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Shuvalov PNG’d from Ukraine

May 22, 2017

In a dark and murky private corner of the Internet today there was a discussion regarding Timothy Ash’s tweeted prediction that Svyatoslav Vakarchuk (singer of Okean Elzy) would be the next president of Ukraine in 2019.

In that dank and dark corner of the Internet, his prediction was, to be blunt, hardly treated as either insightful (others with a far better knowledge of Ukraine have muted the idea long ago) nor particularly realistic (as others with a far better knowledge of Ukraine have also opined).

That said there are 2 years until the election.

However whilst Mr Vakarchuk is undoubtedly a popular artist (and a nice guy), a reader will not have been blind to an increasing perception among the Ukrainian constituency that much of the national media is becoming more and more aligned toward President Poroshenko.

The only two national TV stations that visibly buck that trend are NewsOne (owned by Evgen Muraev, leader of the political party Zhittya together with Vadim Rabinovych) and Inter (owned by Oppo Block financiers Sergi Liovochkin and Dmitry Firtash).

This perceived slow, and for many somewhat dubious Bankova influencing to at least create neutral if not favorable national TV stations toward the current leadership thus means that at the time of writing Mr Vararchuk would struggle to gain similar exposure to the electorate (despite his quite literal rock star status) with associated results at the ballot box.  He also presents no good option for those that run Inter and NewsOne.  (Thus a Tymoshenko platform they seem likely to become.)

With VK and OK also restricted on the social media scene, further Kremlin friendly narratives are theoretically reduced too.  By “Kremlin friendly narratives” a reader may infer anything that progresses the Kremlin objectives rather than any official position or specific active measures.

Leading Inter as head of information and therefore continuing a narrative favorable to Kremlin interests is Russian citizen Igor Shulalov.

Thus as the perception of national media influencing increases under Bankova guidance, and adding the very recent barring of VK and OK social media in Ukraine, the more cynical readers will perhaps be less than surprised to learn that after several failed attempts, Ukraine has finally made Igor Shuvalov persona non grata (PNG) for a period of 5 years.

As an entry from September 2016 made clear, Igor Shuvalov is not an “interesting person” but rather a “person of interest” – which is not the same thing at all.

“For those that know little about the workings of Ukraine behind the curtain, a few lines deserve to be dedicated to Mr Shuvalov.

Igor Shuvalov

Mr Shuvalov has long been a discreet but permanent part of the Sergei Lyovochkin political furniture.  Mr Shuvalov is also a Russian citizen and a product of his nation’s secret services – a somewhat disturbing if unsurprising fact considering Mr Lyovochkin was former-President Yanukovych’s Head of the Presidential Administration perhaps – but Mr Shuvalov has a much longer history behind the Ukrainian curtain.

Mr Shuvalov arrived upon the Ukrainian scene in (or certainly by) 1998 as a political consultant for Viktor Pinchuk, son-in-law of then President Kuchma.  Indeed then President Kuchma granted Mr Shuvalov Ukrainian citizenship during the 2002 – 2004 period Mr Shuvalov was working with Viktor Medvedchuk (who is godfather to one of President Putin’s daughters).

That Kuchma granted Ukrainian citizenship was subsequently canceled by Presidential Decree when Viktor Yushenko came to power.

Mr Shuvalov then began what became a very long association with Sergei Lyovochkin – which needless to say brought him into the close orbit of Viktor Yanukovych, Dmitry Firtash and the very elite top tier within the now extinct Party of Regions.

Given the close and long term association between Messrs Lyovochkin and Shuvalov, few will therefore be surprised to find Mr Shuvalov has been instrumental in his “political technologist” role behind the Ukrainian curtain in assisting political projects sponsored by Mr Lyovochkin that go beyond the former Party of Regions and now Opposition Block.  The fingerprints of Mr Shuvalov can indeed be found upon the formative days of the Radical Party  as well as Inter TV messaging too.

Twice since the fall and ouster of the Yanukovych regime efforts began to remove Mr Shuvalov from Ukraine.  The first effort by the temporary leadership immediately following the ouster fell between the cracks, and the second effort was scotched by Mr Lyovochkin within the SBU ranks.  (An indication of the loyalty between the two men that surpasses any common cause/belief.)”

Many will, perhaps rightly, consider Mr Shuvalov more than a “mere” agent of influence.  Many will consider him, again perhaps rightly, an officer of the Russian Secret Services (whether they argue over the badge worn being SVR or FSB)..  His 5 year PNG will no doubt be welcomed by many – however that does not prevent him continuing in his role at Inter – even if from within the Russian Federation.

The question to be answered is if he continued in that role virtually/remotely  will that present problems for the Inter channel – or not?.

Few cynical readers would be surprised if his continued involvement led to attempts to remove the broadcasting licence of Inter (prior to elections in 2019).  Indeed the cynical no doubt would not be surprised to see attempts to “externally manage” (by whatever methods) Inter’s current messaging, or that fails, simply prevent them.  (In short Mr Lyovochkin and The Bankova reach an agreement- or not).

Time, as it always does, will tell.

In the meantime, after two failed attempts to PNG Mr Shuvalov, this time on the third strike, he’s out.  (But don’t expect Inter messaging to change any time soon).

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