Oligarchs, corruption, and thuggery: local elections in Dnepropetrovsk (Part 2)

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November 13, 2015 – 

Aleksey Blyuminov, PolitNavigator – 

Translated for Fort Russ by J. Arnoldski

“Will Kolomoysky’s ‘aunts’ make Filatov the mayor of Dnepropetrovsk?”

Long before the “revolution of dignity”, force had already begun to play an increasing role in Ukrainian electoral battles alongside financial, political, legal, and administrative resources.

The first recorded example of the use of this resource was the showdown during elections in Mukhachevo in May 2004, not long before the first Maidan. These elections are remembered not so much for their fraud as for the massive use of people “protecting election results” who, as they said back then, had an “athletic appearance.” Fighting, pogroms, the storming of election commissions, and beating up political opponents became the norm in those elections.

Then the famous “aunts” appeared, without whom, according to the established tradition, no one gets along in elections, and complaints about their excesses have become a habit for candidates from all camps. 

The “revolution of dignity” brought with it a qualitatively new stage in the use of strength resources in elections. Now, this isn’t only a matter of strength, but an openly armed resource. Hundreds and thousands of fighters from various “battalions,” “self-defense hundreds” riding on home-made “armored cars,”and “Auto-Maidaners” are “pulling weight” for whoever pays more while hiding behind ultranationalist slogans. 

One of the largest sponsors of such paramilitaries is the “Privat” group of Igor Kolomoysky, which is armed and sponsored like the terror battalions (“Dnepr-1”, “Dnepr-2”, “Donbass”), and in general gangs in the likes of Right Sector or Azov battalion don’t obey anyone except their sponsors. Kolomoysky’s guys quarreled with Azov, so he found a new “roof” in the person of Arsen Avakov.

Nevertheless, the expression “Kolomoysky battalions” has become a meme and continues to this day despite the fact that the majority of battalions have long since formally merged with the UAF or MIA. For a long time, these “battalions” were a strong, informal trump card in Kolomoysky’s game against Poroshenko. Remember how everyone was waiting for a coup this winter – a “veterans’ cell” was organized and social networks were filled with calls to “march on Kiev.” Then Poroshenko was saved only by the direct intervention of the US, which let everyone know that it was better not to touch Petra Alekseevich. 

The second time we all heard about the battalions was this summer during the dramatic struggle between Poroshenko and Kolomoysky for control over “Ukrnafta” and “Ukrtransnafta.” Then again the battalions began to arrive in Kiev, allegedly for protecting what was acquired by “Kolomoysky’s” honest labor which the then governor of Dnepropetrovsk hurriedly built a fence around. However, the US saved Poroshenko once again. Everyone remembers the calls of US Ambassador Pyatt to the head of “Privat,” who, after he decided that he “didn’t want to aggravate,” dutifully wrote a letter of resignation. 

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Then there were the scandalous elections in Chernigov, where the “nuker,” Kolomoysky’s Gennady Korban, fought with “major” Berezenko who represented Poroshenko for a deputy seat from the 205th district. The tension was huge. During one of the “hottest” nights, several hundred fighters from Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa were ordered in who blocked the cars of Berezenko’s aids. 

Rumors about the delivery of a few thousand different kinds of such “volunteers” in camouflage to the city for elections filled the city. Minister Avakov was forced to intervene in the situation and stated that National Guard would take control during election period in Chernigov. And, really, “order” on election day was guaranteed by the terror battalion “Chernigov.” 

The main “shock” force of Kolomoysky, not without justification, is believed to be Dmitry Yarosh’s Right Sector. Indeed, during the governorships of Kolomoysky’s Korvan and Filatov, they brought “our Dimochka” to the Rada after elections, and after that helped to gather parts after the injury and pay for the Israeli clinic. 

Literally just before his arrest, Gennady Korban gave a detailed interview in which he poured tons of incense on Yarosh, calling him the “moral authority of the nation” and the “untainted one living in a rickety old hut.” Korban aaid many flattering words about the “brave Right Sector soldiers” with whom, unlike other battalions, “Privat” never had any problems. “We have highly valued and treasured them,” Korban stated then.

Soon enough, however, Korban lost elections in Kiev and Right Sector didn’t stand for him. When it finally became clear that “the fried rooster still pecked,” it turned out that, instead of a general uprising or, in the worst case, a march of patriots to storm Chernigov prison, Yarosh got away with an angry speech and a statement that “We, with our brethren, are cleaning our guns.” 

But the moment for “cleaning guns” was chosen completely inappropriately. Now elections in Dnepropetrovsk are more important than ever for Kolomoysky and co. After results come in, it will become clear if Boris Filatov will keep the city for himself or if it will finally end up as a fiefdom of Poroshenko and the Opposition bloc. 

In these conditions, the empty threats and broken promises of Yarosh have obviously, greatly depreciated, but he is still a significant “power” card to be played. After all, losing could create a mini-Armageddon that would attract the attention of all those international structures “looking after democracy.” And this dubious gift could greatly impair a Poroshenko victory. 

Maybe that’s why (the situation is still developing; I can’t tell any one for sure, but everyone is entitled to a reasonable hypothesis) at precisely this time came the loud split which paralyzed Right Sector. After all, while the “warriors of the national revolution” are finding out who their will be their “conductor” and who will be their “semi-conductor,” they’re not up for protecting the electoral gains of Filatov in Dnepropetrovsk. We will soon find out if this is how it is or not. 

However, one shouldn’t relax. After all (and few are talking about this), in addition to the “battalions” at Igor Kolomoysky’s disposal, there is yet another reserve: his private army of mercenaries. These, moreover, are perfectly legal, and we are talking about the security structures of the various units of “Privat.” 

The fantastic scenario in which a critically important part of these people will be deployed in “volunteer camouflage” to protect the “gains of democracy” in Dnepropetrovsk is not far off. Then it will be understood whether these are real volunteers or entertainers. Who cares so long as the trick is done. 

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