Oligarchs Strike Back: Who needs a rail war in Donbas?

Author : Ihor Rymskyi

Source :

Why Parasyuk and Semenchenko are blocking railway in Donbas, what are the advantages of this situation for oligarchs Akhmetov and Kolomoisky, and what is the benefit for Tymoshenko?
23:40, 15 February 2017

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Talking about coal reserves in Ukraine, we have enough reserves for only 40 days, and in 7 regions of Ukraine there are high probability of rolling blackouts, and possibly termination of heating. These are the results of nearly three-week blockade of Donbas railway announced by the government.

What's happening?

On Wednesday, January 25, about 30 people, including the former commander of the Donbas battalion Semen Semenchenko, the MPs Pavlo Kostenko, Taras Pastukh, Volodymyr Parasyuk, as well as MP Assistant Anatoly Vinogradsky (chief of ATO veterans’ staff) placed three wooden barriers near Svetlanovo-Shipilovo stations in Luhansk region and announced the start of an indefinite protest - LDNR commercial blockade. Protesters also blocked the Luhansk-Lysychansk-Popasna part of railway. The first blockade checkpoint was called Bogdan’s Redoute.

On January 26 Svetlanovo railway station was blocked. In turn, the Ministry for the temporarily occupied territories and the SBU were categorically against the blockade, saying that Ukraine badly needs coal supplies from the temporarily occupied territories.

"I believe this action is absolutely illegal, inappropriate. That part of railway, which is now blocked, if I am not mistaken, this is the only way, by which the coal supply to Schastinska thermal power plant is conducted. In turn, Schastinska thermal power plant is the only source of electricity throughout the Luhansk region, there is no alternative, " said Deputy Minister for the temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons of Ukraine Georgiy Tuka.

The head of the SBU Vasily Hrytsak, in turn, has hinted that by this blockade some deputies are trying to raise their own ratings, and reminded them about the opened criminal case. However, despite the very loud statements, participants continued their blockade, and authorities already are openly talking about the possible rolling blackouts in 7 regions.

Who needs a rail war in Donbas?

However, the sources in Parliament called the main reasons for the blockade - the desire to dismiss Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and accordingly to achieve early parliamentary elections. The interlocutors noted that among the drivers of the process are the former head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional state administration Igor Kolomoisky and ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. It is worth noting that Tymoshenko herself has previously publicly stated support for the blockade and demanded the imposition of martial law.

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The oligarch, according to information, provides financial support for the action. In addition, Kolomoisky has launched the work of election headquarters. We already hear voices saying that Kolomoisky, which had previously a cool attitude toward Tymoshenko now recognizes their common interest. Ukrainian oligarch also has some economic interest. As recalled by the academician Valeriy Heyets, the businessman owns the Kremenchug oil refinery, which produces heating oil – the reserve fuel for many thermal power stations.

We remind, this is not the first attempt of Tymoshenko to achieve re-election. Last year, during a protest of Mykhailivsky bank depositors, Tymoshenko political force’s headquarters was actively preparing for the Maidan. The necessary equipment and field kitchens were delivered to the city center. However, in that round Ukrainian authorities won a landslide victory. Parliament in an emergency procedure adopted a law on compensation to depositors to Mykhailivsky bank depositors, which, according to a senior source in Block of Petro Poroshenko, was aimed among other things at overcoming the mass discontent.

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The active work to accelerate consideration of the resignation of head of government, Tymoshenko and Co. carried out in parliament. As noted in a conversation with the author of this article MP Serhiy Sobolev, "soon we will see the consolidation of healthy forces". The MP declined to answer the question of who he meant by healthy forces, recognizing that at the moment it is not possible for Groysman to resign.

Another motive for the blockade sources call the political and economic competition among the oligarchs.

"Akhmetov thought he managed to establish relations with Poroshenko, and everything will be fine. His colleagues decided to remind him that this is not true ", added our interlocutors, noting that, for example, coal shipments from the ATO zone are carried out in accordance with the formula Rotterdam+, although there are all possibilities to supply raw materials from, for example , Pavlograd, and it will be cheaper." Whereas at one time the National Electricity Regulatory Commission and public services determined that the electricity tariff for Energoatom, which, according to the media, is controlled by ex-deputy of the eighth convocation Mykola Martynenko, will be less than half the company requested.

However, MPs from Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc denied the super-profits of Akhmetov, noting that the reduction factors were applied during delivery of the coal from ATO zone. Also Martynenko’s voice recently was found at the recordings of fugitive People's Deputy Oleksandr Onishchenko, as a negotiator to resolve the conflict between the gas oligarch and government.

The answer is - thermal power plant nationalization

Nearly in three weeks after the beginning of the blockade in the Cabinet MPs started talking seriously about the state of emergency in the energy sector. And this, in turn, involves blackouts of electricity. Although Deputy Prime Minister Gennady Zubko hastened to assure that the government has no plans yet to introduce a state of emergency, but "imposed emergency measures." Periodically they say about the blackouts in the different regions of the country, and the Cabinet warned of possible blackouts in 7 regions.

However, this is not the whole arsenal of measures of our authorities. The Cabinet of Ministers notes, that at the highest political level its members are discussing the possibility of nationalization of the thermal power plant in order to have a tool for political games. This opportunity may be discussed at the National Security Council level.

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Meanwhile, the fourth week of the blockade continues, and the prospects of its completion are vague. Now, the Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman has hinted at an increase in energy tariffs in the case of continuation of the blockade.

"Imports will lead to an increase in coal prices in the rate of up to 3 thousand hryvnia per tonne", stressed the head of government. This will cause a new round of rates growth, and it is certainly not an advantage for the Cabinet. In April expires the Groysman government’s immunity, so its opponents will redouble efforts to its resignation.

Related: Groysman explained what emergency measures in state energy system mean

Related: OSCE reported on new agreement regarding withdrawal of heavy weapons before February 20

Related: Provocations possible on Euromaidan anniversary date, - SBU

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