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7 December, 2015  ▪  Denys Kazanskyi

Most Wanted: A Crib Sheet for the President

The Ukrainian Week has put together a little list of those whom the current Administration should add to its sights so that it does not stop with Ghennadiy Korban

The arrest of the UKROP party boss, a notorious Ukrainian “biznesman” by the name of Ghennadiy Korban has been a major political scandal. The government’s action was condemned on nearly all political sides tied to tycoon Ihor Kolomoyskiy, and even parties unrelated to him. The press also responded aggressively. Korban’s detention was immediately labeled selective justice. “Why haven’t they arrested such Regionals as Vilkul, Boyko and Bakulin, too?” opinion-makers asked in Facebook.

There’s really no answer to this question. Endless debates over the infamous “Boyko Towers” continue without result in Ukraine for the last few years, separatist mayors quietly go to work every day even though they organized the overthrow of Ukraine’s Constitution in Donbas last year. Nearly all the high-profile allies of Viktor Yanukovych who are responsible for the corruption, violence and war in Ukraine look quite unworried these days.

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In response to the storm of commentary and statements that echoed after the arrest of one of Kolomoyskiy’s closest associates, President Poroshenko was quick to reassure the country that he had no intention of stopping with Korban and that other arrests were on the way.

“My response is very simple,” said Poroshenko in a television interview. “Firstly, a few weeks ago when the Rada withdrew immunity from national deputies accused of a crime, I promised very clearly that this was just the beginning. The process of combatting corruption and our determined efforts to restore rule of law continue.”

“Put your money where your mouth is”

Of course, he did not give any names and still hasn’t. But the press has known them for a very long time and journalists are tired of repeating the names of those at the heart of major corruption scandals in article after article. Yet the President’s statement offers another excuse to bring out the parade of Most Wanted who robbed and cheated under Yanukovych and not only continue to live and work without fear in Ukraine, but dream and plot their return to power.

Who should be next to whom armored Cougars with Alfa troops will drive up? The first name that screams out is the notorious “Gas Prince” Yuriy Boyko whose crimes have been written about so much that there’s simply nothing to add. For instance, in 2011, when the Energy Ministry was headed by Boyko, the state-run Chornomornaftogaz bought drilling rigs for inflated prices, costing the state UAH 200 million in losses, equivalent to USD 25 million at the time. Just this year, on April 23, the Prosecutor General’s Office began a pre-trial investigation. Yet Boyko remains free and the Verkhovna Rada has been in no hurry to withdraw his deputy immunity. Oddly, there was far more enthusiasm among lawmakers and the Prosecutor’s Office when it was necessary to do this and approve the arrest of Deputy Ihor Mosiychuk, who was being accused of taking a bribe of—check this—USD 5,000.

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Of course, Boyko’s close ties to Russia’s Gazprom may be playing a role here. They say that the Russian giant is covering the Ukrainian MP, protecting him against any run-ins with the law, while Ukraine’s power elite doesn’t want any more quarrels with its energy supplier over such a minor detail as Boyko embezzling UAH 200mn. There are uglier rumors as well. In the backrooms there is open talk about Boyko bringing those very UAH 200mn to Bankova, the Presidential Administration and that’s why he can sleep so peacefully. But of course, there is no hard evidence to support these rumors.

One way or another, sooner or later, the President and Prosecutor will have to explain why one of the most corrupt ministers from the Azarov Cabinet is still walking free. For now, they seem to have armed themselves with the old Nasruddin recipe: put things off as long as you possibly and then come elections, firing the Prosecutor, a change of Government and so on.

Most Wanted for crimes against Ukrainians

Dmytro Koliesnikov, another deputy from the Opposition Bloc and a former governor of Dnipropetrovsk has been waiting for the Alphas on Cougars for a long time. In winter 2014, during the peak of the confrontation in Kyiv, as power was slipping from Yanukovych’s hands and one after another local Maidans began popping up across the country, it was Koliesnikov who called in the titushky in Dnipropetrovsk and issued orders to beat up the political opposition who had come outside the oblast administration. The thugs were issued bats right inside the Administration Building, after which they launched a real massacre. The police stayed back while the titushky shot at people with traumatic weapons, knocked them down, and finished off fallen activists with bats and metal pipes. Videos of this terrible night are still available on the internet.

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Soon afterwards, it became known that Anatoliy Buriak, who runs the Kryvbas basketball department today, was directly responsible for organizing the transport of titushky from Kryvyi Rih to Dnipropetrovsk. The honorary president of this sports club is none other than Yuriy Vilkul, father to another notorious deputy from the Opposition Bloc, Oleksandr Vilkul. It was the younger Vilkul who arranged for the titushky to attack the rally while then Governor Koliesnikov had the order carried out.

So far, there’s no word about any kind of suit against Vilkul. Sometimes his name comes up but nothing more than talk. It seems that no one will be held responsible for the violent Dnipropetrovsk attack. Compared to the bloodshed that followed and continues today, it seems that the current Administration sees this event as a mere trifle not worth anyone’s attention.

The other wheeler-dealer

Beside Koliesnikov, we can also look at the much better known Kolesnikov from Donetsk, Borys. Nobody is especially interested today in the massive wave of corruption that unrolled during the country’s preparations for the EURO 2012 football championship. Yet just a few years ago, nearly all of Ukraine’s independent media were vociferously accusing this politician of corruption. So were the politicians. For instance, in July 2012 Arseniy Yatseniuk stood at the VR podium and called for a special commission to look into how USD 10bn had been spent during the preparations for the games.

“The opposition demands a commission to investigate the spending of US $10 billion that were received for the construction of infrastructure for EURO 2012 from the pockets of 46 million Ukrainians,” Yatseniuk stated. “It’s these 46 million Ukrainians who made EURO 2012, they paid the taxes and they have a right to know where this money went, and to see those who stole the USD 10 billion taken to court.”

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For obvious reasons, no investigation was ever made into Kolesnikov’s corrupt schemes under Yanukovych. Still, even after the ex-president fled to Rostov-on-Don, no one has been in a hurry to establish what happened to those billions. It seems that no one would stop Yatseniuk from properly launching such an investigation today, but for some reason he’s no longer quite so hot and bothered.

All those unpunished accomplices

SBU investigators should long have looked closer at the separatist mayors in Donbas, of whom there are so many that they couldn’t possibly fit into a single article. The winner of the mayoral race in Dobropillya was none other than the organizer of the local “referendum,” Andriy Aksionov, while the incumbents, Valeriy Hnatenko and Yuriy Khotlubey, who were returned in Druzhkivka and Mariupol, and Rubizhne’s Yuriy Khortkiv are all known accomplices of the terrorists—and all remain unpunished. All of them are responsible for the bloodshed and violence, for the outbreak of the war, yet for some 18 months now, law enforcement agencies have been unable to bring to justice even these people, never mind those who gave them their orders and stood behind them all this time.

It’s even come to the fact that an infamous Luhansk separatist like Arsen Klinchayev, who for some reason moved to Kyiv to live, was simply beaten up by ordinary citizens whose patience had reached its end. The current Administration hasn’t had the willpower to bring even the pettiest underling to trial.

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This kind of apparent “loyalty” on the part of the highest officials in the land and their unwillingness to punish thugs who caused bloodshed has angered thousands of ordinary Ukrainians who fought on the front and felt the war on their own skins. And not only among them, but among all patriotic Ukrainians. Many of those who expressed support for Korban were not so much upset over his arrest but over the selectiveness of law enforcement and the evident reluctance to punish obvious enemies of the state. All Ukrainians can hope for is that the recent statements by President Poroshenko will not remain lip service and that other criminals will soon be arrested and tried for the thousands of crippled bodies and shattered lives.

And while the entire country watches the adventures of Ghennadiy Korban, few noticed yet another bit of news. On November 1, a bail bond worth UAH 3.7mn expired for the one-time Party of Regions faction leader in the Verkhovna Rada, Oleksandr Yefremov. Effectively, he is no longer under arrest and can officially take back all his ill-gotten cash.

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