According to a newly leaked document, two Russian state institutions with close ties to Vladimir Putin funded substantial investments in Twitter and Facebook through a business associate of Jared Kushner. The transaction of the investments was made through a Russian technology magnate Yuri Milner. Yuri Milner is also a stakeholder of a company that is co-owned by Kushner, Donald Trump’s Son in law and senior adviser of the white house.
The discovery shows the Russian concerns in the US politics, and it can be stirred with the role that social media played last year before the presidential elections. This discovery has also raised a question for social media companies and Kushner. It is Paradise papers who made this shocking revelation about the close ties with the Vladimir Putin. Although Milner still holds a stake in a real estate project founded and partially owned by the Kushner when Kushner first joined the Trump administration, he failed to disclose his holdings in the project.
It was Russian VTB bank who provided Milner with 191 million dollars to invest in the Twitter. This is the same bank that frequently embarks on politically strategic deals, according to New York Times. According to the documents, Gazprom Invest holding which is a financial arm of Russian state-operated energy firm is also backed by a company that is affiliated with Milner. The company owns 1 billion dollars stocks in Facebook, and it went in the public back in 2012. Gazprom is also a Russian’s largest energy company, and Putin has a big influence over the company. This company is stacked with the Russian leader’s allies and associates.
Coming back to the report, it is Milner, who owns an 8 percent share of Facebook and 5 percent share of Twitter roughly. However, he sold all his holdings of both social media companies years ago, and there is no evidence available that he was connected with the Russia’s propaganda campaign of the two platforms. Milner himself told the ICIJ that he was not aware of the involvement of Gazprom Invest Holdings ion his investments. He also shared that none of his deals were related to politics back then.
But was is for the commercial interests or state interests? According to Michael Carpenter, both of the interests go hand in hand. Despite the fact that two major Russian state-owned entities pursued financial interests on Facebook and Twitter, Milner included that Kremlin makes investments with strategic interests in mind. He keeps commercial and states both interests in kind while investing in the companies. For those who don t know about Michael carpenter, he was the Russian director of the National security council during the Obama‘s administration.
He further added that the business’s in Russia with a great political influence gets financial support from the Russian banks, and such support requires the explicit or tacit approval of those at the top of Russia’s crony capitalist system. FBI and other intelligence committees are currently investigating whether Russian’s are getting help from any member of the Trump‘s campaign. For this investigation, Brad Parscale was investigated by the intelligence committees back in October. Brad Parscale was the digital director who served the Trump‘s campaign. Kushner, who managed the campaign’s data operation along with Pascale, is also a subject of interest to the committees and to special counsel Robert Mueller.