US ambassador to Hungary accused of ‘double standards’ after major newspaper reports alleged previous dealings with associates of pro-Putin oligarch

By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

The U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman has been accused of having ties with and providing legal services to key associates of a pro-Putin Russian oligarch rumored to have successfully evaded sanctions imposed on Russian commercial entities by the West.

According to the Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet, Pressman revealed in an asset declaration made upon his appointment as ambassador in Budapest that he had received funds from Ellen Pinchuk, an associate of Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov who the newspaper claimed manages Prokhorov’s U.S. commercial affairs.

Pressman reportedly received the funds during his time as a lawyer for the U.S. law firm Jenner & Block, whom he joined as a partner back in 2020.

“At Jenner & Block, Ambassador Pressman will continue to represent clients in a range of high-stakes commercial crises that pose existential threats to their businesses, brands, or positions,” read a press release by the firm at the time of his appointment.

The Hungarian newspaper acknowledged that the asset declaration did not divulge what the receipt of funds related to, or what legal services were provided by Pressman for Pinchuk.

“What is certain, though, is that this collaboration has significantly boosted the diplomat’s earnings,” Magyar Nemzet stated.

Pinchuk is listed as the deputy CEO of the Moscow-based Mikhailov and Partners PR firm on her LinkedIn profile, a firm with links to Mikhail Prokhorov. In an interview with the firm’s former president, Juliana Slaschova, published in the Guardian newspaper back in 2009, it was reported that Prokhorov was one of the firm’s leading clientele.

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Pinchuk has also been a regular spokesperson for the Russian oligarch for over a decade, including during his acquisition of the U.S. basketball club, the New Jersey Nets, which was subsequently relocated by Prokhorov and renamed the Brooklyn Nets.

“Mr. Pressman’s involvement in the Russian contract, despite his consistent criticisms of Hungary, brought the U.S. diplomat significant financial gains, amassing nearly two million dollars in less than two years during his tenure at Jenner & Block,” reported Magyar Nemzet.

The Hungarian newspaper described Pressman’s previous business dealings as “a striking instance of double standards,” given his unyielding criticism of the Hungarian government’s desire to retain a commercial relationship with Moscow despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Pressman’s latest criticism came this week when he slammed Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Beijing.

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The U.S. diplomat accused Orbán of “pleading for business deals” while Russia continues its aggression in Ukraine.

“Hungary’s leader chooses to stand with a man whose forces are responsible for crimes against humanity in Ukraine, and alone among our Allies,” he posted on X.

Orbán insisted the meeting was an attempt to bring peace to the region. Hungary has been a constant advocate for a ceasefire and peace talks while other Western nations have continued to fund the Ukrainian war effort, prolonging the conflict and increasing the death toll.

“In Europe today, one question is on everyone’s mind: Will there be a ceasefire in Ukraine? For us Hungarians, too, the most important thing is that the flood of refugees, the sanctions, and the fighting in our neighboring country should end,” Orbán said following the meeting.

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