In June 2004 the huge state-owned Kryvorizhstal plant was jointly sold to Dnipropetrovsk oligarch Viktor Pinchuk and rival Donetsk oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, for a ridiculously low knock-down price. Kuchma was President of Ukraine at the time, and Yanukovych his PM. The sale was annulled last year, and the plant resold in auction for six times more than was paid by Pinchuk and Akhmetov.
Now Forbes magazine reports that Pinchuk and Akhmetov may be behind the now infamous RosUkrEnergo, which was formed in July 2004 following discussions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Leonid Kuchma, and just one month after the initial Kryvorizhstal sale, to handle Turkmen gas exports to Ukraine.
The Forbes story reveals,
"Back in June 2005, as part of a criminal case launched against Rosukrenergo, the former head of Ukraine's Security Service, Alexander Turchinov, stated the a part of the non-Russian shares of RUE were controlled personally by former President Leonid Kuchma and former Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich, and that the managers of the shares were respectively, Pinchuk and Akhmetov. The billionaires supported Yanukovich in his losing bid against now President Victor Yushchenko. Turchinov later said that Kuchma and Yanukovich had resold their shares to Gazprom, but also indicted he had information that the shares were resold to their managers via Cyprus, Hungarian and Swiss offshore entities. The investigation abruptly ended in mid-August 2005 and Turchinov was removed from his post".
The boys at the top certainly didn't hold back when it came to grabbing what they could for themselves in the months before the 2004 Presidential elections. Yanukovych said recently that he considers Akhmetov a realistic candidate for President. What a country...