Why are sanctions against the Russian Federation turning into a corrupt business in Ukraine and who is not ashamed of it
In total, since February 24, Western countries have seized more than USD 30 billion worth of Russian assets, and if toalso include the assets of the Russian Central Bank – then the sum exceeds USD 330 billion. An international group for the search for Russian assets with the eloquent name Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) was created and operates in the USA. Its employees find, arrest or detain property and money of Russians, namely financial accounts, yachts and ships, and real estate. They are assisted by the European Commission’s Freeze and Seize working group, reinforced by specialists from Canada, Japan, Australia, and Great Britain.
Against the background of loud headlines about “Western” arrests, Ukraine looks obscenely pale. Belgium froze Russian assets worth EUR 50 billion. Germany arrested the superyacht (sorry, but one can’t do without the prefix “super” here) of Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov and a dozen private aircraft belonging to Russians. Spain not only seized the yachts of the oligarchs Vekselberg and Chemezov, but also thirty real estate objects and 12 accounts and funds belonging to Russian businesses. Italy seized the villas of propagandist Solovyov and USD 140 million of assets of “Putin’s architect”Lanfranco Cirillo. Even the most reliable of reliable Switzerland has blocked about USD 8 billion of Russian assets.
According to the National Police, in Ukraine, with frantic joint efforts, “we managed to seize assets worth more than UAH 4.6 billion.” What outstanding money this is – even at the current exchange rate, it equals approximately to USD125 million. Obviously, Ukraine is not the kind of jurisdiction where the rich are used to hiding their money or keeping planes with superyachts. Ukraine is even better, it is a long-term business partner and business donor of Russia. A place where Russians have been earning, not spending or saving, money for years. Logically, the whole world should be envious of the zeal with which Ukraine deprives its enemy of assets needed to generate immediate profits, and not just for the sake of fishing for sea bass. But the world is not being jealous. To say the least, it is being surprised for even individual arrests we have already imposed are lifted immediately.
Back in March, we dreamily listed Russian property that we are about to nationalize. More than 14 thousand companies, famous names, powerful assets. Not by a long shot!
It started with a resounding failure already in April, when no one saw the Russians behind the “luzhniki guys.” Mikhail Voevodin, aka thief in law Misha Luzhnetsky and protégé of the Vice Speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Aleksandr Babakov, has been making a decent living in Ukraine for years. He possesses the VS Energy group, which owns a number of regional energy companies, metropolitan shopping centers and hotels, as well as the main producer of special steels in Ukraine PrJSC Dniprospetsstal. And the former corporation of Voevodin VSMPO-Avisma controls the Ukrainian company VSMPO Titan Ukraine LLC, which is a manufacturer of titanium pipes.
Oblenergo was the first company subject to sanctions pressure. The State Bureau of Investigation was unable to seize the assets because it did not convince the Pechersk Court of the grounds for the seizure. By the way, the Kyiv appellate court was not convinced either. Procedural “witnesses” state that not only judges, but also prosecutors did not want to see the obvious, that is, the Russians among the Russians.
As compensation, the court seized two hotels of the Premier Hotels and Resorts chain in Lviv and Kyiv, controlled by the VS Energy group, with a combined revenue of UAH one hundred million in the best years. It is indeed a terrible blow to the energy empire of the Russians. We’ll see how long that arrest will last. After all, the blindsight would only get worse.
On August 2, the court cancelled the arrest imposed on Ocean Plaza shopping center in Kyiv. Together with the shopping mall, access to the funds in the accounts was also returned to its nominal owner, IS Lybid LLC. Never mind, that the ultimate beneficial owner of the companies managing the center is Russian oligarch Arkady Rotenberg. Never mind, that Rotenberg has been under sanctions since 2014, and a lot has already been written about how he managed to circumvent sanctions over the years. Never mind, that Mykolaiv is among the cities that suffer the most from missile strikes, financed, inter alia, by Putin’s mate Rotenberg. Judge Svitlana Grechana does not care. She is glad that she was taken from the troubled Mykolaiv to the Pechersk District Court in the capital for such an important mission as lifting of the seizure from the property of a Russian oligarch. Ms Grechana sends her regards to her relatives and friends from Mykolayiv region and wishes them good health. The wishes are shared by David Arahamiya having devoted an outstanding amount of time, attention, and levers of influence to this story.
In late August, the Shevchenko District Court of the capital canceled the arrest of Karpatnaftochim being one of the largest chemical enterprises of Ukraine, previously owned by the Russian Lukoil, and after it faced sanctions – by managers of the Russian Lukoil. Despite the fact that the investigation into the object has been conducted since 2017 and it was even concluded that the current owners not only avoided paying taxes, but also transferred funds to a non-resident legal entity controlled by a Russian oil company for their further legalization. They fouled Ukraine by at least UAH 5 billion and one of the most powerful chemical plants. After the scandal, it seems they wanted to impose an arrest again, but apparently it takes time to find arguments, because the fairest district court in the world made a decision that cannot be appealed.
And it is obvious to you and me that the imposition of sanctions in Ukraine has turned into a way of corrupt earnings, not an economic struggle. It seems to the direct participants of the process that this is not the problem. What is needed is a working group, discussions, improvements in legislation, proper record keeping of the sanctions database, and other ways to waste time and not do your job.
It is hard to believe that there are still weirdos in the country who believe that by changing the legislation and procedures they will be able to fight corruption in the courts and law enforcement agencies. It is also unbelievable that the people who carefully nurture corruption in Ukraine still consider the rest to be idiots who will believe that the working group is the answer we have been missing.
For your understanding, the parliament passed the law on the nationalization of Russian business in Ukraine in lateMarch. It is evident that it was accepted quickly, something was missed, something was not taken into account, loopholes were left. Although not even that is in fact clear.
The war in Ukraine began not in February this year, but in 2014, when the first sanctions were imposed on the aggressor country and its subjects, and even then it became clear how they would circumvent these sanctions. Even people without imagination and knowledge, simply using this experience, in eight years could improve, develop, expand and deepen any mechanisms for depriving Russians of assets in Ukraine. But no time has been found for eight years. As well as since lateMarch, by the way. The discussion about what is needed to really deprive Russians of earning in Ukraine is still ongoing. Not because there are no ideas, it’s just that, on the one hand, they can’t agree on who to put in the box office to sell tickets, on the other hand, it’s necessary to give time to respectable people to prepare and finally remove everything that hasn’t been removed yet. Transfer the ownership of assets from Ivanov to Ivanenko, and from Ivanenko to Ivanchuk.
Looks like mockery. And not only that does so.
Our judicial system seems to be an outright mockery of justice. The concentration of power in the hands of the president’s office is an affront to democracy. The focus of the president’s office on Yermak is a mockery of the institutions of power, and Yermak’s focus on Tatarov is a mockery of common sense. By the way, it is Tatarov’s protégé Melnyk from the ESBwho proposes working groups to treat corruption when imposing sanctions on Russians. The ESB is the Economic Security Bureau, if you did not know. And yes, we are in danger, dear ones. The longer we persuade each other to refrain from criticism, the greater this danger becomes. In the end, we can lose the war, because with our tacit consent, this mockery of various calibers will rob and destroy our rear.
Somehow, all this strongly dissonates with the president’s systematic appeals to our allies to further strengthen sanctions, restrictions and oppression of the Russians. To be honest, Rotenberg’s ability to earn money in Ukraine, despite eight years of war, is more important than the impossibility of any Masha from Saint Petersburg to get a visa to the EU.
Read other articles by Yuliya Samayeva via the link.
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