Ukrainian squid game: oligarchs Akhmetov and Kolomoisky started a battle

Zelensky is in the center of the battle

Akhmetov, Kolomoisky, Medvedchuk and Pinchuk – the names of Ukrainian oligarchs, probably every Russian already knows. In the past year, their fates have changed a lot. All these big people now have very different, but noticeable and systemic problems.


“Traitor” Medvedchuk and the deflated Pinchuk

Viktor Medvedchuk at the beginning of the year lost his three top-rated TV news channels, and with them most of his personal political rating and influence. Since 2014, Medvedchuk has been under US sanctions (he was included in the general list of sanctions with the Russians for Crimea), and since then has not officially owned any significant business, and he spent most of 2021 under house arrest as part of the charge of “high treason “.

Medvedchuk's treason, according to investigators, was that he participated in a scheme for supplying Ukrainian coal from non-government-controlled territories to Ukrainian thermal power plants, which at the beginning of the conflict in Donbass could still operate exclusively on Donbass anthracite. In organizing these numerous supplies of coal and, accordingly, “betrayal of the homeland” in 2014-2017, the relevant Ukrainian minister for the fuel and energy complex and, of course, the country's president, Petro Poroshenko, took part.

Victor Medvedchuk. Photo:

Suspicion of “treason” as part of a “stable criminal group” is already awaiting the fifth president of Ukraine in Kiev, while Petr Alekseevich visits Turkey, Poland and other countries where they are ready to talk to him.

A blow to the leader of his own party and faction in parliament, the de facto owner of two national TV channels and the Roshen candy corporation, Petro Poroshenko, is the next step in the personal “fight against oligarchs” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. An attempt to put Poroshenko in prison is expected to take place throughout 2022 in Ukraine. Having rolled abroad from the summons to the prosecutor's office until mid-January, Poroshenko showed great political wisdom – Ukrainians are reluctant to go out to protests on Christmas and New Year's, their entire political strategy in these two weeks fits into four words: “Let's go after the holidays!” p>

With Viktor Pinchuk, Vladimir Zelensky does not fight so hard. Pinchuk himself carefully went to the periphery of the political life of Ukraine. His pool of TV channels is financed very badly, Pinchuk's three channels now have common studios, teams have joined forces, reduced people and are waiting for better times. There is no influential party or faction that would be associated with Pinchuk and is not yet expected. His TV channels try not to scold the incumbent once again.

Victor Pinchuk. Photo: David Shankbone

Clash of the Titans

Rinat Akhmetov and Igor Kolomoisky are two powerful Ukrainian “immortal” oligarchs, of which, according to the plot of the great series, in the end only one should remain alive.

Resignation from the post of speaker of parliament, a former friend and head of the campaign headquarters of Volodymyr Zelensky Dmitry Razumkov is a kind of watershed, which emphasized and highlighted for the public the unexpectedly bright struggle of the sixth Ukrainian president with the first Ukrainian oligarch.

With the resignation of Razumkov, Zelensky finally did not have a mono-majority in parliament – his Servant of the People faction was divided and now practically does not generate the necessary majority of 226 votes on any issue. Two deputy groups help to make decisions – “For Maybutne” (For the future) and “Trust”.

The deputy group “For Maybutne” is completely controlled by Igor Kolomoisky, “Trust” is also controlled by him, but on shares with Arsen Avakov and a whole pool of new Ukrainian oligarchs from agriculture.

So now, without Kolomoisky, Vladimir Zelensky cannot pass a single decision in parliament. In the emotional and irrational desire of Zelensky to overthrow the self-appointed speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Igor Kolomoisky helped the President of Ukraine and probably received his non-public preferences from the state in return.

In turn, MK sources claim that the demand to vote for Razumkov's resignation was the last straw that overflowed the cup of Rinat Akhmetov's patience. The deputies, who are associated with Akhmetov, formed the backbone of the former speaker's parliamentary interfactional association “Reasonable Politics”. Now Razumkov and his hypothetical party not only have solid ratings in the region of 8-10%, but have this support due to the fall in support of the Servant of the People party and the current president of Ukraine.

Two big Ukrainian oligarchs have made their opposite bets for 2022 are on and against President Zelensky.

It is worth taking a closer look at what starting positions both the Donetsk and Dnepropetrovsk armies are entering into a completely new fight for them.

Love and hatred for Akhmetov

Rinat Akhmetov controls 35% of Ukraine's GDP, he proudly calls himself an investor and does not like the word “oligarch” very much. He is distinguished by the ability to select the best management for his business and to fully trust the day-to-day management of companies to his directors. Akhmetov is credited with the phrase that in any business he is the stupidest, and the same former owner of the Industrial Union of Donbass, Sergei Taruta, is the smartest, and that is why their positions and incomes in the end are so different now.

< p>Akhmetov's companies Metinvest and DTEK control most of the Ukrainian metallurgy and thermal power generation. Last year for Rinat Akhmetov was super successful – prices for iron ore and metal soared up along with electricity, while the oligarch owns full technological chains – from coal and ore mining to coke production, and metal – he does not buy anything at increased prices. p>

Its numerous TPPs dictate the rules on the Ukrainian market, the exit of some power plants for scheduled repairs simply bring down the power system, and no one in the government really understands whether the power plant blocks need to be taken out of work or is this political pressure on Zelensky.

The energy crisis of the coming winter is the main problem of the current president of Ukraine. Thermal power plants of Akhmetov are the key link in the problem. They do not seem to have the necessary coal reserves, but at the same time large volumes of fuel, which are now being transported by sea to Ukraine, all belong to DTEK. Rinat Akhmetov clearly shows the inexperienced president of the actors that it is necessary to negotiate with such big businessmen as he, and not fight.

Is Vladimir Zelensky at war with Rinat Akhmetov? This is a huge question. All laws and anti-oligarchic rhetoric of the President of Ukraine are not supported by real content. Akhmetov's business has always been based on the exclusion of large international and Russian players from the outside through political influence on the Ukrainian market and control over prices for rail transportation, taxation and the work of the Antimonopoly Committee within the country.

The current increase in railway tariffs did not affect the increased revenues of Akhmetov's companies in any way, the Antimonopoly Committee still does not point out the monopoly position of the oligarch's business, and the new laws and Zelensky's loud statements about an increase in the “rent for the subsoil” ended in a big puff – next year Akhmetov's companies pay taxes even slightly less than this. The export of ore, one of the important items of the oligarch's income, did not receive the promised increased taxes.

Rinat Akhmetov. Photo: Komul

At the same time, Rinat Akhmetov's business lives and develops due to international lending – at the moment, the debt of the oligarch's companies is estimated at $ 6.5 billion. But even Zelensky's toothless anti-oligarchic law promises to create a kind of “register of oligarchs”, just getting into this register of Akhmetov will dramatically complicate servicing this debt.

One ill-considered empty statement by Vladimir Zelensky about an imminent coup d'etat, into which unknown participants are trying to drag Akhmetov, brought down the prices of Eurobonds of his companies by 11%! According to the President of Ukraine, the SBU could not even open a criminal case, it was based on a printout of private conversations of some three elderly retired Ministry of Internal Affairs from Crimea, and the shares of the largest Ukrainian companies have already fallen in price by billions.

There is no respect in this, the conflict has moved on to personal relationships. Rinat Akhmetov has invested decades and hundreds of millions of dollars in whitening his reputation, becoming a respected investor and president of a successful European football club; he simply cannot stomach his participation in coups d'etat.

For the first time in many years, Akhmetov made a public political statement in which he called the words of the Ukrainian president “nonsense”. The Donetsk oligarch is not only the largest player in the economy, his two TV channels, TRK Ukraina and Ukraine 24, are now the most popular in Ukraine, both in general and in the news segment. Savik Shuster's political show at the Ukraina TV and Radio Broadcasting Company is four times ahead of its competitors in terms of views.

All these men are now crushing the support of Vladimir Zelensky with incredible zeal, asking hundreds of uncomfortable questions for the authorities every day and giving a tribune to any opposition. Vladimir Zelensky's rating in December fell below 20% for the first time, but he is still the first on this list of candidates for the next term in the first seat in the country. Nobody understands yet how this fight between the first person and the first businessman of Ukraine will end.

Unsinkable Kolomoisky

And what about Kolomoisky? His channel 1 + 1 is just boycotted by the party “European Solidarity” of Petro Poroshenko, while the TV channel has dropped to 4th place in the national rating, and “New Years Quarter”, where Vladimir Zelensky and his wife and the head of the President's Office Andriy Yermak will appear, is unlikely to be in this year's main New Year's program.

For Igor Kolomoisky, there are no valuable assets and the concept of reputation – he can burn them at any time for the sake of more money. Its influence on Zelenskiy is difficult to overestimate and its boundaries are even more difficult to understand. Former head of the Office of President Zelensky Andriy Bogdan in a recent interview said that Kolomoisky was behind his resignation, who determined and now determines the fate of up to 50% of the posts of ministers of the Ukrainian government.

What does it convert to? Personal safety and money from public companies. In 2019, Kolomoisky's management entered the state-owned company Centrenergo. The current energy crisis and his handiwork – the company has no money, coal reserves for the winter, but has difficulties with international lending. It is precisely Kolomoisky who is credited with the slogan: “Only cowards pay debts!” In fact, more than 50% of Ukrnafta's shares belong to the state-owned Naftogaz, while Kolomoisky has slightly more than 40%, but the reality is that from all such state-owned companies, the income goes to the oligarch, and the losses remain to the state.

< p>Kolomoisky also has a private business, but for some reason he also enjoys state support. The funniest story with electricity. Ukraine does not have enough of it, and it buys from 700 to 1000 megawatts per day from Belarus. This energy is consumed by one Kolomoisky plant – the Zaporizhzhya Ferroalloy Plant – which is currently hosting the country's largest cryptocurrency mining farm.

But the main acquisition of Igor Kolomoisky from the president close to him is personal safety. The story with Privatbank, when the state was forced to nationalize the largest commercial bank in Ukraine in order to close the hole of $ 3.5 billion (a target loan of 100 billion hryvnia was given by the IMF), cannot be hushed up. It depends on Zelensky whether the state of Ukraine will actively behave in the courts against Kolomoisky. After all, the state-owned Privatbank, even under Poroshenko, initiated a case in the Chancellor Court of Delaware (USA) against Igor Kolomoisky and Gennady Bogolyubov, demanding compensation for losses in the amount of about $ 622.8 million, which, according to the bank, he suffered as a result of illegal actions of former owners

It also depends on Zelensky whether the oligarch will be extradited at the request of the American law enforcement system. The FBI has been investigating Kolomoisky for a long time.

Igor Kolomoisky has three passports – Israel, Cyprus and Ukraine. Israel and Cyprus have extradition agreements with the United States, but Ukraine does not. The United States imposed sanctions on Igor Kolomoisky, and Vladimir Zelensky does not even name his name once again. And Kolomoisky moved to Kiev from Israel in May 2019 – a few days before the inauguration of Volodymyr Zelensky.

Protecting the positions of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is also a personal matter of the oligarch Igor Kolomoisky. And it turns out that there are only two big Ukrainian oligarchs left, and their purely personal interests in relation to the authorities are opposite. The coming 2022 will not be boring in Kiev.


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