Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller has known at least since the beginning of March, the Washington Post claims, that a secret meeting in the Seychelles Islands between Donald Trump associate Erik Prince and a top Russian banker for the Russian Direct Investment Fund held specifically to set up a secret line of “back channel” communication between Trump and Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. A representative for the RDIF strongly refutes this claim, saying the allegation made by the Washington Post is “not confirmed in testimony or otherwise.” Prince has also denied that the was designed to set up a “back channel” of communication between Trump and Putin.
An investigative report by The Financial Times newspaper revealed on Sunday that the Russian banker, Kirill Dmitriev who is CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, is much closer to Putin than has been previously believed. In fact, the Financial Times reporters found that Dmitriev’s wife is close friends with Putin’s daughter, Yekaterina Tikhonova, and serves as deputy director of Tikhonova’s technology foundation, Innopraktika — which reportedly has received about $12 million in funding from the Russian government, funding that would have been approved by Putin himself.
Putin has never confirmed that Tikhonova is his daughter and has never spoken publicly about his two daughters except to say that they both reside in Russia. But Tikhonova is known to be a top acrobatic dancer, and along with her former husband Kirill Shamalov, a Russian businessman, is believed to have a net worth of about $2 billion. But Tiknohova’s marriage to Shamalov reportedly ended sometime earlier this year.
The Financial Times cited six sources confirming the connection between Dmitriev’s wife and Putin’s daughter. The Times report is behind a paywall at this link, but a summary can also be read at this link.
According to the Financial Times report, Dmitriev’s Harvard education and experience leading other private equity funds got him the job as head of the Kremlin-sponsored Russian Direct Investment Fund — a $10 billion investment pool — and as a result, has made him a highly influential figure within Putin’s inner circle of associates. Dmitriev met with Prince on January 11 — just nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in Seychelles, an archipelago consisting of about 150 islands in the remote India Ocean.
Using information from a cooperating witness — Lebanese-American businessman George Nader who as an adviser to the government of the United Arab Emirates is believed to have illegally directed UAE cash into Trump’s campaign according to The New York Times — Mueller has reportedly determined that the meeting between Dmitriev and Prince, who was representing the Trump transition team, was set up specifically to create a communications “back channel” between Trump and Putin.
Prince, however, told congressional investigators that he was in Seychelles pursuing a private business opportunity and that his meeting with Dmitriev was not planned in advance, and was brief and insubstantial. Prince also failed to mention to investigators that Nader was present at the meeting. Nader is a former employee of Prince as a consultant at the private military firm Blackwater — which is now known as Academi and has publicly distanced itself from Prince, who founded the company in 1998.
Nader was present at the Seychelles meeting representing the crown prince of the UAE, he has reportedly told Mueller.
Prince is also the brother of Betsy DeVos, the United States secretary of education under Trump. Prince’s private military contractors became notorious for their activities during the Iraq war, including one incident where Blackwater contractors massacred 17 civilians in Baghdad after mistaking a medical student who was driving a car with his mother in the passenger seat for a potential suicide bomber.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article stated that Dimitriev received his position at the RDIF as a result of his relationship with Putin, a fact that has since been removed from the Financial Times article at RDIF’s request. A representative for RDIF contacted Inquisitr as well to correct this error, claiming that Dimitriev’s wife, Natalia Popova, did not become acquainted with Yekaterina Tikhonova until after Dimitriev was appointed to his position at RDIF.