Ukraine: Billionaire Kolomoyskyy Targeted in New Anti-Corruption Raid

    Ukraine: Billionaire Kolomoyskyy Targeted in New Anti-Corruption Raid
    Last updated Feb 02, 2023
    Image credit: Ukraine Economic Security Bureau [via BBC News]


    • Ukrainian law enforcement officials on Wednesday raided the home of Ihor Kolomoyskyy — a former supporter of Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the latest target of a clampdown on corruption — whom Forbes estimates to be the seventh-richest man in the country.[1]
    • Ukraine's security service (SBU) allegedly discovered the existence of an embezzlement scheme worth more than $1B involving oil companies Ukrnafta and Ukrtatnafta last November — Kolomoyskyy, who currently faces a fraud case in the US, held shares in the two entities.[2]
    • The targeting of Kolomoyskyy comes amid a fresh wave of high profile raids carried out by Kyiv, as Ukraine seeks to shed its reputation for endemic corruption. Separate raids were also carried out on Wednesday at the tax authority office, as well as at the home of former interior minister Arsen Avakov.[3]
    • The tax chief has been accused of participating in a scheme designed to conceal some $1.2B of unpaid taxes, while the search on Avakov's property is tied to a probe into the Jan. 18 French-made 'Super Puma' ES-255 helicopter crash that killed 14 people.[4]
    • Meanwhile, the leadership of Ukraine's customs service have reportedly been fired, joining high-level officials, deputy ministers and regional governors who were purged last week, including Zelenskyy's deputy head of office Kyrylo Tymoshenko.[5]
    • These developments come as Ukraine prepares to host an EU summit on Friday in Kyiv to discuss its potential accession to the regional bloc. It is likely Ukraine will be encouraged to fully meet the European Commission's conditions for allowing membership negotiations to start, including dealing with domestic corruption.[6]


    Establishment-critical narrative

    This crackdown has nothing to do with corruption, but rather with Zelenskyy's desperate attempts to make Ukrainian oligarchs finance nonsensical military operations ordered by Washington. While his goal is unlikely to succeed — as most domestic tycoons left Kyiv long ago — this performance will help Zelenskyy distract some Ukrainians from real problems facing their nation.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    Though less blatant than Russian bombing, corruption in Ukraine is just as destructive to the country and must be taken seriously because of its potential to undermine trust domestically and abroad. Zelenskyy is committed to forcefully fighting this plague — even if it means sacrificing close allies and top figures — in order to disprove Putin's despotic claims that a strong regime is the only remedy for corruption.

    Narrative C

    Though there is a history of Ukrainian oligarchs corrupting the country's institutions and sabotaging effective reform to escape from post-Soviet economic stagnation, their self-interest also aided Ukraine on its path to democracy by stopping anyone else usurping power. With their influence fast fading, Ukraine is likely to become more transparent, making it easier for the country to integrate into European structures. However, it is unclear how civil society will deal with the power vacuum that will be left in their absence.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that Ukraine's score in The Democracy Index will be at least 5.59 in 2024, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split



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