Ukrainian oligarch plans to build bizarre ski resort

Ihor Kolomoysky shows interest in the ski resort, which threatens to extend the damage to the Svydovets massif
13:07, 7 November 2019

Free Svydovets

A sudden flurry of work to widen the near-impassable track in the Carpathian Mountains in the country’s southwest has added new fuel to growing alarm in Ukraine. Ihor Kolomoysky, a disgraced billionaire now seeking rehabilitation, is making a comeback and widening his already substantial influence, The New York Times reports.

Kolomoysky has been interested in the ski resort — whose plan includes 33 lifts, 142 miles of ski runs, scores of hotels and 120 restaurants and which threatens to extend the damage to a particularly vulnerable high-altitude woodland zone known as the Svydovets massif.

Mr. Zelensky’s spokeswoman, Julia Mendel, said that the fate of a ski resort was not a matter for the president to concern himself with, but opponents of the resort proposal beg to differ.

Related: President should not meet people with such reputation as Kolomoysky, - Aslund

“Svydovets is a test for Ukraine’s new president of whether he is under the control of Kolomoisky or independent from him,” said Iris Del Sol, a Franco-Ukrainian environmental activist who grew up in the mountain region. Along with her father, she has helped spearhead a campaign inside Ukraine and abroad — known as Free Svydovets — to halt the resort project.

The area proposed for the resort contains the source of the Tysa River, an important tributary of the Danube, as well as old-growth forests, plant species that have mostly vanished elsewhere and endangered animals like the European brown bear. It also hosts part of a primeval beech forest that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mr. Kolomoysky, a shrewd businessman with holdings in some of Ukraine’s most profitable companies, would want to sink hundreds of millions of dollars into a risky project offering uncertain returns is a mystery. 

However, Oksana Stankevich-Volosyanchuk, member of the ecology group Ecosphere, believes that Kolomoysky wants to gain control of Svydovets’s supplies of water, a scarce resource that Bukovel, once partly owned by him, needs to keep its snow machines running and dozens of hotels operating. Mr. Shevchenko (owner of a nearby ski resort, Bukovel, that was funded in its early years by the Kolomoisky) denied this, insisting that Bukovel has plenty of water and has shed its ties to Mr. Kolomoysky.

As we reported earlier, former shareholders of PrivatBank Ihor Kolomoysky and Gennady Bogolyubov are obliged to pay the bank 14 million dollars by November 12, 2019. This was reported by the bank's press service.

Thus, the defendants are also encharged to repay the interim payment of the bank's expenses for the last year’s decision of the first instance court.

Related: Airstrike of oligarch Kolomoysky: Would Zelensky save UIA from bankruptcy?

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