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Lukashenka and collapse of Kurchenko's empire  ? 23

12:54, — Politics

Lukashenka and collapse of Kurchenko's empire

At least three out of 18 Ukrainian officials, whose accounts were frozen in the EU, have business links with Lukashenka.

Belarusians have the biggest business projects with Sergey Kurchenko, the owner of VETEK group of companies. He was considered to be among the most successful young businessmen in Ukraine until the pro-EU protests, Zavtra Tvoey Strany reports.

In 2009, Sergey Kurchenko, 24, founded a group of 55 companies Gaz Ukraine, which was later renamed as VETEK (East European Energy Company).The sudden rise of the Kharkiv-born businessman is explained by the Ukrainian media by his close ties with the Yanukovych clan.

VETEK managed to monopolise the Ukrainian liquid gas market and take the leading positions in petroleum products trade.

VETEK has trading companies in many countries, but its main suppliers of oil products to Ukraine were in Belarus. In particular, Kurchenko's companies bought petrol and diesel fuel, processed at the refineries in Mozyr and Navapolatsk, from the Belarusian Oil Company and Belarusian subsidiaries of Russian companies TNK-BP (now Rosneft), Lukoil and Gazprom. VETEK's sales structure is the following: petrol 56%, diesel oil 7%, gases 37%.

Kurchenko's empire has faced hard times.

The oligarch fled abroad after Maidan's victory. The Ukrainian media report Kurchenko found shelter in Belarus. Leader of the UDAR party Vitaliy Klitschko even called Aliaksandr Lukashenka demanding to hand over Kurchenko and ex-interior minister of Ukraine Vitaliy Zakharchenko. But Lukashenka assured him neither Kurchenko nor Zakharchenko was in Belarus. Kurchenko may stay in Moscow now, according to the Ukrainian media.

Meanwhile, his group of companies is breaking up. In February 2014, the businessman gave Odessa oil refinery to VTB Bank (Russia), the bank he took a loan from to buy the refinery.

In March 2014, the National Bank of Ukraine declared insolvent Brokbusinessbank and Real Bank, both belonging to Kurchenko's group of companies. It became known last week that Forbes revokes Kurchenko's license to publish the magazines Ukrainian edition.

Experts think the reallocation of Kurchenko's assets may create problems for selling Belarusian oil products to Ukraine.

Klyuyev brothers' electrodes

Other Ukrainian businessmen having interests in Belarus have been put on the EU blacklist. Among them are former head of the president's administration Andriy Klyuyev and his brother Serhiy Klyuyev. Both are among top 100 Ukraine's richest people. They co-own industrial and investment group Ukrpodshipnik. The brothers' group of companies include the plant Vistec that sells electrodes in Belarus.

It's possible that Oleksandr Yanukovych, the eldest son of Viktor Yanukovych, had joint business projects with Belarusian companies.

Oleksandr Yanukovych's biggest asset was Mako Trading Company (Switzerland) that exported coal. According to results of the first half of 2013, the company sold 400,000 tonnes of coal across the world. According to the National Statistics Committee, Belarus imported 17,000 tonnes of Ukrainian anthracite worth 1.8mn dollars in the same period of time.

It's yet unknown whether the son of former Ukrainian president supplied coal to Belarus.

The Council of the European Union froze assets of 18 Ukrainian citizens on March 6, 2014. Economic restrictions were imposed on former president Viktor Yanukovych and his sons Oleksandr and Viktor, former prime minister Mykola Azarov and his son, former interior minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko, former prosecutor general Viktor Pshonka and his son and other persons close to the Yanukovych clan.

The sanctions will remain in effect for 12 months until March 6, 2015.

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