As the Ukrainian presidential election approaches, we are continuing to discuss the participants. What follows is a recent follow-on interview with presidential candidate Oleksandr Onyshchenko.
Read part one of the interview here.
A prominent businessman in Ukraine, Oleksandr Onyshchenko was forced to leave Ukraine after accusing President Petro Poroshenko of pervasive corruption and making his mark as a staunch opposition supporter. Charges and arrest warrants were issued as a result of Mr. Onyshchenko revealing audiotapes that exposed high level corruption in President Poroshenko’s inner circle.
Onyshchenko was also a member of Kyiv regional council (2010-12), is a Parliament member since 2012, Deputy Chairman of the Parliament Committee on energy, and of Nuclear Policy and Nuclear Safety (2012-15).
Interpol removed him from their International Wanted list in 2017.
Q: You made serious accusations against President Poroshenko. Have you been approached by law enforcement agencies investigating the corruption of Poroshenko’s inner circle? If so, can you tell us about it?
A: Yes, among my many interactions with various law enforcement agencies, I have submitted copies of my book, as well as audiotapes to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) months ago. To this day, NABU agents still claim that cannot find any evidence of wrongdoing in the actions of President Poroshenko, a sterling example of the independence of NABU. I would love to hear what Director Artem Sytnik and President Poroshenko discussed behind closed doors regarding this case.
Ironically, after the warrants for my arrests went out, NABU agents demanded a bribe in the form of a stake in my company worth 150 million dollars in return for dropping the charges. Ukrainian media even covered this story. It was later revealed that NABU acted without authorization of the prosecutor’s office, and that the SAP has now opened a criminal investigation into the matter.
Q: Mr Onyshchenko, you just published a book in Germany and in Ukraine called “Peter the Fifth”. The former President of Georgia, and former governor of Odessa Oblast in Poroshenko’s Government, Mikheil Saakashvili called this book “absolutely truthful”. Mr Saakashvili has made similar accusations of the “rooms packed with cash in the Administration of the President”. Has this affected your case in any way?
A: As soon as I publicly announced the release of the book, new repressions began. The Newsone channel and Strana.ua both suffered as a direct result of their coverage of President Poroshenko’s corruption. They both understood the social importance of the story, and suffered consequences for bringing truth to the people. Attacks have included threats of physical violence, arrests, searches, cyberattacks, and, of course financial and police pressure.
I was targeted as well, and the criminal case that was fabricated against me received a new impetus. NABU doubled down on their past efforts, releasing a statement that the case was being surrendered to the court, the same thing they said in 2016.
Q: Do you have any plans to publish your book in the United States?
A: Yes, I plan to publish the book in the US, as these stories serve as a good example of what it means to be ranked #130 in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2017. This rating is not just a number; it is the standard of living of my citizens.
The figure in the rating specifically affects the lives of my fellow countrymen; this directly affects the quality and level of medical care and education in schools for our future generation, which are closing due to the greed of officials. These policies are forcing our teachers, highly educated people, to quit their jobs and leave for Russia or Poland to work in factories.
Today, Ukraine’s Political decisions are made only to serve the interests of a small circle of people close to the President. Their goal is funneling as much taxpayer money as possible through their various schemes. They work tirelessly to turn important funding for various national and social programs into cash, which they then launder through their various banks and operations, and ultimately either use it to purchase real estate and other assets, or simply store suitcases full of cash in the warehouse of the Presidential Administration.
With regard to truthfulness everything written in Peter the Fifth – it is all true. I passed a polygraph test with an authoritative international expert; the test backs up my claims.
Q: When we last spoke in September 2017, you mentioned your plans to run for president. Have there been any changes? What are some of Poroshenko’s policies that you would like to see changed?
A: My plans have not changed, and I will participate in the elections. It would hurt me greatly to see the name of my country in the 2018 Index of Economic Freedom by Heritage in 150th place, sandwiched between Cameroon and Sierra Leone.
According to the Global competitiveness index 2017-2018 by World Economic Forum, Ukrainian road quality is at third world levels, right beside Mozambique. My country does not deserve such treatment, and all the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of corrupt politicians.
Ukraine’s Kleptocracy is unsustainable. We cannot continue down this path. The Ukrainian people deserve better.
Q: How would you describe the current political climate in Ukraine? What should we expect to see in the next elections?
A: The winds of change are blowing. A few of Poroshenko’s MPs reached out to me and asked for advice, expressing interest in cooperating with US law enforcement. They claim they are to testify on the latest corruption within the inner circle of President Poroshenko.
After speaking with Western politicians and law enforcement agents we concluded that the President and the administration finally reached the point of no return. Corruption, lies, and scams finally have finally sunk in with international leaders and they can’t support the current Ukrainian regime any longer.
As Churchill said to Neville Chamberlain - “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.”
President Poroshenko has chosen dishonor and got a war as well. His war became with the Ukrainian people, when he decided that the country belongs to him and a few oligarchs.
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