Archive for September 5th, 2017

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He doth protest too much? Khomutynnik

September 5, 2017

The Lady doth protest too much methinks” – Act III, Scene II, Hamlet – Shakespeare.

A phrase recognised by most people as inferring doubt upon the sincerity of those that would protest (too much) beyond what is reasonable and/or expected.

In relation to this entry, it is more accurate to state “He doth protest too much methinks” when it comes to the sincerity of the orator.

5th September witnessed the (probably temporary) resignation of Vitaly Khomutynnik as head of the Vidrodzhennya Party (26 MPs) within the Verkhovna Rada.

He is also one of the most influential businessmen and politicians in Ukraine who most people both within and without the country have never heard of.

His e-declaration (as now required for parliamentarians) revealed him to be one of the most affluent MPs in the Verkhovna Rada – and his declaration was not entirely “all inclusive” when it comes to what he actually does own, earn, and otherwise control via smoke, mirrors, innumerable shell companies and fronting “ownership” by others.

This quite an achievement considering for 16 years or more, officially Mr Khomutynnik has not engaged in business.  Nevertheless he declared UAH 190 million in income last year alone.

A reader can only guess the size of income that was not declared – and even for that, perhaps a good place to start among the innumerable companies under his control would be “Chausette” and “Cascade Investments”, in combination with a (tedious) trawl through the rare direct media quotes over the past two decades in which he admits to ownership/part ownership of assets that he appears to have forgotten to itemise in his e-declaration.

Nevertheless to err is but human – as is to deceive.

It is perhaps no surprise that a tax avoidance investigation into the affairs of Mr Khomutynnik (from 1998 – 2016) is now underway.  Indeed it was probably unavoidable considering the public access to the e-declaration system and the necessary e-declaration audits by the anti-corruption institutions.

It will be interesting to see whether the Prosecutor’s Office will simply go through the motions, whether a voluntary payment (for significantly less than that owed) is accepted, or if in getting to a court, the courts will deal with the matter with integrity.  If due process is to come to a successful prosecution by way of verdict, then that such a result will come of it before elections seems very unlikely.

Having played the Ukrainian business and political system (if they can be separated) so well and for so long, and to have avoided public recognition (for the most part) whilst doing so is a feat worthy of recognition in and of itself.

Further to emerge from the Party of Regions as one of the few former members who has done particularly well under the current authorities is also of note.

Thus to return to his (probably temporary) resignation as leader of the Vidrodzhennya Party.  In announcing his resignation Mr Khomutynik stated “To prevent speculation about the impact on our deputy group during future voting in the Verkhovna Rada, I decided to resign my duties as chairman of the deputy group,”  (Viktor Bondar will assume the position).

A most unusual occurrence in Ukraine for anybody with apparent power, be it real or illusory, to voluntarily relinquish it,   It is simply eye-catching.  It is here that “he doth protest too much methinks” perhaps applies.

A reader will no doubt already be mulling over just how it is that of all the ex-Regions parliamentarians and businessmen, the almost invisible Mr Khomutynik has continued to do very well for himself under the current leadership.  Further, why as the leader of a party composed of such historically similar individuals, Mr Khomutynik feels the need to resign to prevent speculation over how the party will vote in the future during such time as the tax investigation into his affairs continues is worth pondering.

It is a statement that would, or at least prima facie seeks to prevent his decision being used by others to state it is one more indication of Presidential/Bankova coercion over perceived political rivals.

But to what extend is there any rivalry – or perhaps dependence?

Clearly he wishes to avoid inference that Vidrodzhennya will vote a certain way due to perceived pressure from the President/Bankova upon him – particularly with several very contentious votes slated to occur this Autumn.

For the cynically inquisitive, such a statement therefore invites another (tedious) search into the historical voting patterns of Vidrodzhennya as a party.

In doing so a reader will perhaps find the answers to all of the questions above in doing so – and also foresee how Vidrodzhennya will probably vote when considering some very controversial draft legislation to come during the next 3 months.

To command the voting of 26 MPs in a parliament where the ruling coalition is barely a majority, is to be in a position of political influence far beyond initial perceptions.

Of the 26 parliamentarians within Vidrodzhennya, with the exception of Andrei Shipko (a Kolomoisky infiltrator) the other 25 MPs have invariably voted along the presidential line on all matters that were deemed especially important to the President/Bankova.  Other than matters relating to tax and duties, if the President/Bankova need to shoehorn in Yuri Lutsenko as Prosecutor General, get judicial reform (as poor as it is) over the line, or eek out enough votes over Donbas issues, then it will get 25 (sometimes 26) Vidrodzhennya Party votes to insure the parliamentary majority.

Based upon that voting history, a reader can probably predict how Vidrodzhennya will vote when pension, education, health, budget, cyber security and other controversial issues are due – but only for those of which the President/Bankova (not necessarily the government) make no secret about wanting to get over the finish line.

Ergo, whilst attempting to preemptively dismiss any allegations of Bankova pressure formulating and/or influencing forthcoming party votes, after scratching away the thin layer of veneer, the statement highlights the fact the party actually works with the President/Bankova when push comes to shove.

For once a reactionary statement may have been a wiser political move in order to keep up pretenses.

Thus, when the (majority) of the Vidrodzhennya Party manages to get the Presidential/Bankova desires over the voting finish line during matters of particular inport to the President/Bankova, it is not a matter of inferred pressure upon Mr Khomutynik and by extension upon the Vidrodzhennya Party – it is a matter of a continuance of Vidrodzhennya Party policy, a policy from which it, and Mr Khomutynik, have certainly not suffered.

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