Saturday, March 09, 2013

More evidence on Shcherban murder

An new witness, Olelksandra Kuzel, appeared on Thursday in the Yevhen murder pretrial hearing.

Prosecutors allege his killing at Donetsk airport on 3 November 1996 was commissioned by former PM's Tymoshenko and Lazarenko.

Shcherban's wife was also shot dead during the assassination of her husband

Kuzel provides more evidence of the absurdity of the case.

On the eve of the vote in Parliament to appoint  Lazarenko  PM, held on 28 May 1996, Scherban urged members of his parliamentary faction, "Social Market Choice" to support the candidacy of Lazarenko. "Our faction voted in full for Lazarenko. Without Shcherban's command our faction would not have done this because so many were against it."

As I have mentioned many times in my previous blogs, Lazarenko, and Tymoshenko, by the start of that year were on good terms with Yevhen Shcherban. By the end of 1995 gas supply contracts had been signed. In January 1996 Shcherban had invited Tymoshenko and her husband to his grand birthday party.

The death of Shcherban provided no benefit to Tymoshenko's UESU. Quite the opposite, the company lost the one person who represented their interests in the Donbas who had the power to  fend off criminal attacks on their mutual gas business.

In a tv interview, Kuzhel also points the finger at one man who may have benefited from the death of Shcherban - her predecessor witness at the pre-trial hearings - Volodymyr Shcherban.

Volodymyr and Yevhen had been close business partners. Yevhen, possibly the richest many in Ukraine at that time, had intended to support Volodymyr's candidature in the 1998 presidential elections, but later switched in favour of former PM Yevhen Marchuk, making him leader of his party, much to Volodymyr's displeasure.

Two days after Yevhen and his wife's killing, Volodymyr's son Artem took over $2 million out of a US business account of a company run by Yevhen's wife Nadia Nikitin. He could not wait to even sit down with the Shcherban's two orphaned boys, Rusland and Yevhen Jr. to decide how their parents assets were to be divided up.

Kuzhel recalls how Volodymyr Shcherban proposed to formalize the custody of Yevhen Shcherban's children, but they refused his offer. Eventually a business partner of the late Shcherban's, Yuriy Dedukh, was appointed their guardian. A few months after this, in September 1997, Dedukh and the elder Shcherban son, Ruslan survived and assassination attempt in which a bodyguard was killed.

Luckily, with the help of an old friend of their father's, legendary singer Yosef Kobzon, the orphaned children did manage to hold on to a small fraction of their late parents' assets.

Kuzel also believes that the death of Shcherban provided big political dividends to Viktor Medvedchuk (then leader of the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (united)).

"After the murder of Yevhen Shcherban, his political fraction 'Social Market Choice' disintegrated. Before this it had been a very powerful group, as was [Shcherban's] Liberal Party. After some time, Medvedchuk's positions began strengthening and Yevhen Marchuk, who previously served in our party, went over to them," said Kuzhel.

Tetyana Chornovil, in her latest blog,  gives much information on Volodymyr Shcherban and his involvement with namesake Yevhen, and how the latter's children were all but abandoned by their father's most powerful associates, including by the-then oblast governor, Viktor Yanukovych, and by current parliamentary speaker, and the-then mayor of Donetsk Volodymyr Rybak. [Maybe more on this later..]

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