From Washington’s Blog, May 18, 2014
By Eric Zuesse
The key person behind the May 2nd massacre inside Odessa’s Trade Unions Building appears to have been Ihor Kolomoyskyi
who was appointed to be the regional governor in that area by Yulia Tymoshenko, the Ukrainian Presidential candidate that the Obama Administration has apparently been hoping will win the May 25th election to take over the Ukrainian Government, from the junta that the Obama Administration imposed in Ukraine on February 22nd. Just weeks before this coup, on February 4th, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Asia, Victoria Nuland, chose Tymoshenko’s ally Arseni Yatsenyuk to head the post-coup interim government, which appointed Kolomoyskyi.
Only a few months before this coup, Nuland had asserted that U.S. taxpayers had already invested more than $5 billion, in order to bring “democracy” to Ukraine, by which she was referring to the U.S. effort to oust the Russian-oriented, democratically elected, leader of Ukraine, President Viktor Yanukovych, who had prosecuted and imprisoned Tymoshenko for embezzlement and abuse of governmental office. Tymoshenko was then on 11 October 2011 sentenced to seven years in prison, and was ordered to pay the government restitution of $188 million. She was released from prison less than three years later, two days after the coup, on 24 February 2014. The Ukrainian criminal code was immediately changed, in order to legalize the actions for which Tymoshenko had been imprisoned. This allowed Tymoshenko to run for the Ukrainian Presidency. She had been Prime Minister 2007-2010. Both she and her husband, Oleksandr Tymoshenko, and his father, all three of whom were on the board of United Energy Systems of Ukraine (and thus Ms. Tymoshenko was called “the gas princess”), have been legally prosecuted as embezzling state funds; but so have most of Ukraine’s oligarchs and political leaders (and there’s a lot of crossover between those two categories).
Kolomoyskyi, who lives in Geneva Switzerland, is generally regarded as the second-richest man in Ukraine, with a fortune estimated at about $6 billion. Tymoshenko used to be called “the Eleven Billion Dollar Woman,” but, like all of Ukraine’s oligarchs (including Kolomoyskyi), nobody really knows precisely how wealthy she is, nor even whether she is more, or perhaps less, wealthy than Kolomoyskyi. Almost all of the oligarchs’ money is hidden offshore; so, is invisible.
Most of Ukraine’s oligarchs live in Geneva (like Kolomoyskyi), London (like the Tymoshenkos’ daughter, Yevhenia), NYC, Rome, and other Western cities, and they tend to stash their money in secret bank accounts in tax-haven countries, not only in order to avoid paying taxes, but also in order to make more difficult their being successfully sued by each other, for violating handshake business deals that had helped them to become so rich. After all, illegal contracts cannot be enforced by any legal government (since they’re illegal, and have secret illegal terms). Thus, other means than written contracts — handshake deals — are resorted to between these aristocrats.
For example, in one such case, a Ukrainian oligarch who lives in London, Victor Pinchuk (whose fortune is around $4 billion), is suing Kolomoyskyi by alleging him to have sold him a company, “KZhRK,” for $143 million, and then to have re-seized it from him by force of arms. As is usual (since virtually all of Ukraine’s oligarchs had become oligarchs from the privatizations, or sell-offs of government assets, which accompanied Ukraine’s abandonment of communism), this case hinges on verbal testimony, and the various parties to the case contradict each other. Kolomoyskyi is well known for taking over corporations through his team entering with guns drawn. Pinchuk claims that when Kolomoyskyi did that here, Pinchuk nonetheless, somehow, managed to get Kolomoyskyi to restore Pinchuk to control, but that Pinchuk later discovered “it appears that they may have sold approximately 50% of KZhRK to a third party in 2007″; so, Pinchuk filed suit against Kolomoyskyi, in London, on this murky case.
According to a summary by wikipedia of several news reports: “Kolomyski has used [his banking company] Privat’s ‘quasi-military forces’ to enforce hostile takeovers of companies, sending a team of ‘hired rowdies armed with baseball bats, iron bars, gas and rubber bullet pistols and chainsaws’ to forcibly take over a Kremenchuk steel plant in 2006, and has used ‘a mix of phony court orders (often involving corrupt judges and/or registrars) and strong-arm tactics’ to replace directors on the boards of companies he purchases stakes in. Kolomyski was criticized by Mr Justice Mann in a court case in London involving an attempted hostile takeover of an oil company, with the judge stating that Kolomyski had ‘a reputation of having sought to take control of a company at gunpoint in Ukraine’.”
Consequently, the reports of Kolomoyskyi’s tactics against the Ukrainians who refuse to be ruled by the Obama-installed government in Kiev seem to be consistent with this oligarch’s violent norm. Oriental Review headlined on 14 May 2014, “Bloodbath in Odessa guided by interim rulers of Ukraine,” and reported that, “The information provided below was obtained from an insider in one of Ukraine’s law-enforcement agencies, who wished to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.” The account there is a more detailed one than has ever before appeared, and it’s consistent with those others (such as this and this). It alleges that:
“Ten days before the tragedy a secret meeting was held in Kiev, chaired by the incumbent president Olexander Turchinov [a long-time political ally and business-partner of Tymoshenko; he had destroyed crucial documents in the government’s case against Tymoshenko], to prepare a special operation in Odessa. Present were minister of internal affairs Arsen Avakov [a gangster who was placed on Interpol’s ‘Wanted’ list on 21 March 2012], the head of the Ukrainian Security Service Valentin Nalivaychenko [a long-time NATO agent], and the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Andriy Parubiy [co-founder of Ukraine’s National Socialist, or Nazi, Party]. Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoiskiy, the Kiev-appointed head of regional administration of the Dnepropetrovsk region, was consulted in regard to the operation [he being well-experienced in violent operations].
“During that meeting Arsen Avakov … reportedly came up with the idea of using football [soccer] hooligans, known as ‘ultras,’ in the operation. Ever since his time as the head of the Kharkov regional administration he [Avakov] has worked closely with the fans’ leaders, whom he continued to sponsor even from his new home in Italy.
“Kolomoisky temporarily delivered his private ‘Dnieper-1′ Battalion under the command of law-enforcement officials in Odessa and also authorized a cash payment of $5,000 for ‘each pro-Russian separatist’ killed during the special operation. [That would be over $500,000, lent by his bank to the Ukrainian Government, to pay for the estimated 116 corpses thus produced.]
“Mykola Volkov [Captain Mykola Volkov Nikolaevich, born 1981 Odessa] was wanted by the Ukrainian police since 2012 for fraud. A couple of days before the operation in Odessa Andriy Parubiy brought dozens of bullet-proof vests to local ultra-nationalists. This video shows an episode of handing the vests to the local Maidan activists in Odessa. Take note of the person who receives the load. He is Mykola Volkov, a local hard-core criminal who would be repeatedly screened [filmed] during the assault on Trade Unionist House gun-shooting at the people and reporting about the ‘incident’ by phone to an official in Kiev.”
This video is one of several that show “Mykola” at various stages during the May 2nd massacre.
Basically, the Kiev regime bussed in far-right or “Pravy Sektor” people, in civilian clothes, to pretend to be separatists and shoot at crowds of people who were supporting a soccer team from the western part of Ukraine and now leaving a soccer match. Whatever members of the local police force hadn’t quit it in protest against the scheme were now employed to bring these enraged western Ukrainian, pro-Kiev, soccer fans to the encampment of the anti-Kiev demonstrators at the Trade Unions Building, to join in setting it ablaze. As indicated in some of the videos (such as this), part of the preparation in advance of the arrival of these enraged western soccer fans was the burning of the tents in front of the Trade Unions Building, where literature had been distributed against the Kiev regime. Regime agents pretended to support the protesters inside those tents, and warned those anti-Kiev people that attackers were coming, and that they’d better go into the building for their own safety. Then, the attackers came and set fire to the tents, and threw firebombs into the building. However, even before many of the anti-Kiev people were incinerated, the regime’s gunmen entered the building’s basement where many of those protesters were hiding, and shot as many of them as they could. Most of the corpses were dragged out and taken away in vans, but the victims on the upper floors were later counted by the police, who announced that 46 people were killed. The actual number is indeterminate, but generally estimated at over a hundred: the number most often cited is 116.
Here is a summary of many of the best videos that were taken of these events and uploaded to youtube. It shows the best-documented massacre in all of history.
Commissioning this massacre wasn’t out of character for Tymoshenko. For example, on 24 March 2014, she was caught, for the umpteenth time, urging the extermination of Ukrainian Russians, and even of all Russians. She said in a tapped phone call, “They must be killed with nuclear weapons.” She seems to have meant this for Russia itself, not just for Russians living in Ukraine: “I’ll use all my connections, I’ll raise the whole world — as soon as I’m able to — in order to make sure.. Bugger! … even scorched earth won’t remain where Russia stands.” So, she was as anti-Russian as a person can be. Perhaps she believes that Obama will unleash nuclear weapons against Russia.
Despite the U.S.’s apparent hopes for Tymoshenko to win in the upcoming May 25th Presidential election, current polls show her as only a weak third, perhaps because most Ukrainians don’t want a President who is as corrupt as virtually all previous leaders (including their former Prime Minister Tymoshenko) have been. The person currently leading in the polls is Petro Poroshenko, the owner of Roshen Confectionery Corporation, Ukraine’s giant choclatier, whose fortune is only around $1 billion. Most of the other oligarchs are in industries such as banking, oil, and heavy industries, such as coal and steel; Poroshenko is unusual in this regard — he didn’t get his fortune from privatizations.
The oligarchs also own all of the country’s airlines (most of which are owned by Kolomoyskyi), and the news media, as well as the banks. Poroshenko, if he is allowed to win on May 25th, might try to restrain the Obama-installed oligarchic forces, but it would require great courage for him even to try to do that, and it would almost certainly fail.
The richest person in Ukraine is generally thought to be Rinat Akhmetov, whose fortune is estimated at around at $12 billion to $24 billion; and he, too, has not committed himself as of yet, except to say that the Ukrainian federation must not break up (which would decimate his export businesses). No one knows how he “earned” his fortune, but it was in the privatizations. He is currently on the fence, because most of his exports and imports have been to and from Russia. But he also relies heavily upon the Ukrainian Government; he is certain to lose from what’s now happening.
Whomever is declared the winner on May 25th, will be taking over a government that’s overwhelmingly being run, at present, by conservative extremists. Now that Obama has placed those individuals so firmly in charge, any path back away from the far right, for Ukraine, will be extremely difficult, at best.
WHY THIS IS HAPPENING
The reason why the Kiev government is ousting Russian-speaking Ukrainians from government buildings in the east is to retain control of the east. CNBC had headlined on May 1st, just the day before these massacres, “IMF warns Ukraine on bailout if it loses east” and reported: “‘This is something of a leap of faith for the IMF and is politically driven by key IMF shareholders [the international aristocracy in the U.S and Europe] to support the (interim prime minister Arseniy) Yatseniuk ‘kamikaze’ administration in its reform efforts,’ according to Tim Ash, head of emerging markets research at Standard Bank.”
That “kamikaze” term there was referring to the following: Euronews on February 27th had bannered “Ukraine’s New Premier Suggests Sacrifices Are Unavoidable.” When Nuland’s choice, the far-right economist “Yats,” became the appointed interim leader, he immediately said: “We need to form a responsible government — and it’s not about personalities, this is about responsibility. You know, to be in this government is to commit political suicide. And we need to be very frank and open. This is the political suiciders.” He was looking to impress the lenders by imposing “austerity” on his country, so that when he’d retire from government, he’d be able to cash in for his having served not Ukrainians, but the corrupt Western lenders to the corrupt former Ukrainian political leaders, who had bought the votes of Ukrainians by this borrowed money, in order to get themselves into positions to skim money from this government that they ran.
Inasmuch as Ukraine’s oligarchs have their billions stashed away in places like Switzerland, it’s clear who will probably end up paying for these billions that they had skimmed off from lenders in Europe and the United States. The masses of Ukrainians obviously will take the losses, if the plan of the IMF and U.S. succeeds. That’s what the Ukrainian civil war is actually all about: getting the Ukrainian public to pay the losses that prior Ukrainian governments had engendered from Ukraine’s monumental corruption, a money-funnelling operation, from the masses to the classes.
How gigantic is Ukraine’s corruption? According to the World Economic Forum, in their “Global Competitiveness Report, 2013-2014,” Ukraine ranks #122 out of the 148 rated nations for “Diversion of public funds,” #143 for “Property rights,” #139 for “Judicial independence,” #130 for “Irregular payments and bribes,” #133 for “Favoritism in decisions of government officials” (otherwise known as cronyism), #143 for “Wastefulness of government spending,” #144 for “Efficiency of legal framework in settling disputes,” #146 for “Efficiency of legal framework in challenging regs,” #146 for “Protection of minority shareholders’ interests,” and #133 for “Reliability of police services.” In other words: it’s already like failed states.
And, going forward, the Ukrainian public won’t even have the poor government services that they’ve had up till now.
Ukraine will then be a libertarian paradise, assuming that this operation succeeds. The government will serve only the “job creators,” nobody else. No more “socialism,” except of the “National Socialist” type. [Note from Washington’s Blog: We disagree with Mr. Zuesse’s reflexive rejection of libertarianism. We believe that some libertarians are highly-principled, while others are corrupt and cynical. Indeed, we believe that is true of all “isms”.]
On 12 May 2014, Burisma Holdings announced, “Hunter Biden Joins the Team of Burisma Holdings,” and reported that, “Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, has expanded its Board of Directors by bringing on Mr. R Hunter Biden as a new director. R. Hunter Biden will be in charge of the Holdings’ legal unit and will provide support for the Company among international organizations.”
The company’s holdings were in eastern Ukraine; so, the operation by Obama and the IMF would need to succeed in order for this appointment to make Hunter Biden a very rich man.
That could be very rich indeed. On 26 August 2012, the Anticorruption Action Center had headlined “Kings of Ukrainian Gas,” and reported that the chief of the Zasyadko gas mine had requested President Viktor Yanukovych to privatize the mine, and Yanukovych responded, “Put the gas deposits in your name, and hand half of them over to Oleksandr [Yanukovych’s son]. Then we’ll give you the mine.” So: “On November 19, 2010, the State Property Fund of Ukraine approves Order No.1710 on the privatization of the O.F. Zasyadko mine. A month later, on December 22, 2010, the government approves a decision to hand nine oil and gas fields in Eastern Ukraine to the Zasyadko mine without organizing tenders. … And the mine then transferred four of them to Inter-Regional Gas Company LLC in Donetsk in 2011.” Then, “In May this year, Inter-Regional Gas Company LLC received the Baranykivska field free-of-charge from the Luhansk Regional Council for exploration and extraction of gas. According to our sources, the company, closely associated with Oleksandr Yanukovych, will soon get five more licenses.” So, Yanukovych’s son was set to become an oligarch. But, “In fact, the tastiest and largest morsels (gas fields) were obtained not by the president’s son, but by a more experienced businessman – Ihor Kolomoisky.” A certain Mr. “Zlochevsky, former Minister of Environment and Natural Resources,” had set up “a Cypriot company – Burisma Holdings Limited,” and placed in it “the largest Ukrainian gas field – Sakhalinska,” owned by an entity, “Ukrnaftoburinnya,” and, in turn, “Ukrnaftoburinnya is owned by a Cypriot company, Deripon Commercial Ltd.” But, “In fact, the end owner of Deripon Commercial Ltd. is a company based in the British Virgin Islands – Burrad Financial Corp. This company has often been involved in various financial schemes of the Privat Group and especially with Ihor Kolomoisky.” In fact, “The Privat Group is the immediate owner” of the entire group of gas companies, including Burisma Holdings. So: Hunter Biden is now an employee of, and co-board-member with, the man who masterminded and oversaw the May 2nd massacre in Odessa.
On 15 May 2014, Voltairenet bannered “In Ukraine, Joe Biden’s Son Mixes Business with Pleasure,” and reported that, “Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, confirmed on 13 May 2014 the appointment of R. Hunter Biden (photo) to its Board of Directors. He will be rubbing elbows with Devon Archer, who has preceded him by a few weeks. … Devon Archer chaired the support committee for the 2004 presidential campaign of current Secretary of State, John Kerry. Devon Archer was the roommate of Christopher Heinz (John Kerry’s step-son) during their studies at Yale University.” It sounds as if the U.S. is strikingly similar to Ukraine. Moreover, it was John Kerry who had advanced Victoria Nuland, from being Hillary Clinton’s official Spokesperson at the U.S. State Department, to the powerful policymaking position of Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Asia. Had anything really changed since Nuland — raised at Yale, schooled at Choate, and sent to college at Brown — had served as the Deputy Foreign Policy Adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney (who had flunked at Yale)?
And what will result if this operation fails? Two failed states: one half of the former Ukraine pro-“Western”; the other half of it dependent upon Russia, and perhaps a nuclear war being the ultimate outcome (which would be especially likely if this operation succeeds, because its success would surround Russia with nuclear-armed enemies, which would be intolerable for Russia).
A world with no accountability for aristocrats has served them well, but even they might end up suffering from what they are now doing.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.