The Russian word kompromat or компромат is shorthand for a term that means “compromising material.” It especially refers to compromising material that’s collected about a politician or other public figure, and typically it’s of a sexual nature. Kompromat might be collected to blackmail a person and/or to bring public shame. It’s also possible for kompromat to be planted or doctored (e.g., fake computer records and edited videos).
According to the 2013 book How Russia Really Works: The Informal Practices That Shaped Post-Soviet Politics and Business, the term dates back to the 1930s and was used by secret police in Russia. Kompromat continues to be collected in Russia and post-Soviet states such as Czech Republic.
Two of the best-publicized examples of kompromat involve American and British men who were blackmailed by Russia in the post WWII era for being homosexual. One was a journalist who rebuffed the KGB’s threats of blackmail, and another was a civil servant pressured into becoming a spy. It’s also common for kompromat to involve men paying female prostitutes, as with a case of kompromat and Donald Trump.
The following is an excerpt allegedly from papers provided to the FBI in 2016 by Christopher Steele, a former spy and then an employee for a US firm that provides its clients with data about Russia:
Donald Trump has dismissed the above as “FAKE NEWS” and part of “a witch hunt.” A spokesman for Vladimir Putin denied that the Kremlin collects kompromat.
In 2016 Kata Sarka, who happens to be a former Miss Universe Hungary contestant, stated on TV that Donald Trump had approached her for a sexual affair while in Moscow in 2013. She stated that he wasn’t “her type” but that she still had his business card. The business card that she then produced can be seen on this Hungarian site along with a photo of Sarka with Trump. Lighter coverage of the story in English is at the Budapest Business Journal website.