Corporate Empire with TV Station
Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko currently ranks 7th in the Forbes list of the country’s richest oligarchs. His assets are estimated at 1.6 billion US dollars. The Ukrprominvest Group forms the hub of his corporate empire, wherein he has consolidated his enterprises. Roshen Confectionery Corporation is his most famous enterprise. With its approximately 10.000 employees, it ranks globally among the 20 largest enterprises in the branch. Bohdan Corporation, one of the country’s largest automobile and truck plants is also part of the Ukrprominvest Group. With Leninska Kuznya, Poroshenko is also active in the shipbuilding and armaments industry. His “Channel 5” TV station plays a prominent role in his corporate empire. During the 2004/05 “Orange Revolution” and during the 2013/14 winter upheavals, “Channel 5” advertized to a large audience the positions of the pro-western forces.
Compared to other Ukrainian oligarchs, Poroshenko is said to have unusual political flexibility. After his first engagement in the United Social Democratic Party of Ukraine, he joined sides with Viktor Yushchenko in 2002, who later became a pro-western president and with whom he had close personal ties. Yushchenko is also the godfather of his daughters. Yushchenko’s taking office in 2005 also launched Poroshenko’s rise in politics: In February of that year, he became Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council. But he lost this position already in September 2005 after heavy disputes with Yulia Tymoshenko. After reconciliation with her, he was named Foreign Minister in October 2009 until March 2010. From March to December 2012, Poroshenko served as Minister of Economic Development and Trade under Viktor Yanukovych, who was overthrown in February of this year. He, of course, rejects the rumors one can hear in Ukraine that “as Minister of the Economy, he had possibly shown a bit too much favor to his automobile branch.” If the Forbes estimates of his fortune are correct, he significantly increased his wealth during the Yanukovich presidency. Since some time, Poroshenko has been seeking close contacts to the EU: He is a member of the Advisory Council of the European Policy Centre, an EU think tank, with which the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) is in constant cooperation.
125 Million Dollar Bail
Poroshenko’s imminent takeover of the presidency is the provisional culmination of the restoration of Ukrainian oligarchs. Already in March, the putsch regime in Kiev named Serhiy Taruta governor of the Oblast Donezk. Taruta, with his US $650 million in assets, ranks 17th among the top Ukrainian millionaires. Second or third on this list – depending on whose estimate – is Ihor Kolomoisky, the newly appointed governor of the Oblast Dnepropetrovsk. Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak is considered a member of his entourage. Donezk and Dnepropetrovsk are among Ukraine’s most important economic regions. Dmytro Firtash, with whom Poroshenko – and his party friend Vitali Klitschko – held consultations in early April, is one of the most powerful Ukrainian oligarchs. Just what had been discussed at their meeting, remains a secret. Within the framework of his natural gas business, Firtash is said to have maintained contact to Vladimir Putin. At the moment, he is blocked in Vienna, because of a US-American arrest warrant. However, he was able to secure his release from jail on a US $125 million bail.
Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest oligarch has also been able to insure his influence. Maneuvering cleverly, he first supported sectors of the protest movement in East Ukraine, calling for greater regional autonomy (“federalization”), thereby supporting the influence of the true power brokers, the oligarchs. He met twice with Foreign Minister Steinmeier. It is reported that, following his second meeting, he became “more concrete” in terms of the steps Berlin wanted implemented for Ukraine’s stabilization. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) In fact, at the time, he began recruiting militia from among employees of his enterprises and openly mobilized against separatist activities. The enterprises under his control have altogether 300,000 employees. He is indispensible to anyone – Berlin, included – seeking to gain control over eastern Ukraine.
A German Aid Program
This should also correspond to the measures future president, Poroshenko had discussed with the German Chancellor and her Foreign Minister, during his May 7, visit to Berlin. It is heard from his “directorate staff” that these talks included “a German aid program for Donbass,” to “create jobs and to counteract the EU’s negative image of the in that region.” “The Germans had agreed to support the idea.”
The Fascist Element
While Berlin’s arrangements with Ukrainian oligarchs were taking form, it became apparent that their predominance in pro-Western Kiev includes an additional element – an element of fascist rule. The fascist Svoboda Party is still represented in the government. The Pravi Sektor (“Right Sector”) is participating in the armed conflict against the Russian-speaking forces in East Ukraine. The approx. ten percent votes that Svoboda polled in the 2012 elections, are distributed somewhat differently in the rightwing spectrum. Whereas the first prognoses give Svoboda a mere 1.5% and the Pravi Sektor, one percent, Oleh Lyashko, of the extremist rightwing Radical Party took eight percent. In March, Lyashko made a name for himself, when he severely assaulted a functionary of the party of the overthrown President Yanukovych.
More reports and background information on the current German policy toward Ukraine can be found here: A Broad-Based Anti-Russian Alliance, Expansive Ambitions, Our Man in Kiev, Integration Rivalry with Moscow, On the Offensive, At all Costs, The Crimean Conflict, The Kiev Escalation Strategy, Cold War Images, The Free World, A Fatal Taboo Violation, The Europeanization of Ukraine, Official Government Vocative, An Unusual Mission, “Scientific Nationalists”, Crisis of Legitimacy and “Fascist Freedom Fighters”.