Posts Tagged ‘organised crime’


Civil Service reform – 12 months later, sabotage?

December 27, 2016

One year ago, the blog lauded the passing into statute of a new civil service law, a law that addressed two significant historical issues – “…..the Ukrainian civil service has frequently appeared as a source of disillusionment and frustration.  The reasons for this have been many, but primarily relate to two distinct causes – the first legislatively, and the second functionally (as has oft been stated here…..”.

That entry however contained a caveat – “It now falls to civil society and the diplomatic corps to defend this law from politically sabotaging “amendments”, but it also now falls of the Europeans that stated they would fund the civil service reform to do so effectively not only financially, but with no small amount of leadership and determination when it comes to making the law work as it is intended.”

So where are we at 1 year later?

This entry will not concentrate upon the usual failures associated with Ukrainian policy, be that policy good, bad, or counterproductive – the usual failures of implementation.

It is sufficient to say that implementation is at the very least problematic, and also that the processes employed to deliver results/civil service appointments have been far from transparent nor the standards consistent when carrying out the basic legislative requirements of civil service appointment.

(Let us not dare speak of the seamless functioning of an effective national nervous system – which any civil service actually is.)

Shoddy, less than transparent and inconsistent implementation and internal processes aside, that such really rather good legislation has survived 12 months without sabotage is in itself worthy of note.  Those hardened souls that have several times had to scramble to man the ramparts to beat back attempts at sabotaging this statute have managed to do so – thus far.

Those battlements will have to be robustly manned once again in 2017, for sabotage is once more at the gates.

MP Artur Gerasimov has submitted Draft Bill 4370-1 which would effectively destroy much of the right-minded text within the current statute.  His proposed amendments would critically undermine the a-political and professional civil service the current legislation provides statutory framework for.

Not good when institutional independence, structure and processes have to be robust enough to repel political shenanigans if Ukraine is to move forward with a fully functioning State nervous system.


Who then (and perhaps what) is Artur Gerasimov, that would seek to undo one of the very few laws of real quality that the Verkhonvna Rada has managed to pass (and that came into effect from 1st May 2016)?

Mr Gerasimov is a parliamentarian from the presidential party.  Indeed he is a recognised “presidential representative” within the Verkhovna Rada.  Ergo that the President is unaware of Draft Law 4370-1 being submitted by his Verkhovna Rada envoy is somewhat unlikely.  The question is whether Mr Gerasimov submits it (deniably) on behalf of The Bankova and by extension President Poroshenko – or not.

If not, then who does he submit such a toxic Draft Bill for?

Without providing an unnecessary curriculum vitae and full personal history, a brief outline of the last few years is sufficient to paint a picture of this legislative assassin.

Skimming over his various scandals mostly contained within the Donbas, it is sufficient to state that he is closely associated with Sergei Shakhov a dubious “businessman” (read organised crime) from Luhansk.  Mr Shakhov in turn is closely associated with former Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka, part of “The Family” that formed the elite of the former Yanukovych regime.

Indeed Mr Gerasimov stood for election to the Verkhovna Rada in a single mandate seat ably supported by the shadowy team of Sergei Shakhov.  Part of that team was Igor Bezler and his organised thuggery – yes the Igor Bezler of Donbas warlord and “separatist” infamy.  That is not to imply Mr Gerasimov has any (overt) separatist tendencies.  Mr Bezler’s participation in the election campaign of Artur Gerasimov clearly occurred long before the current events within the Donbas.  Nevertheless Mr Bezler and team were employed for the purposes of intimidation and voter bribery.

The outcome however was that Mr Gerasimov came second in the single mandate vote for his constituency and therefore did not reach the Verkhovna Rada (and lobby for/defend the interests of Mr Shakhov and others in his orbit).

During that failed 2012 election campaign, Mr Gerasimov did not hide the fact that he was in the orbit of Petro Poroshenko.

A reader will not be surprised therefore that Mr Gerasimov eventually made it to the Verkhovna Rada in 2014, not by winning a single mandate seat, but via the plain sailing of proportional representation and the party list of President Poroshenko’s party.


Indeed it appears Mr Gerasimov and President Poroshenko go way back – although specifically how and why remains somewhat opaque.  Nevertheless as President Poroshenko puts loyalty ahead of ability, for him to tap Mr Gerasimov as the presidential representative within the Verkhovna Rada in May 2016, there is some form of personal bond and/or understanding.

Whatever the case, unsubstantiated rumour has it that Mr Gerasimov was selling candidacy for single mandate seats, as well as for local governance, for the presidential party during the elections having been given a party list spot and the Donetsk region to “administer” for the presidential party electioneering.  (Maxim Efimov is apparently one such successful buyer and two stories broke in local media in two locations by candidates allegedly wronged.)

Also closely associated with Mr Gerasimov is MP Oleg Nedavoy.  Mr Nedavoy is inextricably and undeniably linked to the wanted and much loathed Yuri Ivanyushchenko, a close ally of former President Viktor Yanukovych.

There is perhaps no need to continue and sufficient has been written for a read to draw their own conclusions about the character and morality of Mr Gerasimov.

From this glossary however, it is difficult to see who benefits (the most) from Mr Gerasimov’s Draft Bill 4370-1 if not The Bankova, or those most trusted by the President to (deniably) misuse the system the “right way” – Messrs Granovsky, Kononenko and Berezenko.

If this draft Bill passes through the Verkhovna Rada then toxic executive political interference will once again legitimately sully and/or mortally wound the internal workings of the civil service.  The President will then either sign it into law if the cacophony of shrieks and screams from European “friends” and Ukrainian civil society prove not to be loud and rude enough, or he can veto it and the issue can be internally spun as a false flag for external consumption and “proof” of an unwavering trudge toward European normative.

If the Europeans and Ukrainian civil society have any sense however, the maximum efforts will be made to have this Draft Bill withdrawn, or smothered by the relevant Verkhovna Rada committee before it ever gets as far as a vote.  A large diplomatic stick should be wielded now – proactively.

Still, regular readers all knew that quality legislation would sooner or later be subjected to attempts at sabotage – it always is in Ukraine.  That’s why 1 year ago the blog warned that would be the case.


Treading on the toes of Angels – Odessa machinations

December 26, 2016

The name Alexander Angert also know as Angel to use his mafia name, has appeared in this blog numerous times (a reader may use the search facility if particularly interested).  How could it not?  His links with Mayor Trukhanov and Alexander Zhukov (father of Daria, the current Mrs Roman Abramovich) among others of notoriety and the numerous joint and associated business enterprises that do well out of City Hall and Ukraine more broadly, demand that every now and again his name is mentioned.

Indeed Mr Angert was mentioned so often by Yuri Lutsenko when he was Minister of Interior in the Tymoshenko government it would be difficult to have seen him as anything other than a personal nemesis.  (A reader may ponder why he no longer mentions it now he is Prosecutor General).  Misha Saakashvili as Governor was also not adverse to throwing Mr Angert’s name about when it came to the organised criminality in Odessa.

Mr Angert no longer lives in Odessa – but he does visit when the situation is serious enough to demand he personal participation in a “negotiation”.  His last know place of abode (for many years) is London.  Indeed if asking the personal assistant of Mr Zhukov who also lives in London, messages can apparently reach Mr Angert through that channel.  (It seems that via this route Leonid Minin can be reached in Rome too).

The full extent of Mr Angert’s (business) interests is very difficult to gauge.  In some cases his control is “unofficial”.  Others there are clearly cut outs who are known associates.  There are overtly known long term business partners like Igor Uchitel.  There are even one or two business where Mr Angert’s name actually appears.  Thus quite where all the metaphorical and literal bodies are buried is unknown – but there are definitely both metaphorical and literal bodies buried.

Perhaps the best way to identify the assets controlled by Mr Angert are those in Odessa that were left alone by Viktor Yanukovych and “The Family” from 2010 to 2014.  Former President Yanukovych did indeed meet with Mr Angert in Odessa and whatever was said between them seemingly saved Mr Angert’s interests from the attentions of “The Family” – or perhaps saved “The Family” from a slighted and vengeful “Angel”.


Of the businesses that are transparently associated with Mr Angert, one is Odessagaz.  It is co-owned by Messrs Angert and Uchitel and has been for decades.  Neither oligarchs such as Firtash or Kolomoisky and not former President Yanukovych have ever made an attempt upon Odessagaz, nor interfered as they have with other regional and national gas companies.

Clearly tangling with those behind Odessagaz was not worth the blood and treasure – even for such odious, nefarious and powerful men.

Any regular reader is well aware of the frequent mention of the business appetites (by hook but mostly crook) of Igor Kononenko, President Poroshenko’s long term friend, occasional business partner and parliamentary “leg breaker”.  He is, to be blunt, as bad as they come when it comes to scams, schemes, and coercion.  His current appetites and methodology as to feeding them have hardly gone unnoticed – neither has the completely absent desire of President Poroshenko to rein them in.

It would appear however that Mr Kononenko is about to go not only where angels and oligarchs fear to tread, but indeed is about to stand on Angel’s toes.

Mr Angert, or more precisely Odessagaz, for many, many years has been trying to bring about the insolvency of Odessa CHP (thermal power plant).  Bankruptcy petitions have been made and various internal nefarious financial acts have been “encouraged” of the employees within Odessa CHP by Odessagaz (Mr Angert).  The net result was to engineer the bankruptcy of Odessa CHP beholding of large debts to Odessagaz who would then take Odessa CHP as debt settlement.

Recently however, that plan has quickly been undone via the purchasing of a significant quantity of Odessa CHP debts by Energomerezha.  This company is controlled by the brothers Surkis who are in turn puppets of Igor Kononenko.  In buying up those debts Energomerezha has therefore taken control of Odessa CHP financials that can either prevent Odessa CHP bankruptcy or assume the role of leading creditor thus undoing the plans of Odessagaz (Mr Angert).

In short when Energomerezha decides to allow Odessa CHP to go bankrupt at a time of its chosing it would be the largest creditor with a claim to taking control of the asset as settlement.  Thus that can be expected when all the ducks are lined up to insure the loser would be Odessagaz – and by extension Mr Angert.

(In the meantime as usual there is a scam whereby an agreement has been reached between Odessa CHP and Energomerezha that enables Energomerezha (read the brothers Surkis and Igor Kononenko) to clear UAH 1000 in profit for every thousand cubic meters of gas).

Quite how this situation will play out remains to be seen when even the appetites of Yanukovych, Kolomoisky and Firtash left the machinations of Angel well alone in Odessa.

Perhaps Messrs Kononenko and Angert will come to an agreement amicably.


Or perhaps there will be made an offer than cannot be refused.


SBU claims Ukrainian State IT systems received 247 cyber attacks in 2016

December 23, 2016

According to the SBU, Ukrainian State information systems were subjected to 247 cyber attacks during 2016 (which is 2 weeks from ending at the time of writing – so there will be more before the year is through).  As a result 64 criminal proceedings are apparently under way – “proceedings” however is not defined as being arrests, or charged, or convicted.

As it appears only 64 instances have resulted in criminal proceedings with 5 convictions and 4 “wanted” circulations, it may be “proceedings” amounts to little more than “under investigation”.

Thus according to the SBU, if allocating 1 attack per day, 2 of every 3 days witnessed Ukrainian State IT systems under cyber attack throughout the entirety of 2016.  Naturally that is not how matters occurred on such an evenly spaced timeline – neither does it account for the cyber ops that are and have been on-going undetected daily for months, or perhaps years, against the Ukrainian State.

Were there peaks and troughs in cyber attacks?  Did those peaks and troughs align to peaks and troughs of Ukrainian allies?  If there is any correlation does that provide some form of guide to the capabilities of hostile cyber foes?


Nevertheless 247 is the number of cyber attacks the SBU states the Ukraine State IT system has been subjected to.

It is however unclear what classification of cyber attacks have occurred and in what number under any sub-classifications of cyber attack.  Such attacks may vary from DDoS, to data hacks, to actually taking control of the systems themselves.

Further the SBU is not the only Ukrainian institution charged with looking after and monitoring cyber naughtiness to which Ukraine is subjected.   The Ministry of Interior also has a very similar statutory  obligation.  There is then the State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection, notwithstanding the Ukrainian Computer Emergency Response Team.

Quite whether each would measure and/or count the cyber attacks to which the Ukrainian State IT systems have been subjected to in the same way as the SBU is unknown.  Are the definitions the same?  Is the ability to monitor (and prevent/mitigate) such attacks the same?  Which is the lead agency?  Is there a lead agency?

Of the 247 attacks, which have been attributed and to whom?  Specifically what was the attack?  State (and/or State infrastructure)?  Business (State Owned Enterprises)?  Banking (State owned banks and/or the NBU)?  Others?

What damage was done?  What losses were incurred?  What was stolen?  Has the “how” been shared with allies and/or applicable regional/international treaty bound institutions?

How many can be publicly attributed to Russia and/or the known Russian proxies?  If they could be attributed, were they?  (Just because they can be, for either political and/or operational reasons they may not be.)

How many can be publicly attributed to organised crime – both that interconnected with Russia, that of domestic origin, and also others?

How many can be publicly attributed to those that are neither State actors (or known State associated actors), or organised (criminal) groups, but that are simply lone actors with either criminal intent or a curiosity that defies legal boundaries?

What is behind the SBU numbers?  Are the numbers of the other statutory monitoring agencies similar to those of the SBU?  If not, what are the discrepancies and where and why do they exist?


A hiatus or a halt to organised criminality in Zatoka?

December 10, 2016

Over the past 12 months, several times has the blog mentioned the organised criminality running amok in Zatoka, Odessa.

Everything from voter fraud on a large scale, to criminal land deals, conspiracy to murder, arson, grievous assaults, forgery, and protection rackets have managed to get a mention due to the complete absence of the rule of law.

As previously explained, that complete absence of the rule of law was due to the fact that all constituent parts of the rule of law were actively engaged in the organised criminality – “For those wishing to acquire occupation of much sought after beach-side territory and/or property at the expense of the longstanding legitimate leaseholders, the following outlines the bureaucratic illegalities/standard criminal schemes.

Those with nefarious intent with the assistance and collusion of the local prosecutors create concocted and imaginary events and incidents that in some way manage to breach a technicality in the lease.  Those with nefarious intent can either do so directly with the local prosecutors, or by first approaching the Belgorod-Dneister court who then contact the local prosecutors with instructions to create and/or find a technicality that can eventually be ruled as being a breach of lease by the Belogorod-Dneister court.

The subsequent court ruling then allows the nefarious interests to bribe, coerce or act in cahoots with the  Zatoka Village Council to cancel the existing lease and issue a new lease to the new and distinctly criminal tenants.

At some point a few years into the lease those then holding the lease will buy the territory and all properties thereon relatively cheaply from the local Village Council – even after accounting for the bribes necessarily involved.

Naturally there is no possible recourse for the legitimate tenants through the local prosecutors, local courts, or Village Council – all of whom are involved.”

All such information was hardly secret – at least it could be easily obtained for those that wanted to lift the stone and see what horrors lurked beneath.  Such is the depth of organised criminality in Zatoka the last blog entry concluded – “If the regional rule of law institutions cannot (for whatever reason) implement the rule of law swiftly, why not bring in a team from another region – Lviv or Dnipro for example – that have no connection to Odessa to investigate?  There is an audit/documented trail for this scheme to operate after all – and for each and every attempt.

Unless events in Zatoka are tackled immediately, robustly and vigorously then they are going to continue as was unfortunately predicted in the tweet above – and that will do little for public confidence with regard to the perceived sanctity of property rights under the current national leadership, let alone attempts at creating the perception of reformed governance and the institutions of State.”

It appears that the rule of law has finally arrived in what appears prima facie to be a robust and vigorous fashion.


On 10th December, 18 months after a persistent and barely hidden issue became an acute and blatant issue, Directorate K of the SBU, the PGO and National Police descended upon Zakota conducting searches and making numerous arrests.

Considering the outline of organised criminality above, a reader will not be surprised to learn that among the arrests were local government officials, prosecutors, police, SBU and judges with 50 crimes now under investigation ranging from voter fraud to conspiracy to murder (according to Interior Minister Facebook) – indeed all criminality described above that was guaranteed to be found once the political/institutional will to look under the Zatoka rock was found.

It remains to be seen what charges will be brought and against who.

Thereafter it remains to be seen how a justice system yet to see reform convincingly manifest will actually deliver justice for those in Zatoka that have suffered increasingly blatant organised criminality for years.  They are long overdue both justice and restitution.

Just as importantly, it remains to be seen whether the rule of law will effectively fill the void created by its actions taken on 10th December – or whether organised criminality will once again fill the void it may have temporarily left if this proves to be nothing more than a hit and run by the institutions of the rule of law.

Minister Avakov would be well advised to remember that in any battle it is one thing to take the ground, but quite another to hold it.

Time will tell whether the Minister and his ministry have a plan to consolidate and defend any rule of law gain that will come as a result of their operational efforts in Zatoka of 10th December.

As of yet, the job is not even half done.


Command & Control – or criminality? A policing tragedy Ukraine

December 4, 2016

The early hours of 4th December witnessed what prima facie appears to be the worst self-inflicted policing tragedy that has resulted in loss of life in Ukraine since the beginning of policing reforms.

6 law enforcement officers from various units are dead – and the official statements thus far indicate that they managed to shoot each other, whilst those they went to arrest for serious crimes were eventually arrested having fled the scene.

The media space, both main stream and social is rapidly filling up with legitimate questions as well as the usual “experts” of the armchair variety despite internal MIA, National Police and Prosecutor’s Office inquiries having only just begun and having released little information publicly.

Ergo, much of what is written thus far is supposition, informed guesswork or in most cases complete nonsense.

The President has called for a full investigation and for those responsible to be held to criminal account.  A murder investigation is under way.  Whether murder ultimately proves to be the correct and most fitting criminal charge remains to be seen – and to be blunt be it murder, manslaughter, or criminal negligence in operational planning does not have any effect upon how the investigation should be carried out.  Such serious crime is systemic in how it is investigated.

It is currently unclear how CORD, CID and police protection units all managed to be shooting at each other – or whether in fact the criminals CORD went after did any shooting either.  They were arrested having fled the scene with firearms.

Naturally most attention is upon apportioning blame – yet just as important for the future is identifying what went wrong and insuring that procedures for operational planning are amended to prevent any re-occurrence.  Even if the SOPs are proven to be first rate and yet have been ignored either negligently and/or recklessly, there is still a need to reappraise protocols and perhaps insert additional “authorities” required to launch such an operation.

Thus it is a matter of reassessing “text book” operational protocol, the “authorities” required to execute one, notwithstanding the briefing, recording and debriefing of every officer from every operation.

To be honest the “text book” varies from nation to nation, and all provide for operational circumstances allowing for a certain limited amount of discretion.  Some things however remain (fairly) constant.

Having made an operational decision to make arrests in a certain manner – on the street, a “hard stop” in vehicle, or at a premises thereafter every operation begins with a briefing.

The briefing includes all of those that need to be briefed – even if they are not directly involved in a firearms operation.  The local police commanders from all policing branches who may have their rank and file inadvertently wandering “on plot”, or who may be running an operation of their own and/or have good reason to be “on” or very close to “the plot”, or who may have to provide an outer cordon to keep the public out or deal with a concerned citizenry when guns are heard being discharged etc.  Obviously the control room of the local police station has to be managed to deal with all such local issues.  Ambulance and perhaps fire chiefs too.

Many an operation has been blown by differing agencies inadvertently getting in each others way and many hundreds of man hours wasted – yet when armed personnel are anticipating coming up against known violent and armed suspects the potential consequences clearly can result in a loss of more than surveillance hours.

This particular incident prima facie displays a spectacular failure in planning and/or the resulting operational briefing.  If there is a reason not to include some in an operational briefing, then reason need be given to justify it and be recorded.

All those briefed are recorded in the operation log – even if they are not subject to the entire operational briefing when it comes to the intricacies of  the plan for tactical firearms execution.

In the case of this tragic incident, the “plot” is a house and would/should have an armed cordon put around it, generally as covertly in its insertion as possible, so that the armed observing officers forming the cordon can “feature off”.

What is “featuring off”?


The sides of a structure (in this case a house) are given a colour.  White for the front, black for the back, green for the left and red for the right – or whatever colours are standard for “featuring off” in any particular nation.

White is generally associated with being the front of the premises.

“Featuring off” then commences.  For example, White 1.1 is the front door.  White 1.2 is a bay window to the left of the front door.  White 1.3 is a bay window to the right of the front door.  White 1.4 is the garage door etc.

Upstairs, White 2.1 is a large window on the left.  White 2.2 is a large window to the right.  White 3.1 is the next floor and so on.

So it goes on around the entire building until all colours have identified all features on their side.

The point of this is so that everybody knows what is on each side of the house and if an officer calls “Light on Black 2.2” – everybody, be they in the containment cordon but cannot see Black 2.2, or the commander who may not even see the house but be sat in a control room, also knows where a light has just come on.  Likewise “Curtains closed White 1.2” lets all know somebody has just closed the curtains downstairs in the room to the left of the front door.

Further “Female, red hair Black 2.2”, lets all know that either a suspect (if identified) or a known resident, or an unknown, is upstairs in the room to the right if the door is about to be put through.  The door and internal searches and/or arrests are not carried out by those in the cordon, for the cordon exists to (hopefully) catch those escaping.

The result is anybody should be able to draw a basic elevation of any side of a structure based upon “featuring off” and track occurrences seen through any windows etc.

A reader gets the point.

Further such “featuring off” is recorded in the operation log together with any observations of movement, and the ID of the officer “featuring off” and/or observing on that side.  The operation log also records any decisions (and by whom) made during the execution of the operation.

“Featuring off” also helps when it comes to not shooting your own, for those on the cordon will identify their location to all via “the clock”.  Thus 7 o’clock is White slightly left of centre.  11 o’clock is Black slightly left of centre.  3’o’clock is centre of red and 8 o’clock is green slightly lower than centre etc.

Having scribbled down the featuring off as a cordon officer, it is not difficult to thereafter plot the location of your colleagues.   “Officer 1234, 1 o’clock, Black 1.1 60 meters”  would tell all that Officer 1234 is at 1’oclack, which is on the Black elevation and that he/she is 60 meters from feature Black 1.1.

Once every operation is completed, there is a “hot debrief” immediately afterward and a cold debrief some time later – both involving all in the initial briefing.

Lessons are still to be learned even from the seemingly most successful and slick operations.  Those lessons are shared across all regions.  And so it goes on.  Every success and every failure has something to teach those charged with the arrest and detention of the most violent of criminality – and also those that support their operations.

Naturally there are incidents that do not provide for the best of preparation – however the protocol is the protocol and even if ad hoc to begin with, sufficient resources should be activated to adopt the “text book” as swiftly as possible – if possible.  Those with the level of “authorities” within protocols are generally far harder to convince that something needs to be done “today” without sufficient planning if nothing is to be lost by way of life and/or the loss of significant evidence by taking the time to plan properly.  Careers ending and/or criminal responsibility that may result is meant to concentrate the mind.

This very brief (standard) outline of something that will probably have a reasonable resemblance to Ukrainian protocols (albeit it will not be exact).  It is therefore likely to be close to the benchmark that this tragic operational outcome will have to be measured.  Errors have most certainly been made.  There are definitely lessons to be learned.  Most certainly a full review of protocols and the “authorities” within will have to occur.  There may well be disciplinary matters regardless of any criminal culpability at the end of internal reviews and the prosecutor’s investigation.  It is vital that placing the blame on somebody does not prevent all of this from happening if such a seemingly self-inflicted tragedy is to be avoided again.

For now, given the currently limited official discourse a reader is left to ponder whether this tragedy is a result of poor command and control, criminality – or both.


Pfeifer & Langen buy Mriya sugar mills – Ukraine

December 2, 2016

Less than 2 months ago an entry appeared regarding the exceptionally murky, decidedly criminal, and mysterious yet unknown top level protection being afforded by those with incredible clout to the investment disaster/horror story surrounding Mriya Agro Holdings in Ukraine.

An on-going and unresolved nightmare of which those at the very top have made no efforts to resolve – despite the situation going from bad to worse and the ugly image the situation projects.  Having re-read the above link, it really is an investment horror show.

Nevertheless, it appears that Germany’s Pfeifer & Langen have bought (or are imminently to do so)  the sugar mills of Mriya Agro from Prominvestbank that took control of these particular assets as collateral for past and defaulted loans.


To be fair, Pfiefer & Langen are no strangers to Ukraine.  They have been active in the country for a decade via their subsidiary Radekhiv Sugar Ltd.  (Indeed they are active in sugar in half a dozen or more European nations.)

Clearly Pfeifer & Langen will have done their due diligence and therefore feel confident that they will be able to protect their asset – unlike the numerous well known international investors who now own Mriya and look on forlornly as the remains of that agricultural empire are slowly but surely stolen from under their noses piece by piece by previous owner structures with no resulting action by the Ukrainian political elite or law enforcement structures.


And the next Odessa Governor is………

November 30, 2016

When former Governor Saakashvilli resigned on 7th November, whilst many a post mortem regarding his achievements and legacy in Odessa, not to mention his future plans filled the media space, the first question the blog raised was who would replace him?

An especially poignant question as the new legislation allows President Poroshenko to either move an existing appointed governor from another region, or instigate a “transparent” selection “competition”.

As that entry made clear, “The new legislation has witnessed this process occur several times since in came into effect.  Would any reader be surprised to discover that the winners in both Kharkiv and Mykolaevskaya Oblasts came from the presidential BPP faction?  (The successful candidate for Mykolaevskaya Oblast is definitely not the sharpest tool in the tool box, so a reader may ponder just how testing the examinations actually are.)

If it is a coincidence that both Kharkiv and Mykolaevskaya Oblasts saw BPP winners, then perhaps that coincidence will continue?

It therefore matters which BPP affiliated candidates throw their hats in the ring.”

On 30th November, Presidential Decree №280 / 2016-rp announced the “competition” for the post of Odessa Governor.  Ergo President Poroshenko having pondered matters for 3 weeks has decided against moving an existing governor from a different oblast to Odessa.

Odessa Oblast Administration

Odessa Oblast Administration

However, despite all the local Poroshenko/BPP loyalist names mentioned in the above-linked entry it is quite clear that not a single one among them is particularly interested in the post.  Should their names appear in the competition it is therefore fair to assume they are “pressed men” to one degree or another – and not volunteers.

Of the one individual that has expressed an interest,  Yevhen Chervonenko is a “colourful character” and perhaps not perceived as loyal as required by President Poroshenko to become the “anointed winner” of the forthcoming “competition”.

A reader may now decide to concentrate upon who enters the competition – and who is specifically the BPP candidate and/or who is historically loyal (enough) to President Poroshenko to be allowed to govern a nationally strategic oblast (and an oblast that is also the font of many, many millions in nefariously accrued US$) – for “coincidence” would appear to dictate that their chances may be somewhat higher than other candidates.

With no willingly obvious and sufficiently loyal local candidate, the runners and riders will be rather interesting to behold – albeit once known picking the winner may not be particularly difficult even before the selection process begins.


A tangled web – The Ukrainian MIC

November 28, 2016

There are many (in)famous Ukrainian politicians, “businessmen” and recognised organised criminals historically associated with gun running and the defence industry/MIC of Ukraine.

In entries past, the names of Semyon Mogilevich, Leonid Minin, Sergei Mikhailov, Leonid Wulf, Alexander Zhukov, Vadim Rabinovych, Leonid Lebedev, Mark Garber, Kuzma Medanich, Andrey Vazhnik, and Anatoliy Fedorenko, are to name but a few “headliners”.

Since those gun running 1990s/2000 decades have passed, in recent years the Ukrainian military and MIC have been forced to undergo radical changes and retooling – nothing spurs such action as a confined yet nevertheless hot war with Russia in the eastern regions.  Also, no longer do trains loaded with armaments sat on rail sidings at Odessa Port go without more than a few photographs and a questions by both public and media alike.

That is not to say that whilst the hollowed out military is by no means hollow anymore, that the endemic corruption that enabled the gun running of the 1990s/00s has been systemically and comprehensively addressed.  Indeed now large lumps of GDP are heading to the military and MIC, and will continue to do so for years to come,  the eyes of the “rent seekers” so attuned to guzzling from the teat of State subsidies and embezzlement of State funds will naturally seek opportunities therein.

So too, it has to be said, will the Kremlin seek to infiltrate further such MIC structures.

Putting the military to one side, the Ukrainian MIC which is still predominantly State rather than private in its composition, will at some point surely be subjected to some form of scrutiny when it comes to the abilities and loyalties of those working within.  With more than 100 State MIC subsidiaries operating under the State Ukrboronprom umbrella there are a lot of managers with access to information that “others” may find “useful” and some skill sets that are clearly not optimal for their roles.


Ukrboronprom is currently headed by Roman Romanov (a former car dealer who led the presidential election campaign for Petro Poroshenko in Kharkiv).  Beneath him spreads a large organagram of managers across the one hundred plus SOE subsidiaries.  Whether Mr Romanov has been either tasked or is even able to assess the professional competency and patriotic leanings of the management of those companies which collectively form the Ukrainian MIC is unknown.  A “single sweep” would be far from effective if that is all that results anyway.

Among the management of such subsidiaries certain names catch the eye being from Odessa – for example, Alexander Volkov.

Mr Volkov is currently acting head of Promoboroneksport – a subsidiary that has been busy with BMPs in Jordan and MiG 24V helicopters to Uganda throughout 2016.  All appears to have contractually gone well, and thus it seems very likely that Mr Volkov will become the substantive head of Promoborneksport.

Mr Volkov is best known is Odessa as being the long standing regional party chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united) – or SDPU(u) – and his work at the ports and roads industry.

The SDPU(u) is a party long and closely associated with the nationally loathed Viktor Medvedchuk (Godfather to one of President Putin’s children).

Promoboroneksport is a subsidiary of Ukrspetsexport, which is in turn a subsidiary of Ukrboronprom.

Ukrspetsexport is also headed by a native of Odessa, Pavel Barbul.

Mr Barbul is better understood by his father’s associations.

Alexie Barbul has long been associated with roadworks.  He once headed the roads department at Odessa City Hall, thus not only making him a close acquaintance of Mayor Turkhanov (who is well acquainted with several names listed at the beginning of this entry) but he is also with the company “Growth” (winner of many Odessa tenders) associated with Mayor Trukhanov, the aforementioned Alexander Zhukov, and Odessa’s most (in)famous mafia Don, Alexander (Angel) Angert.  The involvement in road infrastructure also meant that Alexie Barbul was well acquainted with Mr Volkov, who now heads a subsidiary subservient to that Pavel Barbul now controls.

Thus looking at recent, current and future appointments within a clearly tangles web, a reader may come to one of two conclusions – though neither are in fact mutually exclusive.

The first, with names such as Medvedchuk, Trukhanov, Zhukov, Angert nestling behind Messrs Volkov and Barbul, is that the Ukrainian MIC is subtly (or not so subtly) “zoned” – with the Odessa controlled “zone” being that of export, whether or not that export actually leaves from Odessa is irrelevant – this is to do with regional structures of power/influence, and probable sources of hierarchy in rent seeking and embezzlement arrangements.  (A look at the “Kharkiv names” would suggest that the “Kharkiv zone” will be far more production orientated – the same rules applying).

The second conclusion a reader may reach, considering the curriculum vitaes of many of the old names and their associations with organised crime, gun running historically, and with many a very questionable definition of “patriotism”, is that more of the same old schemes may well blight the international headlines in the years hence to the detriment of Ukraine.

A reader may also decide to keep a watchful eye upon the centres of R&D that fall within current university specialised departments.  Would any be surprised to see such centers, boffin brains and facilities included, somehow removed from the university and entirely (yet quietly) privatised, or subjected to a PPP arrangement where the private, rather than the public, in any partnership would seize control and almost all profit – with the Ukrainian taxpayer assuming all investment costs and/or loses?

How clear the horizon for such State-Private initiatives such as UaRpa at the forefront of military tech R&D?  Whose “zone” will it fall into, and when?

A reader may ponder given the direct involvement of several sovereign nations, notwithstanding NATO, in the development of the Ukrainian military and MIC whether they too are viewing managerial appointments within the MIC with the same cynicism as displayed within this entry – or not.  And if not, why not?  They have been active in Ukraine now long enough to spot a bad seed germinating, and currently still have the leverage to nip such dubious, yet increasingly obvious internal structuring in the bud.

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