Ukrainian business is appealing to the leadership of the state with a requirement to put an end to illegal seizures of businesses and to stop the pressure of power structures on entrepreneurs for the sake of avoiding negative economic, social, political, and even protest moods in the society. We – people’s deputies from different factions – were asked to make the “higher-ups” hear the “masses”. Together with the affected farmers and owners of terminals, producers, exporters, and processors of agricultural products we have prepared an appeal aimed at stopping the pressure on business and the Anti-Raid Resolution (see text below). On July 7, 2017 I presented it at the “Grain Ukraine-2017” conference in Odesa. The document was supported by nearly 500 representatives of various companies. The main demand of the people is for the authorities to do something with the arbitrariness of the law enforcement officers and employees of the Ministry of Justice, who exercise pressure onto agrarians and grab their assets.
In order to convey the people’s vision of solutions to the problem of raiding, at the beginning of the week my colleagues and I sent an official deputy’s appeal to President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroisman (see the text below). The appeal is signed by representatives of different factions – Petro Poroshenko Bloc, Batkivshchyna, Samopomich – and by non-factional MPs. In particular, the resolution was supported by Leonid Kozachenko, Vadym Ivchenko, Ivan Krulko, Semen Semenchenko, Borys Tarasiuk, Ruslan Sydorovych, Valentyn Didych, Pavlo Kostenko, Serhiy Khlan, Oleksiy Riabchyn, Oleh Bereziuk, Serhiy Yevtushok, Andriy Vadaturskyi, and other deputies.
We hope that the guarantor of the Constitution and the head of the government will finally see the scope of raidership and will start taking adequate measures. After all, so far all the attempts of agrarians to protect their property and life from raidership have been facing complete sabotage of the law enforcement agencies (the National Police, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor General’s Office) and the Ministry of Justice’s employees (delays and refusals of consideration of litigations and complaints by the Commission for review of complaints in the sphere of state registration). Local authorities do not respond to such facts either and do not provide assistance to the victims. All the above-mentioned are cynically doing everything to cover the raidership and tie up loose ends because they themselves are often involved in these corrupt schemes.
I have been fighting raidership problem systematically. But in the last two months, everyone has felt a new strong wave of illegal takeovers in the sphere of agribusiness across the country. Why now? It’s time to “reap the harvest” of honest people. Meanwhile, the gaps in the law and a tacit consent of the corrupt law enforcement system promote the “harvesting campaign” launched by raiders. Long story short, the reasons are various. Being MPs we are constantly receiving more and more appeals from citizens with complaints about the active spread of raider attacks, the groundless pressure on business, the obstacles for entrepreneurs created by representatives of public authorities, the barriers to business. In some cases, ordinary people are just murdered – as it happened to Ivan Velykyi, the owner of “Sim Vitriv” farming enterprise in the Dnipropetrovsk region – or are severely beaten, with the involvement of employees of the National Police by the way (!) – as in the conflict about “Nyva-2010” enterprise in the village of Berezhynka of the Kirovohrad region, etc.
Since 2015, full and cynical raidership of agricultural enterprises has been thriving in Ukraine. Dozens of enterprises in Kirovohrad, Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolaiv, and Vinnytsia regions have already suffered from such criminal actions. All such cases bear typical signs of illegal takeover and have typical executors. The schemes are almost identical – first, there is a change of ownership, then an artificial accumulation of debts, the seizure of equipment and crops, and pressure. However, these are not only small businesses that are suffering from the increasing pressure of the raidership, but also large businesses. Recently, we have witnessed an attack on the staff and the head of agro-industrial group of companies RISOIL S.A, Shota Khadzhishvili, who reported about the unlawful pressure of the law enforcement. Falsified criminal cases, searches of the investor that has invested about $200 million in factories, terminals, and production in Ukraine. There are many such cases.
However, there is no counteraction on the part of the law enforcement officers to such cases. I will provide my own statistics for illustration: since June 22, 2017, my colleagues in the parliament and I have prepared 6 parliamentary appeals to the law enforcement agencies, including the ones addressed to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov, the Minister of Justice of Ukraine Pavel Petrenko, Chairman of the National Police Serhiy Kniazev, and others. There has been no result. I only received one dry formal reply from the Prosecutor General’s Office signed by First Deputy Dmytro Storozhuk. It said that those were the local prosecutors who were commanded to investigate in the regions where those outrageous cases took place! In other words, everything was given into the hands of minor prosecutors who are actually covering these facts of raiding. Where is the logic? Perhaps the President and the head of the government will see it, since the security officials are blind?
Looks like in the fourth year after the Revolution of Dignity, Ukrainian business, in particular in the agrarian sphere, cannot feel calm and protected. We demand an adequate response to all the recorded cases of raider attacks on agribusiness and we ask the President and the Prime Minister to fulfill a number of requirements:
- To consider the resolution of the agrarian business representatives adopted at the conference “Grain Ukraine-2017” in Odesa on July 7, 2017.
- To help put an end to raider attacks on agricultural enterprises, to take under personal control the investigation of such crimes, to help restore the rights of lawful owners of enterprises.
- To form a Permanent Interdepartmental Working Commission under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister of Ukraine with the involvement of the leadership of the General Prosecutor’s Officine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, Kirovohrad, Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolaiv, Vinnytsia, and Odesa regional state administrations, other representatives of local authorities, MPs, representatives of the Public Association “Agrarian Self-Defence of Ukraine”, Public Association “Self-Defense of Business”, the affected farmers and peasants in order to make concrete decisions on the fight with the raider attacks, on restoration of the rights of legitimate owners, on an impartial investigation and punishment for the perpetrators of the raider attacks and beating of farmers and ATO veterans in Berezhynka village on June 27, 2017.
To provide the standing interdepartmental working group under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister of Ukraine with specific powers to review the issues raised in the appeal and the possibility of making collective decisions that will be taken into account by the government bodies of Ukraine, in particular by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.
- To indicate a specific date when the first meeting of the interdepartmental working group will take place.
- To officially invite to the first meeting of the interdepartmental working group the representatives of the Public Association “Agrarian Self-Defence of Ukraine” affected by raider actions against farmers and peasants.
- Take urgent measures to stop the unreasonable pressure on the part of representatives of law enforcement agencies on the activities of representatives of the agrarian business.
- To take measures to bring to the responsibility the law enforcement officers who are guilty of beating peasants and ATO veterans in the village of Berezhynka on June 27, 2017.
- To provide protection to the representatives of the agrarian business from abuse, attacks of the controlling and law enforcement bodies, in particular, to help put an end to the law enforcement officers’ participation in the illegal takeovers of enterprises on the side of the attacking criminals, to ensure proper conduct of business activities and protection of private property rights.
P.S. Unless one listens to what business has to say, the consequences may be very unexpected and quite decisive.