In the first part of our materials, we have already mentioned Pashynsky and other allies of Poroshenko, involved in corruption scandals related to the theft of money allocated for the army.
With the beginning of the war, the state's defense budget increased by tens of billions of hryvnias. But officials immediately created various schemes to steal them.
"I will not let anyone steal from the army and “cut off hands” of those who will,” said Petro Poroshenko in 2017.
"Back in 2014, the Armed Forces were allowed to purchase military equipment without tenders, and some government orders were generally hidden under the heading" secret. He found a gorgeous feeding trough - the war. The costs of the war are going, tenders are being held, and moreover, these are secret tenders so that the enemy does not know anything," says political analyst Oleksandr Okhrimenko.
According to this scheme, in 2016, without a tender, an agreement was signed to purchase ambulances at a price of $ 32,000 per unit. Their quality was questionable. But they were bought from a friend of the president.
"The state defense order for 2016 by the Cabinet of Ministers of February 8, 2016, foresaw the purchase of 60 cars "Bogdan." These cars just have not ever existed!" far-right ex-MP Oksana Korchynska says.
That is, the armies have sold a pig in a poke. The Bogdan Corporation is owned by Poroshenko's business partner, Oleh Gladkovsky. And concurrently, he also worked as deputy head of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC). By the way, previously, Poroshenko himself was a shareholder of the Bogdan concern.
In June 2017, Poroshenko solemnly handed over to the military a batch of Bogdan ambulances from his friend's plant.
"This is full cross-country ability, clearance, working conditions for a medical worker, the largest number of seriously wounded who can be evacuated," Poroshenko said reassuringly.
In fact, the army's new ambulances were badly needed. Because old vehicles manufactured at the Ul'ianovskiy car factory took the wounded from the battlefield. They were to be replaced by the new "Bogdan" vehicles. The first batch of 50 vehicles went to the front. About half of them soon broke down. Moreover, it turned out that the vehicles, praised by Poroshenko, were not suitable for work on the front line.
But the Bogdan corporation said that the soldiers just did not know how to properly use the vehicles. The military was even trained in the operation of cars.
It is not difficult to guess that the "Bogdan" vehicles were repaired for the money of taxpayers.
Poroshenko’s plant "Kuznia na Rybalskomy," which also received defense orders, has also mastered millions.
"In an interesting way, Petro Poroshenko's enterprises won tenders, they made armored tankers, for example, which he sent to the Kerch Bay, and these ships are not seaworthy. That is, in a 2-point storm, they risk capsizing. But, even more so, having no military experience shipbuilding, he received such orders," says political analyst Andriy Zolotariov.
"He controlled the Ministry of Defense, all purchases went through his companies. He controlled the SBU, which is responsible for the purchases checks, in this case, he also controlled the budget committee of the Verkhovna Rada, engaged in this," says Oleksandr Okhrimenko.
In 2018, another deal became public. "Novoye Vremya" outlet found out that the Zhytomyr Armored Plant was buying old decommissioned infantry fighting vehicles in Europe. They were sold for $ 25,000 as scrap metal. And in Ukraine, decommissioned infantry fighting vehicles were being repaired and already sold to the army for 205,000 USD. That is, almost ten times more expensive. In total, in 2017, the Ministry of Defense purchased 200 BMPs for $ 41 million. The journalists named the MP, chairman of the committee on national security and defense Serhiy Pashynsky as the ultimate beneficiary of the scheme.
Another corruption defense scandal rocked the country in 2019. The journalists of "Bigus.info" said that the son of the Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Gladkovsky, Ihor Gladkovsky, was involved in organizing the scheme when parts for military equipment were purchased from the aggressor country, then they were smuggled into Ukraine and sold at times more expensive to state defense enterprises.
Interestingly, in July 2020, the court ordered the Bigus.info journalists to refute the information. However, former secretary of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Anti-Corruption Dmytro Dobrodomov testified that the schemes did exist. For example, when there was a purchase of those things, components, and assemblies of military equipment that already belonged to the Ministry of Defense, they were written off as unusable, then somehow transferred to the balance of some company. They were already bought from this company as suitable and arrived at the place, nobody even physically took them.
"Those parts that were bought, they were bought at inflated prices. They bought in the Russian Federation, and they earned a lot of money on each of these parts," says political analyst Ihor Reyterovych.
Theft in the defense complex is worth millions of dollars. The president could not have been unaware of such large-scale transactions.
Igor Kononenko was one of Poroshenko's most loyal associates in power. They served in the army together, later they have been business partners for decades.
"Together they took their first steps in business. Together they created the Roshen firm. And, accordingly, Igor Kononenko was a partner of Petro Poroshenko for a long time," political scientist Kost Bondarenko confirms.
In 2014, Kononenko became MP, took the post of first deputy chairman of Poroshenko’s faction, and throughout his term, Poroshenko was one of the most influential in the state. He was called the gray eminence, the curator of a highly lucrative and corrupt energy sector.
"Mostly business issues, energy issues, he was in charge of Poroshenko's entourage. Issues related to the functioning of the economic part of the economic bloc. That is, he was in fact one of the closest, the right hand of Petro Poroshenko. And the closest confidant," says Bondarenko.
Numerous journalistic investigations wrote that Kononenko's entourage began to control Yanukovych's son Oleksandr’s coal business.
This corruption scheme began during Yanukovych’s presidency.
In 2012, the State Service of Geology and Mineral Resources of Ukraine transferred coal reserves around 4 state-owned mines for a 2-year lease to firms close to Oleksandr Yanukovych. In exactly the same way, five mining and processing factories became the property of the president's son.
However, ex-President Yanukovych said that his son simply worked hard and created it all on his own...
“During the time of Yanukovych, his eldest son then completely transferred the coal industry into a corruption component, he had his own beholders there. Under the new government, they simply adapted this scheme for themselves,” says Dobrodomov.
In 2016, Yanukovych's assets began to be associated with a little-known businessman from Donbas, Vitaliy Kropachev.
"Now overseeing the coal industry, moreover, the one who even bought these coal assets belonging to Oleksandr Yanukovych, Vitaliy Kropachov, ex-deputy of the Donetsk Regional Council," explains ex-MP Dmytro Dobrodomov.
It was believed that Kononenko stood behind Kropachov.
"It is clear that without patronage it is in parliament, in the highest echelons of power, such processes could not proceed quickly," journalist Denys Kazansky is convinced.
Firms, associated with Kropachov, set the country's highest coal preparation prices. He was the unofficial curator of all state mines in Donbas.
Firms associated with Kononenko and Kropachov laundered money on government orders and supplied equipment to mines at inflated prices. In 2018, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) conducted searches in Kropachev's office. The investigation has already been completed, and it was established that from 2016 to 2018, companies affiliated with the Kononenko-Kropachov duet robbed the state in tenders for almost 2 million USD. And since neither Kropachov nor Kononenko signed any documents, the director of a company close to them was put on the wanted list for theft.
Kononenko was featured in another deal.
This field is one of the most expensive on the planet. Because there are literally billions underground. This is the Svystunkivsko-Chervonolutske gas field in the Poltava region.
"To be precise, this is 1 billion 64 million cubic meters of natural gas, recoverable reserves. As for condensate, this is 96,000 tons," says lawyer of PJSC "Ukrnafta" Yevhen Kyseliov. Or 424 million USD, which ended up in the pocket of the ex-guarantor's entourage.
Since the 90s, the field has been explored by the Ukrnafta company, the controlling stake of which belongs to the state.
"PJSC" Ukrnafta "invested significant funds, studied this deposit, conducted seismological research, and until the end of this special permit, that is, until 2014, this deposit was fully ready for industrial mining," says the lawyer.
In 2014, a special permit for the development of the field was completed. Ukrnafta has several times applied to the State Service for Geology and Subsoil with a request to provide a new license.
Ukrnafta was ready to pay 1,6 million USD for Chervonolutske, which is part of the Svystunkivsko-Chervonolutske field, lawyer Kyseliov assures.
But Ukrnafta was refused every time. But in May 2017, the State Service of Geology and Subsoil, without an auction and for a song, gave a special permit to an unknown company Arkona Gas-Energy, which had never been involved in gas production. For the deposit, where 423 million USD lies underfoot, the state received less than 140,000 USD.
Poroshenko’s ally Oleg Olkhovy turned out to be the largest shareholder of the Arkona company, he previously worked as the director of the 5th Element sports club, owned by Poroshenko and Kononenko.
“That is, Poroshenko is rewriting to his entourage, the masseurs, the gas field of the Ukrainians, which has been developed and explored at the expense of the state. And now he believes that it is his property. Without auctions, without any procedures,” MP Yulia Tymoshenko said.
NABU launched an investigation. And the Ukrnafta company applied to the court with a demand to recognize the license issuance to the Arkona gas-energy company illegal, but all the courts refused to consider the claim. The necessary solutions were provided by the former lawyer Poroshenko, and later a member of the High Council of Justice Oleksiy Malovatsky says ex-MP Vitaliy Kupriy.
"It turned out that this is still a member of the High Council of Justice, Mr. Malovatsky. This person was appointed to this supervisory body according to the BPP quota, he controls virtually the entire judicial system. And he, in my opinion, influenced the judges to pronounce unlawful solutions," Vitaly Kupriy is convinced.
Meanwhile, the case was also opened by the Prosecutor General's Office, headed by Poroshenko's “kum” Yuriy Lutsenko. This case did not belong to the jurisdiction of the Prosecutor General's Office. And NABU has repeatedly demanded to give them the materials of the criminal proceedings. That is why Ukrnafta believes that they tried to legitimize the deal with the help of the Prosecutor General's Office: “We also had the impression that the Prosecutor General's Office has no intentions to defend the interests of the state in this case. And this case was actually initiated, in our opinion, solely for the purpose of to legalize Arkona's illegal obtaining of this special permit.”
Only after the change of power was NABU able to complete the investigation and in August 2020 announced suspicion to six individuals. Among them are four government clerks and two employees of the Arkona Gas-Energy company.
However, the deposit has not yet been returned to government ownership. In March 2020, Poroshenko's entourage sold the Arkona company, along with a gas production license, to MP Vadym Novinsky. For 8,5 million USD. That is, they bought a special permit for less than 4, and sold it 60 times more expensive. However, Vitaly Kupriy believes that the sale is actually fictitious.
"Novinsky knew about the existing problems, and I think there was some kind of scheme to avoid responsibility by changing the owner. This is exactly what Poroshenko did with Kuznia na Rybalskomy enterprise, at his plant when he re-registered at Serhiy Tihipko. I think that these are nominal owners, by agreement they come in. I do not think that someone would invest money in such enterprises for which there are lawsuits, for which there are a lot of criminal proceedings, and it is not known how it will end,” says Vitaliy Kupriy.
In 2014, Poroshenko did not mince the words to describe Novinsky. And now they can become business partners in a field stolen from the state.
It is precisely such corruption crimes that the ex-guarantor's entourage should now investigate and prove that the transactions were supervised at the highest level, Dobrodomov believes: “Today he has full power, he has his own chairman of the SBU, he has his own prosecutor general, he generally has maximum power, which no one had during the modern independence of Ukraine, and its mono-majority in parliament. This prevents a high-quality investigation, especially since it is not difficult, because you cannot hide a needle in a haystack."
"As for Poroshenko’s verdict, they might face many different adventures and different sentences await them," said president Zelenskyy during a press conference.
However, proving that Poroshenko abused his power and lobbied for business interests is a very difficult task.
Another important factor is that we still do not have an independent law enforcement system. But in fact, the current situation with the imitation of criminal cases against Poroshenko can be beneficial for both the former guarantor and the current one.
The parties could agree on the upcoming presidential race. Zelensky is already thinking about running for a second term, and Poroshenko for him is the most convenient opponent in the next elections.
“I have the impression that they are specially preparing Poroshenko as a counterpart. Once such a scheme was used by ex-president Kuchma when he took the leader of the Communists party Petro Symonenko to the second round of the presidential election. There is no more convenient candidate than Poroshenko. Poroshenko simply has no chance,” Dmytro Dobrodomov says.
When Poroshenko was in power, his entourage lit up in a lot of corruption scandals.
They plundered the army, raided gas fields, laundered money through tenders.
But for some reason, prosecutors are not very interested in these cases. Although almost the only way to bring the fifth president to justice is to disclose the crimes of his henchmen so that they can testify.
The new power helps the former guarantor with the image of the main, but convenient oppositionist.