The end of the 1980s; a Soviet specialist and his family – wife and nine-year-old son – came back from Mongolia to one of Ukraine’s largest industrial centers for the construction of a mining and processing plant. No one could guess about all the consequences of this event. Soon the father became the head of an academic department of cybernetics and computing hardware at the Kryvyi Rih Institute of Economics. His son was an activist and class leader at the local school # 95. He loved sports, danced, participated in amateur panel games competitions. He was an almost high achiever at school. This boy was called Volodymyr Zelensky.
While being a schoolboy, Volodymyr dreamed of becoming a border guard or a diplomat. Subsequently, as he himself admits, he wanted to study for a stage manager, entered what he could – Kryvyi Rih branch of Economic University, where his father Oleksandr Semenovych, Doctor of Economics, was a professor. Volodymyr studied law. However, he has never worked in this field; when being a student, his life gradually turned into a Club of the Funny and Inventive (a humor competition, CFI).
In 1997, he and his friends created their own project "Kvartal 95." Two years later, Russian showman Alexander Maslyakov invited the team to Moscow to participate in the Higher League of KVN. It was a lucky ticket, which the team took advantage of. They quickly become famous.
“I know how they appeared on the Ukrainian television; they have signed a long contract with the pro-Russian Inter TV channel,” says Ukrainian diplomat, showman Dmytro Chekalkin. Thus, the showman Zelensky made the first steps in politics.
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In 2010, Viktor Yanukovych becomes president of Ukraine. And soon Zelensky becomes the general producer of Inter TV channel. And the "Kvartal 95" turns into a powerful commercial structure. In 2012, Forbes Ukraine magazine presented the rating of the 25 most expensive and popular stars of Ukrainian show business. Almost 40 million US dollars fell on the three participants in the rating – boxers Vladimir and Vitali Klitschko, as well as "Kvartal 95" Studio. In 2012 Zelensky’s personal income amounted to more than $ 2 million.
At the end of 2013, the capital of Zelensky and Co. has already increased to 10 million US dollars! Meanwhile, the Revolution of Dignity began in Ukraine. “When Kolomoisky (Ukrainian oligarch, believed to be Zelensky’s protégé, - ed.) was against Maidan in 2014 - they ("Kvartal 95" – ed.) joked that Berkut (special police force, - ed.) should use ebony sticks by to beat Maidan protesters in woolen clothes thus producing electric current. Then the situation changed when Kolomoisky had already sided with the revolutionaries – they ("Kvartal 95" – ed.) have also changed their rhetoric," Chekalkin recalls.
But Zelensky and his team have been always adhering to the pro-Ukrainian position, condemned separatism, and military aggression. On this occasion, Zelensky even addressed his influential Russian namesake on the air.
That was the first attempt of the then non-presidential candidate Zelensky to negotiate with Putin. Two years after all the notorious events, after Crimea was lost, Donbas conflict was very tensed. Zelensky and his team performed at a festival in Jurmala.
A confrontation ensued between oligarch Kolomoisky and the Ukrainian authorities. The process of nationalization of Kolomoisky’s PrivatBank began, the oligarch was gradually pushed aside from tidbits of the Ukrainian economy. And it was precisely at this time that the “Servant of the People” film project was born then.
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“The Servant of the People” appeared as an element of the crisis between oligarchic Privat group and the authorities, because PrivatBank was nationalized, before the situation around the of Privat’s energy assets was a kind of criticism from this group, an element of criticism of the Ukrainian authorities, as a kind of consolidation of the material, created by “Kvartal 95,” says Ruslan Bortnik, political analyst.
According to Dmytro Chekalkyn, initially, the project was planned only as the trolling of President Poroshenko, not the promotion of Zelensky. “I know Kolomoisky since the 1990s, and he has repeatedly offered me to lead 1+1 TV channel and a political project, and, as I understand, he created this idea 20 years ago; he wanted to make a leading politician from a no-name party to defend his own political interests," Chekalkyn assumes.
“If you want to understand when Zelensky began to be promoted, look at when he first appeared in sociological polls. In 2017 was his first time. People are not included to the polls lists for an accident,” Bortnyk says.
“There is such a virtual visual image of Holoborodko ("Servant of the People" character; President of Ukraine, formerly a high school history teacher, - ed.) as a national Robin Hood, a national fighter for justice. And there is Zelensky, who gathers a team; there is a connection between this, but no real action,” Ruslan Bortnyk says. The investigation of Radio Svoboda's investigative TV program Schemes (its journalists are spied by oligarch Akhmetov’s forces, - ed.) concerning Zelensky’s offshore companies and his film business in Russia was taken by a surprise. A non-rehearsed meeting with a journalist showed the reverse side of Zelensky, surrounded by guards.
The journalists have checked the Russian registries and found out that the showman lied. The Russian branch of Kvartal (Kvartal Cinema) was closed only on December 10, 2018 - just before the start of Zelensky’s presidential campaign. And the key to this scheme is hidden in the structure of the Cyprus offshore companies.
It is about such a firm GREEN FAMILY LTD. Long-standing business partners are behind this structure: Andriy Yakovlev, Borys and Serhiy Shefir, Zelensky himself and Timur Myndych. The latter is Kolomoisky’s associate. GREEN FAMILY LTD is the founder of the Green Films film company.
When it became clear that the scandal was gaining momentum, the presidential candidate solemnly announced that he would quit the founders of Cyprus offshore.
But there are connections that cannot be canceled with one piece of paper. Timur Mindich is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Community of Dnipro. He owns the country's only factory for the cultivation of artificial diamonds. He is a confidant of Kolomoisky and his close friend. According to our sources, Mindich is an unofficial curator of the 1 + 1 TV channel.
Timur Mindich's wife is Russian citizen Ekaterina Verber, owner of the Kyiv boutique Dolce & Gabbana. She has a golden Bentley, Vertu phone, Hermes crocodile leather handbags, and a Balenciaga dress.
Alla Verber is Mindich's mother-in-law. Fashion Director of the Moscow Central Department Store and the St. Petersburg "House of Leningrad Trade", vice president of Mercury jewelry firm. This group forms the collections and purchases goods of fashion brands for prestigious Russian salons. The entire political elite of Russia comes for shopping there, in particular, the family of Putin and Medvedev.
Therefore, it is not surprising that Zelensky’s company plans to shoot the thriller “Down” and obtain money from the Russian state budget. One of the main roles should be played by Putin’s confidant in the presidential election – Vladimir Mashkov. The film script was written by Zelensky's business Green Films and Kvarter partners.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, Zelensky and his political technicians are sounding the alarm as "Servant of the People" is going to be banned.
“The law clearly stipulates that videos, including serials, are a form of electoral campaigning. In the situation with the “Servant of the People,” the name of the movie coincides with the name of the political party that is the subject of the election process, that is, nominated a candidate for president, the name and surname of the actor coincide with the name of the candidate for president. We urge presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky to honestly pay money from the Electoral Fund. Now this team has launched a selective attack on the Committee of Voters. Our organization and I personally have received several threatening messages," Aleklsiy Koshel, the chairman of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, says.
“How can you fight the oligarchy, if you represent it? And if he was paid absolutely inadequate fees over the years, it proves once again that he was a convenient tool in Kolomoisky’s hands,” Chekalkin assures.
A whole program would be needed to unveil the details of all his movable property, bank accounts, and real estate in Ukraine and abroad, offshore companies, as well as precious accessories of Zelensky’s family. In general, official statuses were declared for a total of about 7 million US dollars. However, it is just the tip of it, as "Honest Country" investigation states. After all, the profit of Kvartal only in 2015 amounted to 30 million dollars.
Zelensky has been living in Ivankovychi village for about a decade. Here he has his own house of 350 sq.m. His neighbors are Kvartal partners, as well as current and former Ukrainian officials. According to real estate sites, the average price of an apartment there is 300,000 US dollars.