Saturday, February 16, 2013

Tangled web of crime, politics, law enforcement, and business...

It seems that the hero of my previous blog, the boorish Ihor Maryinkov [see photo] who gave evidence against Yulia Tymoshenko earlier this week, has major 'previous form' as a professional witness. He was a prosecution witness in the high-profile murder trials of Yevhen Shcherban, Akhat Bragin, and Vadym Hetman, who were  all allegedly killed by the notorious Kushnir gang.

Almost exactly seven years ago I posted a blog about the interwoven nexus of crime, law enforcement, business,  and politics that lies embedded below the surface of today's Ukrainian elites.

Here is a portion from that blog:

On 22nd February 2006 an appeal court in Donetsk heard the preliminary statement of Vyacheslav Sinenko, a former police major who is accused of the attempted killing of Akhat Bragin and others by means of an explosive device.

Sinenko [who himself survived and assassination attempt when he was shot in the hip on 5th May 1998] claimed:

that he was framed for this crime by the former Donetsk Chief Prosecutor and former Prosecutor-General of Ukraine Gennadiy Vasilyev,

that the true organizers of Bragin's killing were associates of Akhmetov,

that he was persecuted after collecting and presenting evidence to Vasiliev,

that the crime's prime suspect was a man called Rukhmanov, who he had apprehended but who was then released on the orders of Vasiliev,

that his own death was "needed by Akhmetov because I held in my possession evidence against one of his 'warriors' Rukhmanov",

that when he was in hospital recovering from his assassination attempt he 'spilled the beans' to an investigative TV journalist Igor Aleksandrov, who was murdered in July 2001. [A homeless man accused of killing Aleksandrov himself died in suspicious circumstances.]

Sinenko escaped to Greece, but on 30th March 2004 was detained in Athens and extradited to Ukraine a year later.

At a further court hearing on 23rd February Sinenko gave more details of his defence. He says that at the time of his investigation into the Bragin killing he met V.S Malyshev, the former head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Donetsk.

Malyshev told him: "Where the hell are you going with this, you idiot..?" 

Malyshev became chief of security at billionaire Akmetov's SystemCapitalManagement, and well-placed on the PR parliamentary election list at that time.

Similar details of the Sinenko trial were reported by the authoritative 'Kommersant' site.

Tetyana Chornovil, in her recent 'U.P.' blog reveals Ihor Maryinkov, whose demeanour would make  a perfect extra in 'The Sopranos',  was also the chief prosecution witness in the trial against the above-mentioned Vyacheslav Sinenko...

She describes how several years ago Maryinkov, [whose own evidence  this week makes clear he was completely trusted by the Kushnir gang] was also in business  with three other men, Yuriy Vandin, Mykola Shatkovsky, and Yuriy Zemlyansky. All three were in some way known to have significant connections with the killing of Yevhan Shcherban. Also, together with Maryinkov, they were the founders of the 'Ukraina-Kytay' investment-consultancy company.

The first of the three, Vandin was head of the Investigation of Organised Crime directorate at Ministry of Internal Affairs and was directly responsible for investigating Shcherban's murder. If Maryinkov was an inside man, they why did he not prevent any of the numerous high-profile murders conducted by the Kushnir gang? Why has he never spoken out against Tymoshenko before...even when she was imprisoned in early 2001 when president Kuchma was determined to eliminate her from politics?

'Ostrov' reports that Yuriy Vandin also led the investigation of the murder in Slovyansk in 2001 of television journalist Ihor Aleksandrov*. [Readers of my blog will be aware that Aleksandrov was allegedly investigating corrupt links between known criminals and top prosecutors....including....with the current P-G...Viktor Pshonka, when he was killed .] A certain Oleksandr Ribak, who had been sentenced for allegedly commissioning the Aleksandrov killing, escaped after being escorted by paramilitary guard 'Alpha' to the prosecutor's office.

The second of the three, Shatkovsky was, a year ago, appointed first deputy head of the SBU [Security Service of Ukraine] by Viktor Yanukovych himself, and held the position of deputy head of external intelligence of Ukraine.

As for Zemlyansky, the last of Maryinkov's partners in 'Ukraina-Kytay', between 1998 and 2004 he was first deputy head of the SBU, and according to a 2004 article in the authoritative 'Dzerkalo Tyzhnya', the high-ranking Zemlyansky was Yanukovych's main man in the SBU.

Tetyana Chornovil enumerates other companies Maryinkov set up with Vandin and other 'sylovyky'. Maryinkov remember, is the man who was arrested and imprisoned for transporting an arsenal of ammunition and weaponry in the late '90's. He is the man, by his own admission in court, had members of the Kushnir gang living in his expensive hotel rooms. The gang members openly revealed details of their crimes to him...

As a conclusion to her blog Chornovil asks:

Who actually was Mar'yinkov at the time of Shcherban's murder?

What role did the SBU and Ministry of Internal Affairs play in the numerous high-profile murders in Donetsk [in the '90's]? Is there any truth in the words of Major Sinenko, who claimed that Mar'yinkov took orders from Rinat Akhmetov?

And finally, what is the significance of the fact that the "sylovyky" business partners of Mar'yinkov [who, in essence provided shelter to the Kushnir gang], were also close to Yanukovych?

p.s. Below I paraphrase what Sergei Vysotsky,  in his commentary on the Tymoshenko trial writes, in 'LigaBusinessInform' :

The backbone of Ukraine's modern political elite and oligarchy was formed by an alloy of the Communist nomenklatura and administrators who had experience of milking state assets, and organised gangsters. The former understood the mechanisms of management of property and how to appropriate it; the latter had the ability to protect what was stolen, and importantly - to guarantee compliance of the terms of the deals...

Many remember the shootings, the explosions, the blood.... Carnivorous packs tore and split the country apart. ..Shcherban was the leader of one of those packs..... Tymoshenko  a high-ranking member of the other [portion of the country's political elite]...

By the end of the 90's, an unspoken agreement between the general public and these elite was formed because the people in power that had grabbed former state property by force,  managed to set up certain rules of the game so ending the gangster lawlessness of the early 90's.

A mutually acceptable amnesia descended on the country, and the dangerous, lawless days of the early and mid-nineties were all but forgotten about by became a taboo subject. Society gave the appearance of having forgiven the country's elite in exchange for something that resembled civilised life.

But now the accusations against Tymoshenko that she commissioned the murder of Yevhen Shcherban are bringing all of the bad times back. The country is stepping back 20 years. The sentencing of Tymoshenko for Shcherban's murder will be the key to Pandora's box...

*More on Aleksandrov murder here and here

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