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Onishchenko – It’ll get messy

December 9, 2016

Back in July an entry appeared relating to the politics surrounding the removal of parliamentary immunity from Alexandr Onishchenko.  It outlined the grubby and disingenuous position of Yulia Tymoshenko and Batkivshchyna in particular due to Mr Onishchenko being a financier of Batkivshchyna – despite his membership of a different parliamentary faction, Will of the People.

That he would be in one parliamentary faction and finance a different party is no surprise to regular readers of course.  In a political space without much in the way of discernible ideology or party loyalty, the parliamentary party a parliamentarian my be part of generally by definition means very little.

The shenanigans, dishonesty and lack of loyalty displayed within the above-linked entry were perhaps an obvious harbinger for what was to come in a far more public and international environment when “payback” was deemed to be politically expedient.

And so it comes to pass that as Ms Tymoshenko appears to have gone “all in” in an attempt to force early Verkhovna Rada elections, remove the National Bank head, and discredit President Poroshenko in a populist broadside as utility price hikes bite the electorate – and in perfect synchronicity her party financier, the now wanted Alexander Onishchsnko raises allegations of corruption and parliamentary vote buying by President Poroshenko in the UK (where Mr Onishchenko currently sits) and Ukrainian press.

There are many ways to view the motivations, legitimacy and/or accuracy and timing of Mr Onishchenko’s allegations – but what is true is that he is/was a political and business insider among the Ukrainian elite.  He is also an odious, self-serving, deceitful and nefarious individual against whom the Ukrainian State (read Ukrainian people) no doubt have cause for redress and restitution – as they do so many of the political class for exactly the same reasons (will somebody please take on Pashinsky?).

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Further the substance of the Onishchenko allegations are hardly of a nature alien to Ukrainian politics historically.  They are therefore deemed plausible by many both within and without Ukraine.

(If true however, it would be interesting to know when votes were bought and which laws they were bought in order to pass – those serving vested interests, or the Ukrainian State in order to meet its obligations?)

This entry will (try to) stick only to what is already in the public domain and seeks not to act as judge or jury, nor test the allegations.

The upshot of the allegations reaching the UK press and their publication has resulted in lawyerly letters pinging their way around some parts of the UK media with the issue of libel the heart of the prose.  The lawyerly letters coming from the Aktins Thomson – a particularly effective legal firm with regard to media.  Journalists thus forewarned.

Akins Thomson have apparently been engaged to protect the image of Ukraine – not President Poroshenko (or any others that will continue to be named in the days and weeks ahead) – and yet a reader would perhaps ponder why such an eminent media law firm are hired over corruption allegations against President Poroshenko (not Ukraine) and yet so little money and effort appears to be spent finding a top drawer, top Dollar (and well connected Republican biased) US lobbying group for Ukraine for the Trump presidency.  (Indeed such a top drawer US lobbying firm should already be engaged and working 24/7 for the benefit of Ukraine.)

Mr Onishchenko has broadened his allegation net with regard to just who facilitates the allegedly corrupt dictates of President Poroshenko, naming Igor Kononenko (who bares an uncanny likeness to Dr Evil) as facilitator-in-chief.

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Mr Kononenko, this blog has previously labeled President Poroshenko’s “parliamentary leg-breaker” on many occasions.

Mr Kononenko is in no way different from Mr Onishchenko by way of odiousness, nefariousness, ruthlessness or political and business insider knowledge.  Indeed in private conversation with the diplomatic community or international institutions, regardless of the diplomatic home nation or which international institution, the mere mention of Igor Kononenko’s name brings about the immediate rolling of eyes, sighs, and acknowledgments of problematic influence.

Unfortunately President Poroshenko seems unwilling to tighten Mr Kononenko’s leash and thus he will continue to do far more damage to Ukraine’s reputation in diplomatic and political circles than Mr Onishechnko’s article in the UK and Ukrainian media.

Naturally President Poroshenko dismisses the accusations made – as will Igor Kononenko (and Ihor Granovsky and Sergei Berezenko who will inevitably also feature).

So the question is whether in going after Yulia Tymoshenko’s financier, was this payback was inevitable, or was some form of “universal code of silence” among the elite expected?  After all, Mykola Martynenko, financier of Arseny Yatseniuk has kept quiet since his political forced fall from grace.

It seems unlikely that the expectation of such silence would be the case, as Mr Martynenko’s party remain part of the majority coalition and he is thus not without influence even if without position.  With Will of the People seemingly set to finally implode and the jury definitely still out as to whether Ms Tymoshenko can manage to force early elections (with several other parties seeking to do the same thing) then Mr Onishchenko is in perhaps a more precarious position – particularly as claims he has taken a Russian passport have now been publicly made by the SBU.

The truthfulness of their statement is left to a reader, and one may ponder if taking the view it is true, whether it is a Plan B should Ukraine actually bother asking the UK to extradite Mr Onishchenko at some point.

Whatever the case, the SBU inference for public digestion is that Mr Onishchenko agreed to act at the very least as an agent of influence for The Kremlin in exchange for a passport and safe haven if necessary.

Perhaps.

Nevertheless, PR damage limitation is going to be difficult if Mr Onishchenko is prepared to continue to drip plausible (albeit not necessarily true/accurate) allegations within the media.

It seems unlikely that NABU (which is prepared to meet Mr Onishchenko on neutral turf (presumably London)) will be able to convince him that after giving all the evidence he has (and copies of what he is supposed to have already handed to the US) that staying quiet in order not to prejudice any investigation will gather much traction.

Thus it appears that this will get far more messy – and publicly.

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