His name is familiar only to a few. Even in a country where these days the fate of Dmitry Firtash. But there is a sum which even the outsiders in Austria immediately explain the explosiveness of the case: 125 million euros. That’s how much Firtash, an oligarch from Ukraine, have put the authorities to remain at liberty after his first arrest in 2014 in Vienna. It was the largest pledge in the history of the Republic of Austria. But this week, 51-year-old Firtash lost her freedom.
The billionaire was arrested immediately in the building of the Vienna court of appeal. Earlier, the judge granted the request for extradition from the United States. There the FBI is investigating in relation to Firtash on charges of bribery. In this regard, the Appellate court reversed the judicial decision of 2015. Then, in the court of first instance the judge rejected the petition for extradition. An international sensation was the wording of his decision. Washington’s actions “politically motivated”.
Despite the fact that the court of second instance made a different decision, in Vienna, Kiev and Moscow have been actively discussing the possibility that Washington used the FBI investigators to neutralize the enemy in Ukraine. Firtash has close ties with Moscow and a significant influence in Ukraine. This is also the insistence of the FBI. Bureau announced the case of the United States, which happened on the other side of the globe. According to the statements, Firtash paid a bribe in the amount of $ 18 million to officials in India to get license to mine titanium. He wanted to sell the metal American airlines “Boeing”.
Why Firtash so prevents US
After the collapse of the Soviet Union Firtash made fortune in trade with natural gas. The Foundation he laid through counter transactions: he has received gas from Turkmenistan, and in return are supplied to the food. The more profit he started getting since 2004: then the Russian state company “Gazprom” included in the scheme of gas supplies to neighboring Ukraine, the company with the unpronounceable name of “RosUkrEnergo” (RUE).
The company attributed the role of “black cash”. She filled in the following way: RUE bought cheap gas from Central Asian Turkmenistan. Gazprom delivers it to the Ukrainian border. One part at the time, even at reduced rates — sold to Ukraine. But for the most part been on the world market at much higher prices. Intermediary company RosUkrEnergo get more profit. Gazprom and Firtash controlled 95 percent of the shares of RUE.
In Kiev, many believe that the money Rouet turned out to be in other pockets. Names of Viktor Yushchenko (President 2005-2010) and his deposed in 2014, the successor of Viktor Yanukovych. Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister and opponent of Firtash, called RUE “the great trough, shadow box office all the heads of state of Ukraine”.
Whether Firtash and Gazprom the money was divided in Ukraine and help Moscow to get the effect?
In Ukraine, the Firtash reputation not only businessman but also a political “puppeteer”. He was one of the main supporters of the ousted Yanukovych. Ukrainian media, as, for example, the popular site “the Ukrainian truth”, suggest that about 30 deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine still listen to the oligarch. They belong to the Opposition bloc, which consists of members of the former “Party of regions” Yanukovych.
Firtash’s influence goes beyond that. He owns eight television channels. Among them, the “inter”, one of the largest channels in the country. Firtash manages it together with the ex-head of Yanukovych’s administration. The influence of the oligarchs — and a feature of Ukraine — reaches even the other political camps. This is evidenced by the transcript of the statement Firtash at the first trial in Vienna: “in 2012 it was clear that Yanukovych will not carry out reforms. Then I realized that the country needs a strong candidate who wins the election. And I found (ex-world Boxing champion Vitali) Klitschko.”
Firtash supported the party Klitschko “Blow”. But after the revolution on the Maidan oligarch convinced former boxer to withdraw his candidacy for elections in may in favour of billionaire Petro Poroshenko. Today Poroshenko is the President. Firtash already firmly settled in Vienna. For conversation he persuaded Poroshenko and Klitschko to come to him. During the Vienna meeting, both not too willing to talk to each other.
The United States really pursue Firtash for political reasons?
In an interview with Firtash he was surprised by the accusations from abroad: he never in all his life was not in the United States. It has no ties to America. However, the oligarch is not the only one the FBI’s actions seem strange. The British newspaper “The Guardian” gained access to emails between Austrian authorities and investigators from the United States. From letters it is clear that Americans filed the first extradition request in October 2013. At that time, Firtash’s protégé, the then President Yanukovych met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and hinted to him that is not going to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, which for so long had been negotiated. Shortly after Yanukovych took US Deputy Secretary of state Victoria Nuland. He even promised her to sign the agreement with the EU. According to “The Guardian”, in one of the letters that came in the vein of the FBI, stated: arrest of Firtash’s still no need to hurry. Instead, it is better to “wait for a better time in the future.”
Firtash floated all means
With the help of Firtash’s extradition, the United States could kill two birds with one stone. The billionaire will lose much of its influence in Ukrainian politics and Russia will lose a strong ally in Kiev. Investigators believe that Firtash could give them insider information about cash flows between Gazprom, oligarchs and the Russian President Vladimir Putin. They can offer him a deal: a reduced sentence in exchange for incriminating material. In an attempt to organize a defense, Firtash floated all means. In Germany, he appealed to the private detective Christine Wilkening.
Wilkening, previously an unofficial employee of the Stasi, has received more than 400 thousand euros. She had, through his contacts with the German intelligence service and the German police, to dissuade the FBI from issuing a warrant for the arrest of Firtash. But there is a problem: in January the district court of Schwerin, Wilkening condemned for bribery and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two years and three months.
The struggle for Firtash continues. In Ukraine there are rumors that in the US, for it can stand up old friend in the White house: a political consultant by Paul Manafort. He was an adviser to Viktor Yanukovych a few years ago — and head of the campaign of Donald trump in 2016. However, in August he had to leave this post. In Ukraine appeared the documents under which Manafort received $ 12.7 million in cash. Friday Firtash won a partial legal victory. The regional court of Vienna has again cancelled the decision on detention. Before deciding on his extradition the oligarch can remain free.
The last word is now the policy. According to Austrian law, the decision to extradite the oligarch will now be adopted by the Minister of justice.