In May, Kolomoisky told Ukrainian media, in an interview barely noticed in Washington, that two of Giuliani’s business associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, came to visit him in Israel in April to “demand” he set up a meeting between Giuliani and Zelensky. This was months before Ambassador Kurt Volker eventually did set up a meeting between Giuliani and Zelensky’s adviser Andriy Yermak.
“They wanted to have a meeting with Zelensky and show Giuliani that they had organized everything,” Kolomoisky said. “A big scandal may break out, and not only in Ukraine, but in the United States. That is, it may turn out to be a clear conspiracy against Biden.”
Kolomoisky owned the television station that distributed the comedy show in which Zelensky played the role of the president of Ukraine. He was living in Israel after the government in Kiev nationalized his bank amid accusations he embezzled billions of dollars. His relationship with Zelensky is long and complicated. But he said he rejected the “demand” from Parnas and Fruman that he connect Giuliani with Zelensky, who was then the incoming new president.
“Look, there is Giuliani, and there [are] two clowns, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were milking the bull here. They are Giuliani’s clients,” Kolomoisky told the Ukrainska Pravda website. “They came here and told us that they would organize a meeting with Zelensky. They allegedly struck a deal with [Prosecutor-general Yuriy] Lutsenko about the fate of this criminal case – Burisma, [former vice president] Biden, meddling in the U.S. election and so on.”
Kolomoisky is no innocent. In addition to being accused of extensive financial crimes, the Ukrainian-Jewish billionaire also stands accused of using quasi-military forces on behalf of his PrivatBank to corruptly take over other companies. The government forcibly nationalized PrivatBank in 2016. The Ukrainian official who made that decision was recently run over by a car and endured an arson attack on her home – with Kolomoisky the prime suspect.
But what’s important is not whether Kolomoisky is trustworthy – it’s that Giuliani’s attempts to get to Zelensky began well before Volker or the whistleblower got involved. And his efforts were not only well known, but public. In July, BuzzFeed published an extensive investigative report on what Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman were up to.
Giuliani told my Post colleagues this week that he has not done paid consulting work in Ukraine since 2017. He would not say if he is currently being paid by Parnas and Fruman, who were pursuing a natural gas export venture involving Ukraine at the same time.
Kolomoisky, in his May interview, claimed to have lots of evidence about Giuliani’s efforts with Parnas and Fruman to dig up dirt on Biden and get various Ukrainian officials to help. He claims to have text messages from Parnas and Fruman detailing Giuliani’s motives and receipts of money they were paid.
“If we put aside conspiracy theories and some comedy staff, the situation was about their willingness to make both Lutsenko and Zelensky interested in continuing the investigation (into Biden),” he said. “There is so much interesting information that everyone will be interested [to know it]. I believe both U.S. and our law enforcers. And they will be very interested . . . .”
Lutsenko has recently said he found no evidence the Bidens committed any wrongdoing. Giuliani turned on Lutsenko this week, after working with him for months to push the Biden narrative.
Kolomoisky went public with his accusations about Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman after Giuliani tweeted on May 18 that Kolomoisky was under investigation by the FBI and had “threatened two American citizens,” Parnas and Fruman. Giuliani said Kolomoisky was an enemy of Trump and suggested Zelensky should arrest him.
Giuliani cancelled his own trip to Kiev in May after facing public criticism but told the New York Times on May 9 his trip was to advance his “meddling in an investigation.” I reported in May Giuliani was involved in a smear campaign against U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled early. On Wednesday, Giuliani admitted pushing a package of research that included allegations against Yovanovitch to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for him to “investigate.”
Congress likely will want to follow up and see if Kolomoisky has real evidence that confirms what Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman were doing. But regardless of whether you believe this Ukrainian oligarch, Giuliani’s meddling in Ukrainian politics and interference in U.S. foreign policy to advance the Biden accusations was extensive, public and predated the involvement of the State Department, Volker or the whistleblower.
Kolomoisky got at least one thing exactly right: Giuliani’s scheme would soon result in a “big scandal.”