Saturday, August 27, 2016


Ukrainian Oligarch Tears Into RFE/RL Journalist

Ukrainian oligarch and politician Ihor Kolomoyskiy
Ukrainian oligarch and politician Ihor Kolomoyskiy
One would expect Ukrainian oligarchs and politicians to be made of sterner stuff.
Billionaire oligarch and Dnipropetrovsk Governor Ihor Kolomoyskiy, however, lost his cool in the late-night hours of March 19-20 when a reporter from RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service -- together with other journalists -- asked him why he had just spent six hours with a group of armed men in the headquarters of the state-owned Ukrtransnafta oil-transit company.
The question by journalist Serhiy Andrushko sent Kolomoyskiy into an expletive-filled rant in which he urged RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, known locally as Radio Svoboda, to go looking for Russian saboteurs rather than tracking his movements. The profanity-laced tirade lasted more than a minute and was caught on video.
On March 19, the supervisory board of Ukrtransanafta, in which Kolomoyskiy's PrivatGroup holds a 42 percent stake, dismissed the board chairman and Kolomoyskiy associate, Oleksandr Lazorko. 
This followed a decision by Ukraine's parliament to lower the necessary quorum for shareholder votes at state-owned companies, from 60 percent to 50 percent.
Kolomoyskiy called the actions a "corporate raid." 
WATCH: Ihor Kolomoyskiy's tirade (in Russian, no subtitles)
The governor, who also provides funding for pro-Kyiv battalions, may also have been upset with Andrushko and Radio Svoboda because of a video report published on March 12 that outlines Kolomoyskiy's manipulation of his political ties to benefit his business interests.
In one exchange from last year shown in that report, Andrushko asks why Kolomoyskiy has Ukrainian, Israeli, and Cypriot passports when Ukrainian law forbids dual citizenship.
"In the constitution it says dual citizenship is forbidden," Kolomoyskiy says. "But triple citizenship is not forbidden."
Ukraine's state Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information has called on Kolomoyskiy to apologize to Andrushko, saying he violated his oath as a public servant and the rant showed "signs of obstruction of journalism." 
In a statement, RFE/RL editor in chief Nenad Pejic condemned Kolomoyskiy's "verbal attack."
"It is a violation of all international standards and decency that a public official would verbally abuse a journalist," he said. "It is also reckless and potentially dangerous. We also condemn the outrageous accusations made against RFE/RL, whose job is to serve the public interest by providing independent, unbiased, and accurate reporting to the people of Ukraine."
-- Robert Coalson, based on reporting by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service 
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: On the Balcony from: Ukraine
March 20, 2015 18:31
Actually, Kolomoysky was much politer than I expected - and unlike PMs, etc. under Yanukovitch, he merely used verbal insults --AND he gave the reporter an opportunity to respond and ask more questions. He is entirely right to be concerned about the change in law which effectively stripped him of any say in the company. But, more important than this story is his public revelations about criminal corruption he gave to the Financial Times. I don't care why he is exposing himself and his fellow oligarchs, all I know is that for the first time it appears that reform in Ukraine may have a chance. Kolomoysky 's an unlikely and for many an unlikable hero but he has put his life on the line for a better Ukrainian future.

by: Robert from: Moscow
March 21, 2015 01:58
It's necessary to know Russian in order to understand all these 'pretty' words and moreover to understand the essence of the after-revolutionary ukranian governance. The words of Kolomoysky may be heard from any 'gopnik' from city suburbs in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Poor is Ukraine...

by: Richard from: Australia
March 21, 2015 04:28
Robert Coalson wrote report BASED ON REPORTING BY RFE/RL's Ukrainian service (see above for yourselves). I do understand Russian perfectly and heard what Kolomoisky said. Apart from common f..k there was no real abuse of a journalist. He just told this journalist from Liberty Station why he was engaged in biased reporting and castigated him for claiming status of free reporting when clearly taking sides and not reporting about Russian instigated saboteur provocations, actions, etc. He gave him right to respond but the journalist had nothing to say about why he was not interested in reporting about Russian-orchestrated actions against Ukrainians. I suggest Mr Coalson in future translates what Kolomoisky says instead of allowing himself to be influenced by RFE/RL.
In Response

by: Muti from: London
March 21, 2015 11:04
'Radio Free is bias'? Lol, Kiev urgently needs to start war with the rebels, otherwise these crooks will slaughter each other. The country is in total mess, and is run by gangs. Very sad! They should have kept Yanukovich, by now he would have gone with popular vote anyway as both sides would not want him. Instead, people would rather have him back.

by: Richard from: Australia
March 21, 2015 04:40
And Kolomoisky in his barrage names the minister who sent Russian tugs to take over the company, shows a document of self appointment to take over the company, promises to take it to prosecutor and asks if the instigator is a new president of Ukraine to behave like this? The journalist simply has no answers to his barrage of very relevant questions and disclosures. Why are you not putting a full translated transcript of what Kolomoisky said and instead try to assasinate him for showing his anger? If his accussations are correct he was right to be angry!
In Response

by: Muti from: london
March 21, 2015 11:08
lol. You are on the other side of the world and still can comment on things you are alien about. Just stay in down under crock. You defend this crook? The state wants to control its assets, and wanna get rid of crooks. You don't bloody understand Russian. He is very very upset that he is not president. He is number one enemy of Porkoshenko and there is a war among the US backed oligarchs and EU backed crooks. loser!
In Response

by: Vlad the Impaler from: Moscow
March 23, 2015 09:30
Hey Muti from Moscow. What part of Moscow (I mean London) do you live in?

by: Steve Asplin from: Kyiv
March 21, 2015 17:32
If RFERL wants to report this with video evidence, they should have the video subtitled in English. Many people use RFERL to get information on Ukraine in English and not having a subtitled video, especially when claiming the incident as a 'tirade' doesn't help its credibility as a news organisation, or on its reportage of this incident, particularly as the so called 'tirade' was directed against one of its own journalists. As for saying that his language is like a 'gopnik', from another commenter, well his language is direct, and there is a few expletives here and there, but I wouldn't class it as street thug speak, you must live in a pretty posh neighbourhood if that's how your hoodlums speak.
In Response

by: sandy miller from: usa
March 22, 2015 22:49
This is very bad. Kolomoisky is helping save parts of Ukraine that Russia would have taken over by now if not for him and his money. Whatever internal war they are having this is not a good time to have it. Talk it over amongst each other and straighten out. Stop playing games. This is exactly what Putin had in mind.

by: Rascalndear from: Yaremche, Ukraine
March 26, 2015 20:37
I'm very disappointed with RFE/RL's reporting on this particular incident. Fortunately, most of the comments agree with this and present a better idea of what really went on. (1) Kolomoyskiy is not particularly abusive or even aggressive, just explaining things with the occasional "fuck" thrown in and asking why the journalist didn't cover the previous attack by Russian saboteurs, but is only filming Kolomoyskiy's effort to prevent the illegal takeover. I was wondering why there weren't any English subtitles to this and now it looks like RFE/RL is not an honest player, unfortunately.

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

Most Popular

Editor's Picks