. July 15, 2017.
  14. ^ "Inside The Russian Lawyer’s And An Accused Spy’s ‘Adoption’ Crusade". July 13, 2017. 
  15. ^ Weiss, Michael (May 4, 2017). "US Congressman talks Russian money laundering with alleged ex-spy in Berlin". CNN. Retrieved July 14, 2017. 
  16. ^ Entous, Adam (May 17, 2017). "House majority leader to colleagues in 2016: 'I think Putin pays' Trump". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 14, 2017.