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Corrupt billionaire behind Zelensky’s rise to fame and power arrested

With an estimated fortune of just under $1.7 billion, Ihor Kolomoisky is among the five richest citizens of Ukraine. He was arrested by Ukrainian authorities over the weekend on a series of fraud and money laundering charges, at a sensitive time when the government is trying to show the world it can tackle deep-rooted corruption.

A statement on Saturday from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said the billionaire, known as the “de facto owner of a large financial and industrial group” – supposedly had tried to launder more than 500 million Ukrainian hryvnia ($13.5 million) for “transferring it abroad, while using the infrastructure of the banking entities controlled by him”.

Ihor Kolomoisky file image

A court in Kiev has ordered him to pretrial detention for two months amid an ongoing investigation, with bail set at $14 million.

important, The New York Times in its Tuesday coverage of Kolomoisky’s arrest noted that he was a major early backer of current President Volodymyr Zelensky who helped bring him to power. He is also believed to have funded armies of extremist private militias at various times.

Write the News from New York: “His business interests have included oil and banking, and he was once considered a patron of Mr. Zelensky, a former comedian whose popular shows aired on Mr. Kolomoisky before successfully running for the presidency.”

And more very revealing details are included in the time report as follows:

Suspicions of corruption and embezzlement have dogged Mr. Kolomoisky for years. In 2017, he left Ukraine for Switzerland and Israel after the government of then-President Petro O. Poroshenko seized a bank he co-owned and accused him of large-scale fraud that threatened to destabilize Ukraine’s economy.

He returned in 2019 after defeating Mr. Zelensky of Mr. Poroshenko, raising fears that his ties to the new president would help him regain his economic and political power.

So, naturally, the Western mainstream press is now presenting it as a “big fish” indictment showing that Zelensky is getting “tough” and finally scrapped to expose long-standing corruption.

The timing is also interesting given Zelensky he just fired his own defense minister, an announcement that came the same weekend as billionaire Kolomoisky’s arrest. “This week, the parliament will be asked to make a personnel decision… I have decided to replace the Minister of Defense of Ukraine. Oleksii Reznikov has gone through more than 550 days of full-scale war,” Zelensky said during the weekend.

And guess who was degrees of separation from Hunter Biden, related to Bursima’s shady dealings? “In addition to being connected through energy giant Burisma, Hunter Biden did business with Igor Kolomoisky’s bank,” a previous report said. reads.

As for the ousted defense minister, Reznikov was at the center of an anti-corruption investigation into the military’s payment of inflated prices for imported items, sometimes triple the cost or more, the profits of which it is believed that they filled the pockets of the military leaders. civil servants There is also the recent conscription scandal, where major military recruiters received large bribes to allow people to avoid conscription.

In the background is that of Ukraine application for accession to the European Union. Of course, the fact that Ukraine tops the list of the most corrupt societies in Europe will probably remain a significant obstacle for years to come.

Meanwhile, Russian media have noted that Kolomoysky has personally entered the political arena at times and that his money has greatly impacted the country in ways. known and unknown:

Kolomoysky burst onto the political scene in 2014, when he was appointed governor of southeastern Dnepropetrovsk region after Western-backed coup in Kiev. A year later, however, he was ousted from his post over a conflict with then-Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko amid a fight for control of Ukrnafta and state-owned pipeline operator Ukrtransnafta.

In 2016, Ukrainian authorities also nationalized Kolomoysky’s PrivatBank, after declaring it a major threat to the country’s financial system, following allegations of large-scale fraud.

Kolomoysky is also considered to have played a major role in President Vladimir Zelensky’s rise to power. Before launching his political campaign in 2019, Zelensky was a comedian whose show was hosted by a media holding controlled by Kolomoysky. The tycoon himself said he “wanted” Zelensky to become president, but denied close contacts with him.

In this particular case, it is very likely that Washington exerted pressure on Kiev, given that already in 2021 the US State Department sanctioned Kolomoysky and his relatives. A US statement at the time said he was involved “in corrupt acts that undermined the rule of law and the Ukrainian public’s faith in the democratic institutions of its government.”

He may even have had his Ukrainian passport revoked at one point, but he has personally dismissed those reports, as well as widespread accusations of corruption, as “nonsense” and without merit.


Maybe that’s why it was easy for Zelensky (after all these years of “open” corruption) to take him to court? Starting in 2019, Kolomoisky began to make some statements in favor of Moscow, in a significant way reverse course

Ukraine should renounce the West and return to Russia’s fold, influential Ukrainian billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky said in a interview with The New York Times on Wednesday.

Kolomoisky’s business ties to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy have come under intense scrutiny since the former comedian’s election campaign began this year. Both men have rejected suggestions that Kolomoisky has behind-the-scenes influence over Zelenskiy.

The Moscow Times picked out quotes from Kolomoisky’s emotional and profane interview that, according to The New York Times, mark a “remarkable change of heart” for Russia’s former adversary.

In the meantime…



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