Lev Parnas

Ahmad Kamal Parnas, a partner of Donald Trump lawyer and legal advisor Rudy Giuliani, shared the WhatsApp messaging platform to speak to Donald Trump Jr. and Wikileaks CEO Julian Assange, The New York Times reported today. Kamal Parnas is also a refugee from Uzbekistan and an Uzbek associate of Parnas’s. He reportedly has a “cult following” and the nickname “Ultra-Religious Laden” online.

Parnas also went on the offensive online when pressure came on him in late December 2018 for sharing this message on WhatsApp, in which he suggested that a Russian campaign operative was using a news outlet in Ukraine to “generate outrage that there are people that are willing to sacrifice themselves on the altar of fighting for the freedom of Ukraine.”

That correspondent, Oleksandr Turchynov, was identified as having worked for Paul Manafort when the chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign was being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller for his questionable campaign work in Ukraine. Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in October 2018 and admitted to working as a Washington consultant to a pro-Russian Party of Regions that alleged in a complaint filed by Mueller in August 2018 that it had “received multi-million dollar funding from Russian Federation entities.”

Turchynov had visited Manfort’s Washington-based lobbying firm, Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, which is currently being investigated for having ties to Russian intelligence, as well as having ties to Parnas, who ran the lobbying firm, according to emails and business records in the complaint.

“The fact that a Ukrainian colleague was outed by this individual, you know, invites that kind of controversy,” Parnas told The New York Times today in reference to Turchynov. “That’s exactly what we were trying to shield Donald Trump Jr. from, that the asset that Manafort had is the asset that Turchynov had — that Manafort had taken on when he was working with the pro-Russian Party of Regions in Ukraine.”

Turchynov had a poor reputation before WikiLeaks began feeding off his emails, and worked with Ukrainian dictator Viktor Yanukovych in his years in power. Turchynov was accused of tipping off Yanukovych to strikes by the Ukrainian government, which resulted in his ouster in 2014.

Turchynov had been identified as a journalist in the email with Parnas, but investigations by The Associated Press and The New York Times found that he’d actually been writing pro-Yanukovych articles for online news site Prisma.

For his part, Parnas confirmed that he had gone on WhatsApp before sending it on in late December of 2018, but insisted that he didn’t transmit the information because he’d made it “personal.”

Parnas also said that when Turchynov’s emails were made public, he wanted to have enough proof to prove he was just another professional journalist, rather than someone working directly with the Russian government.

Kamal Parnas, a United States Green Card holder, was one of three people allowed into the U.S. in late 2017 on a specially issued visa because of his role in U.S. surveillance of Uzbekistan for more than two decades. Kamal Parnas is the son of Islam Parnas, a commander of Uzbekistan’s military who fought in the Russian-led invasion of Afghanistan, according to the State Department.

Under Uzbek law, only those with green cards are allowed to transfer their residency permits from Uzbekistan to the U.S.

Parnas is currently being investigated by the FBI.