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Yanukovych the Swindler

Published: December 6, 2013 (Issue # 1789)

When President Vladimir Putin came to power 13 years ago, we often heard the ­remark, "Once a spy, always a spy." But this might also apply to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych — with a slight rephrasing: "Once a swindler, always a swindler."

Yanukovych earned the sordid reputation of a criminal after he was convicted twice in Soviet times. He received a three-year prison sentence, for which he served seven months, after committing robbery when he was 17. Three years later, he received a two-year sentence on assault charges.

Yanukovych is also believed to be an academic swindler. He has been accused of plagiarizing 23 publications, including a book that was published in 2011.

What's more, he is an electoral swindler. In the first round of the Ukrainian presidential election in November 2004, official results showed that Yanukovych defeated his rival Viktor Yushchenko. But international monitors and members of Yushchenko's camp claimed that Yanukovych had committed mass electoral fraud, including corruption, voter intimidation and vote falsification. Many indignant Ukrainians agreed, and hundreds of thousands of them protested during the Orange Revolution against Yanukovych's fraudulent victory. On these grounds, the Supreme Court annulled the second round of the election in December 2004, and Yanukovych went on to lose the vote in the third round.

The 2010 presidential election, in which ­Yanukovych defeated former Prime Minister Yulia ­Tymoshenko, was considered more free and fair than the 2004 vote. But Yanukovych has maintained his role as swindler during his first three years in office. In October 2011, Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of abuse of power and embezzlement in a politically tainted case that was clearly driven by Yanukovych's desire to sideline his chief political opponent.

Then there is the financial swindling. Through murky transactions involving Vienna- and ­London-based shell companies, Yanukovych ­reportedly has been able to privatize a huge luxury estate called Mezhgorye, which was previously state property. As it turns out, Yanukovych, despite his public stance against European trade integration, appears to be quite integrated into Europe when it comes to his personal financial transactions and enrichment.

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Times Talk


Thursday, Apr. 24

Learn more about Denmark during the Danish Business Delegation’s visit to SPIBA this evening starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Danish Culture Institute. Danish Consul general Klaus Sorensen will be in attendance and the buffet following a presentation on Danish companies in Russia will be the perfect opportunity to network with the assembled businessmen.

AmCham’s Human Resources Committee Meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning in their St. Petersburg office. Check their website for more details.

Friday, Apr. 25

Light Music presents the main events for their Cultural Kitchen project at Loft-Project Etagi today. A B2B event that focuses on Finnish food, arts, travel, music and design, the evening will conclude with a dinner by chef Jyrki Tsutsunen and dancing to music by Aino Venna. The event, which began yesterday with presentations by tourism and cultural institutions, concludes today with a preview of Finland’s Flow festival and other musical events. Invitations are available from

Saturday, Apr. 26

At 6 p.m. this evening, stylist Liliana Modigliani offers 50 simple ways to up your style quotient with beauty tips at the Galeria shopping center on Ligovsky Prospekt. The event is part of the final day of the shopping mall’s Fashion Saturday sales event, this week focusing on top brands located on the ground floor as well as presentation from fashion experts on sprucing up your spring look.

Sunday, Apr. 27

Families shouldn’t miss Childhood Planet 2014, the trade fair that started yesterday and concludes today at LenExpo. Not only will goods and services be provided for children and families but the event hopes to promote Russian brands and eco-friendly products using the latest technology available in the childcare industry.

Monday, Apr. 28

The Hotel Indigo will be the site of SPIBA’s Acting Skills for HR and Other Managers master class this morning starting at 9 a.m. The event will begin with coffee before moving on to the class itself and conclude with a tour of the recently opened hotel. Confirm attendance by Apr. 24.

Tuesday, Apr. 29

Improve your English at the British Book Center’s Interactive English Lesson tonight at 6 p.m. Students at pre-intermediate and intermediate levels are welcome discuss topics that are selected to help learners master the more difficult aspects of English grammar and vocabulary.