Former European leaders who tried to bring Ukraine closer to Europe before a 2014 uprising there reacted with shock on Saturday after a federal indictment accused Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, of secretly paying former European officials some two million euros in 2012 and 2013 to lobby on the country’s behalf, reports The New York Times.
Ukraine at the time was led by Viktor F. Yanukovych, who first agreed to closer ties to Europe and then reneged under Russian pressure and was toppled in the uprising.
The indictment, released on Friday by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election in the United States, did not name the former officials, but it set off furious speculation about who they might be.
On Saturday, Romano Prodi, a former prime minister of Italy, said in an interview that he and an ex-chancellor of Austria, Alfred Gusenbauer, had worked to try to bring Ukraine and the European Union closer together.
In a statement to the BBC, Mr. Gusenbauer, who led Austria from January 2007 to December 2008, denied any involvement in Mr. Manafort’s work in Ukraine but acknowledged that he had met him twice and talked to European and American politicians about Ukraine, as Mr. Prodi had also done.
In an interview on Saturday with the Austrian Press Agency, Mr. Gusenbauer said that he had been “remunerated” for his work on behalf of Ukraine, but he did not say by whom. He added that he had never worked for Mr. Yanukovych and that he had only met Mr. Manafort two or three times.