Washington’s most prominent lobbying firms have a long history of working for some less than savory characters. The world’s dictators need some attention from Washington too, and they have the money to spend on it. That’s why it should come as no surprise that two of D.C. biggest lobbying firms have been helping to represent Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and his ruling Party of Regions.
A couple of years ago, three party leaders who support Yanukovych founded the European Center for a Modern Ukraine, an NGO based in Brussels. According to Ukrainian journalist Sergiy Leschenko, who has been investigating Yanukovych’s relationship to the United States, “the cover story for the ECFMU is to prepare newsletters for Western audiences promoting the party line of the Regions. Moreover, to avoid being suspected of relation to the power party in Ukraine, the version of events is laid out carefully, betraying the real agenda only through avoidance of certain facts.”
Since 2012, the ECFMU has paid $560,000 to Mercury/Clark & Weinstock and another $900,000 to the Podesta Group, two of Washington’s largest lobbying firms. Last year, high ranking Party of Regions member Serhiy Klyuyev visted D.C. twice to visit with Mercury/Clark & Weinstock’s managing director Ed Kutler. And just this past December Robert Van de Vater, the husband of the president of ECFMU came to Washington to sit on a panel at the “Ukraine in Congress” symposium to talk about “Keeping Ukraine’s Legacy of Peaceful Solutions.”
Since November, Ukraine has been enveloped in increasingly violent protest. Dubbed the Euromaidan, the initial spark for these demonstrations was President Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an association agreement with the European Union. The protests escalated to call for the resignation of Yanukovych and for his Party of Regions to relinquish power. They have also become increasingly violent since Yanukovych’s government instated Anti-Protest laws in mid-January. So far over five deaths and hundreds of injuries have occurred due to this government crackdown.
Now, thanks to increased scrutiny on the Party of Regions international propaganda efforts, these demonstrations have spread to Washington. Last week nearly a hundred Ukrainian protesters gathered on K Street holding signs saying, “Podesta Group Takes Blood Money,” “Return Blood Money,” and “Mercury, Stop Supporting The Bloody Regime In Ukraine.”
Looks like even in the 21st Century, money still takes precedent over world peace in Washington.
[Image via the Malay Mail]