Over the weekend, documents dubbed the Paradise Papers were leaked, pointing to a connection between Russian billionaire venture capitalist Yuri Milner and the Russian government. Milner's Hong Kong-based VC firm, DST Global, received money from Russian-government backed VTB Bank and Gazprom, capital it used to invest in Facebook and Twitter, per reports on the newly released documents.
The tie suggests Milner may have had a role in Russia's purported interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, when those social media platforms were allegedly used to spread misinformation. Both Facebook and Twitter, as well as Google, are reportedly being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in an effort to determine the extent of the rumored Russian involvement in the election.
Milner has provided
a statement to The New York Times claiming there was nothing unusual about the Facebook and Twitter investments, and that the Russian government-tied firms were passive investors. He states that they were "simply committing funds to be invested by DST Global in companies of DST Global’s choosing, and they have no influence over what companies DST Global chooses to invest in or any other decision-making."
Milner's response also clarified that DST divested its stakes in the social media giants a few years prior to the election and that US-Russia relations were much better at the time that the investments were made.