Ihor Kolomoisky, one of Ukraine’s richest men and a leading supporter of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s political rise, is the latest to roll Influential figure in Kiev’s expanding anti-corruption drive.
Kolomoisky has long been one of Ukraine’s most powerful oligarchs, amassing a vast fortune from a media and banking empire he built in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The patronage of the modern-day Ukrainian-born Israeli-Cypriot businessman was crucial in Zelensky’s 2019 ascension from popular comedian to populist president.
As Kiev pursues its goal of joining the European Union and NATO, Zelensky enjoys soaring approval ratings while trying to root out entrenched corruption. Ukrainian voters see corruption as the second biggest challenge facing the country after the Russian invasion.
Zelensky appeared to bring up the Kolomoisky case shortly after the weekend court ruling. “Make no mistake, there will be no more decades of ‘business as usual’ for those who loot Ukraine, above the law and above the rules of any kind,” the president said. “The law must work.”
Kolomoisky’s detention over the weekend coincided with the resignation of Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov at Zelensky’s behest, after months of Reznikov’s post amid multiple corruption scandals at the defense ministry. rather unstable.
Zelensky also slammed “disgusting” corruption involving regional military commissars, who were removed last month in a sprawling investigation. Weekly newspaper The Ministry of Defense has been contacted via email for comment.
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced the charges against Kolomoisky shortly after he was detained in Kiev on Saturday. Photos and video show officers showing Kolomoiski documents to sign.
The SBU said in a statement that “it has been established that between 2013 and 2020, Ihor Kolomoisky legalized more than 500 million hryvnias” [$14 million] By withdrawing it abroad and utilizing the bank’s infrastructure [his] control. “
Kolomoiski was filmed appearing in court late Saturday, where authorities ordered him to be held in pretrial detention for 60 days while investigators probe the fraud charges against him. According to Radio Liberty, Kolomoiski intends to appeal the ruling, but he will not post bail of about $14 million.
Kolomoisky owns 1+1 TV channel with Zelensky’s popular programs public servantThe comedian plays a teacher who rises to the presidency amid an anti-establishment wave.
When Zelensky later launched his campaign for the real-world presidency, he took inspiration from the play to name his new party. The People’s Servant – known in Ukraine as Sluha Narodu – currently holds a majority in Ukraine’s Rada parliament.
During Zelensky’s presidential campaign, Reuters pointed to “concerns from some investors and voters and allegations by his political opponents that he fell into Kolomoisky’s pocket”. Then-President Petro Poroshenko described Zelensky as an “obedient executor” of Kolomoisky’s will.
The pair have repeatedly denied the allegations. “It’s impossible to influence me,” Zelensky said. “Whether it’s Kolomoisky, or any other oligarch, no one is going to influence me.”
Still, Zelensky appointed Kolomoisky’s lawyers as campaign advisers and made frequent trips to Geneva and Tel Aviv to meet with the oligarch. After becoming president, Zelensky was accused of ousting officials deemed a threat to Kolomoiski’s interests, including Attorney General Ruslan Ryabshapka and his first prime minister, Olek. Si Oncharuk.
Kolomoisky is believed to have gradually lost influence over Zelensky after being sanctioned by the US State Department in 2021. Washington, D.C. accused the oligarch of using his “political influence and power for personal gain.”
The State Department said it involved “corrupt practices that undermine the rule of law and the Ukrainian public’s confidence in their government’s democratic institutions and public processes.”