Speculation rife over Kivan’s political links
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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