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Austrian ex-chancellor denies link to Manafort lobbying for Ukraine

Europe
25.02.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Washington (dpa) - Alfred Gusenbauer, a former chancellor of Austria, has denied claims that he illegally lobbied on behalf of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, allegations that emerged as part of a US probe into Russian election meddling.

In a statement provided to Austrian news agency APA on Sunday, Gusenbauer, Austria‘s head of government until 2008, confirmed that he had undertaken "remunerated" lobbying to promote rapprochement between the Ukrainians and the European Union in 2012 and 2013.

He denied, however, that he was the head of the so-called "Hapsburg group" of politicians covertly paid by Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump‘s former campaign manager, to lobby the US on behalf of Yanukovych, Ukraine‘s pro-Russian president who was deposed in 2014.

Gusenbauer told APA that he had met Manafort on several occasions, including during travel to the US, but knew nothing of his alleged illegal lobbying efforts.

The investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, brought to light a secret pro-Russian lobbying effort involving the so-called "Hapsburg group" politicians earlier this week.

In charges filed in a Virginian court on Friday, investigators allege that Manafort and business associate Rick Gates "secretly retained a group of former senior European politicians to take positions favourable to Ukraine, including by lobbying in the United States."

Mueller has indicted 13 Russian nationals for alleged efforts to influence the US election, but has yet to bring charges against any members of Trump‘s campaign for alleged collusion with Russia.

 

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