Monday, May 06, 2013

Commenters on Shcherban murder

It is sometimes interesting to read comments at the end of articles on Ukrainian websites, particularly those articles concerning the assassination of Yevhen Shcherban in November 1996. Ukrainian authorities are now trying to pin his killing onto Yulia Tymoshenko.

Below are things, often unsubstantiated, that commentators say. [Some of them even claim to have been familiar to the business machinations of that period].

Tymoshenko's company had been given permission to sell a huge quantity of gas in the Ukrainian market. Approval must have been granted at the very highest level in Ukraine and Russia. At the time she was a successful businesswoman but had little involvement in politics, so she did not control these processes.

Every smart businessman knew that selling gas on credit to big, cash-strapped industrial plants in Eastern Ukraine would become a mechanism for amassing great wealth during a period of widespread privatisation. After more that a decade and a half, many records of business transactions from that period are no longer available, so many details of what went on are unclear.

In June 22 1996, six months before his assassination at Donetsk airport, Yevhen Shcherban, according to one report, allegedly survived a car bomb in Debaltseve, a highly criminalised town about 40 miles east of Donetsk. He was most aware his life was at risk - prominent businessmen/gangsters were being killed almost every month.

After this Shcherban apparently left Ukraine for several months and had allegedly attended the Atlanta Olympic games in July/August 1996 with Volodymyr Shcherban. The day before his killing that November he had attended the silver jubilee party of legendary crooner Yosyp Kobzon in Moscow.

There he also met US citizen Paul Tatum, who Shcherban had helped financially during the former's litigation at the Stockholm Court of Arbitration.

Tatum and Shcherban had known one another since 1992. The 'Aton' company where Shcherban had been deputy director, received a $50 million credit line guaranteed by the Government of Ukraine. This money was never returned, and the debt eventually settled by GoU. 'Aton's CEO, Markulov disappeared, and Shcherban took over running the outfit.

Tatum was  killed in Moscow a few hours after Shcherban flew back to Donetsk in a private jet, to be shot with his wife as they disembarked from the plane. Their killers were dressed as airport security staff and escaped practically unhindered after the crime took place.

Shcherban's sons claim law enforcement officers turned up, astonishingly, only after a huge one hour delay; and where more interested in getting their hands on their father's briefcase, rather than apprehending the killers.

Only a well-funded, professional network could have tracked Shcherban for the period he was out of the country, and organise such a high-profile, spectacular and brazen assassination.

This all suggests the likely involvement of 'Volodymyrska' [SBU headquarters is at no 33, Volodymyrska Street].  Russian FSB involvement is also frequently mentioned.

No comments: