Spec­u­la­tion rife over Ki­van’s po­lit­i­cal links

Kyiv Post - - National - BY OLEG SUKHOV [email protected]@COM

Ad­nan Ki­van, the new owner of the Kyiv Post, could be linked to the team of Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko and other politi­cians, ac­cord­ing to mul­ti­ple sources in­ter­viewed by the Kyiv Post.

The cru­cial ques­tion is whether Ki­van is a front­man for any of those politi­cians and whether those links will lead him to cur­tail the news­pa­per’s ed­i­to­rial in­de­pen­dence.

Ki­van, who de­spite be­ing ill called Kyiv Post chief ed­i­tor Brian Bon­ner on March 22, said he sup­ports jour­nal­is­tic in­de­pen­dence, democ­racy and strong stands against cor­rup­tion.

Nonethe­less, the Kyiv Post’s highly crit­i­cal cov­er­age of cor­rup­tion in high places has ir­ri­tated the na­tion's top po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, trig­ger­ing spec­u­la­tion that si­lenc­ing the news­pa­per is the rea­son be­hind the deal.

Ed­i­to­rial pol­icy

In Odesa, Ki­van owns Chan­nel 7, a tele­vi­sion sta­tion, which one ex-em­ployee said took a pro-Poroshenko line.

“There won’t be any crit­i­cism (of the gov­ern­ment) at the Kyiv Post,” Vera Za­porozhets, an Odesa-based in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist who used to work at Chan­nel 7, told the Kyiv Post. Ki­van will also make sure that his pub­li­ca­tion goes easy on the Jus­tice Min­istry, the State Fis­cal Ser­vice and gov­ern­ment bod­ies that is­sue con­struc­tion per­mits, she added.

A source who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity due to fear of reprisals told the Kyiv Post that Ki­van ed­i­to­ri­ally in­ter­feres in news ar­ti­cles but not in op-eds.

“He gives some lee­way but uses his pub­li­ca­tions as a po­lit­i­cal re­source and a tool in busi­ness com­pe­ti­tion,” said Sasha Borovik, a for­mer ad­vi­sor to ex-Odesa Oblast Gov­er­nor Mikheil Saakashvil­i.

Poroshenko links

Ki­van’s Chan­nel 7 has mostly pos­i­tive cov­er­age of Poroshenko. At Poroshenko’s press con­fer­ence on Feb. 28, a Chan­nel 7 re­porter asked one of the most fa­vor­able ques­tions - one “about Odesa’s prospects."

“No­body kisses Poroshenko’s ass like Chan­nel 7,” Za­porozhets said.

Borovik and Odesa-based anti-cor­rup­tion ac­tivist Olek­siy Chorny said that Ki­van is close to Poroshenko’s team, while David Sak­vare­lidze, for­mer prose­cu­tor of Odesa Oblast and a deputy prose­cu­tor gen­eral, said that Ki­van is al­lied with Poroshenko’s deputy chief of staff, Vi­taly Ko­valchuk.

Ko­valchuk has been ac­cused of help­ing Ki­van win ma­jor con­struc­tion con­tracts in Kyiv. On March 14, the Cul­ture Min­istry gave Ki­van’s Kodorr com­pany a con­tract to build a ho­tel on An­driyivzky Uzviz in downtown Kyiv.

The Pres­i­den­tial Ad­min­is­tra­tion did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Some of Poroshenko’s sup­port­ers were de­lighted with the Kyiv Post’s sale.

Chan­nel 7 also has a mostly pos­i­tive at­ti­tude to­wards Odesa Oblast Gov­er­nor Maksym Stepanov.

Ac­cord­ing to sev­eral sources who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to speak to the press, Ki­van also used to fi­nance ex-Ge­or­gian Pres­i­dent Mikheil Saakashvil­i when he was the gov­er­nor of Odesa Oblast in 2015-2016. Saakashvil­i later be­came a ve­he­ment critic of Poroshenko and was de­ported with­out a court war­rant in Fe­bru­ary.

Ki­valov con­nec­tion

Ki­van has also been ac­cused of hav­ing links to Ser­hiy Ki­valov, a pro-Rus­sian politi­cian, mem­ber of the Op­po­si­tion Bloc ( an off­shoot of ex-Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych’s Party of Re­gions) and a po­lit­i­cal heavy­weight ac­cused of in­flu­enc­ing the ju­di­ciary. Ki­valov, who de­nies ac­cu­sa­tions of wrong­do­ing, was the chair­man of the Cen­tral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion in 2004 when, ac­cord­ing to a Supreme Court rul­ing, the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was rigged in fa­vor of Yanukovych.

Ki­valov started his busi­ness jointly with Ki­valov when they traded metal prod­ucts from the city of Kryvy Rih in Dnipropetr­o­vsk Oblast, Za­porozhets said. She also said that Ki­van had pre­vented her in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Ki­valov’s in­flu­ence over Odesa’s courts from be­ing pub­lished in 2015. She said she quit the chan­nel af­ter that.

Trukhanov link

Ki­van was Odesa Mayor Hen­nady Trukhanov’s part­ner in sev­eral con­struc­tion projects be­fore 2015, when they fell out and be­came po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies. But re­cently Trukhanov, Ki­van and Trukhanov’s part­ner Alexan­der Angert met in an ef­fort to achieve “peace,” Za­porozhets said.

In Fe­bru­ary , Trukhanov was charged by the Na­tional An­ti­Cor­rup­tion Bu­reau of Ukraine with em­bez­zling Hr 100 mil­lion. Trukhanov is also a Rus­sian cit­i­zen, ac­cord­ing to the data­base on the site of Rus­sia’s Fed­eral Tax Ser­vice.

Other links

Ki­van also used to be a busi­ness part­ner of Ihor Markov, an Odesa-based pro-Rus­sian politi­cian who fled Ukraine in 2014, Vi­taly Usty­menko, head of the Au­toMaidan civil so­ci­ety group’s Odesa branch, told the Kyiv Post. And Ki­van is friends with Markov’s brother, Za­porozhets said.

Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko's Deputy Chief Vi­taly Ko­valchuk (R) and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Stepan Ku­biv stand at a Cabi­net meet­ing on April 26, 2017. Ko­valchuk has been ac­cused of links to Ad­nan Ki­van. (Wla­dys­law Musi­ienko)

Odesa Mayor Hen­nady Trukhanov used to be Ad­nan Ki­van's part­ner

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