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Oligarchs’ war in Ukraine takes new turn

The arrest of Gennady Korban - head of Ukraine’s newly-founded UKROP party and Igor Kolomoisky’s right-hand man - has been interpreted as another round of Poroshenko’s clash with the business tycoon

MOSCOW, November 2. /TASS/. The arrest of Gennady Korban - head of Ukraine’s newly-founded UKROP party and Igor Kolomoisky’s right-hand man - has been interpreted by analysts as another round of President Petro Poroshenko’s clash with the disfavoured big business tycoon. Analysts say it is not accidental that the event has turned Kolomoisky-funded ultra-right group Right Sector furious. "The two tycoons are at daggers drawn," they say.

Last Saturday, the Ukrainian security service SBU detained the former deputy governor of the Dnepropetrovsk Region, Gennady Korban, on charges of leading an organized criminal group. The law enforcers held a large-scale special operation in several cities to search the offices and homes of people linked with Kolomoisky or his party UKROP. The ultra-right opposition has interpreted this affair as political and urged a campaign of resistance against the "totalitarian regime."

The authorities in Kiev have spent much time and effort in their attempts to get rid of Kolomoisky and put the Dnepropetrovsk Region under control. The squads of thugs on Kolomoisky’s payroll, who had fought against the militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics, was one of the main problems. Kolomoisky and his team funded the squads entirely on their own and the process went out of control.

"At the moment Poroshenko and Kolomoisky have clashed for the Odessa-Dnepropetrovsk link, which as a matter of fact remains Ukraine’s sole profitable business," the online periodical VZGLYAD quotes the president of Ukraine’s Systemic Analysis and Forecasting Centre, Rostislav Ishchenko, as saying. "The one who controls this source to a certain extent also commands what’s left of the Ukrainian state."

Poroshenko’s opponents are rather strong in both Odessa and Dnepropetrovsk, so the president has to use force in order to oust them. "In Odessa, Poroshenko’s opponents have scored an indisputable victory and they had very good chances in Dnepropetrovsk. So there was no option left for him other than to use force," Ishchenko said.

Korban is Kolomoisky’s figurehead. The tycoon himself has ostensibly stepped into the background, an expert at the Political Technologies Centre, Georgy Chizhov, has told TASS. "It is believed that he is the financier of nearly all anti-presidential projects. Most parties opposed to Poroshenko must be getting money from him." In the first place this is true of the Right Sector, whose leader Dmitry Yarosh is on friendly terms with Kolomoisky.

The right-wing radicals are a threat to the stability of the ruling regime and the whole country, Chizhov said. "They can always play some role should street unrest erupt. They may spark tensions on the streets and then spread them to politics, to serve as a fuse capable of exploding the whole powder keg."

"Korban’s arrest is one of the blows dealt in the fight between Poroshenko and Kolomoisky. Everybody is aware of that," the deputy director of the CIS Countries Institute, Vladimir Zharikhin, has told TASS. "The very same Right Sector (Kolomoisky’s personal armed resource) is aware that after Korban and his UKROP party it will be the next target. That’s what makes the radicals so angry."

"The two oligarchs are at each other’s throats. The country has an absolutely oligarchic type of government," he said. "Poroshenko has certain administrative and power leverage at his disposal. Kolomoisky is now on the defensive and been trying to retain what he has. And, what is most important, Poroshenko is the president and he relies on support from the Americans, who largely govern the country. As everybody remembers, last time Kolomoisky was dismissed as Dnepropetrovsk governor by the US ambassador, and not Poroshenko."

Korban’s arrest must be regarded as another phase of struggle with Kolomoisky, who has made an attempt to complement his economic influence with a role in politics, Zharikhin said. "Poroshenko has for the time being preferred to leave in peace those who don’t try to do that."

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TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors