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This man went from living the American Dream — to an unending nightmare

Sergei Millian misses New York. After the naturalized US citizen became an unwitting player in the 2016 election controversies, he grew increasingly worried about his safety and left the country.

“I was being set up,” Millian wrote me recently via Twitter.

Millian is one of the central, and yet little-known, figures in the Russian “collusion” hoax. His ostensible role, as described in FBI documents and press reports, is confusing. That was by design.

Christopher Steele told the FBI that Millian was a “boastful” source for the former British spy’s discredited “dossier” describing Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

Steele’s client Glenn Simpson, a Hillary Clinton campaign contractor, said Millian was a source and a Russian intelligence officer.

The evidence shows that Millian is neither. He was swept into the anti-Trump operation simply because he dealt with Russian businessmen, once sold apartments in Trump properties, and publicly supported the 2016 Republican candidate. Millian, who won’t disclose his present location, is concerned he may still be in danger. He’s already paid a steep price.

The early chapter of Millian’s American story is the quintessential immigrant’s tale of ambition and hustle. Born Siarhei Kukuts in Belarus in 1978, he jumped at the chance to come to the United States when he was offered an education grant in 2001. He first made his home in Atlanta and then New York. He worked as a translator and obtained his real estate license. He also co-founded the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce to promote business, cultural and educational exchanges.

Millian thought it was a chance to make connections. But it was this association that would later spike the dark interest of those who sought to destroy him.

In April 2016, Millian gave an interview to a Russian-language Web site explaining why he supported Trump. He liked the candidate’s business sense, had met him once in Miami in 2007, and was proud to have sold units from a Trump property in south Florida. “That interview is when Simpson started to target me,” Millian wrote me.

Research documents belonging to Simpson’s Washington, DC, firm, Fusion GPS, show that Millian was indeed in their crosshairs. To ­bolster their collusion narrative, they claimed he was a Russian spy secretly in contact with the Trump team.

In fact, Steele never met Millian. The dossier says that another source spoke to Millian, and then claimed that Millian had relayed wild rumors — like Vladimir Putin had compromising videos of Trump. Millian denies saying that.

This secondhand account of unverified hogwash was passed along to the FBI, and was then parroted until it became an unbelievable tale of treachery.

Simpson boasts in his 2019 book, “Crime in Progress,” that he told an ABC News producer “to get Millian on camera.” Millian wrote me that he was baffled and upset when former ABC newsman Brian Ross asked repeatedly if the Chamber of Commerce was a front for Russian espionage. “They promised they wouldn’t air that,” Millian wrote. “But they did.”

Government documents show the FBI appears to have taken Simpson seriously, and opened an investigation into Millian — as they had with Gen. Michael Flynn and three other Trump campaign officials falsely alleged to have suspicious contacts with Russian officials. With Trump’s victory and publication of the dossier, the press pushed the phony claims that ­Millian was a source for it, with ties to Russian intelligence.

Millian began to receive death threats.

“My friends and business associates kept getting calls from the media about me,” Millian wrote me.

“Some got scared and disappeared. I lost job opportunities and the executive positions I held in various enterprises. I lost everything that I’d spent 15 years in America building.”

Millian reasoned that he had little chance of clearing his name at the time, saying: “You saw what they did to Flynn. If they can do it to a general, you can only guess what they would have done to me if I stayed.”

Lee Smith is author of the ­bestselling book “The Plot Against the President.” 

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