Putin’s allies channelled billions to oligarch

who backed pro-Russian president of Ukraine

http://kremlin-pu.livejournal.com/ 27 ноября, 10:06

Putin’s allies channelled billions to oligarch

who backed pro-Russian president of Ukraine

By Stephen Grey, Tom Bergin, Sevgil Musaieva and Roman Anin

Nov. 26, 2014, 12:30 p.m. GMT

RED RIBBON: Then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich (left) and Dmitry Firtash, one of Ukraine's richest men, in 2012, at the opening ceremony of a new sulphuric acid plant in Crimea. The friendship between the two men benefited both, as well as Moscow.

REUTERS/Mykhailo Markiv

Part 5: Russian bank granted huge loans to Dmitry Firtash, whose business empire boomed under Viktor Yanukovich

MOSCOW/KIEV – In Russia, powerful friends helped him make a fortune. In the United States, officials want him extradited and put behind bars. In Austria, where he is currently free on bail of $155 million, authorities have yet to decide what to do with him.
He is Dmitry Firtash, a former fireman and soldier. In little more than a decade, the Ukrainian went from obscurity to wealth and renown, largely by buying gas from Russia and selling it in his home country. His success was built on remarkable sweetheart deals brokered by associates of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, at immense cost to Russian taxpayers, a Reuters investigation shows.

Russian government records reviewed for this article reveal for the first time the terms of recent deals between Firtash and Russia’s Gazprom, a giant gas company majority owned by the state.

According to Russian customs documents detailing the trades, Gazprom sold more than 20 billion cubic metres of gas well below market prices to Firtash over the past four years – about four times more than the Russian government has publicly acknowledged. The price Firtash paid was so low, Reuters calculates, that companies he controlled made more than $3 billion on the arrangement.

Over the same time period, other documents show, bankers close to Putin granted Firtash credit lines of up to $11 billion. That credit helped Firtash, who backed pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich’s successful 2010 bid to become Ukraine’s president, to buy a dominant position in the country’s chemical and fertiliser industry and expand his influence.

The Firtash story is more than one man’s grab for riches. It demonstrates how Putin uses Russian state assets to create streams of cash for political allies, and how he exported this model to Ukraine in an attempt to dominate his neighbour, which he sees as vital to Russia’s strategic interests. With the help of Firtash, Yanukovich won power and went on to rule Ukraine for four years. The relationship had great geopolitical value for Putin: Yanukovich ended up steering the nation of more than 44 million away from the West’s orbit and towards Moscow’s until he was overthrown in February.

“Firtash has always been an intermediary,” said Viktor Chumak, chairman of the anti-corruption committee in the previous Ukrainian parliament. “He is a political person representing Russia’s interests in Ukraine.”


Метки: dmitry firtash, gazprom, viktor yanukovich, vladimir putin

Putin facing multi-million pound legal action

over alleged role in MH17 crash

British lawyers have flown to Ukraine to prepare a class action against the Russian president on behalf of bereaved families
Russia's president Vladimir Putin Photo: GETTY

By Robert Mendick, Ben Farmer and Tim Ross

Vladimir Putin is facing a multi-million-pound legal action for his alleged role in the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.
British lawyers are preparing a class action against the Russian president through the American courts. Senior Russian military commanders and politicians close to Mr Putin are also likely to become embroiled in the legal claim.

The case would further damage relations between Mr Putin and the West, but politicians would be powerless to prevent it.

Last week, lawyers from McCue & Partners, the London law firm, flew to Ukraine for discussions about how to bring the case and where it should be filed. Victims’ families will be invited to join the action. The case will inevitably highlight the role allegedly played by Russia in stoking conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The announcement of a potential lawsuit against the Russian government came as:

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Þ Australian and Dutch officials held talks on the deployment of an international force of police and soldiers to secure the crash site. Four Australians and four Dutch investigators are already in the rebel-held city of Donetsk, but there are growing calls for a larger multinational force from a “coalition of the grieving” to take control of the area where Flight MH17 came down;

Þ An exclusive ICM/Sunday Telegraph poll found wide support for stepping up the West’s trade war with Russia, with 45 per cent backing tougher European Union sanctions, including a full arms embargo;

Þ EU politicians prepared to draw up a further list of Mr Putin’s “cronies” who will face sanctions. Negotiations over the individuals to be included in the latest ban will start tomorrow, ahead of wider economic sanctions due to be discussed in the weeks ahead;

Þ It emerged that Malaysia Airlines, which also suffered the disappearance of Flight MH370 in March, is drawing up plans to change its name and carry out a radical restructuring of its business. Writing in The Sunday Telegraph today, the airline’s commercial director, Hugh Dunleavy, says the business will eventually “emerge stronger”, despite the “tragic” deaths;

Þ Labour called on football’s world governing body, Fifa, to draw up contingency plans to allow Russia to be stripped of the 2018 World Cup.

There is overwhelming, but largely circumstantial, evidence that Russian-backed rebels mistakenly brought down the Boeing 777, killing all 298 people on board, having mistaken it for a Ukrainian military aircraft.

It is almost certain the aircraft was brought down by a Russian-made SA-11 missile fired from a Buk mobile launcher that appeared to have crossed into Ukraine from Russia.

A spokesman for McCue & Partners said in a statement: “There has been talk of civil suits against Malaysia Airlines, but those immediately responsible are not only the separatists who are alleged to have fired the rocket at Flight MH17, causing the death of hundreds of innocent victims, but those, be they states, individuals or other entities, who provided them with financial and material support and the means to do so.

“Our team is presently liaising and working with partners in Ukraine and the US on whether, apart from civil suits against the airline, legal action can be brought against the perpetrators on the victims’ behalf.”

The official investigation into the atrocity, led by the Dutch, who suffered the greatest loss of life, is being hampered by armed rebels who have control of the crash site.

A civil legal case brought by the victims could embarrass Mr Putin in a way that the official inquiry may be unable to do. Simon Smith, the British ambassador to Ukraine, told The Sunday Telegraph of his grave concern that the crash site had been “compromised” and that families of victims might have to wait years for proper answers to what happened, including who ordered the attack and who supplied the weaponry and training on the missile system.

Mr Smith said: “There’s a fair amount of evidence building up that a lot of evidence has been compromised. It’s been moved, it’s not where it lay immediately after the crash happened, and that’s very regrettable.” He said that while it might only take “a surprisingly short time” to determine what missile knocked the airliner out of the sky, he warned that “there may be some lines of inquiry that take an immensely long time to work through”.

He said air crash investigators were being pragmatic. “We will work with what evidence we find,” he said, adding: “The fact that a piece of evidence has been moved does not mean it has lost all its value.”

Hopes of finally securing the crash site, protecting it from looters and militia trying to cover up their involvement, have been dealt a blow by the turmoil engulfing the Ukrainian parliament.
Ukraine was locked in political limbo on Friday night after parliament adjourned for a fortnight following the shock resignation of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the prime minister. That may delay ratification of an international agreement giving Holland powers to secure the site.

Nine days after the crash, in which 10 Britons died, investigators have still not been able to begin collecting forensic evidence. Experts have told The Sunday Telegraph that the inquiry, hampered on the ground, could now take years to complete and for the truth to be reached.

Reed Foster, the head of the armed forces capabilities team at the intelligence and security analysts IHS Jane’s Defence, said: “It will be almost impossible to say who pushed the button. The evidence at the crash site will not tell you if it was a Ukraine or Russian operator of the Buk launcher.

“It is very easy for the Russians to maintain plausible deniability.”
Chris Yates, an independent aviation analyst who has worked as a consultant on a number of air crashes, said: “I am afraid this is going to go on for years for the simple reason the crash site is now substantially contaminated. People have been trampling all over it; debris has been shifted, cut up and removed.”

A legal source close to the planned class action said the burden of proof in a civil case was lower than in a criminal investigation, meaning that senior Kremlin politicians, including Mr Putin, could be held to account through the civil courts, even if they escape criticism in the official inquiry.
The case against Mr Putin could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds, possibly more, in potential damages. The action is likely to be brought through the US courts and could – if held liable – eventually see assets of Mr Putin and those closest to him frozen if any resulting compensation is not paid.

McCue and Partners have previously brought claims in the US courts against the former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi for sponsoring IRA terrorism in Northern Ireland and on the British mainland.

On Friday night, the European Union announced a further 15 individuals, including Russia’s two most senior intelligence chiefs, would be added to its list of figures hit by sanctions.
Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, will say today that Europe faces “a moment of reckoning” in how it responds to Russia.

Exclusive: Photographs Expose Russian-Trained Killers in Kiev


The slaughter of 53 protesters in the Maidan on February 20 changed history. Now, exclusive photographs show what really happened.

KIEV, Ukraine—The first crack of a sniper’s round in Kiev’s Independence Square came shortly after nine o’clock on the morning of February 20 and the last about seven hours later at around four o’clock in the afternoon drawing to a close the bloodiest day in what had been a months-long struggle to oust Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych.

Many of the 53 people slain died from clean shots to the head or neck—telltale wounds inflicted by expert marksmen; while others were gunned down at closer quarters by less expert assassins armed with AK-47 assault rifles.

( Read more )

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