Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Ukraine’s Viktor Yushchenko plays dangerous games with illegal arms sales

Viktor Yushchenko has all chances to become the biggest spender in Ukraine’s history. The parliamentary committee for the investigation of illegal shipments of Ukrainian arms to “third countries” concluded that the Ukrainian president was involved in the loss of $2.3 billion from the nation’s budget. It touches upon the arms shipments to both Georgia and Africa. The threat of impeachment is hanging over the Ukrainian president.

Over 90 percent of the funds, which Kiev obtained from arms sales, have been embezzled, the committee investigating the illegal arms sales to Georgia concluded. The committee was set up under the initiative of the Party of the Regions after the Caucasian crisis in August. The committee determined that the arms shipments, which the Ukrainian administration organized, were conducted in violation of both national and international laws.

Georgia was receiving weapons from Ukraine before and after the armed conflict in South Ossetia. What is more, Georgia is still receiving the Ukrainian weapons, but the income from their sales hardly ever makes it to the treasury. Ukraine has sold weapons in the sum of $2.5 billion over the recent four years, the committee said. Only $200 million of the amount has been transferred to the treasury. The funds could have been a rescue for the nation that suffers considerable losses from the world financial crisis.

The documents of the committee contain the evidence proving the corruption of top officials of the Ukrainian administration, including President Viktor Yushchenko, who virtually initiated the criminal scheme. Valery Konovalyuk, the committee chairman, said that Yushchenko was literally making officials cause damage to the country. “The money was laundered via fly-by-night companies. The weapons were sold to Georgia at lowered prices, whereas the sales income was never transferred to the state budget. Yushchenko was directly involved in the embezzlement of billion-dollar amounts. He particularly received two Hummer vehicles from Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who in his turn obtained the vehicles from the US military.

“The shipments of Ukrainian arms to Georgia have caused a serious damage to the defensive capacity of Ukraine. The country lost millions of dollars of profit from joint defense projects with Russia which never materialized. It particularly goes about the modernization of Buk-M1 and S-300 missile complexes. The deal did not take place just because of the fact that Kiev was shipping the systems to Georgia. One of those Buk systems downed Russia’s Tu-22 strategic bomber,” Konovalyuk said.

Georgia was not the only country on Yushchenko’s criminal list. It is not ruled out that the committee will have to continue its work next year too. Somali pirates seized Ukraine’s Faina cargo ship with military hardware aboard in October 2008. The Ukrainian administration was rather inconsistent in its comments to explain where the ship was traveling to, and who was going to receive T-72 tanks and armored vehicles that Faina was carrying. It was later said that the Ukrainian ship was carrying the hardware to Kenya and Tanzania, but the two countries rejected their implication in any arms deals with Ukraine.

There is no smoke without fire. The traces of Yushchenko’s arms deals can be found in Khartoum, which, as the West believes, uses Russian and Chinese-made weapons to conduct the genocide in Darfur.

It goes without saying that Ukraine strongly rejects all of such accusations. If Ukraine’s participation in the extermination of the black population of Sudan is proved, the European Union and the United States will find themselves in a ticklish situation with their support of the Ukrainian leader. To put it in a nutshell, Yushchenko, who has been raised in the cradle of US democracy, started playing the anti-Western game on the Black Continent for the sake of his personal enrichment. One is only left to guess who set up whom, and who turned a blind eye on what.

It is worthy of note that Viktor Yushchenko and the Security Service of Ukraine took efforts to hamper the work of the committee. Yushchenko is obviously interested in ceasing any further investigation, the results of which may strike a serious blow on his political career.

Sergei Balmasov