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Ukrainian tycoons don’t care about domestic turmoil - analysts

August 12, 2014, 18:54 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© ITAR-TASS

 MOSCOW, August 12. /ITAR-TASS/. As eastern Ukraine is sinking ever deeper into the abyss of an economic crisis and humanitarian disaster, local oligarchs are at each other’s throats for redistribution of property. Ukrainian businesses are unpatriotic, so they care little about the disastrous position of fellow citizens, if at all, several polled experts have told ITAR-TASS.

The governor of the Dnepropetrovsk Region, multi-billionaire Igor Kolomoisky, has been using subordinate mass media as a mouthpiece to urge the nationalization of businesses that allegedly belong to the family of the country’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych. Also, he has been pressing for the nationalization of enterprises belonging to other tycoons - Rinat Akhmetov and Dmitry Firtash, who allegedly threw their financial weight behind militias in the southeast.

The Inter television news channel, which belongs to Dmitry Firtash, the owner of assets in the energy, chemical and titanium industries, has accused Kolomoisky, the owner of the Privat group, of stealing oil from government funds and selling petroleum products to the armed forces at grossly overcharged prices to the accompaniment of pseudo-patriotic statements. In Ukraine, these verbal exchanges have already been dubbed as a media war between oligarchs.

“Oligarch is a transnational term. Such a person always tries to derive profits from the state he keeps wooing with bombastic nationalistic rhetoric. The Ukrainian oligarchs are no exception. But in the advanced countries the state keeps the oligarchs at bay, while in Ukraine they are not answerable to anyone,” says the director of the Institute of Globalization Problems, Mikhail Delyagin.

In the Dneptorpetrovsk Region “Kolomoisky has created his own state within a state, with its own armed forces on his payroll. Even to President Poroshenko’s so-called “peace plan” Kolomoisky replied that his paramilitary units would refuse to disarm. Also Kolomoisky sells fuels, lubricants and bullet-proof vests to the Ukrainian army at thrice the price, in other words, he outrageously embezzles Ukraine’s slim budget. He will keep robbing all those within reach, including the former president, Viktor Yanukovych and his own competitors, such as Firtash and Akhmetov, the analyst said.

“Incidentally, when spiders start devouring each other, nobody around gets upset,” he added.

On the other hand, Kolomoisky’s idea of nationalizing the properties belonging to those he suspects of support for “separatists” in the east of the country has already drawn a favourable response from Ukraine’s parliament, Verkhovna Rada. A bill to this effect is already in the process of consideration. The underlying risk is the label “separatist” easily sticks to any dissenter, so the law may begin to be used for taking away people’s apartments, country homes and cars, thereby triggering another tide of violence,” Delyagin said.

“It is noteworthy that Ukraine’s richest people have ignored Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s call of one month ago to raise funds for restoring the damaged infrastructures of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. These are absolutely cynical people, moneybags, who just do not care about the misfortunes of their fellow citizens,” the editor-in-chief of the weekly Zavtra (Tomorrow), Aleksandr Prokhanov, has told ITAR-TASS.

“In a geostrategic situation that is so painful for the Ukrainian people those who rule the roost in Ukraine these days are devoid of any real political experience and absolutely not interested in preserving the state,” Prokhanov said.

Ukrainian oligarchs stay aloof from the real drama of millions of people. Mammoth wealth is their sole obsession. When the country’s gas and food market shrank, Ukrainian multi-millionaires launched a war for redistribution of assets among oligarchic groups,” Prokhanov said.

“In Russia, the state managed to keep oligarchs away from the political leverage. In Ukraine, on the contrary, the oligarchs have gained an upper hand over the interests of the state,” the director of the Institute of Political Studies, Civic Chamber member Sergey Markov has told ITAR-TASS.

“Some of Ukraine’s big business tycoons have criminal backgrounds. They do not stop at brutal crackdowns on their opponents. Let us recall the May 2 tragedy in Odessa, where 48 people were burned alive in the Trade Unions Building. After that tragedy Kolomoisky, whom Russia’s Investigative Committee has put on an international wanted list, appointed his crony to govern the Odessa Region. The Odessa port and the nearby chemical plant are now changing hands to Kolomoisky’s benefit,” the analyst pointed out.

Kolomoisky is the chief sponsor of suppressing popular protests in the southeast of Ukraine against the authorities in Kiev and their policies. He is also the main beneficiary of the so-called anti-terrorist operation,” Markov said. “In a word, the wealthiest people of Ukraine have been using the political and economic crisis in the country for their own selfish interests in the struggle for power and for property.

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