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Tons of “cash”: how much have reformers earned since the Maidan?

Photo: minfin.com.ua

The Ukrainians have been shocked to know how rich their government officials and MPs are. The electronic wealth declaration procedure carried out in Ukraine in the framework of an anti-corruption reform has shown that some of them have become thousands of times richer since the Maidan. And the most stunning thing about their wealth is not the number of houses those nouveaux riches have but the amount of cash and jewelry they keep there.

“The MPs have declared a total income of 12.3 billion UAH. This is equivalent to 31% of Moldova’s budget, of which 7.4 billion UAH is cash. This means that an average MP has 30.4 million UAH in cash. But while an MP from Self-Reliance has just 4 million UAH, his colleagues from Svoboda and Revival enjoy 50 million UAH each,” expert Andrey Gerus says on Facebook.

While Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who was very rich even before his presidency, has just tens of thousands in cash, MP from his bloc Ruslan Demchak has said that he keeps as much as 133 million UAH or 332 million RUR in his safe, while his comrades the Dubnevich brothers have declared even more - 578 million UAH or 1.4 billion RUR. True, all of them have businesses, unlike Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, who has earned his $1.5 million as public servant only.

Head of the State Property Fund Ihor Bilous and his wife have declared 1.2 million UAH (3 million RUR), $970,000 and 140,000 EUR as well as a house of 540 sq m, a flat of 94 sq m and three land plots with a total area of 2,600 sq m, an Audi 80, a Mercedes Benz GL 350, a Nissan Murano, a Softail and four luxury watches - Officine Panerai, Breguet, Reverso Jaeger-LeCoultre and A Lange & Sohne.

But the problem is that his official annual income of 653,000 UAH would suffice him for just a couple of such watches.

Last year, the salary of Governor of Volyn Oblast Volodymyr Gunchak was 96,000 UAH or 240,000 RUR plus 1.5 million UAH or 3.75 million RUR in dividends from Bogdan Motors. But his declaration mentions 4.5 million UAH or 11.25 million RUR in cash.

Deputy Head of Poroshenko’s Administration Alexiy Filatov has declared even more - $2 million, 25,000 EUR and 1.8 million UAH or 4.5 million RUR plus collections of wines, pictures and books.

The leader of the Radical Party Oleg Lyashko has declared $940,000, 130,000 EUR and 1.65 million UAH or 4.1 million RUR.

In 2015 alone, Maidan activist Hanna Hopko and her husband obtained eight flats in Kyiv and Lviv plus a house with a 1,500 sq m land plot.

But this is just a Sunday-school picnic as compared to the riches of some MPs.

In 2015, MP from Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front and the interior minister’s business partner Ihor Kotvitsky spent 14 million UAH or 35 million RUR on clothes and accessories and 3.7 million UAH or 9.25 million RUR on rooms in hotels in France, the UAR, the Maldives and Ukraine.

One more People’s Front MP Serhiy Pashinsky spent 860,000 UAH or 2.1 million RUR on security alone.

Only Interior Minister Arsen Avakov can vie with them: his family owns a 4.85 BLK DEA black diamond and Cartier jewelry, a cellar of 760 wines, including Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, which costs 1,900 EUR per bottle, a collection of cold steel arms, a lithography by Pablo Picasso, an engraving by Carl Pluckebaum and Sergey Vasilkovsky’s picture worth $70,000-100,000.

MP from the People’s Will parliamentary group Ivan Fursin has an even more expensive picture - Bartholomeus Breenbergh's The Adoration of the Christ Child (1619).

Ukrainian experts say that these declarations are not full and that the planned 40,000 UAH rise in the MPs’ wages is just a cover for them – “so they could explain where they have so much money from should they be caught in black caviar with whores in Courchevel.”

Even big businessmen are indignant. “Now that our government officials have declared their wealth, those from the Forbes list are feeling like dummies! From now on, please, call me a beggar! I have no billions in cash, no helicopters, no personal churches,” says Evgeniy Chernyak, the owner of Khortytsia, a big Ukrainian vodka manufacturer.

Chernyak, who, according to Forbes, owns property worth $298 million, has urged mass media to assess the property some Ukrainian public officers have earned since the Maidan: “I guess we will face lots of surprises!”

Lawyer Andriy Portnov is outraged to see that the greater part of those riches were earned in 2014-2015 – at the height of the war in Donbass. “So, my question is, have they stolen this in the parliament or have they got this from murders, robberies, kidnappings and lootings while defending their homeland in Donbass,” Portnov wonders.

Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau has shown quite a strange reaction to this ado: “We will check up the incomes only in individual cases following appeals by citizens and publications by mass media.”

MP and journalist Mustafa Nayyem, who once invited the Ukrainians to the Maidan for a cup of tea, has now snubbed them.

“It turns out that for many people happiness is not money but others’ declarations,” he said on Facebook. As many as 722 people, including Arsen Avakov, have liked his post but many more have made quite different commends.

“This is not happiness but unhappiness as in others’ declarations people have found things they have been robbed of. And those things are not just money, houses, cars and pictures. They have just seen that the true goal of those in power is not the prosperity of their country,” Vladimir Spivakovsky said.

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