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Here's What One Key Russian Analyst Thinks Will Happen to Ukraine's Most-Hated Oligarch (Kolomoisky)

Markov is an important analyst with real access and important positions in the Russian government. He's been right on a lot of things before. Here is his Wikipedia stub

This article originally appeared at Izvestia. Translated for RI by Kristina Aleshnikova

Igor Kolomoisky is one of the key figures in Ukrainian politics. He has already gone down in history as the executioner of the "Russian Spring", drowning it in terror. At the critical moment after the fall of the legitimate government of Viktor Yanukovych it became apparent that a good half of the country did not support the new power in Kiev. At that point it was this very Kolomoisky who became both author and sponsor of the technique that prevented Novorossia from incorporating all the south-eastern regions of Ukraine. At first, this technique was used in Dnepropetrovsk, and then transferred to Zaporozhye, Kharkov and Odessa as well as to other cities, which were not loyal to the bloody coup in Kiev.

The essence of the technique comprised mobilisation of all radical and marginal forces under the vigilant control of security officers from Ukrainian and Western intelligence agencies. Units of storm troopers were set up with a noticeable hard core of dozens of neo-Nazi militants equipped with firearms and hundreds of the armed ‘ultranationalist’ youth all ready to take action to clean up the city centre.

The storm trooper units were managed by security service officers and guarded by police from the western and central regions of the country.

Under the pretext of attending football matches in cities of the South-East, hundreds of people from fans were brought together. After play ended, these people, pretty high on stimulants, lined up in a column and marched through the city centre in an organised way, shouting anti-Russian and ultranationalist slogans. It is hardly surprising that such actions terrified the peace-loving residents of the South-East. When clashes occurred, as happened in Odessa, the core of the column and the backbone of the ultras went to the front taking weapons with them. Thus, by repressing or simply destroying the enemies of Ukrainian terror, Igor Kolomoisky managed to consolidate power in most of the south eastern regions.

After the coup, the Ukrainian elite, which had never been renowned for its unity, split into many autonomous warring factions.  Oligarchs with their private armies stood at the head of many of these groups. And even if during the military action they were forced to fight alongside each other, these battalions were drawn back to their owners during the ceasefire period.  An aggressive distribution of property, which had been amassed during Yanukovych’s time as well as during the coup, started up.

In the year following the revolution, Igor Kolomoisky has shown that his unit answers to no-one. It is not by chance that the Dnepropetrovsk managers and Kolomoisky himself appear as the key suspects in Russian versions of the downing of the Malaysian Boeing over Donetsk. And the situation developing around "Ukrtransnafta" reflects not only the personal animosity of Poroshenko towards Kolomoisky but also includes the decision on principle taken by the overseas curators of the Ukrainian project firstly to reduce the influence of the uncontrollable oligarchs, and then to get rid of them completely.  A further problem is that Kolomoisky’s people are much better armed than the average Ukrainian fighters and their allegiance is paid for personally at a higher rate out of the oligarch’s pocket.  Both Kiev and Washington are well aware of this, and therefore fear guerrilla warfare and a split among the security forces even more.

Ousting Kolomoisky from the oil business and disarming his battalions and regiments would mean in effect the elimination of Kolomoisky as a political figure. It is interesting that in this instance the Ukrainian authorities are following the example of the Novorossian authorities, who took a series of measures last year to eliminate units which they were unable to control, which led to the consolidation of the AFN and allowed the armies of the DPR and LPR to emerge victorious from the January-February battles. By the way, it is not impossible Kiev was also irritated by Kolomoisky’s advances to the unrecognised republics; after all last spring the oligarch tried to conduct negotiations with the militia independently, and the other day recognised the validity of the rebel republics outright.

The whole campaign against Kolomoisky looks like a carefully planned and sustained frame-up. To maintain the element of surprise the Ministry of Energy did not criticise Kolomoisky’s man Alexander Lazorko, the chief manager of "Ukrtransnafta", when they called him in, but pretended they were satisfied. Then two days later they struck suddenly, accusing him of large-scale theft and, in particular, that "Ukrtransnafta" was paying Kolomoisky $100 thousand each day for oil storage; which, incidentally, is true.

In the United States they understand perfectly that due to the fall in living standards and in view of the possible actions of the people it is necessary to consolidate security resources in the hands of the official government. In addition, the Americans are planning to significantly strengthen Ukraine's army with weapons, equipment and mercenaries. It is too risky to entrust this new power to an independent oligarch. For that very reason Poroshenko, whose partner Kononenko is directing the replacement of Kolomoisky from "Ukrtransnafta",  combined forces with Interior Minister Avakov from the Yatsenyuk and Turchynov faction, who issued an ultimatum to Kolomoisky’s military forces to lay down their arms within 24 hours, and with Nalyvaychenko the head of the SBU, who is directly controlled by the CIA, which started a whole range of investigations into Kolomoisky and even with the US ambassador, who informed Kolomoisky that the era of the law of the jungle was over. 

Unless something untoward occurs, this combined team will quickly crush Kolomoisky.

Thus Kolomoisky has followed the path from Strelkov to Yanukovych. He started out as Strelkov; that is as an enterprising, independent figure. He took up arms himself and changed the strategic situation in the whole region. But now he has reached Yanukovych’s position, believing assurances given to him by the US ambassador, and predictably he will be deceived, as was Yanukovych.

Now the attack against Kolomoisky has started just as it did earlier against Yanukovych. Each of them could win but only with a fast and massive retaliatory strike, but both chose to believe "civilised" Western politicians. Yanukovych has already been convinced of the perfidy of the old imperialists towards the natives; now Kolomoisky needs to be convinced of this.

Only rebellion can save the disgraced oligarch. However, a more likely scenario is that he will be persuaded to compromise and will actually be removed from the playing field. All of Kolomoisky’s security resources would fall under the control of the central government, and his business would be shared among his enemies.

The author is a member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, Director of the Institute for Policy Studies.


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