Jamie Dettmar, the Opinion Editor for POLITICO Europe, interviewed Yulia Kiryanova, the CEO of Smart Holding, one of Ukraine’s largest investment conglomerates. Kiryanova, who leads the company in an effort to save it from what appears to be a corporate raid involving Ukrainian government officials aimed at getting the company to agree to a fire sale, doesn’t feel safe. She believes that Russia’s war on Ukraine is being used by powerful forces in Ukraine to extort, plunder, and undermine commercial rivals for personal gain.
Kiryanova and other business executives believe that the “reorder” of corporate wealth will lead some companies, including Smart Holding, to face dubious criminal charges or get added to Ukraine’s list of sanctioned companies. Global sports betting giant Parimatch was recently added to the list of sanctioned companies, but the reasons for the sanctions remain unclear. The move against Ukraine’s most successful company raises concerns over corruption and risks deterring foreign investors.
Smart Holding is currently one of the largest investment groups in Ukraine, with a focus on metals, mining, oil and gas, agriculture, retail, shipbuilding, and real estate. The company holds a 23% stake in Metinvest, another major mining and metals group that owns the Azohustal steelworks in Mariupol, which was destroyed during the long siege of the city.
Founded in 2006 by former oligarch and former Ukrainian parliamentarian Vadim Novinsky, who is now a full-time priest of the Moscow-affiliated Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Smart Holding has been working hard to save the company from the corporate raid that involves sanctioning the company to pressure the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to merge with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Kiryanova and her team have flooded senior Ukrainian officials, including the head of the Ukrainian President’s Office Andriy Yermak, for clarification, but have yet to receive a response. They believe that a commercial war has erupted in Ukraine that’s affecting everything from agribusiness to the country’s reputable IT sector.
Some officials refer to the SBU letter explaining the reasons for the sanctions, but because it is confidential, they are not willing to share it with us. That’s why Liashko added that transparency is important.