“Trade Commodity” case. How a President’s friend bailed out a deputy minister – Investigation
On 12 October Solomyanskiy District Court of Kyiv City was choosing a preventive restraint for a Deputy Minister of Defense, Lieutenant-General Ihor Pavlovskiy and Director of Department for State Procurement of Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Volodymyr Gulevych.
Before that officials of the Defense Ministry were arrested by representatives of National Anti-Corruption Bureau and Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office on suspicion of embezzlement of 149 million UAH during procurement of fuel for army.
The case has immediately become widely known due to the fact that one of the parties in it was a well-known scandalous group of companies “Trade Commodity”, that people affiliate with coterie of the President Petro Poroshenko.
The Commander-in-Chief himself has already made a harsh statement about arrest of officials having promised to “cut hands» of those who steal from the army.
How did the first court trial in the case against officials of the Ministry of Defense go, who supported the suspects and why does the coterie of the President raise even more questions, – reads the material of «Ukrainian Pravda».
Group of supporters and 75 million in bail out
On 12 October in the court house on Voznesenovskiy Uzviz there were lots of journalists. Narrow corridors of the building were filled up to the last millimeter.
At first the court was choosing a preventive restraint for the Deputy Minister of Defense Ihor Pavlovskiy. There were four of his lawyers beside him in the court room, who were insisting on the fact that their defendant was arrested illegally. However, the judge overruled that petition.
Later, the prosecutor took the floor. He was speaking silently, as if he was not insisting on his words. Declaration of petition about a two-months arrest and 75 million as a bail out amount men in military uniform met screaming: «Whoa!», telling each other «on inadmissibility» of such an amount.
The Prosecutor reiterated already known by National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office explanations of reasons for Pavlovskiy’s arrest. Thus, according to version of investigation, during June-August 2016 purchase prices of fuel for Ministry of Defense of Ukraine were increased by concluding additional agreements with a group of companies «Trade Commodity». Insofar, based on calculations of the prosecution, the state incurred 149 million UAH in losses.
According to the prosecution, there was a risk that if released, Pavlovskiy could distort the evidence or hide from possible punishment abroad. Prosecutor was naming countries which a military man has visited for the last couple of years. Among them were – Algeria, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Belarus and Italy.
Bail out by President’s Partner
Lawyers of the deputy minister are building up his defense on a large support and combat experience of the suspect. In particular, they informed that the First Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleg Gladkovskiy was ready to bail Pavlovskiy out and come to a court room «within an hour».
Gladkovskiy is for a long time well-known character, both in Ukrainian business and politics as well as in the coterie of the acting President.
It’s been since 1990s that Gladkovskiy (at that time his last name was Svynarchuk) has become a business-partner of Petro Poroshenko. In 1997 he reached the position of a deputy CEO of «Ukrprominvestgroup», which includes main assets of Poroshenko, like «Roshen», «International Investment Bank» etc.
It’s worth mentioning that another Vice-President of this group was Ihor Kononenko, who is now believed to be the «right hand» of the President.
All three mentioned businessmen and politicians are equal shareholders of «Ukrprominvest» group’s assets.
For example, Gladkovskiy was a co-owner of automobile corporation «Bogdan» along with Poroshenko until in 2009 he bought out a controlling stake from Petro Olexiyovych.
Gladkovskiy and Kononenko have been friends since their studies in Kyiv automobile and road institute.
Their «partnership» can be proven by a scandalous realty in Spain, where Poroshenko, Kononenko and Gladkovskiy have their own villas in the same district. It’s noteworthy, that all three have this realty hidden in the same way behind the names of off-shore companies which those villas are registered on.
Three partners were also mentioned together in the «Panama documents» scandal.
When in 2014 Poroshenko was elected as President, Gladkovskiy did not have to wait long to get his place in the government. At first, in August 2015 he became the Head of Interdepartmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation and Export Control.
It was already in February 2015 that Poroshenko made his old partner a First Deputy of Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Olexander Turchynov. On the one hand, Gladkovskiy balanced the influence of People’s Front on this agency, on the other hand – unofficially managed the whole «defense» sector in the name of the President.
Even though, in the interview to UP Gladkovskiy himself denied the fact that he «supervises» the defense and industrial complex following Poroshenko’s command.
Partnership of Gladkovskiy and Kononenko looks quite interesting in the context of the case on procurement of fuel for the Ministry of Defense, since «Trade Commodity» is affiliated with Andriy Adamovskiy, an old-time business-partner of Kononenko’s companion in faction of Petro Poroshenko Block Olexander Granovskiy.
It is Kononenko and Granovskiy who are believed to be «supervisors» of Department for Investigations of Particularly Important Cases in the sphere of Economy of the Prosecutor General’s Office that was part of a big conflict with National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine.
Granovskiy has many times denied his affiliation with «Trade Commodity».
The same with Gladkovskiy. In his comments given to UP First Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council stated, that he has never heard about this company at all.
“I can frankly say that General Pavlovskiy has really made his name as a conscious citizen and an experienced expert in the sphere of «defense industry». And he received his substantial experience not in the office but right in the war zone in the East of Ukraine», – Mr. Gladkovskiy explained his intentions.
Version of Pavlovskiy
Combat experience of the suspect was many times mentioned in the court room.
Pavlovskiy himself confidently repeated what belonged to his duties and what didn’t. He mentioned that he «does not form the pricing policy» but «takes decisions based on the information of the tender committee».
«I fully disagree with charges», – Pavlovskiy said.
Moreover, according to him, disregard the increase of prices by Tender Committee and Department for Procurement, the Ministry of Defense was receiving fuel at the lowest prices.
«Thus, – added Pavlovskiy, – this provided for defense capabilities of our state and performance of tasks by Armed Forces of Ukraine directly in the Anti-Terrorist Operation Zone».
Pavlovskiy also denied his ties with «Trade Commodity». According to him, in April he returned a certain volume of low-quality fuel, having imposed penalties. «I haven’t seen any representative of «Trade Commodity» at any meeting in the ministry ever since».
Poltorak’s deputy insisted that fuel market prices had to be researched.
«I have a different opinion – this is just a “treachery” of Armed Forces of Ukraine for the budget of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” – he said and received a round of applause from the people in uniform.
Witnesses of Defense
First witness to be examined was the Head of Rear of Armed Forces, Major General Ivan Gavryliuk. It’s worth mentioning that it was this position that Pavlovskiy worked at before his appointment as Deputy Minister.
Gavryliuk stated that Pavlovskiy was his neighbor and as of September 2013 lived «in office bureaus in Kyiv» coming to Zhytomir for a weekend.
Later Pavlovskiy will be sentenced to a house arrest in Zhytomir at 8 Geroiv Desantnykiv str.
«Our families know each other, we celebrate our Birthdays together», – Gavryliuk told about his relations with the Deputy Minister.
«He is a reliable, devoted friend who would never drop his colleague», – Head of the Rear adds to the characteristic of the suspect.
The second witness was the Head of Dnipropetrovsk Organization of Veterans-Participants of the Peacekeeping Operations Volodymyr Sydorenko.
He told that in 1992 UN decided to send the Ukrainian battalion of Peacekeeping Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sydorenko was a commander of this battalion.
«Military Council of Army, – he said, – was selecting the best officers, warrant officers and soldiers to this battalion. Senior lieutenant Pavlovskiy was selected to this battalion to perform duties of Deputy Commander of 2nd special group. As of that moment we started having close relations in terms work in combat».
According to him, on 31 July 1992 battalion had its first losses.
«Six men were wounded, one soldier died. 20 days later the squadron of Lieutenant Pavlovskiy got under severe mortar fire. All equipment was destroyed. Battalion’s headquarters were destroyed. It was only due to a well coordinated work of the officers and personally Pavlovskiy that major losses were avoided», – Sydorenko shared his memories.
He then mentioned the merits of Pavlovskiy in the construction of defense near Mariupol and stated that he was ready to bail out the defendant along with Gladkovskiy.
A break for medical assistance and house arrest
After examination of the second witness one of the lawyers of Pavlovskiy stated that his defendant started feeling sick and asked for a half an hour break to get medical examination.
After the break lawyers took the floor.
«Suspicion is based on: first of all – the fact that there was a criminal group, secondly – the fact that Ihor Valentynovych gave someone orders. There are no documents, not even one protocol of interrogation of some witness, that prove the existence of such criminal orders», – stated one of the lawyers.
«What do we have instead? – he continued. – Pavlovskiy Ihor Valentynovych performed his direct duties, did not give any criminal orders, but issued decrees for certain persons to perform their direct duties and do everything necessary to provide army with fuel and lubricants».
People in military uniform seemed to be concurring with such words: started whispering with smiles on their faces.
«He acted – the lawyer continued – in a way to protect defense capability of our state, so it couldn’t be by any means…»
«Jeopardized», – someone helped who, obviously, came to support the deputy minister, giving a round of applause from time to time after the words of lawyers.
«Jeopardized», – said the lawyer. – And whatever one may say, but I believe that this is true. That thanks to this true General everything in our state today is not like it was in 1937».
After that lawyer asked the judge to choose a preventive restraint measure for Pavlovskiy that would not mean «detention in custody».
An hour later the judge made a decision: two months of house arrest without the right to leave the building in Zhytomir, petitions of Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office and National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine were overruled. Visitors supported the decision with applause.
Later the very same decision was made regarding the head of Department for State Procurement of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Volodymyr Gulevych.
Member of Parliament Tetiana Chornovol, who at the «People’s Front» belongs to the group of the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Olexander Turchynov, came to a court room when a preventive restraint measure for him was being considered. The same way as Gladkovskiy, she wanted to bail out one of the suspects. However, the protection from the National Security and Defense Council did not work in this case either.
It was already in the corridor after decisions were made when someone from the group of supporters of Pavlovskiy said: «House arrest is also a victory».
Oleg Tverd, Roman Romaniuk, 13 Oct. 2017, pravda.com.ua