Who’s up and who’s down – POLITICO

Press play to listen to this article

Expressed by artificial intelligence.

KYIV — Russia’s war on Ukraine has claimed unexpected victims: the country’s oligarchs.

Ukraine has long been considered one of the most corrupt countries on the planet and the few dozen businessmen who controlled much of its wealth, as well as television stations, mines, banks , shops, farms, real estate and more are considered essential. contributors.

One of them – chocolate baron Petro Poroshenko – even served as president from 2014 to 2019.

But Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has upended their fortunes. Mariupol’s sprawling metallurgical works owned by Rinat Akhmetov have been turned into smoldering ruins, farmland sits idle and pockmarked with landmines, factories are not working due to power cuts, and maritime exports have shrunk.

The political influence of the super-rich has also dropped.

Even before the war, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promoted a law of deoligarchization aimed at limiting their political influence.

The war reinforced this effort. Zelenskyy no longer needs the political and financial support of the oligarchs, and the searing experience of defending the country against Russian aggression is likely to make Ukrainians less eager to bow down to the mega-rich again. Reducing corruption and strengthening the rule of law is also a condition for much aid to Ukraine.

Here’s a look at how the war with Russia changed the financial and political fortunes of five top Ukrainian businessmen.

Rinat Akhmetov

Rinat Akhmetov | Daniel Naupold/EPA

Ukraine’s richest man, Akhmetov, is paying a heavy price for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The backbone of its business empire – metallurgical conglomerate Metinvest – has lost two of its main factories in southern Ukraine. Azovstal Steelworks and Ilyich Ironworks were turned into rubble heaps by Russian forces during the assault on Mariupol.

In June, he filed a complaint against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights.

Since the start of the war, its other assets – including power plants, banks, farms, mines and processing plants – have been either damaged or seized by Russian forces.

Akhmetov’s companies raised money and resources to help the war effort, providing more than $100 million in body armor and helmets, materials for fortifications, vehicles for the army , food kits and medicine for civilians.

According to Akhmetov’s spokesman, he returned to Ukraine the day before the Russian invasion.

“He met the start of the war at his home in Kyiv. Since then, he has not left Ukraine for a day,” the spokesperson said.

According to the Ukrainian edition of Forbes, Akhmetov’s fortune has grown from nearly $14 billion in January to $4.3 billion in December, but he remains Ukraine’s richest person.

“Because intense military actions and rocket attacks in Ukraine unfortunately continue almost daily, no precise and complete calculation of casualties is possible at this stage, and estimates may be incorrect and inconclusive,” the official said. spokesperson.

In 2021, Zelenskyy accused him of trying to stage a coup, a charge firmly denied by Akhmetov. Since the invasion, he has handed over his media licenses (to Zelenskyy’s praise) and his wholehearted support for the war effort has earned him some backing.

Ranking of oligarchs:

Viktor Pinchuk

Victor Pinchuk | Natalia Slipchuk/AFP via Getty Images

Since the start of the Russian invasion, Viktor Pinchuk has actively urged Western nations to step up their military support and criticized some countries, such as Germany, for dragging their feet.

By the end of September, the oligarch had spent more than $45 million supporting Ukraine’s military and civilians, according to his charitable foundation.

During the first weeks of the war, when Russian troops approached Kyiv, paramedics were stationed in the luxurious Pinchuk mansion on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital.

The oligarch’s business empire – built around railroad pipe and wheel maker Interpipe – suffered less than the businesses of other oligarchs.

“The holding company’s financial situation has deteriorated, but you can’t call it a disaster,” said Alexander Paraschiy, head of research at Ukrainian consultancy Concorde Capital.

“They were more affected not so much by hostilities as by energy price hikes and logistical problems,” he explained, as the war reduced Interpipe’s ability to export by maritime.

His wealth fell from $2.6 billion to $2 billion, according to Forbes.

Pinchuk’s media office did not respond to a request for comment.

Ranking of oligarchs:

Petro Poroshenko

Former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko | Pierre Crom/Getty Images

Prior to the war, Poroshenko was fighting for his political life, facing charges of high treason and abetting terrorism. According to state prosecutors, Poroshenko favored the supply of coal to rebel-held areas in the Donbass region instead of coal produced in South Africa.

Despite his protestations of innocence, some of his assets and property were seized by a court in Kyiv.

But after the invasion, TV stations controlled by Poroshenko toned down their criticism of Zelensky.

“On the first day of the Russian aggression, February 24, I came to Zelensky and said, ‘I am no longer the leader of the opposition. You and I are soldiers. Until we win, I will not criticize anyone,” he said in an interview with VOA.

Poroshenko, who favored nationalist policies when he was president, also donned military attire and organized volunteer groups to help in the war – although Zelenskyy’s office accused him of wasteful public relations.

Poroshenko’s companies have spent more than $46 million supporting the armed forces, his spokesman said. It delivered armored vehicles purchased in Italy and Britain, four-wheel drive pickup trucks, body armor, helmets, fuel and more.

Forbes says his fortune has grown from $1.6 billion to $700 million.

Poroshenko’s media office declined to comment on the loss of his businesses and personal fortune to the war.

Ranking of oligarchs:

Ihor Kolomoisky

Ihor Kolomoisky | WikiCommons

Kolomoisky was seen as Zelenskyy’s original mainstay – using his powerful TV channels to promote the popular actor and comedian in the 2019 presidential election.

However, close ties with the new leader did not save Kolomoisky from trouble.

In January, the US Department of Justice alleged that Kolomoisky and an associate laundered funds in the United States. His attorneys deny any wrongdoing.

Its top financial asset, Privatbank, was seized by Ukrainian authorities seven years ago after regulators found a $5 billion hole in its books, and Kolomoisky is still fighting to get it back.

“Kolomoisky has very little chance of recovering anything in court,” said Concorde Capital’s Paraschiy.

In July, Zelenskyy reportedly took steps to strip Kolomoisky of his Ukrainian citizenship because he also has Israeli and Cypriot passports. Kolomoisky fights the decision.

In November, the Ukrainian government invoked wartime laws to take control of stakes in the country’s main energy company, Ukrnafta, partially controlled by Kolomoisky.

Kolomoisky did not respond to a request for comment.

Ranking of oligarchs:

Viktor Medvedchuk

Viktor Medvedchuk | Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

Viktor Medvedchuk, who was worth $620 million before the war, was Ukraine’s most influential pro-Russian oligarch; Russian President Vladimir Putin is believed to be godfather to his daughter.

His intimacy with the Kremlin has turned against him.

Prior to the full-scale invasion of Russia, Medvedchuk was under arrest and under investigation for possible high treason on charges of cooperating with Russia over the illegal extraction of gas from the sea. Black, as well as on the supply of coal to the territories controlled by the rebels in the Donbass region.

Medvedchuk escaped house arrest after the invasion but was caught trying to leave the country disguised as a military volunteer.

In September, he was exchanged for Ukrainian prisoners of war held by the Russians. His current whereabouts are unknown.

Croatia has also seized its $200 million superyacht, the Royal Romance, which will be auctioned off to benefit Ukraine.

Ranking of oligarchs:


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button