Ukrainian society has received a unique opportunity. The case of disgraced ex-president Viktor Yanukovych could finally be investigated by the best detectives in the world as Yanukovych heads the top of the world’s corruption list. So far nearly 12 000 people have voted for him during the Unmask the Corrupt campaign launched by Transparency International.
There are plenty of jokes and legends about Yanukovych’s fortune, about golden loaves and ostriches, which could be funny if they were not so true, or if at least a third of his loot were recovered by Ukraine.
The $100,000,000,000 question
In April 2014, the then-Acting General Prosecutor Oleh Makhnitsky announced that $100 billion had been stolen by Yanukovych. He also added that some of that money ended up in Western Europe while other large amounts of cash had gone eastwards to Russia, and part of it was being used to fund Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine.
What has Ukraine done about this? In January 2015, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that the Ukrainian government had seized about $ 4 billion and UAH 6 billion of the cash assets of the ex-President and his chronies, a far cry from the $100 billion of stolen money that Makhnitsky spoke about.
Yanukovych a poor pensioner, not
Almost simultaneously with the news about Unmask the Corrupt, Ukrainian media wrote that Kyiv Pecherskyi District Court seized the pensions of disgraced president Viktor Yanukovych and former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov that were on current accounts in the state bank.
A pre-trial investigation by the General Prosecutor Office found that from October 2010 to July 2013 Yanukovych and Azarov in collusion with the head of The State Service for Special Communications, the Minister of Finance, a member of the Supervisory Board of Ukrtelecom, and the chief-executive of ESU Corporation organized the building of a special telecommunication network using funds from state budget. This supposed building project by ESU resulted in $220 million being stolen from the Ukrainian state budget.
The investigation indicates that from 17 December 2007 Yanukovych was registered as the manager of the Pension Fund of Ukraine in the Pechersk district of Kyiv, and from July 10, 2010 as the recipient of an MP’s pension as per Ukrainian law. The pension is currently UAH 16,947 per month.
Since February 2008 Azarov has also recieved a UAH 17,253 pension.
Ukraine is not the only one who feels robbed by Yanukovych and his team. The Ministry of Finance of Russian Federation intends to sue Ukraine over an unpaid debt of $3 billion issued by the government of Mykola Azarov in 2013.
Meantime, it seems that Yanukovych and Azarov are still not suffering because of the situation.
Recently, journalists from Espresso.tv visited the house in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don that Yanukovych himself gave as his address and invited the Ukrainian General Prosecutor to investigate.
The site is on a housing estate consists of seven buildings located behind a large fence next to the Law Institute of the Russian Interior Ministry, which is called a “police academy”. This area is closely guarded. The gates of the estate open only for the owners. Homes there cost around 60 million rubles (nearly 1 million Euro).
Journalists investigated the villas that former Prime Minister Azarov posses in Russia, Austria, Italy and in occupied Crimea while his family lives in Austria on Russian passports. The ex-minister himself often criticizes Ukraine on his personal Facebook page.
The Unmask the Corrupt campaign will last until February 10. So far the closest rival to Yanukovych is Brazil’s state-controlled oil giant Petrobras. We encourage friends of Ukraine around the world to vote for our ex-president in this contest.