As Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his Ukrainian business partner Konstantin Kilimnik met for a private dinner in Manhattan in August 2016, the private jet of the Russian oligarch to whom Manafort owed millions was crossing the Atlantic en route to Newark, New Jersey.
Kilimnik, who has been assessed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as having ties to Russian intelligence, wrote in an email days prior, “I met today with the guy who gave you your biggest black caviar jar several years ago,” in an apparent reference to Deripaska’s loans to Manafort, “We spent about 5 hours talking about his story, and I have several important messages from him to you,” Kilimnik wrote before setting up an August 2 meeting with the Trump campaign chief
“I need about two hours,” Kilimnik said in the July 31 email, “because it is a long caviar story to tell.” Kilimnik did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In a 52 hour time period beginning on August 2, Deripaska’s private jet went from Newark, NJ — minutes from the meeting location of Manafort and Kilimnik — to Moscow to pick up the Russian Deputy PM, to Norway to accommodate the secret yacht meeting where US-Russian relations were discussed.
As the Manafort dinner with Kilimnik was taking place at 666 Fifth Avenue, owned by Jared Kushner, one of three private jets owned by Deripaska (call-sign M-ALAY) was en route to New Jersey from Moscow. It landed hours after the dinner concluded and took off back to Moscow the next evening. It is unclear who was aboard the jet and why the flight was chartered. A spokeswoman for Deripaska did not respond to a request for comment.
Kilimnik told the Washington Post that the two “discussed unpaid bills and current news,” but not the presidential campaign of which Manafort was chairing. The next evening, Deripaska’s plane took off from Newark en route back to Moscow. It would soon carry one of the most influential Russian political leaders — Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko — to secretly take him to the Russian oligarch’s private yacht in Norway where the billionaire was waiting.
According to Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who first discovered the yacht video on the Instagram of Deripaska’s mistress Nastya Rybka, Deripaska likely flew from his villa in Montengro to Molde on his other private jet, M-UGIC. Flight logs confirm that this plane flew from Montengro to Molde on August 5. Almost assuredly, according to Navalny, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister was on the Moscow-Molde M-ALAY flight, hours after it landed from Newark.
The secret yacht meeting uncovered by Navalny was documented by Deripaska’s mistress Nastya Rybka. Rybka was jailed in Thailand for attending a “sex seminar” and remains behind bars for the foreseeable future. She and her associates have asked for political asylum from the United States in exchange for what she claims is evidence of collusion between the Russian government and the Trump team.
Rybka asserts that she and her group have 16+ hours of audio, video, and photographic evidence that would implicate the Russian government. If deported back to Moscow she fears for her life, telling the Washington Post, “I can say something only when I will be in a safe place, sorry, because I am worried about my life.”
In an interview with CNN, Rybka said that she “witnessed several meetings in 2016 and 2017 between Deripaska and at least three un-named Americans.” It is unclear if any Americans were on the yacht in August, 2016 though flight records strongly suggest that it is a possibility.
The newly discovered flight logs of Deripaska’s private jet in August 2016 raises new questions not only about his relationship with Trump’s campaign manager, but about his role as a possible facilitator between the Russian government and Trump associates.