Who is Dimitry Firtash?
Dimitry Firtash went from obscurity to billionaire with a sweetheart deal from Vladimir Putin a decade ago. Putin could have sold Russian gas directly to Ukraine, but instead he made Firtash the middleman in a secretive deal. As Reuters first reported in 2014, Gazprom sold more than 5 billion cubic metres of gas per year to Firtash, well below market prices. It allowed Firtash to make $800 million per year. The whole purpose of the deal appears to have been to enrich Putin and create a large pool of money to corrupt politicians in Ukraine. How much was kicked back to Putin. nobody knows, but Firtash funneled a lot of his profits into the campaigns of pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine.
In 2008, Manafort and Firtash planned to invest $900 million to revamp the Drake Hotel in Manhatten. They partnered with Brad Zackson, Fred Trump’s real estate broker. The deal never happened, but it is believed that it was a money laundering scheme to get Firtash’s illegal millions out of Ukraine. As Time reported, Firtash thought it was too much of a distraction because the 2010 Ukraine presidential elections were just around the corner, and he was backing the Kremlin’s preferred candidate, Viktor Yanukovych.
During the Yanukovych presidency, Firtash expanded his business empire, buying up control of lucrative gas distribution and storage companies in many parts of Ukraine. But his luck began to run out in February 2014, when violent street protests forced President Yanukovych to flee to Russia. Three weeks later Firtash was arrested near his mansion in Vienna, on an arrest warrant issued by the FBI.
The Department of Justice has identified Dmitry Firtash as a leading Russian mobster, and wanted him for his role in bribing Indian officials in order to get a lucrative mining deal to sell titanium to Boeing. After a long extradition fight, the Austrian courts finally approved the extradition of Dmitry Firtash to the United States earlier this year, to face bribery and racketeering charges.
With Trump now in the White House, Firtash, who had a team of world class lawyers, decided to change his legal strategy. He hired pro-Trump lawyers, and Fox News regulars, Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, who were already working with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Because of Giuliani’s proximity to Trump, he had to be more subtle about paying him. DiGenova and Toensing charged Firtash $1 million for their work, and they paid Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas as a translator and contact. Then Parnas, through his company Fraud Guarantee, paid Giuliani $500,000.
The plan appears to be that Firtash’s real lawyers would use their contacts in Ukraine to put together a dossier of manufactured dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden. They would then give that dirt to Giuliani in exchange for Trump’s help in getting the Department of Justice to drop Firtash’s extradition. The dossier of manufactured dirt is primarily a deposition from Viktor Shokin, the ex-Ukrainian prosecutor-general who was removed because he refused to prosecute anyone involved in corruption.
Trump and Giuliani’s story has been that Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to fire Shokin in order to protect his son, Hunter. In reality, Biden was working on behalf of the United States, along with our European allies, and the IMF. They all wanted the corruption in Ukraine cleaned up before they gave them billions in aid, and Shokin was part of the corruption. Shokin’s successor as prosecutor general, Yuri Lutsenko, has also said there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens in Ukraine.
Giuliani and Trump tried to portray themselves are fighting corruption in Ukraine, switching all the villians to heroes. They portrayed the corrupt prosecutor, Shokin, as the hero, and Biden and his son were corrupt. Meantime, they were working to remove the US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Louise Yovanovitch, who was an outspoken critic of corruption. She stood in the way of their plan to force Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to manufacture dirt on the Biden in order to get his $400 million in approved US aid.
Giuliani appeared on Fox News with the signed affidavit of the corruption Joe and Hunter Biden were involved in with Ukraine. What he never mentioned was that Shokin was the author, or that it had been obtained by the Firtash legal team. He also didn’t mention that he had already sent the dossier, supplied by the Putin’s corrupt oligarch, to the US state Department.
Parnas and Fruman were arrested at Dulles Airport, on a one-way trip to Vienna, where Firtash currently resides under house arrest. In an interview with NBC News, Giuliani said he has “nothing to do with Firtash” and denied ever speaking to Trump about the Firtash case. Meantime, Trump denies knowing Parnas and Fruman, even though there are multiple photos of him with them, and Parnas actually had dinner with him at the White House.