Rinat Akhmetov Called in to Give Unknown Evidence
Ukraine's Interior Ministry advised yesterday that Donetsk entrepreneur Rinat Akhmetov, one of the richest men in Ukraine, had been called in for questioning. The ministry did not specify under which criminal case Akhmetov was being questioned. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian media hastened to give their theories. Spokesmen for the oligarch are denying that a summons was served.
Rinat Akhmetov owns nearly 90 percent of the shares in System Capital Management (SCM). Through it, he controls a number of large industrial enterprises in Donetsk and Lugansk regions, including the Azovstal Iron & Steel Works, the Khartsyzsk Pipe Plant, several mining and processing companies, the Kramatorsk Engineering Works, and several Donbass coal mining companies. According to media information, SCM also owns shares in Digital Cellular Communications of Ukraine, Vostokenergo, insurance companies, breweries, hotels, confectioners, TV and radio companies, and newspapers. In addition, Akhmetov is the principal shareholder and president of the Donetsk football club Shakhter. Akhmetov made the Forbes list for the first time in 2005; he was in 258th place with a fortune of $2.4 billion.
On June 23, Sergey Kornicha, the head of Economic Crimes Department of Ukraine's Interior Ministry, suggested that Akhmetov might be formally charged. УI am deeply convinced that Akhmetov is the real head of an organized crime group. I don't care if he's offended,Ф Kornicha said at a press conference at the Interior Ministry. Five days later, Interior Minister Yury Lutsenko commented on this statement. He said he personally didn't see any evidence that Akhmetov was implicated in any criminal offences, but he regarded his subordinate Kornicha as a professional who had the right to make such statements. As Lutsenko noted at the time, he had spoken with Kornicha, who promised he would either prove his case or apologize to the oligarch.
Yesterday, the ministry showed that Kornicha had kept his promises. The ministry's public relations department published a short notice that Akhmetov had been called in for questioning: УA written invitation has been delivered to citizen of Ukraine Akhmetov Rinat Leonidovich to appear at the Criminal Investigation Department of the Interior Ministry on July 18 at 11.00 in the morning to offer an explanation on the basis of materials of a review of events that occurred in the city of Donetsk.Ф The police did not publish details of the criminal case that had been instituted.
At the same time, yesterday, the sites of several online newspapers, quoting their sources in the law enforcement agencies, published similar reports describing the details of the events. In 1998, Akhmetov had allegedly been personally involved in the attempted murder of a Donetsk crime boss nicknamed Botsman. The victim received gunshot wounds but survived and fled from Ukraine to Russia. He is now said to be ready to testify against the offender. The Interior Ministry has neither confirmed nor denied this information. УI don't have the right to comment on the circumstances of the case at present. If the investigator says to inform the media that the case is being prosecuted in connection with the shooting, we will do so,Ф the head of the ministry's public relations department, Konstantin Stogny, told Kommersant.
In turn, System Capital Management's press service refuted the ministry's information that Akhmetov had been served a summons to appear for questioning. УAs of today, Mr. Akhmetov has not received any official documents from the law enforcement agencies,Ф the press service told Kommersant on Wednesday evening. Furthermore, SCM spokesmen called the information published in Internet media groundless and absurd. УIt is completely obvious that someone has strong intentions of ruining Mr. Akhemtov's reputation,Ф the company's press service said.
All the Article in Russian as of July 14, 2005