Network of Oligarchs
Empty With A Whiff of Blood and Fumes
During the initial period of statehood from 1917 to 1920, Ukrainian oligarchs like the Kherson baron Faltz Fein and the sugar billionaire Fiodor Tereshchenko won the hearts of electorate by turning the capital, Kiev, into a center for world aviation by sponsoring the construction of the airplane works — the first for the Russian Empire and the second in Europe. Ukrainians have since tended to seek a leader who is "a good householder" and "a solid landlord” of objects of national pride. In the spring of 2013, after ousting the corrupt and oligarchic regime of Victor Yanukovych, the voters once again chose to project their hopes for economic revival into another oligarch, Petro Poroshenko, electing him as Ukraine’s new president. Poroshenko’s assets are estimated at US$ 1.6 billion. Yet unlike other Ukrainian oligarchs, he did not invest in offshore schemes and projected an aura of transparency, at least with regard to his chocolate business that provided approximately 15-20% of his overall profits. Yet immediately after his inauguration, Poroshenko selected Boris Lozhkin as his Head of Administration. Lozhkin is a Moscow-linked media baron, highlighted in several corruption scandals with US$ 127 million in assets in 2013. Another Poroshenko ally, Sergei Taruta, is the Donetsk Regional Governor. At the core of his assets is the metallurgy equipment empire Industrial Union of Donbass (ISD). When Yanukovych was in power, Taruta and his two partners, Haiduk and Mkrtchian, were forced to cede control of the enterprise to Russian investors. Other oligarchs close to Poroshenko are predicted to gain electoral seats within the year. If they do, the Ukrainian political class will inevitably negotiate closer ties to Russia and risk creating a situation much like the one that sparked the 2014 Maidan protests.
Concern “Tas”. Owned by Sergei Tigipko. Between 2000 and 2005 Tigipko served as the head of the political party “Workers of Ukraine”. From 2009 to 2012 he ran the “Strong Ukraine” party and was a presidential candidate in 2010. In 2012 he became a first deputy in the Party of the Regions.
Football club “Dynamo”. Owned by brothers Igor and Grigorij Surkis. Grigorij has been a member of the Social Democrats Party of Ukraine since 1995. In February 2008, the magazine “Focus” estimated that the Surkisov brothers were amongst the richest business owners in Ukraine with a net worth of US$ 915 million.
“Ocean Plaza” business center. Owner Vasili Khmelnitsky was a member of the Ukrainian Green Party in 1997. Since 2002, he had been close to Kutchma family and the Union party. After the Orange Revolution in 2004, he became close with Timoshenko. In 2007, he became an MP and a registered member of the Party of the Regions. Amongst other products and entities he owns are “Mandarine” shopping center and Kiev airport “Zulyany”.
Football club “Shakhter”. Owned by Rinat Akhmetov amongst hundreds of other businesses. Akhmetov has been a friend and a supporter of President Yanukovych, and a member of the Party of the Regions faction since 2006. As an MP he attended only one parliamentary meeting out of the 530 that took place since he joined the party. In 2013, Bloomberg estimated Akhmetov’s net worth at US$ 22.3 billion, listing him as the 26th richest man in the world.
Bank “Pravex Bank”. Owned by Dmitrij Firtash and Leonid Chernovetskij. In 2002 Firtash made a failed attempt to join the parliament as a member of the party “Women for the Future”, led at the time by the wife of the second president of Ukraine, Ludmila Kuchma. In 2012, Firtash partially financed the presidential campaign of Victor Yanukovych. Leonid Chernovetskij has served as city mayor from 2006 to 2012. Between 1994 and 2006, Chernovetskij was an MP at the Christian-Democratic Union party of Ukraine. In 2013, Firtash was considered one of the richest oligarchs in Ukraine with net worth estimated at US$ 2.4 billion.
The Spa and Sauna recreational center “Nyvky Plaza” is owned by Igor Miroshnichenko. Since 2012, Miroshnichenko has been an active MP of the extreme right political party “Svoboda”, the only political entity that officially rejected open dialogue with Yanukovych and the Party of the Regions. In March 2014, following the removal of Yanukovych from power, Miroshnichenko personally participated in a humiliating raid on the TV channel “Inter”, assaulting and threatening the director of the media while forcing him to resign.
“Kulinichi” baked goods, owned by Oleksiy Azarov. Azarov is the son of Mykola Azarov, the 14th prime minister of Ukraine. Between 1992-2000, Oleksiy Azarov was an MP at the Ukrainian Labor Party. He joined the Party of the Regions in 2000.
The “Diamond Bank” is part of the larger network of enterprises “Rainford”, which until recently was managed by a group of now-bankrupt Dnepropetrovsk businessmen under the leadership of David Zhvania. Zhvania heads the Christian Democratic Union Party. Among other large business enterprises managed by “Rainford” are “Lugansk ammunition factory”, “MT-Bank” and “AO shopping center”.
“Private Bank”, owned by Igor Kolomoisky. Although Kolomoisky states he is an apolitical oligarch, he is deeply invested in the armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Most of the businesses owned by Kolomoisky are large ferroalloy plants situated in south-east Ukraine. These plants are a main source of income for the region, and a reason Kolomoisky is often described as a “third power”, a Ukrainian term meaning “unofficially in charge”. Since the start of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Kolomoisky has supported the pro-Ukrainian armed resistance groups “Storm” and “Dnepr” with US$ 10 million monthly. In March 2014, Kolomoisky became a governor of Dnipropetrovsky region