Rinat Akhmetov – He who pulls the strings (part two)

By Dmytro Bobritsky. Published Jan. 11.

Not a lawmaker himself, but Rinat Akhmetov’s presence is strongly felt in the parliament

Despite President Volodymyr Zelensky’s drive to curb the influence of Ukraine’s oligarchs, the wealth and influence of their leading representative, Rinat Akhmetov, continues to grow.

Kyiv Post asked Novoe Vremya’s political journalist Dmytro Bobritsky How does Akhmetov defend himself and his interests, and who are his main auxiliaries. Here is Bobritsky’s response reflecting his understanding of the situation and not necessarily our position.

Who in the Verkhovna Rada belongs to the Donetsk billionaire’s lobbying network?

Lawmakers from Akhmetov’s lobbying network in the Verkhovna Rada are present in all the parliamentary factions and parliamentary groups.

There are deputies with different degrees of loyalty to Akhmetov: thus, there are lawmakers who are speakers, those who voice the Donetsk businessman’s messages on the TV channels and openly lobby his interests; there is another category of those who secretly vote in his interests; and there also is a third one –  parliamentarians that are involved on an ad hoc basis, for example, when there is a need to sign various appeals to the Constitutional Court.

If we include all the parliamentarians spotted in or connected to the actions that may benefit SCM, the total number would be 117 Members of Parliament. It should also be noted that informal unions in the parliament are dynamic and can be reshuffled rather quickly.

This number includes parliamentarians from Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) Party (22 lawmakers), the Clean Energy – Healthy Environment Interfactional Union (25 lawmakers), former Verkhovna Rada Chairman Dmytro Razumkov’s Rozumna Politika (Smart Politics) Interfactional Group (26 lawmakers), an informal subgroup of parliamentarians within Zelensky’s coalition, dubbed the “Pavlyuk Group” after yet another friend of President Zelensky, Illia Pavlyuk, who assists the President during elections in terms of personnel and finances. Before the Revolution of Dignity, Pavlyuk was an aide to Ihor Kaletnik, a noted ally of fugitive ex-president Viktor Yanukovych. The group has consistently torpedoed anti-corruption reforms and opposed the reinstatement of electronic income declarations. It includes 30 lawmakers from the Servant of the People Party.

Rinat Akhmetov’s assets also include representatives of the pro-Russian wing in the parliament, the Opposition Bloc – For Life parliamentary faction, and other unaffiliated parliamentarians – a total of 16 more parliamentarians.

The three most vocal representatives of the Clean Energy Union are Liudmyla Buimister (unaffiliated), Oleksiy Honcharenko (European Solidarity), and Oleksiy Kucherenko (Batkivshchyna). The association called on the National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission to abolish price caps – the tariffs that regulate the cost of electricity. Buimister, who is also in Dmytro Razumkov’s interfactional group, is said to be the representative of DTEK’s interests in parliament.

Last year, Yulia Tymoshenko and a number of her associates together with Akhmetov’s closest lobbyists in the Verkhovna Rada – Victoria Grib (a former DTEK employee), Vadym Novynsky (Akhmetov’s partner in Metinvest), and Musa Magomedov (ex-director of Avdiivka Coke Plant – and development director of the Mariupol Metallurgical Plant – both owned by Metinvest) signed a petition to change the leadership of the National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission, also known as the NERC, through the Constitutional Court.This agency is very important to Akhmetov because it has a direct impact on the formation of power rates on the electricity market.

DTEK decided to focus its efforts on the Verkhovna Rada Energy Committee. Kucherenko, Grib, and Mykhailo Volynets – yet another Member of Parliament close to Akhmetov – can be found there. There also are three union lawmakers from the OPFL and the Dovira Party. Also, according to NV’s sources in the parliament, a group of parliamentarians centered on Kyiv real estate developer Vadym Stolar in political questions responds to pro-Akhmetov initiatives in the parliament. This group consists of five people.

Ex-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who is fluent in English and has business connections in the United States, has now become one of the main strategists in Akhmetov’s immediate circle when it comes to criticizing the current government. At least that’s what the sources close to Zelensky claim. Yatsenyuk has started to reappear on Akhmetov’s TV channels, where he actively criticizes Zelensky’s associates. The politician has openly admitted that his ultimate goal is to regain his post as prime minister.

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