Monday, October 30, 2006

Custard pie fight at the market

At 5 am this morning over 90 raiders were detained by 'Berkut' special units as they tried to take over the 'Ozyorka' market in Dnipropetrovsk. Melodramatic newsreel footage can be seen here.

The minister of internal affairs Yuri Lutsenko called the assault on the market a turf war between Ihor Kolomoyskiy, one of Ukraine's richest men and the 'colorful' Russian 'businessman' Maxim [a.k.a. Mad Max] Kurochkin.

"Kurochkin attacks - the 'Privat' group protects itself," said Lutsenko, describing events during which police also detained Oleg Netrebko, who had been a VR election candidate on the Vitrenko bloc list (#21), but now is an assistant to a deputy from the PoR.

Kurochkin, a vice-president of the Russian Club in Kyiv, has apparently been in hiding in Moscow after Ukraine's Prosecutor-General launched charges against him. The Russian Club had been created in summer 2004 as a lobbying center for Russian interests and Russian "political technologists" working for Viktor Yanukovych's campaign. The Russian Club was officially opened by the Russian Embassador Chernomyrdin, Yanukovych, Medvechuk, and other 'usual suspects'.

Kurochkin is accused of having links to heavyweight organized crime and even survived a mafia-style hit in Kyiv in November 2004. His wife ran the beauty salon in Kyiv' s finest hotel, the 'Premier Palace', which had also been the Russian Club's headquarters.

The huge Ozerka market had been 'bought' by Kurochkin in a rushed 'privatization' in October 2004, but after legal proceedings were instigated in Febrary 2005, the privatization was reversed.

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