The Washington post has released details about at least a half a dozen Russian business leaders and activists who were among the crowd of attendees at President Trump’s inauguration one year ago.
In a suggestive statement, the Post writes, “As questions about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election were beginning to percolate publicly, prominent business leaders and activists from the country attended inaugural festivities, mingling at balls and receptions — at times in proximity to key U.S. political officials.”
Their presence caught the attention of counterintelligence officials at the FBI, according to former U.S. officials, although it is not clear which attendees drew U.S. government interest. FBI officials were concerned at the time because some of the figures had surfaced in the agency’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, the officials said.
According to the Washington Post article, published Saturday, the following officials were in attendance, at either the inauguration or inaugural parties.
- Alexey Repik, a wealthy Russian pharmaceutical executive. Repik posted comments on Facebook, along with a photo of a white “Make America Great Again” hat and other inauguration memorabilia, and wrote in Russian, “I believe that President Trump will open a new page in American history.” Pepik and his wife, Polina, watched Trump’s swearing in from ticketed seats in front of the U.S. Capitol.
- Viktor Vekselberg, described as a “tycoon who is closely aligned with Putin’s government.” He is head of the Renova Group, which has investments in energy, telecom and mining, and attended as a guest of one of his American business partners.
- Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in June 2016. The Washington Post reported that Veselnitskaya attended a black-tie inaugural party hosted by the campaign committee of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)
- Boris Titov, a Russian politician and business advocate who is running for president of Russia. He said he obtained tickets to the event from “our friends – entrepreneurs in the Republican Party.”
- Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist and Soviet army veteran, who worked with Natalia Veselnitskaya on the Magnitsky Act.
- Maria Butina, a Russian gun rights activist, reportedly linked to the NRA.
The Washington Post highlighted their discovery that “several U.S. business executives with ties to Russia together donated $2.4 million to the inaugural committee,” according to campaign finance records, and further reported:
Inaugural organizers said that the committee kept proper records of contributors but that it was impossible to track who ultimately used all of the tens of thousands of tickets that went to donors. In a statement, the committee said that it followed Secret Service protocol and that all attendees received required physical screening at checkpoints when they arrived at events.
“The Presidential Inaugural Committee for President Trump, administratively speaking, was conducted in similar, if not identical fashion to previous inaugurations,” the committee said.
In another effort to tie the inauguration to Russia, the Washington Post reported that Trump’s inauguration was “celebrated jubilantly in Moscow, where Putin supporter Konstantin Rykov hosted an all-night party.”
Even the Russian Embassy in Washington sent out a tweet on congratulations, that said, “Happy #InaugurationDay2017!”
Despite the Russians listed who were supportive of Trump becoming the next U.S. president, no “collusion” can be found in the article.