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Russian billionaire denies aiding Putin with Manafort

Russian billionaire denies aiding Putin with Manafort
© Greg Nash

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska says his past work with Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortManafort appears in wheelchair at court hearing Manafort to be sentenced in Virginia in February Former FBI agent sentenced to 4 years in jail for leaking to reporter MORE, President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE’s former campaign chairman, did not benefit Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government.

“I want to resolutely deny this malicious assertion and lie,” he said in a paid advertisement published Tuesday in newspapers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Hill.

“I have never made any commitments or contacts with the obligation or purpose to covertly promote or advance ‘Putin’s government’ interests anywhere in the world,” the aluminum magnate added.

“I demand that any and all further disseminations of these allegations, by the [Associated Press] or any other media outlet, must cease immediately.”

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The Associated Press last week reported that Manafort secretly worked to advance the interests of Putin’s government over a decade ago.

Manafort purportedly partnered with Deripaska and crafted a political strategy for undermining anti-Russian sentiment across former Soviet republics.

“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote in a 2005 memo to Deripaska, according to the AP.

"[The effort] will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.”

Manafort reportedly proposed the strategy to Deripaska as early as June 2005, ultimately signing a $10 million annual contract with the billionaire in 2006.

Deripaska denied that the pair’s collaboration helped Putin, adding he was willing to testify before Congress to further explain their partnership.

“I am ready to take part in any hearings conducted by the U.S. Congress on this subject in order to defend my reputation and name,” he said.

“The further distribution of false allegations about my activities as it is put by AP [or] by any person or media will consequently bring the cost and burden of ultimate legal responsibility on all parties taking part in this disinformation campaign.”

Manafort told the AP last week that there was nothing “inappropriate or nefarious” about his work with Deripaska, adding suggestions otherwise are part of a “smear campaign” against him.

FBI Director James Comey last week confirmed that the bureau is probing Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential race, including possible collusion between Moscow and members of Trump’s campaign.

The bombshell revelation has brought new scrutiny to Manafort and other former Trump campaign officials with possible ties to Russia.