Translated by Ollie Richardson
In 2017 the authorities of Ukraine spent $600,000 on cooperating with the lobbyist BGR Group consulting firm. Information about this was published on the website of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of the US Department of Justice.
It is noteworthy that the Ukrainian client was the largest for the lobbyist company for all of 2017.
As a reminder, at the beginning of 2017 on the website of FARA there was information about a contract, in which the address of the client was specified as 11 Bankova Street (the address of the Presidential Administration), and the responsible person – the deputy head of the Presidential Administration Shimkiv.
After a scandal broke out (journalists asked the Presidential Administration whether or not the tender for rendering lobbyist services took place), Bankova Street immediately refuted this information, and changes were made to the documents on the FARA website.
Now the client that is registered there is the National Reforms Council, which the former head of the Presidential Administration Boris Lozhkin headed until recently.
“For the purpose of advancing the interests of Ukraine in the US, attracting American investments, and informing US government and public institutes about the achievements and results of reforms in Ukraine, the National Reforms Council with the assistance of the Ukrainian reforms support fund involved the American company BGR Group as consultants. This initiative takes place with the assistance of donors, without the use of public funds,” wrote Dmitry Shimkiv.
But these changes couldn’t mislead many people. It was clear to all who is the main Ukrainian client of the BGR Group. Also, the purpose is obvious – this company was employed to improve the relations of Bankova Street with the administration of the new American President Donald Trump. The task was actual, since Kiev actively supported the defeated candidate – Hillary Clinton – in the elections that took place in 2016.
Poroshenko was promoted by five lobbyists in the US
The BGR Group is an influential American company that has existed for 27 years. The founder of the firm – Ed Rogers – worked in the White House as the Deputy Assistant to President George Bush Sr. and the assistant chief of staff. He also held the position of the Senior Deputy to Bush-Quayle Campaign Manager Lee Atwater from 1987 through the general election in 1988.
“Whether you’re a U.S. or international client, you depend on intelligence to know how Washington impacts you,” it said told on the website of the company.
“No firm better understands the architecture of Washington than BGR. We give you the hard data, insight and connections you need to meet your goals.”
BGR Group’s main activities are lobbying in the government, PR, and business consultations. According to the Fortune magazine, in the 90’s the company became the No. 2 lobbyist firm in Washington.
BGR Group generally provides lobbyist services for embassies and the governments of different countries, among which there are a lot of post-Soviet clients. For example, in 2017 $490,000 was paid to lobbyists by the government of Azerbaijan to push forward US interests. $480,000 was spent on American lobbyists by India.
In Washington in 2017 BGR Group received four equal payments of $150,000 for lobbying the interests of the Ukrainian authorities.
The client of the services, as was noted above, was the National Reforms Council.
The last of such payments was received by the BGR Group on January 22nd of this year.
In the US in 2017 five PR managers of the BGR Group, including two of its co-founders, were engaged in promoting Ukrainian interests.
Besides Ed Rogers, there is the co-founder of the BGR Group 70-year-old Haley Barbour – an American politician and former governor of the State of Mississippi from the Republican Party. It is said on the website of the company that he stayed for more than 25 years in the republican leadership in the White House and at the federal and State levels, and maintains a strong relationship with the Republican leadership and governors of both parties.
The head of the firm’s international practice Walker Roberts is a specialist in questions of US foreign policy and national security, and among his professional achievements – participation in preparing American legislation on national defense.
Also on the list is the former State Department official Maya Seiden – she was also the Special Assistant to then Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and Special Assistant in White House Cabinet Affairs, and Lester Munson – he was the Chief of Staff under Senator Mark Kirk and participated in developing several bills concerning US policy for Ukraine and Russia, including sanctions against the Russian Federation.
It should also be noted that the current special representative of the US concerning Ukraine Kurt Volker previously was an adviser in the BGR Group.
A radical deputy, representatives of agriculture, and Tymoshenko pay for PR in the US
It’s not only Poroshenko’s administration that spent money on promoting their interests in Washington.
For example, the People’s Deputy Sergey Rybalka, who is considered to be one of the sponsors of the Radical party of Oleg Lyashko, in 2017 paid $30,000 to the American firm Potomac International Partners. In the agreement it is said that the American lobbyists “will provide to the client services to improve the positive perception of Sergey Rybalka among US politicians, business, and other leaders. Potomac International will organise and realise an aggressive, strategic schedule of meetings in the US with officials in the Congress and Trump’s administration during Sergey Rybalka’s visit to the US for the period from September 11th to September 15th”.
Thus, Sergey Rybalka didn’t sign a contract directly with lobbyists. The agreement was reached with the help of the Medowood Management intermediary company, which represents the interests of the people’s deputy.
Such a visit of the deputy to the US indeed took place in September. On the Facebook page of Sergey Rybalka it is written that he flew to the States at the invitation of “colleagues from the US”.
The Agrarian Party of Ukraine, which also signed a contract on receiving lobbyist services in the US, used the services of the Medowood Management intermediary company. On the FARA website it is said that the head of the central office of the Agrarian Party Roman Bessmertny signed on July 1st, 2017, a contract with the Medowood Management LLC company. Under the contract the lobbyist company had to organise for the party a meeting with State officials and US analytical centers, “to draw attention to the messages of the party about land reform in Ukraine and to build a party brand”.
In the questionnaire submitted by the company to the FARA website it is specified that the party already paid $12,000, which lobbyists will receive for their services as a deposit, and also paid $25,000 for PR services.
Lobbyists in the US were also employed by the leader of “Fatherland” Yulia Tymoshenko. Her choice fell on the former assistant of Donald Trump, the lobbyist Barry Bennett. Bennett’s company Avenue Strategies Global LLC will render services concerning government relations, public relations, and strategic consultation, including meetings with members of the administration of Trump and the Congress. According to the contract presented by the US Department of Justice, Tymoshenko will pay $65,000 per month for the services of the lobbyist Barry Bennett. Respectively, in a year she will pay $720,000.
It is noteworthy that it’s not her, but the Two Paths LLC company registered in the US that was the client of services for Tymoshenko.
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