EXCLUSIVE: Donald Trump has NOT met Vladimir Putin - but Russian strongman handpicked his oldest crony to get close to Republican at Miss Universe in Moscow

  • Kremlin goes on the record to Daily Mail Online to say that Putin has never met the Republican presidential candidate
  • Trump has hinted he might have when he was in Moscow in 2013 for Miss Universe but but never explicitly said he did
  • Now Putin's attempt to make Trump an ally can be revealed - including how he sent his oldest political loyalist to meet Trump at the pageant
  • Russian president handpicked trusted crony Vladimir Kozhin, 57, to got to Miss Universe for tête-à-tête with Trump
  • Kozhin goes back to Putin's earliest years in politics in St Petersburg and is now married to a 27-year-old supermodel
  • The Putin loyalist is now banned from travel to the US under sanctions taken out against Putin allies over the conflict in Ukraine
  • He drank vodka in VIP area with another Putin ally, Aras Agalarov, a billionaire real estate mogul, and his son Emin
  • Agalarov, a billionaire property mogul, told interviewer how Trump said of him and his family: 'I have found the best family in Russia.' 

Donald Trump has not met Vladimir Putin, Daily Mail Online can reveal - but did use one of his oldest and most trusted political friends to reach out to the Republican as long ago as 2013.

Until now, Trump left open the suspicion that he did hold a tête-à-tête with the man with his finger on the Russian nuclear trigger in 2013, when the Miss University competition was held in Moscow. 

Asked if he met the former KGB spy, Trump has declined to answer directly, and instead said: 'I got to meet a lot of people.'

Amid media speculation, the Kremlin has now gone on the record to tell Daily Mail Online that the pair did not meet during Trump's high profile visit to Moscow. 

Nor have they met at any other time, according to Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman.

The presidential hopeful three years ago staged the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow and while this came a long time before the tycoon's run for the White House, he had gone out of his way to be friendly to the Kremlin strongman.

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Reaching out: Vladimir Putin's spokesman goes on the record to say the Russian president has never met the man currently in front in the polls to be the next US president  - but Daily Mail Online can reveal how Putin sent one of his oldest cronies to get close to Donald Trump
Reaching out: Vladimir Putin's spokesman goes on the record to say the Russian president has never met the man currently in front in the polls to be the next US president  - but Daily Mail Online can reveal how Putin sent one of his oldest cronies to get close to Donald Trump

Reaching out: Vladimir Putin's spokesman goes on the record to say the Russian president has never met the man currently in front in the polls to be the next US president  - but Daily Mail Online can reveal how Putin sent one of his oldest cronies to get close to Donald Trump

Eastern front: The decision to host Miss Universe 2013 in Moscow was taken by Trump - but he credited the influence of a powerful Russian billionaire who is known to be close to Putin for his choice

Eastern front: The decision to host Miss Universe 2013 in Moscow was taken by Trump - but he credited the influence of a powerful Russian billionaire who is known to be close to Putin for his choice

I'm with her: Miss Venezuela 2013 Gabriela Isler was crowned the Miss Universe 2013 in Moscow 

I'm with her: Miss Venezuela 2013 Gabriela Isler was crowned the Miss Universe 2013 in Moscow 

Ultra-loyal: Vladimir Kazhin goes back with Putin to his earliest days in St Petersburg and was present in the VIP area of Miss Universe 2013

Ultra-loyal: Vladimir Kazhin goes back with Putin to his earliest days in St Petersburg and was present in the VIP area of Miss Universe 2013

Since then Trump's positive vibes about Putin - in stark contrast to the criticism of the Obama Administration and almost all Western leaders - have been a striking feature of the Republican primaries.

So too have the Moscow leader's responses, for example calling Trump 'a very colorful person, talented without any doubt' and 'the absolute leader of the presidential race'.

Putin himself declined an audacious Trump invitation to attend the 2013 beauty contest in which 86 of the world's most beautiful women were paraded on stage in revealing swim wear - even though the Manhattan mogul announced in advance that the Russian leader 'wants very much to come'.

But we can disclose Putin sent trusted crony Vladimir Kozhin, 57, to build bridges with Trump at the pageant not long after the real estate magnate had predicted Russian leader could become 'my new best friend'.

Kozhin - now married to glamorous 27-year-old supermodel, singer and beauty contestant Olesya Boslovyak - is currently Putin's adviser on military and technical co-operation.

But the title belies a close friendship dating back to the Russian leader's days as deputy mayor of St Petersburg where he cut his political teeth.

He was the first friend Putin brought to Moscow from his native St Petersburg when he was made prime minister by Boris Yeltsin in August 1999. 

Kozhin was rapidly promoted four months later - when Putin became acting head of state - to head a staff of 60,000 in charge of all presidential properties including the Kremlin.

At the final of the Miss Universe contest, Kozhin was ensconced in a VIP area with Trump's Russian partner in staging the contest, Aras Agalarov, a billionaire real estate mogul, who is also closely tied to Putin.

There's no doubt Trump really reached out to Putin before and during the Miss Universe pageant, and that Putin - while not meeting Trump personally - responded by offering Kozhin as an intermediary. 
Source who knows of the Kremlin 

Also present was the oligarch's son Emin, 36, a playboy singer until last year married to Leyla Aliyeva, 30, the glamorous daughter of the president of oil-rich Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev.

As Trump whispered 'life lessons' into the ears of the glamorous contestants, Kozhin was seen 'raising vodka shots to the success' of the $20million Miss Universe extravaganza, according to one account.

The United States and Canada in 2014 imposed sanctions on Kozhin as a member of Putin's inner circle.

A source said: 'Trump was perhaps being ultra-friendly to Putin with a view to a hoped-for mega-real estate project in Moscow rather than looking ahead to a presidential run.

'A Trump Tower in Moscow has not happened yet, but his openness to Russia, and Putin's rapid response in sending his trusted colleague and friend Dmitry Kozhin, ensured a high level dialogue which could dramatically change the dynamic of US-Russian relations if he wins the US election in November.

'There's no doubt Trump really reached out to Putin before and during the Miss Universe pageant, and that Putin - while not meeting Trump personally - responded by offering Kozhin as an intermediary.'

Discreet: Despite his supermodel wife, Olesya Boslovyak, who is 30 years his junior, Vladimir Kozhin is known as an ultra-loyal member of the inner Putin circle who does not spill its secrets

Discreet: Despite his supermodel wife, Olesya Boslovyak, who is 30 years his junior, Vladimir Kozhin is known as an ultra-loyal member of the inner Putin circle who does not spill its secrets

Glamor: Kozhin's wife is 27-year-old supermodel, singer and beauty contestant Olesya Boslovyak. Kozhin is Putin's adviser on military and technical co-operation - and subject to US sanctions

Glamor: Kozhin's wife is 27-year-old supermodel, singer and beauty contestant Olesya Boslovyak. Kozhin is Putin's adviser on military and technical co-operation - and subject to US sanctions

During his election campaign, Trump has turned upside down the current US and Western approach to the Kremlin, which has been dominated by tough economic sanctions in revenge for Putin's land grab on Crimea, and deep suspicion of Russian motives in Syria .

Trump declared in January, comparing the Kremlin strongman to Barack Obama: 'He [Vladimir Putin] is running his country and at least he is a leader, unlike what we have in this country.'

In a statement that won cheers in Moscow, Trump also urged caution in Britain claims that Putin was behind the radioactive polonium-210 slaying of dissident secret serviceman Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 in London.

'The fact is, he [Putin] has not been convicted of anything,' said the would-be Republican candidate.

'Many people say it was not him, so who knows who did it,' Trump stated in an interview with Fox Business News. 'I don't know that he did it.'

In March, Trump hinted he wanted a total reset in relations with Russia.

'Wouldn't it be nice if actually we could get along with Russia, we could get along with foreign countries,' he said.

While rivals for the Republican crown criticized Moscow over its actions in Ukraine and Syria, Trump made clear he would 'get along with' Putin.

'I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect,' said Trump five months ago.

'We are going to have a great relationship with Putin and Russia,' he added in April.

Putin welcomed Trump's bid to change relations between the two countries, hailing him as 'an outstanding and talented personality'.

The 63-year-old Kremlin leader emphasized: 'He is a very bright person, talented without any doubt.

'It is not our business to assess his worthiness, but he is the absolute leader of the presidential race. He says he wants to move to a different level of relations - a fuller, deeper [level] - with Russia, how can we not welcome this? Of course we welcome this,' Putin said.

Trump replied: 'It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.'

He added: 'I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect.'

Praise: Trump used his Twitter account to thank both the Argolov family and Emin Argolov

Praise: Trump used his Twitter account to thank both the Argolov family and Emin Argolov

Playing a role: Trump remains close to both father - with a $1.2billion fortune - and son, featuring in a song video with Emin, who also sang at Miss Universe contest, winning lavish praise from the property mogul

Playing a role: Trump remains close to both father - with a $1.2billion fortune - and son, featuring in a song video with Emin, who also sang at Miss Universe contest, winning lavish praise from the property mogul

Angry: Trump played an angry boss in a video made for Emin Agalarov. His father has told how Trump called the Agalarovs 'the best family in Russia'

Angry: Trump played an angry boss in a video made for Emin Agalarov. His father has told how Trump called the Agalarovs 'the best family in Russia'

No pictures have been issued of Trump with Kozhin at Miss Universe, but the impact of the beauty pageant diplomatic catwalk is clearly visible.

While Kozhin and his new wife are a visible couple in Moscow, the Putin lieutenant is known for his discretion and total loyalty to his master.

No details have emerged of his meeting or any subsequent dealings with Trump.

'He is a withdrawn man, he does not like parties, almost all his action he discusses with the president,' said Profile magazine.

With a string of state awards granted by Putin, Kozhin once told how he is a member of a 'small informal club of people who can be called the president's team in the narrowest meaning of this word'.

'We try to gather at least once a month, just to meet each other, drink beer and play billiards, to chat like humans do, not touching jobs or politics,' he added.

Ten days before the pageant, Putin bestowed the Order of Honor on Aras Agalarov, whose company Crocus Group has built a number of key projects important to the Kremlin, as well as the vast arena where Miss Universe was held.

Trump remains close to both father - with a $1.2 billion fortune - and son, featuring in a song video with Emin, who also sang at Miss Universe contest, winning lavish praise from the American.

TRUMP ON PUTIN...

'He does not like Obama at all. He doesn't respect Obama at all. And I’m sure that Obama doesn’t like him very much. But I think that I would probably get along with him very well. And I don’t think you’d be having the kind of problems that you're having right now.' - October 2015

'It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond. I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect.' - December 2015

'I like [Putin] because he called me a genius and said Trump is the real new leader, Trump should be the leader, he's a total genius, and it got out in the paper. So he called me a genius.' - Januar2016 

'I believe an easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia, from a position of strength only, is possible.' - April 2016  

...AND PUTIN ON TRUMP (AND THE CLINTONS)

'He’s a very colorful person. Talented, without any doubt, but it’s not our affair to determine his worthiness - that’s up to the United States voters. But he is absolutely the leader in the presidential race.' - December 2015

'As we say, husband and wife are the same Satan.' - April 2016

Agalarov senior said last year: 'It was me who invited him to come. And he accepted my invitation.

'Basically, we are still in touch. Mr Trump was even filmed in Emin's video clip, you can find it online.

'Emin has good relations with Trump, I have good relations with him. He is a very good man.'

He said: 'When Donald Trump was here in Moscow, he said a lot of good words about our country, our culture and our people.

'He liked Russia very much. In his interviews he is saying that when he is elected president of the USA, he will keep in mind that he has got good friends in Russia.'

Trump made clear that it was the Agalarov family that led to the contest coming to Moscow.

'Many countries wanted to host this contest. Among 18 candidates there was even China. 

'But thanks to Agalarov family, who love their city and their country, Miss Universe is taking place in Moscow. The audience of the contest is 2.5 billion people - it is a perfect advertisement for Russia.'

Agalarov has conveyed a bemused fascination with Trump and his dealings with the man who wants to be US president, including an explanation of how to avoid being ripped off by the next divorce.

'Trump is a very famous man. He is a professional showman, he perfectly holds his audience,' he told one interviewer.

'I remember when we first came to meet him, he was sitting in the lobby of his own hotel which was called "Trump", of course.

'When we came in, his assistants told him "the people from Russia have come".

'He got terribly excited, he started talking to us about something, and it was almost a monologue.

'This impressive monologue was about ten minutes long - and all of us were standing.

'As I have said, Trump is a very famous man, and a crowd began to gather around us. Having seen it, he turned me by my shoulder, raised his thumb, meaning - all goes well - and started shouting: "Look, who came to see me. He is the richest man in Russia."

'I told him that I was not the richest man, and there were many richer people. But he was not interested in these dull comments.'

He also recalled a press conference after the Miss USA contest.

'It was a funny moment once. After Miss USA he had to attend a press conference and he asked us to go with him.

'Honestly, I did not quite understand what it was needed for, but we went with him. Trump started with a long speech - he has this special ability to talk for a long time and without any pauses.

'Then he turned round and asked: "Where are the Agalarovs?" - We replied: "We're here". And he announced: "I have found the best family in Russia." This is what Trump is like.'

At the same contest, Agalarov's eye caught a man sitting close to the New York tycoon.

'Right behind Trump sat a strange guy with a can of beer,' he said.

'He was behaving as if he was at a horse race or in a casino.

'When the girls were being chosen for the final, he held a can in one hand and a cigarette in another hand and shouted: "Yeeaa!"

'I asked later who this man was and why he behaved like this.

'Trump told me that this guy owned a huge pharmaceutical company, then sold it for $3billion and was enjoying his life ever since.

'Mainly he was drinking and placing stakes on everything. He also loved women.

'Trump told me about him: "He is stupid. I understood after my first divorce one must sign a $1million contract with all wives.

'"This is what I tell them: 'You've got nothing. You marry me and when we divorce you will get a whole $1 million.' It's better than nothing, isn't it?

'"And this guy keeps marrying and divorcing and they keep stealing huge amounts from him.

'"I always take him with me, wherever I go."

'I asked him why?

'He said: "Wherever I build something, he always buys the most expensive apartment."'

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