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The return (“capture”) of Shepelev – How, and who suffers?

February 9, 2018

Yulia Tymoshenko has been in the USA this week no doubt lobbying her cause and telling tales (true, half-true and untrue in equal measure) regarding President Poroshenko – as if US Embassy Kyiv’s communiques since summer 2017 will have been anything less than inspiring for readers inside The Beltway relating to both the Ukrainian president and, to be blunt, Ms Tymoshenko (among others).

Nevertheless there can be little doubt The Bankova will have concerns regarding just which Tymoshenko tales gain traction with those she meets on The Hill.

Perhaps, at the time of writing, the feeling within US Embassy Kyiv and within The Beltway remains that President Poroshenko is the least worst option.  Ms Tymoshenko, to be blunt, is hardly a bright and appealing alternative despite almost a decade of topping the “$ spent lobbying charts” in the US when it comes to furthering her (rather than Ukraine’s) cause.

In fact, if this photograph is indeed Yulia Tymoshenko, then a front row, centre, podium facing seat hardly comes cheap or without significant competition for it.  There is a diplomatic system when it comes to seating at any official event.  Ergo if that photograph indeed portrays Ms Tymoshenko, then some serious money and influence was employed to seat her there directly in front of President Trump.

Whilst she has been in the US, a story has appeared in the Ukrainian media relating to the capture of Olexander Shepelev.  A reader may question the timing of this “capture”/arrest when considering the history of Mr Shepelev and his particularly close relationship to the leaders of Block Tymoshenko over the years, and to Yulia Tymoshenko herself.

Mr Shepelev was a particularly influential deputy (consider shadow rank/influence rather than official position) within Block Tymoshenko throughout the 00’s – and in particular 2007/8/9 when Ms Tymoshenko was Prime Minister.  During that time and given his closeness to the Batkivshchyna leadership he will know of many a dark, grubby and criminal incident.

In 2010, as many such individuals do, he switched to the party in power – Party of Regions – where he fared less well under the extended wing of Sergei Liovochkin and Yury (Yenakiyevsky) Ivanyushchenko, an individual very close to then President Viktor Yanukovych .  Mr Liovochkin is a man with a nefarious banking history himself – and is a robust supporter of oligarch-in-exile Dmitry Firtash.

There should be no real requirement to outline what the bank was really used for during Mr Shepelev’s (and business partner Sergei Dyadechko’s) time of leadership by whomever was in power.  (Mr Dyadechko is apparently the owner of Soyuz Bank – allegedly used to fund “separatists” in the occupied territories.)

For those with no particular interest to look beyond the branding and prima facie political network, Batkivshchyna/Ms Tymosnko’s political vehicle is by far the most visible political party in Ukraine with party offices in almost ever city, town and significant village throughout the country.  It is, for a cynical reader, just as much part intelligence network and, if looking at local news and the reported shenanigans related to party members in every region, it is also part organised criminal network.

In the years that Mr Shepelev was a Batkivshchyna party member, getting on the party list either cost approximately $5 million (cost as of 2007) and/or a “chosen man/woman” had to represent an “significant opportunity” to the party leadership – sometimes both.

Without disappearing down some very interesting rabbit holes, Mr Shepelev held leadership of the now liquidated Rodovid Bank – a bank actively involved in numerous very large scandals and criminal activities tends toward organised criminality.

Indeed due to its “mismanagement” and an unhelpful wind blowing from the global financial crisis of the late 00’s, Rodovid was subject to two large State bailouts in order to continue to serve it’s customers – UAH 8.4 billion in 2009, followed by UAH 3.95 billion in 2011.  (Much of that money was allegedly sucked out by Mr Shepelev’s shell companies, laundered, and returned converted into 113 hectares of land in the Obolon district of Kyiv.)  In 2015 Rodovid Bank losses were UAH 221.7 million.  By 2016 it fared yet worse.  It now no longer exists.

Several investigations into the affairs of Mr Shepelev and Rodovid Bank in 2006, and also following the “Regionaires” taking power, by the law enforcement bodies occurred – which in turn literally produced dead bodies of investigators and witnessed.

Mr Shepelev is strongly implicated in the murder of fellow banker Sergie Kirichenko in 2003.  In 2006 UBOP Colonel Roman Erokhin was murdered while investigating economic crimes relating to Rodovid.  In 2008 an assassination attempt upon another business partner, Pavel Borulko (aka Rychkov) failed – with Mr Borulko swift to point the finger at Mr Shepelev.  On 28th October 2011, a key witness, Gennady Piskun, during renewed investigations into Rodovid “fell” from his apartment window.  During investigations in 2013/14/15, several other Rodovid banking staff deaths  of those with knowledge of certain nefarious transactions (including German and Danish money) surrounding to a man called Sergei Kasyanov and a myriad of shell companies within the orbit of “Kasyanov Holding KSG Agro” also occurred.  Mr Kasyanov it is rumoured, is somehow related to Mr Shepelev.

(The latter investigation into KSG Agro continues as far as it is known.)

It is possible to go on – but there is perhaps no need.  A reader can see a pattern of a multitude of major banking criminal acts, and a notable body count that are all associated with Mr Shepelev during the period he was very influential within the Tymoshenko structures, and onward under the “Family wing” – whilst no doubt his bank was “at their disposal”.

Nevertheless in 2013 Mr Shepelev fled Ukraine, to be arrested in Hungary and returned to sit in jail – until he feigned illness as all influential Ukrainians do, was subsequently transferred to hospital, and from when he promptly escaped on 6th July 2014.

Mr Shepelev then headed to Russia.  Naturally Russia was of no mind to return Mr Shepelev to Ukraine considering on-going events from 2014 to date.

However, it is rumoured that whilst in Russia Mr Shepelev was eventually detained by the FSB, to be released after some months for producing either $10 million bribe for his release, a $10 million bribe for his release plus another $30 million not to be returned to Ukraine, or for having emptied the Tymoshenko/Batkivshchyna leadership closet of skeletons for the FSB – or all the aforementioned.

Without doubt the FSB will have been interested in the Tymoshenko/Batkivshchyna leadership skeletons and methodology/excruciating details of the scams which can be presumed to have involved $ hundreds of millions/billions.

There endeth the prelude.

Now for the questions resulting from such history and the subsequent “arrival” and “capture” of Mr Shebelev in Ukraine – he is apparently being held in secrecy (or has been held secretly) for a week or more – his “capture” being announced by Larisa Sargan, press secretary of the Prosecutor General’s Office on 9th February, despite whispers of his detention over the last week or so.  Mr Sebelev is currently in the detention centre at Chernigov.

The first and most obvious question is how did Mr Shepelev actually return to Ukraine where he is wanted for banking criminality, murders, and high treason?

Ruling out a voluntary surrender, or some misguided thought that he could return and remain undetected despite being such an odious and well known face, a reader must ask whether Russia quietly return him?

If so, what does Russia get in return?  If not Russia, then who returned him?

A third nation either quietly extradited him to Ukraine – or he was otherwise (forcibly and quietly) renditioned?  Having once been extradited from Hungary to Ukraine a reader may possibly rule out any EU nation as a place of sanctuary and thus destination in which to hide or seek asylum.

So, if not Russia, then Belarus?  Moldova?  Where else would he feel fairly safe?

Why would he go there having seemingly “sorted” his affairs with the Russians (at the expense of anywhere between $10 – $30 million and providing no small amount of detailed kompromat (or worse))?

If the third nation be Belarus or Moldova, was he first forcibly rendered there by the Russians to then be subsequently “returned” via one of these nations (or another) by prior agreement?

What exactly has Mr Shepelev been saying between the time of his “capture” by Ukraine and the time that his “capture” was announced?

Mr Shepelev is clearly a pawn in the game, but whose pawn is he, and will he remain their pawn?

Assuredly he will have been interrogated by the SBU since his “capture”, but he will now face trial and a long prison sentence – unless deals have been cut.

No doubt his testimony publicly outing the numerous nefarious actions of Yulia Tymoshenko will be eagerly awaited by The Bankova within 12 months of an election – however Mr Shepelev was close to the entire exectutive leadership of Batkivshchyna/Block Yulia Tymoshenko – and at that time it included the now Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko and the current Secretary of the NSDC Alexander Turchynov (who will probably run President Poroshenko’s reelection campaign).

Dilemma!

How to publicly bury Ms Tymoshenko with Mr Shepelev’s testimony in the election lead-up, without him straying onto matters Lutsenko and Turchynov (and perhaps others) who are now very much part of the Poroshenko inner conclave?

Further, what has The Kremlin gained by allowing or “facilitating” the return of Mr Shepelev having previously refused to even consider delivering him to Ukraine?  It would unquestionably be a quid pro quo event.

Do The Kremlin, like the US and many others, still consider President Poroshenko the least worst option, still preferable/less populist and thus more predictable to Yulia Tymoshenko?  (Despite Poroshenko’s obvious failings, they’d probably be right – at the time of writing.)

Is The Kremlin intention to have Mr Shepelev “returned” in order to provide testimony that will not only undermine Ms Tymoshenko, but also Messrs Lutsenko and Turchynov in an attempt to cause maximum political upheaval prior to the elections of 2019?  If so how does Mr Shepelev benefit (other than no dying in Russia)?

Perhaps Mr Shepelev will provide written testimony, and like so many historical witnesses against him, then suffer an unfortunate and/or untimely end?  Perhaps the deal is he will publicly damage Ms Tymoshenko in return for a reduced sentence and thereafter participate in some kind of prisoner swap?

It will be a case to watch – for there is a lack of clarity and no small amount of risk for all involved.

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