Pierre Omidyar, who founded both eBay and investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald’s newest online venture, helped the U.S. government provide funding to groups involved in the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, Pando Daily reported on Friday.
According to Pando’s Mark Ames, financial records show that the Omidyar Network reportedly gave $200,000 to the “Center UA” campaign and another $335,000 to “New Citizen,” a group with ties to “Center UA.” Meanwhile, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided $270,000 to “Center UA,” more than half of its operating budget.
The Omidyar Network is part of the Omidyar Group, which owns First Look Media and The Intercept, which Greenwald launched this year. The group is also scheduled to launch another newsmagazine, helmed by former Rolling Stone contributor Matt Taibbi, later this year.
Ames also noted that another Intercept hire, Marcy Wheeler, was already investigating the possibility that the Ukrainian uprising had been fueled by outside investments, writing on Twitter, “There’s quite a bit of evidence of coup-ness. Q is how many levels deep interference from both sides is.”
He also that Wheeler may be surprised to find that her own boss is involved.
“Of the many problems that poses, none is more serious than the fact that Omidyar now has the only two people with exclusive access to the complete Snowden NSA cache, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras,” Ames went on to write. “Somehow, the same billionaire who co-financed the ‘coup’ in Ukraine with USAID, also has exclusive access to the NSA secrets—and very few in the independent media dare voice a skeptical word about it.”
For its part, “Center UA” is part of a group of anti-Yanukovych campaigns owned by Oleh Rybachuk, a top figure in the 2004 “Orange Revolution” instigated by accusations that the election had been rigged in favor of Yanukovych against his opponent, Viktor Yushchenko. Yushchenko was later confirmed as the winner and named president before being replaced by Yanukovych six years later, after the country’s Central Election Commission and international officials concluded the original election had been fair after all.
Pando reported that the Omidyar Network had not yet commented on its involvement in Ukraine.
UPDATE: Greenwald has addressed the Pando story, saying that the Omidyar Network’s funding in Ukraine won’t affect his journalist independence:
I was not previously aware that the Omidyar Network donated to this Ukrainian group. That’s because, prior to creating The Intercept with Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, I did not research Omidyar’s political views or donations. That’s because his political views and donations are of no special interest to me – any more than I cared about the political views of the family that owns and funds Salon (about which I know literally nothing, despite having worked there for almost 6 years), or any more than I cared about the political views of those who control the Guardian Trust.
There’s a very simple reason for that: they have no effect whatsoever on my journalism or the journalism of The Intercept. That’s because we are guaranteed full editorial freedom and journalistic independence.