Sergiy Leshchenko, UP
Petro Poroshenko is surely leading in the elections of the President of Ukraine. His story is an example of what kind of dramatic changes politics undergoes in the period of revolution and how rapidly ratings may change in an unstable society.
A year ago Poroshenko did not brave announcing his will to become mayor of Kyiv, being unsure of his own victory. And today he has a threefold advantage over his pursuers at the elections of the President, caused by loss of trust to oppositional party leaders on Maidan and Yanukovich’s flight, as a result of which 30 per cent of the voters have lost the representative of their interests in politics.
Poroshenko’s presidency is not only a challenge for Ukraine, but for him personally. Someone who has been trained for many years to enrich himself and motivated by personal interest has to immediately switch to serving a 46-million nation and self-sacrifice.
Poroshenko as head of Ukraine can become an example of how state activists are able to change. However the same way his presidency can become a catastrophe, which for a whole future generation may ruin the hopes for the collapse of the oligarch-post-Soviet sarcophagus Ukraine is encased in.
The choice of the path to walk depends on many surrounding circumstances, however for the most part – on Poroshenko himself.
In order to comprehend what risks will follow his presidency, we remind you of the story of Poroshenko’s previous participation in the government. It is not about his work as Minister of Foreign Affairs or Minister of Economics. Back then the horizon of his interests was too narrow, his presence in the government – minimal, and his roles – secondary.
We are telling the story of Poroshenko’s participation in leading Ukraine when he was one of the majority stockholders of the government. We are talking about the year 2005, during which the current favourite of the elections, together with his associates, occupied government cabinets on the entire vertical axis of the state management.
The collapse of hopes in 2005 born in conflict, grounded by Victory Yushchenko back during the preparations for the presidential elections, when he had promised the post of Prime Minister to two allies at the same time – Yulia Timoshenko and Petro Poroshenko.
However, as opposed to the President’s friend, Timoshenko documented her own guarantees in writing. After the inauguration Yushchenko continued vacillating regarding whom to appoint Prime Minister. In his memoir, “Non-State Secrets” the former President writes that he offered to both Poroshenko and Timoshenko to determine where in case of their appointment as Prime Minister they see a spot for their competitor on the joint team.
Petro Olexiyovich, what place do you see for Timoshenko in the government system?” Yushchenko asked Poroshenko. “I don’t see it,” answered Poroshenko. Almost the same dialogue took place between Timoshenko and myself regarding Poroshenko.
When flying to Moscow on the first work day after assuming office, Yushchenko signed the order of appointment of Yulia Timoshenko as Prime Minister, and he offered to post of Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council to Petro Poroshenko.
Poroshenko refused to join the NSDC without a significant increase in poswer, and on February 22nd, 2005, Yushchenko signed an unprecedented order with which Poroshenko was given the right to control the military corps and the judicial branch of the government.
Before this Poroshenko achieved a strategic decision – the appointment of Yuriy Lutsenko, who was close to him, as Minister of Internal Affairs. In the previous version of post distribution, Lutsenko had a reserved spot as deputy Minister of Transport in questions of telecommunications or head of State Communication Committee. Instead, Olexander Turchynov was to become Minister of Internal Affairs.
Having found out about the gains Timoshenko’s team had for the MIA, Poroshenko, together with the former leader of the Socialist party Olexander Moroz, demanded a redistribution from Yushchenko. Thus, the MIA was given to Lutsenko, whom Poroshenko enforced with his friend Olexander Bondarenko, and Turchynov received the post of Head of the Ukrainian Security Service.
Similarly, Poroshenko had his man in the leadership of the Office of the Prosecutor General – the curator of investigation, ranked deputy Prosecutor General, was his friend Victor Shokin.
Poroshenko’s control over law enforcement and judicial blocks in the end resulted in accusations of organising political prosecutions and division of business. Among dozens of stories we remember the three most resonant ones, in which Poroshenko’s surname appeared directly.
“The White Swan” and The Black Mark for Akhmetov
The arrest of the head of the Donetsk Regional Council Boris Kolesnikov in spring of 2005 was preceded by a conversation with Petro Poroshenko. The chronology of those events is the same in the interpretation of both sides of the conflict, and only differs in motives. Poroshenko grounded his behaviour in the will to warn the Donetsk politician, meanwhile Kolesnikov himself talked about the intention to take him hostage with the aim to take away a number of metallurgic stocks from Rinat Akhmetov.
According to Kolesnikov, the events unfolded as follows:
On April 1st, 2005, at 17 o’clock I was summoned to the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, where I met with Petro Poroshenko. He said that my affairs were bad, that an advance awaited myself and Rinat Akhmetov. He also stated that those who ordered the case were interested in the stocks of two TV companies – TRC “Ukraina” and NTN, a number of Rinat Akhmetov’s industrial stocks and the inclusion of 15-20 candidates in the list of the Party of Regions at the next parliamentary elections. Out meeting occurred on the 1s, and on April 6th I was arrested.
Poroshenko himself never denied the fact of meeting with Kolesnikov, however he insisted that he had wanted to warn him regarding the intention of the former Prosecutor General Sviatoslav Piskun to arrest the Donetsk politician and had tried to provide for his flight.
In the end, Kolesnikov was put behind bars on charges of demanding the stocks of the Donetsk trade complex “White Swan” and spent two months and one week under guard. Parallel to Kolesnikov’s arrest, the Ministry of Internal Affairs tried to conduct searches in Rinat Akhmetov’s “Lux” residence using armoured personnel carriers, as a result of which “the King of Donbas” left to survive the hard times in Russia and Monaco.
All the while, as “Ukrayinska Pravda” sources tell, Akhmetov was detained in Nice, which is the closest airport to Monaco, and spent some time (between half an hour and several hours) at the border, while his document were being checked by French services upon request of Ukrainian law enforcement.
In the end, Kolesnikov was freed in June 2005, within several months the investigation of his case was suspended, and in the fall, Yushchenko, in order to save himself under the rubble of the orange team, was forced to make a pact with Yanukovich.
Hrushevskogo, 9-A: The Prosthetic on Kyiv’s Face
The scandalous building on Hrushevskogo, 9-A, became Poroshenko’s curse. Because of the demands on this object, in the fall of 2005, a criminal case was drawn up against him.
We are talking about the apartment complex in Mariinsky Park, where some of the most expensive apartments in Kyiv are located, which had been built with numerous violations. In order to construct the building, the contractors paid the politicians and officials in square meters. The project increased in amount of floors, and the apartments on the upper levels were sold for ridiculous prices to the former higher leadership. Thus, for example, Victor Yanukovich became the owner of an apartment of 1 thousand square meters.
According to Poroshenko himself, former President Leonid Kuchma had been the one to give land for construction directly, and the financing had been provided by the Minister of Transport Georgiy Kyrpa.
Historically the building on Hrushevskogo, 9-A, had been connected with Poroshenko. This is one of the quietest places in Kyiv. On one hand, the building is surrounded by the park, there are comfortable transportation connections, however it does not border with the road. Poroshenko had lived for many years in the neighbouring building Hrushevskogo 9, and had had an eye out for the lot for a long time. There had been a kindergarden where the current skyscraper is located, which Poroshenko’s structures had managed to privatise – for some time, there had even been an office there connected to the party “Solidarnist.”
Poroshenko planned to build an apartment block on this lot – half as high that the current one. But when he crossed over to oppositional “Nasha Ukrayina,” the lot was taken away from him under the excuse of giving it to the territory of the Russian Embassy. In sum, the diplomats served as a cover, and the current mammoth grew there, and the number of its floors grew with each new apartment, which the contractors close to Georgiy Kyrpa were to give as a bribe.
Poroshenko is convinced that the project was taken away from him illegally, therefore he, having become the Secretary of the NSDC, blocked the construction by Zhvaniya’s hands and demanded half of the company’s stocks – exactly in the amount and number of floors that he had planned when he had owned the kindergarden.
The most extended version of the events regarding Poroshenko was expressed by Olexander Turchynov after his deposition as head of the SSU.
Everything began with that the person, who could be considered the support figure of Petro Olexiyovich in his holding “Ukrprominvest,” summoned the owners of the construction to Hrushevskogo, 9-A, and said: ‘If you want to finish the building, Poroshenko allows you to choose between the two: either receive money for this object or give up the control package – sign over half of the building to another structure,’ noted Turchynov in an interview to ‘Ukrayinska Pravda’ in 2005.
The person who conducted these talks turned out to be Poroshenko’s close associate Igor Kononenko – a member of the Kyiv City Council from Chernovetskiy’s block. In 2014 Kononenko is de facto the head of the Kyiv elections of Poroshenko and is running by UDAR’s lists.
After the owners of the house on Hrushevskogo 9-A refused Kononenko’s proposal, the former Minister of Emergency Situations David Zhvania entered the game, who blocked the construction.
Later, according to Turchynov, the contractors “started haggling, explaining that all of this would lead to direct losses for them.” “Overall they have gotten used to working under the cover of that government, and they were not surprised by the blackmail, however the demands for them were impossible. They were told that negotiations here are out of place.”
“These victims addressed one of “Nasha Ukrayina” members, who came to the former Minister and asked: “Don’t engage in foolishness, as your firemen are demanding unrealistic things. This is not serious, the people are suffering millions’ worth of losses daily.” This former Minister told the “Nasha Ukrayina” MP: “Solve this issue not with me, but with Poroshenko. I will not allow construction until he gives me the order,” added Turchynov.”
According to “Ukrayinska Pravda,” the MP who stood up for the contractors was Sergiy Sobolev. He testified in this case to the SSU.
On his part, Poroshenko stated that he had been convinced to meet with the contractors by the MP-cosmonaut Leonid Kadeniuk.
“It is sufficient to take a printout of phone numbers, if it has not been destroyed, and see how many times Kadeniuk’s telephone rang to my administration with the petition to accept this investor. More than ten. I agreed to see him in 10-15 minutes. After which he was asked to leave. He answered: “Petro Olexiyovich, you misunderstood me, I am ready to give this to the state. And this does not regard you personally at all. Please don’t take offence, hear me out…”
Meanwhile Turchynov thinks that Poroshenko did not have to coerce the contractor into meeting with him – the latter wanted dialogue as the construction had been suspended: “As to Poroshenko’s argument, that he did not call the owner of this construction… Really, these guys themselves asked for a meeting with Poroshenko, as nobody except for him was in charge of these issues!”
On charges of demanding the contractor’s stocks, Poroshenko drew up criminal charges, which the former Secretary of the NSDC finally closed based on court decisions.
Kolomoyskiy and Ambrosia Allergy
Besides Kolesnikov and Hrushevskogo, 9-A, Poroshenko’s name was mentioned in a story connected with the criminal case against one of the most significant activists of the current government – Igor Kolomoyskiy.
Today Kolomoyskiy is rapidly changing his own image, turning within the social conscious from a raider who is not overtly picky about his methods, into a respectable state businessman who did not allow separatism to flourish on the territory of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.
Nine years ago Kolomoyskiy was a typical oligarch, who support Leonid Kuchma’s regime and solved all issues through his companions Grigoriy Surkis and Victor Medvedchuk.
In 2005, after Yushchenko’s victory and Poroshenko’s assuming the post of Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, a criminal case was opened against Kolomoyskiy for intentions of murder of the Dnipropetrovsk lawyer Sergiy Karpenko.
The only difference with Kolesnikov’s case lay in that Kolomoyskiy managed to flee Ukraine on time. Later he would explain his leaving the country with allergies to ambrosia flowers.
The reason for Kolomoyskiy’s problems lay in the attempt on the ife of the Dnipropetrovsk lawyer, founder of Fargo firm Sergiy Karpenko, who miraculously survived. In 2003 he followed the servicing of the plant “Dniprospetsstal,” which was then controlled by Victor Pinchuk and Kostiantin Grigorishin.
According to Karpenko’s testament, the registrar of “Dniprospetsstal” was controlled by Igor Kolomoyskiy, who tried to prevent the assembly of stockholders.
“Despite this, Fargo lawyers managed to organise the assembly of stockholders. On the day of the meeting, Mr. Kolomoyskiy invited me to meet with him. The meeting occurred on July 4th 2003 in the office of “Sentoza” group. Mr. Kolomoyskiy, in the presence of Mr. Novikov, Mr. Migulev and Mr. Kiperman, accused my firm of causing him financial losses through carrying out the “Dniprospetsstal” assembly, and made the demand that on midnight I was to give him original copies of the documents from the shareholders’ meeting or direct an official statement to the Office of the Prosecutor General regarding the fact that the assembly had been held illegally,” says the testament of Karpenko in the London arbitrary court within the framework of examination of the argument between Igor Kolomoyskiy and Kostiantin Grigorishin.
“During the meeting, Kolomoyskiy used rude and offensive language against me, and made threats of physical violence against my partners and myself, and they were such that I was afraid for my own life,” Karpenko added later. “After this meeting, around 22 o’clock of the same day, Mr. Kolomoyskiy called me and asked whether I thought about his proposal and whether I would behave accordingly. I refused.”
“Several days later, on July 8th, 2003, my assistant, Mr. Kovalenko, was attacked, he was beaten severely with hammers and pipes. To my mind, this attack is a direct result of my refusal to accept Mr. Kolomoyskiy’s demands. Within a month (August 16th in Feodosia) I was attacked by the same group when I was on vacation in the Crimea. To my mind, the attack order was made by Mr. Kolomoyskiy and killing me was part of his intentions,” Karpenko also noted.
According to the statement of investigator Sholodko on June 30th, 2005, the order of Karpenko’s murder was given by Kolomoyskiy to his personal bodyguard Nikitin, who ordered that the crime be done by his acquaintance, head of the gang Sinelshchikov. Karpenko received numerous knife wounds, and he only avoided death because he received medical aid in a timely fashion.
“I think that Mr. Medvedchuk, who then headed the President’s Administration, put a lot of pressure to suspend this case (in 2003). I also know from statements in the press and court materials that several people connected to this case disappeared or were killed. Among them is Mr. Nikitin, those body was found on August 31st, 2003 (two weeks after the attempt on Karpenko’s life – UP). The cause of death was indicated as suicide, however when exhumation of his body was conducted in January 2004, it was discovered that he had died a violent death.”
Making excuses, Kolomoyskiy stated that Nikitin had never been his bodyguard. “I never had personal contacts with him. He worked for the company which provided security, in which thousands of people worked. He never worked as a guard in our office.”
In 2005, three weeks after the beginning, the case against Kolomoyskiy was closed. This was done by Kolomoyskiy’s friend and advisor to Prime Minister Timoshenko at the time Mikhailo Brodskiy, who contacted Prosecutor General Sviatoslav Piskun.
Kolomoyskiy himself directly accused the current favourite of the presidential race of prosecution in the London Court: “Mr. Poroshenko played the main part here. He called the Prosecutor General, as well as the investigation department and made the demand for the criminal case to be opened. He wanted to gate an order for arrest, he needed for me to be announced wanted internationally.
Piskun made an analogous testament: “In the process of my additional examination of this criminal case and after its closure in July-August 2005, I was addressed numerous times by Petro Poroshenko who, loudly and without containing himself, demanded that the criminal case against Kolomoyskiy continued, and that a message be given to Interpol regarding Kolomoyskiy.”
When developing the version regarding the organisation of the attack on him on Poroshenko’s part, Kolomoyskiy explained it with the intention of the former Secretary of the NSDC to help his friend, Russian businessman Kostiantin Grigorishin to received control over a number of regional power companies, which were under Kolomoyskiy’s governent, and also to force the owner of “PrivatBank” to refuse his gains for the Nikopol Iron Production Plant, the selling of which by Pinchuk to the Russian businessman was under the patronage of Poroshenko and Grigorishin.
The bad experience of 2005 stained Poroshenko’s reputation regardless of his motivation – the punishment of criminals, which almost killed lawyer Karpenko, the restoration of justice regarding the illegally confiscated land lot or simple benefits.
These three stories, just like numerous other, smaller ones, will follow Poroshenko as President. He will inevitably come face-to-face with the instances when the confiscation of property from Yanukovich’s associates, the ruining of oligarch monopolies or the voiding of Akhmetov or Kolomoyskiy of their subsidies will be followed by accusations, that this way Poroshenko is trying to fill up his own pockets or destroy competition.
The only possible way out of the situation is the ruin of the conflict of interests, in which Poroshenko, who is both a businessman and a politician, has been stuck permanently for 15 years now.
The premise for his successful presidency can only be the sale of his entire business, including the media one, in order to guarantee that the president’s behaviour is only motivated by the nation’s interests.
The question as to whether society wants an honest president does not stand after Maidan. The only question is whether Poroshenko wants to accord to these criteria.
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina
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