After paying a record bail of $174m, Russia-linked Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash – arrested last week at the request of US law enforcement – was released from an Austrian prison on Friday on condition that he does not leave the country.
“The last week has been a testing time for my family and me. I would like to thank personally all of my friends and colleagues who have supported me through this difficult period,” he was quoted as saying in a statement upon release.
But Firtash is not off the hook yet. Continue reading »
Even with the threat of Russian invasion and economic punishment hanging over them, Ukraine’s authorities are busy hunting down what they consider to be the cronies of toppled president Viktor Yanukovich.
The most recent of a dozen or so individuals to be put on the wanted list – some of them former government officials – is Serhiy Kurchenko. Continue reading »
Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest oligarch, claimed to the Financial Times on Monday that he pleaded with Viktor Yanukovich to resign when he last saw him on February 22, two days after nearly 100 anti-government protestors in Kiev were killed amid sniper fire and clashes with riot police. Continue reading »
In a news briefing aired Tuesday on Russia Today, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, retaliated against Ukrainian billionaire Igor Kolomoisky who on Monday described him as a “schizophrenic of short stature” for bringing Russia and Ukraine to the verge of war.
Putin said: “What we see in the east [of Ukraine] now is that billionaires are being installed as governors. We understand that these people gained their fortunes through loans and shares. One of these oligarchs cheated Roman Abramovich. Abramovich lent him several billion dollars, and he just pocketed the money. He is now governor of Dnepopetrovsk.” Continue reading »
Ukrainian billionaire Igor Kolomoisky, who this weekend agreed to become governor of his native Dnipropetrovsk region as the country braces for a broader Russian invasion into eastern Ukraine, described Russia’s president Vladimir Putin as a “schizophrenic of short stature” for putting Russia and Ukraine on the verge of war.
“I don’t understand how Ukrainians and Russians can fight,” he said in an online video. Continue reading »
Ukraine’s parliament appointed in a near unanimous vote on Thursday afternoon Arseniy Yatseniuk, one of the country’s youngest but most experienced politicians, as prime minister to address a swiftly unfolding separatist threat in the autonomous republic of Crimea and a crumbling economy.
Addressing lawmakers nearly a week after Viktor Yanukovich was toppled from the presidency, the 39-year old political ally of recently released opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said: “Today our country finds itself in one of its most difficult and historical moments.” Continue reading »
As the death toll from Tuesday’s deadly clashes between Ukrainian anti-government protestors and riot police rose to more than ten, and Kiev’s main square was lit by flames, the country’s powerful oligarchs called for an end to the bloodshed.
It was a case of too little, too late from the businessmen who many had hoped would use their influence to persuade Viktor Yanukovich, president, to avert bloodshed and seek compromise with the protesters. Continue reading »
Source: National Bank of Ukraine
Foreign currency reserves of crisis-hit Ukraine plunged $2.6bn in January, the country’s central bank revealed on Friday hours after introducing fresh capital controls that bankers warned could choke trade and boost black market business activity. Continue reading »
A falling currency, continuing protests – and a rival bailout?
There is no deal yet in place. But the US, EU and international financial institutions are, according to sources, holding “behind the scenes” talks to package financial assistance that would ensure “economic stability” in crisis-hit Ukraine (and here’s the rub) should a pro-western and reform-minded caretaker government be put in place.
There’s an “if” for you. Continue reading »
Ukraine’s cash-strapped government may have secured short-term relief for its ailing economy by landing a 30 per cent discount on Russian natural gas imports prices late last month through a broader $20bn bailout agreement.
But recognising that Russia’s leadership could hike prices up again in the future, the administration of President Viktor Yanukovich does not appear to be dropping long-term plans to diversify gas supplies, crucial in breaking the energy inefficient economy’s longstanding heavy dependence on Russian fuel. Continue reading »
A Russian bailout that Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich brokered last month appears to have propped up Kiev’s central bank reserves that were dwindling last year amid weak demand for Ukraine’s exports and a recession that was triggered, in part, by lack of reforms.
But the bailout has not stabilised the situation on Kiev’s streets. Continue reading »
Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine’s president, on Thursday said the “road is open” to bringing in Russia’s Gazprom – and possibly European companies – as partners to manage and modernise Kiev’s strategic natural gas transportation pipeline.
His comments, cautious though they may be, have fuelled lingering suspicions that a backroom deal is in place to give Gazprom a stake in the vast Ukrainian pipeline which still pumps the lion’s share of its Europe-bound exports. Such, say the rumours and claims of inside sources, was the trade-off attached to Tuesday’s $20bn bailout Yanukovich inked in Moscow. Continue reading »
Viktor Yanukovich, the embattled Ukrainian president, flew to Moscow in comfort on Tuesday, taking a lift on the luxurious Airbus owned by Rinat Akhmetov, his long-time backer and the richest of Ukraine’s oligarchs. Yet it’s far from certain that, back in Kiev, Yanukovich was comfortable about his controversial $20bn bailout deal brokered with Vladimir Putin – or that Akhmetov was happy to have provided his plane for the trip.
Both men’s discomfort will have been exacerbated on Wednesday by news that the EU and IMF had been ready to offer Ukraine $20bn in loans if Yanukovich had signed up to EU trade and association agreements as expected in late November. Continue reading »
You can throw bone-chilling below zero degree weather at Kiev’s pro-EU protestors.
You can unleash thousands of riot police and the National Guard to clear barricades separating their protest camp in downtown Kiev from the rest of Ukraine ruled by their despised president.
You can even balk at their demands, as Viktor Yanukovich has done for weeks. But so far, you can’t break their resolve. Continue reading »
On Wednesday, thousands of university students from Kiev and other cities returned to the Ukrainian capital’s main square in larger numbers one day after calling a strike.
Their arrival re-energised a seventh day of protests by activists, politicians and average Ukrainians against last week’s stunning government decision to back out of signing historic EU integration agreements at a Vilnius summit being held this Thursday and Friday. Continue reading »