A billionaire Russian energy magnate with ties to Vladimir Putin has paid a lobbyist firm since January, according to a just-released lobbying disclosure.
Russian gas company ARETI and Igor Makarov, founder of ITERA, ARETI's predecessor, are paying Watson and Company Government Services to lobby on issues related to "energy development in Europe, Eurasia and North America." Watson and Co. is based in Jacksonville, Fla., home of ARETI's U.S. office.
Watson and Co. filed the Lobbying Disclosure Act form on Friday, more than 11 months after beginning lobbying, according to that filing. Lobbying disclosures are due by law within 45 days.
Bert Watson, the single Watson and Co. lobbyist listed on the disclosure, has penned pro-Trump and pro-Russia opinions since at least last year.
Makarov, whom Putin reportedly relies on to help make the country's energy deals, also appears to be a fan of President Donald Trump. The Russian oligarch co-wrote in April that the Trump administration "seems ready... for a grand bargain" between the two countries, and on the day of Trump's inauguration, ITERA extended online congratulations to the president.