At least half a dozen Kremlin-connected officials attend Trump’s inauguration

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At least six figures closely connected to the Russian government attend Donald Trump’s inauguration and related events in Washington, D.C., according to a report released in 2018. Some of the known Russian attendees later show up in the Russia probe as possibly helping to interfere in the 2016 election. Here are the attendees mentioned by name in the 2018 report:

Viktor Vekselberg is a billionaire businessman who regularly meets with President Vladimir Putin and other people in the Kremlin on projects to modernize Russia’s economy, including the country’s own version of Silicon Valley. His conglomerate, Renova Group, has investments in Russia’s energy, telecom and mining. He received a ticket to the inauguration from “one of his closest American business partners,” according to a spokesperson who refused to name the business partner.

Natalia Veselnitskaya is a Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign staff at Trump Tower in June 2016 to discuss dirt on Hillary Clinton. She appears at an inaugural party hosted by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)’s campaign committee. In 2019 she is charged with obstruction of justice in the United States for trying to damage a U.S. investigation into money laundering.

Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist, attended the inauguration party with Veselnitskaya. He also was in attendance at the 2016 Trump Tower meeting. According to his lawyer, he received their tickets directly from an organizer of the event.

Boris Titov is a politician and leader of Russia’s Party of Growth. He is running for president of Russia with the Kremlin’s support at the time of Trump’s inauguration but loses to Vladimir Putin. During inauguration week, he meets with several U.S. lawmakers and business leaders.

Alexey Repik is the wealthy founder of one of Russia’s largest pharmaceutical companies, R-Pharm, who is known to have met privately with Putin in 2016. He bought his way in to multiple campaign events and parties leading up to the inauguration ceremony, which he and his wife also attend. In now-deleted social media posts, Repik bragged about how close he was to Trump at the events he attended. He and his wife received their tickets from Timothy Kasbe, a tech executive who donated $150,000 to the inaugural committee. Kasbe claims that the Repiks are family friends, even though they met less than a year before the inauguration.

Maria Butina is a Russian gun rights activist and assistant to Alexander Torshin, a former Russian senator who has been investigated for using the NRA to funnel Russian money to U.S. political campaigns. Butina’s first appearance at a Trump event was in 2015 when she appeared at a Trump town hall. She also attempted to organize a meeting with campaign staff in May 2016. It is later discovered that she is a Russian spy and has infiltrated the NRA and the National Prayer Breakfast to promote Russian influence in the Republican party. In 2018, she pleads guilty to conspiracy to act as a foreign agent of Russia.

Michael McFaul, who served as ambassador to Russia under Obama, said he did not recall prominent Russian visitors at Obama’s 2009 events. “It’s strange,” McFaul, the director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford, said of the number of influential Russians in attendance last year.

Some Russian guests at Trump’s inauguration said they got tickets through U.S. political contacts.


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