Dismantling the Kolomoisky political and the rise of “Team Saakashvili”?November 1, 2015
There are times when perspective, and therefore who frames issues first, colour public perceptions in hues that mask the picture.
The Security Services of Ukraine (SBU) have hit the headlines in Ukraine after the arrest of Gennady Korban, party leader of Ihor Kolomoisky’s Ukrop Party and a man long associated with criminal gangs.
Mr Korban has been arrested and is being investigated under Article 349 of the Criminal Code: “capture or holding as a hostage of the representative authorities (…) with the aim of encouraging State or another institution (…) to commit or refrain from committing any action as a condition of release of the hostage.
He has also been detained and is under investigation under Part 1 of Art. 255 (Establishment of a Criminal Group) and Article 191 Part 5 (Embezzlement). Whether these two latter charges have any merit remains to be seen, although the investigation under Article 349 is not new.
The investigation into hostage taking/kidnapping related to an incident from February 2014, whereby a receptionist was allegedly held hostage by Mr Korban in an attempt to make the then Acting Mayor (Romanenko) of Dnepropetrovsk resign. Ergo this particular charge relates to the kidnapping of a State employee from Dnepropetrovsk City Hall almost 2 years ago.
By 3rd March 2015 the investigation into this incident became known (or at least widely rumoured), just prior to Ihor Kolomoisky’s removal as Dnepropetrovsk Governor and the removal of Gennady Korban as Deputy Governor on 24th March 2015.
On 18th June 2015, Ihor Kolomoisky created the Ukrainian nationalist orientated political party Ukrop, which Gennady Korban then became leader of.
The upshot being, whether the alleged offences under Articles 255 and 191 occurred prior to, or after the creation of the Ukrop and Mr Korban’s assuming of the party leader role, the Article 349 incident and investigation occurred long before the Ukrop Party was created to act as a political shield for dubious activities of some then appointed officials within – no differently in its “political” intent than the Hromada Party created by former-Prime Minister and convicted money launderer Pavlo Lazarenko at the time.
Under his recently financed, more pro-Kremlin facaded “Renaissance Party”, Ihor Kolomoisky has Mayor Kernes in Kharkiv. Mr Kernes, long associated with organised crime in Kharkiv, is already under investigation, and indeed is involved in currently on-going court hearings in Kharkiv relating to kidnapping, torture and beating of “EuroMaidan” protesters in Kharkiv, toegether with the alleged funding and organisation of those that carried out such acts. He became a Renaissance candidate on 9th September 2015, long after the investigations into his alleged involvement in such activities. The deliberately glacial court verdict relating to Mr Kernes is due sometime in early 2016. (Renaissance is led by Viktor Bondar, native of Mr Kolomoisky’s Dnepropetrovsk.)
Next upon the list, if this be a purposeful and wide-ranging targeting of the “political Kolomoisky” by Kyiv, would seem to be Mayor Gennady Trukhanov in Odessa, another well known organised criminal whose associations are well documented in this blog. (Indeed only mentioned once again (in passing) a few days ago.)
Mayor Trukhanov presents a slightly different problem if he is next on the “body Kolomoisky politic” hit list. Unlike Korban and Kernes, he made no public politically exceptionally poor judgments in 2014, perhaps due to the fact he had already negotiated Kolomoisky funding for his campaign for Odessa Mayor that May. No post-Maidan kidnapping or attributable financing of anti-Maidan violence will be convincingly laid at his door – despite his anti-EuroMaidan stance. Whilst he is certainly not the sharpest tool in the toolbox – indeed he is a blunt instrument indeed – some of those he has placed around him are far sharper. He is smart enough to know he is not that smart. Directly hanging the rampant fraud and embezzlement within City Hall upon him personally will be problematic – negligence would be far easier but nowhere near as convincing as a method of removal for a recently (probably) reelected Mayor.
To take down Mr Turkhanov with regard to his direct criminality would probably require going back in history for anything serious and yet far simpler to inextricably implicate him in. It would possibly be a matter of raising the applicable bodies from the historical dead (although perhaps not literally, despite there literally being bodies there that may be associated either directly or via fellow organised criminals such as Mr Zhukov and his company “Synthesis Oil of Ukraine” (UK registered) that operates (and more or less controls) Odessa port. “Synthesis” is associated with Transcargo (also UK registered) of Alexander “Angel” Angert – both of whom are directly associated with Mayor Trukhanov, and it is of the Odessa Port mafia that Mayor Trukhanov can be attributed.
Dodgy land deals in Arkadia involving “Lampochka” Galadilnik and associated public funds misuse perhaps?
Mr Angert’s uncanny ability to win any and every City Hall tender his ROST Group enter maybe?
Perhaps via Ruslan Bodelan who knows much of Mayor Trukhanov (and Mr Angert from days of old and Captain Security, to the present day) and who will be hoping nobody looks at his relationship with the City budget and Marine Transport Bank transactions, off-shore companies, grubby and nefarious deals (including BOW-Sintez Oil Ltd – BVI) and many more.
This is naturally the tip of the Trukhanov iceberg, there is so much to go at, but how much would stand up in a court of law, how much is already statute barred time-wise, and perhaps a key question, is there any need for Kyiv to go after Mayor Trukhanov when quite clearly he and Governor Saakashvili will inevitably go head to head without any encouragement from the centre anyway?
Now that the local political landscape is set for the next 2 years (discounting any early Verkhovna Rada elections), the Governor will undoubtedly visibly and noisily go after the corrupt, so both Mayor Trukhanov and Sergei Kivalov sit firmly in his sights – regardless of other intentions and grubby deals made Kyiv.
With this pursuit of Kivalov and Trukhanov being almost a certainty whether with, or perhaps importantly without Kyiv’s consent, the question arises – How long before “Team Saakashvili” becomes a political movement/faction and a party in its own right? – (Albeit one “aligned” with the President.) How long before the continued obstructionism within Kyiv forces the issue?
“Team Saakshvili”, if it materialises as a legitimate and lawful entity consists now of the Governor of Odessa, the police chief, customs chief, and prosecutor – but it will soon include the Oblast Rada Chairwoman (in Maria Gaidar) and leader of the opposition in City Hall (Sasha Borovik). Taking down Kivalov frees the courts, and leaves Trukhanov with “an offer he can’t refuse” – be it resign, become nothing more than a figurehead retaining the title of Mayor but otherwise powerless, or be pursued for his organised criminality. “Coming on board” is unlikely to be an option for the Saakashvili power play as trust and loyalty rank highly.
Questions there will be over the timing of the Korban arrest and charges, particularly as the “anybody but Filatov” for Mayor of Dnepropetrovsk campaign meant no known Solidarity candidate was placed to give the Opposition Block a lift. The second round is now perhaps intended to smell of a discredited Ukrop and by inference effect Mr Filatov. Unless matters relating to statute-barred time lines forced the arrest of Koban now, there may be some mileage in any inference of political expediency.
Mayor Kernes is already subject to judicial due process and may well be in jail by Easter.
But does Kyiv need to go after Mayor Trukhanov when Governor Saakashvili undoubtedly will (even if told to back off)?
Yet all of this politicking and expedient timing aside, the rule of law requires action when criminality presents itself – and criminality there has long been directly associated with those that Ihor Kolomoisky funds or creates in politics – as Messrs Korban, Trukhanov and Kernes personify. Is there ever a time when going after these people would not be seen as politically expedient?