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Russia seizes oligarch assets in Crimea

Russia seizes oligarch assets in Crimea


On April 11, the so-called parliament of the Crimean Republic created the state enterprise “Krymenergo,” which will manage the energy assets of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, reports Espreso.TV. Since the pseudo government of Crimea has been adopting decisions recently that are not based on any legal framework but are more in line with “hostile takeovers,” this development can hardly be considered sensational.

In this case, however, there is one detail that points to a move to the next stage of the Ukrainian-Crimean “relationship.” Now Crimean officials are switching from raiding government property to raiding private property.

As stated in the explanatory note to the resolution of the Crimean Parliament: “The main task of Krymenergo will be to inventory existing power facilities and to review their account revenues for budgetary expenses required for future operation.” Therefore, an inventory will be conducted of existing networks, but what to expect after such an audit is unknown.

It is equally unclear why the government of Crimea has forgotten that on the territory of the peninsula an energy supplier with almost the same name already exists: “DTEK Krymenergo,” which belongs to the Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov. This decision is bizarre and completely irrational, says Ivan Plachkov, who is chairman of the board of Kyivenergo (also owned by Rinat Akhmetov) and recipient of the honorary title of “Honorable Power Engineer of Ukraine.”

“Now we have two ‘Krymenergos’ on the same territory. And who owns them?” Plachkov asks. “Odesaoblenergo (Odesa Power company) and a whole series of power companies belong to a group owned by comrade Babakov, a deputy at the State Duma of the Russian Federation. Now if the Russian government has decided to create a second ‘Krymenergo,’ then the Ukrainian government should also create power company clones and squeeze out the existing ones, removing their licenses. If they begin to squeeze out businesses that belong to private Ukrainian companies, then we should take on all the Russian businesses and banks operating in Ukraine,” Plachkov suggested in comments to Espreso.TV.

Actions of the pirates of “Bantustan”

Mykhaylo Honchar, director of the energy program center NOMOS, is not at all surprised by these purely political initiatives on the part of Crimea’s pseudo government.

“The appropriation of DTEK Krymoenergo by new government of Crimea corresponds in all respects to the robbery of Ukrainian property that doesn’t belong to the government of this ‘Bantustan.’ This has already been demonstrated by events around Chornomornaftogaz and the pipelines of Ukrtranshaz on Crimean territory. There is nothing new here. Everything that has been done with Crimea has no legal basis at all. For them there is no difference if this is public or private property. I think they will now take a deep breath and turn their attention to the private sector, which looks even more attractive,” he says.

According to Honchar, Crimean authorities will act according to the logic that “everything located on Crimean territory belongs to the people of Crimea,” which from the Ukrainian perspective, is completely wrong.

“In Russia there is absolute confidence that the Crimean question is closed, de jure. It is no wonder that Russia now is presenting claims with enormous amounts of debt,” Honchar points out. ” Medvedev said $16.4bn, Putin $35.4bn. The debt just keeps getting inflated. The real sum is possibly $2.2bn for gas, and the $3bn that Yanukovych took is questionable. These are sums Russia expects to use during the Russia-Ukraine-USA-EU negotiations in exchange for Crimea and to write off debts,” Honchar concludes.

Mykhaylo Honchar also expects other scenarios regarding the seizure of the company’s property in Crimea:

” We cannot exclude scenarios where Akhmetov and Firtash, the oligarchs relatively loyal to Russia, will be able to negotiate with the government of the Russian Federation regarding their assets in Crimea. For example, when you consider that among the broadcasting stations in Crimea only one Ukrainian channel has remaned – TRK Ukrayina (belonging to Akhmetov) –then that says something. But we must remember that Russia has its own oligarchs, and some of them are unhappy with the Crimean policy. So, it’s quite possible they will be paid off with Crimean assets,” says Honchar.

Russia is a raider on an international scale

As for legislation that can be used to decide questions regarding appropriation of property by the new “government,” everything is not that simple.

According to the head of the Capital law firm Tetyana Kozachenko, what is happening in Crimea cannot really be placed within a legal framework because it is a hostile seizure of territory.

“The deprivation of property rights is possible only on grounds prescribed by law either through the courts or through legislation. For example, nationalization, but these are extreme measures by the state. In this situation, nationalization is actually a hostile takeover on an international scale. It was impossible to foresee an act of military aggression because if goes beyond common sense and international norms and agreements. The country that was to guarantee our sovereignty was the aggressor. All this is happening outside all laws and norms and is based strictly on totalitarian decisions: ‘That’s what I want,’ ” she says.

However, there is theoretically one legal way to address the issue of this kind of “raiding.”

“There are international courts where appeals can be made. Russia incorporated Crimea into the Russian Federation, meaning that it takes the responsibility on itself. It is absolutely necessary to make it responsible in the international courts,” she concludes.

Original Source:

Translated by Anna Mostovych

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