Ukraine Day 813: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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Representatives of three Ukrainian political parties – former members of the governing coalition – are demanding the creation of an investigative commission to look into the involvement of President Petro Poroshenko in offshore finance, following further revelations in the Panama Papers leak.
After a portion of the total, vast database of data leaked from the Panamanian Mossack Fonseca financial services firm was made publicly available by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) last night, Ukrainian journalists noted the appearance of one Sergei Zaytsev (referred to in the ICIJ database as Sergei Zuitstv)
According to the Mossack Fonseca data, Intraco was registered on January 10, 2002, and inactivated on October 26, 2015.
As Liga.net reports, Intraco was the center of a scandal in the fall of 2015, when Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, who had been head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) up until June of last year, presented the Rada Anti-Corruption Committee with copies of documents which appeared to be bills from Intraco concerning the transfer of payments made for charter flights into offshore accounts.
Among those named in the documents, was President Poroshenko and his business partner and key political ally, Ihor Kononenko. Nalyvaichenko accused Kononenko of using the offshore accoutns and firms during his tenure as an MP, and that the “oligarchic group” had used his services to export money to Austrian banks, via the BVI and then Latvia. Among those alleged to be the recipients of the redirected funds was Poroshenko’s daughter, Darya.
Kononenko himself denies any association with Intraco and claimed that he only learned of the existence of the company shortly before the meeting of the Rada Committee.
But Sergei Zaytsev, revealed in the Panama Papers as a beneficiary of Intraco, is registered to an address in Kiev – one shared with a whole host of other companies, including those that form part of the Ukprominvest group, owned by President Poroshenko and business partners, including Kononenko.
Zaytsev himself a leading manager at President Poroshenko’s Roshen confectionery company. In a 2013 Forbes interview, Poroshenko credited Zaytsev and Kononenko as among the people who had helped him earn his first million.
Now Ukrainska Pravda reports that representatives of the Samopomich, Batkivschyna and Radical parties are demanding the creation of a emergency investigative commission to look into the case.
Yegor Sobolev, MP for Samopomich, said during a Rada meeting today that the committee on countering corruption, which he headed last year, had already recommended the creation of such a commission to investigate the Intraco payments.
“The faster we create such a commission to investigate offshore scandals, to investigate allegations that the President conducts business that is prohibited under the Constitution of Ukraine, then the faster we will be on the path to having a normal, democratic parliament and its relations with the President.”
Yulia Tymoshenko, former prime minister and leader of Batkivshchyna, went further, stating that Intraco had been accused of trading with Russia’s state-controlled gas giant Gazprom during the war in the Donbass.
According to a Liga.net investigation last month, Intraco purchased 500 tonnes of aviation fuel from a Russian subsidiary of Gazprom after the Russian invasion of the Donbass, in October, 2014.
Meanwhile Oleh Lyashko, leader of the Radical Party, threatened to have his MPs block any work in the Rada until an investigative commission is created.
— Pierre Vaux
The Ukrainian military claims that Russian-backed fighters conducted 15 attacks yesterday in the Donbass, despite the concentration of forces for their Victory Day parades in Donetsk and Lugansk.
According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, Ukrainian positions in Avdeyevka were attacked yesterday evening with grenade launchers, small arms and anti-aircraft artillery.
To the east, near Gorlovka, Russian-backed fighters used grenade launchers and BMP infantry fighting vehicle cannons to fire on Ukrainian forces outside Luganskoye.
The Lugansk Regional Military-Civil Administration reported today that there had been two rounds of attacks last night, near Novoaleksandrovka, where Ukrainian troops came under small-arms fire, and Zolotoye, where Russian-backed forces used heavy machine guns.
In the south of the Donetsk region, the ATO Press Center reported that Russian-backed fighters had used grenade launchers, anti-tank missiles and BMP cannons to fire on Ukrainian positions near Starognatovka, west of the River Kalmius, and Shirokino, on the Azov coast.
In addition, the military reported six attacks between midnight and 6 am today.
According to the report, grenade launchers were used in attacks on Avdeyevka, while BMPs fired on troops near Starognatovka. To the west of Donetsk, sniper fire was reported in the Maryinka area.
Meanwhile the pro-separatist Donetsk News Agency reports, citing a source in the security forces of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), that Ukrainian forces last night shelled the village of Belaya Kamenka, east of Starognatovka, with 120 mm mortars.
— Pierre Vaux