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29 November, 2011  ▪  Anatoliy Mazhora

The Sky Over Kharkiv

The biggest problems facing Kharkiv include the airport construction, opaque tenders and corruption

An unofficial translation of a letter signed by UEFA Tournament Director Martin Kallen and Markian Lyubkivsky, Director of Euro 2012 in Ukraine, addressed to Vice Premier Borys Kolesnikov has recently been leaked onto the web. It says that UEFA has doubts about the readiness of the runway and control tower at Kharkiv airport. “There is a threatening situation with the installation of lighting equipment along the runway as a result of failed supply deadlines,” the letter says. The airport is being built at the taxpayers’ expense and that of Oleksandr Yarovlavsky, the owner of Metalist FC who also funded the renovation of the Metalist Stadium. However, the runway and the control tower are the responsibility of the Infrastructure Ministry headed by Mr. Kolesnikov.   

During his recent visit to Kharkiv, Mr. Kolesnikov assured everyone that the airport has all the necessary airfield navigational lighting and will meet the installation deadline. “In fact, the only problem anywhere in the world is money,” Mr. Kolesnikov explained. “As far as supplies are concerned…If you have the funds - you’ll have the supplies.”

Hwever this summer, the Ukrainian branch of NEXANS Group, a French producer of runway equipment, sent Mr. Kolesnikov a letter pleading for help. It mentioned a company called Energosyntez that had ordered lighting wires, supposedly for the Kharkiv airport, but refused to continue cooperation with the French company and later cancelled the order. In spring, Energosyntez surfaced in the Ukrainian media as part of yet another scandal, concerning the supply of lighting equipment to the Zhuliany airport in Kyiv. Rumor has it that Anatoliy Kolisnyk, Chairman of the State Aviation Authority of Ukraine, helped the company win tenders to supply lighting equipment for the Kyiv, Lviv and Kharkiv airports.

 The airport is not the only obstacle facing Kharkiv on its course to hosting Euro 2012 tournaments. The city is desperately short of hotel rooms. Andriy Stavenko, Head of the Agency for Accommodating Euro 2012 Fans, stated that Kharkiv lacks 3,000 economy class rooms.

Corruption scandals have also been aplenty in Kharkiv. Last year, Mayor Hennadiy Kernes instructed municipal authorities to buy subway benches at a cost of UAH 28,000 each for Euro 2012.

Kharkiv roads have an untamed appetite for cash. In August, Volodymyr Chumakov, Director of the Construction and Roads Department in the Kharkiv City Council, complained that the government did not invest any funds for repairing local roads. Apparently, this was far from true. In 2011, a company called Parking+ won tenders worth a total of UAH 273.13mn to perform some works in Kharkiv, of which UAH 95.09mn was designated for the repair the roads. Until recently, the above-mentioned Mr. Chumakov was CEO and co-owner of the winner of this tender. 

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