Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The President's bogus charity

In my previous blog I wrote about, "Tantalit Limited", and the "Renaissance of Ukraine" charitable foundation who, together with president Yanukovych, are leasing the 140 hectare Mezhyhirya complex for the next 47 years.

Mezhyhirya is the favoured residence of the president. Two anonymous offshore 'nameplate companies', on in Austria, one in Leichtenstein, stand behind "Tantalit Limited".

And it seems that the main beneficiary of the charitable foundation is the orphan Viktor Fedorovych himself.

Investigative journalist Tatyana Chornovil, in a recent article, revealed "Renaissance of Ukraine" are the registration holders of an imposing fleet of expensive vehicles which should be exclusively used by the charity in their work. One of these vehicles, a custom-built GMC Savanna passenger van, provided personal transportation for Yanukovych, and was often seen flouting traffic laws.

Chornovil's investigations indicate the charitable foundation's charity work is minimal - organising Easter children's egg painting competitions, donating sweets and children's books, and "encouraging young people to live healthy lifestyles and supporting youth organizations"..Quite what they are doing leasing large tracts of prime real estate is a mystery.

In most western countries such institutions are scrupilously regulated by government bodies, [e.g. in England and Wales by the Charity Commission] to ensure donors' contributions are properly spent, and recipients of aid are not defrauded. They demand financial accounts to check if charities have not set up merely to avoid payment of taxes. Comprehensive information about any registered charity is freely available to anyone - usually 'on the 'net'.

In Ukraine,"Renaissance of Ukraine" seem to fly 'under the radar'.

The founder of the "Renaissance of Ukraine" is Alexander Yurchenko, who is also chairman of the of the 'Zoryaniy' cinema complex where Yanukovych's headquarters are situated and where PoR frequently gather for party meetings and other business. The "Renaissance of Ukraine's" offices are located in the same premises as those of half a dozen business enterprises of notable PoR parliamentary deputy and close Yanukovych advisor, Eduard Prutnyk.

Today, when speaking about press freedom in Ukraine, president Yanukovych said this:

"...I emphasize yet again that as President of Ukraine I will always defend freedom of the press, will defend journalists and do everything possible to ensure that the authorities will be transparent and their actions and open to the press and to society."

Can these words be taken seriously from a man so closely associated with what is clearly a bogus charity?

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