Azeri singer at the centre of sprawling scandal

Dhaka,  Thu,  21 September 2017
Published : 12 Jul 2017, 15:41:17
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Azeri singer at the centre of sprawling scandal

In Emin Agalarov’s music video for In Another Life, the Azeri singer and real estate scion parties at his estate outside Moscow with Miss Universe contestants - only to wake, realise it was all a dream and have Donald Trump tell him: “You’re fired!”

Mr Agalarov could hardly have dreamt that four years after the Miss Universe pageant, he would be at the centre of a sprawling scandal about alleged Russian government interference to tip the US presidential election campaign in favour of Mr Trump, reports a global media Wednesday.

It was 37-year-old Mr Agalarov and his oligarch father, Aras, who lobbied for a meeting in Trump Tower, New York, in June 2016 between Mr Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr, and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a lawyer for small-time Russian officials implicated in a tax fraud case, according to Rob Goldstone, the music publicist who organised it.

The details emerged in emails released by Mr Trump Jr yesterday.

Mr Trump Jr agreed to the meeting after Mr Goldstone told him that he was being offered “information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and dealings with Russia” provided by a Russian prosecutor, Yuri Chaika. The information was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump”, Mr Goldstone added.

According to the emails, Ms Veselnitskaya was intended to be the messenger for the damaging information. She told NBC yesterday that she was invited to the meeting by a man she did not know.

Ms Veselnitskaya and Mr Trump Jr say she provided no information about Mrs Clinton. “They wanted it so badly,” she said. Instead, she raised the issue of US sanctions on Russian officials implicated in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian whistleblower who exposed an alleged $230m tax fraud before dying in mysterious circumstances in jail. Ms Veselnitskaya had been engaged in a lobbying campaign to have the US sanctions lifted.

It is unclear whether Mr Chaika, the Russian prosecutor, intended to pass dirt on Mrs Clinton to the Trump campaign, or indeed whether he had any such dirt at all. But he did have an interest in the Magnitsky sanctions.

- SZ
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