Kolomoysky’s militants seize Ukrnafta office in Kiev
Several news reports indicate that the headquarters of Ukrnafta, the country’s largest oil extraction company, was taken over by Dnepr-1 battalion militants financed by Kolomoysky. This move comes after a similar take-over on Thursday of Ukrtransnafta, an oil transit company. What makes the most recent event all the more galling is that the HQ of the state-owned Ukrnafta is located in the center of Kiev. Kolomoysky is only a minority shareholder in the enterprise. However, he was able to exercise de-facto control under rules which required 60% of shareholders’ approval for any reform to be implemented, until the Rada passed a bill which lowered that requirement to 50% + 1 share, which de-facto and de-jure returned control of Ukrnafta to the Ukrainian government. Kolomoysky evidently decided to challenge that ruling by reportedly barricading himself inside the building and using Dnepr-1 battalion to deny access. Some of the militants were seen carrying automatic weapons and were supported by an armored truck. Most recent reports indicated Dnepr-1 was welding steel barriers in place to secure the building, and that pro-Maidan Rada Deputy and journalist Mustafa Nayyim was beaten by Dnepr-1 militants when he questioned them.
Just to make things more interesting, Kolomoysky called for recognizing DPR and LPR as the de-facto authorities in Eastern Ukraine, in an apparent bid to prevent a two-front war against both Kiev and Novorossia. At the same time, Kolomoysky called for “financial federalization” of Ukraine, under which 90% of tax revenue would never leave the regions.
“Nationally conscious” Ukrainians don’t quite know what to make of all this yet–Kolomoysky was a hero to them, and here he is, turning his power to bear against the Ukrainian state.
Of course, all of this took place on Sunday. On Monday Poroshenko will have to decide what to do in response to Kolomoysky’s very busy day. Let’s not forget that in the Thursday showdown he was the first to blink, allowing Kolomoysky to retain control of Ukrtransnafta and only issuing a reprimand in response to his armed take-over of Ukrtransnafta. Moreover, just recently US Ambassador to Ukraine Jeffrey Pyatt lectured Kolomoysky on the unacceptability of “jungle law” approaches to political problems (funny how that was not a problem during the Maidan, eh?), a warning which Kolomoysky clearly ignored.
In the meantime, the junta is pretending nothing at all has happened. Minister of Interior Avakov insisted the folks in camouflage were part of a private security service hired by Ukrnafta, even though Ukrnafta representatives themselves were first to announce the gunmen were Dnepr-1. Incidentally, it’s unlikely a private security firm would be allowed to tote Kalashnikovs.
Moreover, if this is not Dnepr-1 or some other Kolomoysky-funded organization, why is Kolomoysky himself clearly on the scene? Last seen having the above-mentioned Mustafa Nayyem (a staunch critic of Kolomoysky and a Maidan die-hard) taken away by a car?
Will Poroshenko back down again? Will Kolomoysky? Or will there be bloodshed in Kiev? And elsewhere?