Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 171

Mykola Syvulskiy, the president of Ukrainian Gas Resource Consortium and the head of a self-styled headquarters for referendum for impeachment of President Leonid Kuchma, was arrested on September 17. Syvulskiy is suspected of illegally transferring 10.4 million hryvnyas of the state-controlled Ukrhazprom company to the accounts of the Dnipropetrovsk-based United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UES) (Ukrainian media, September 17-18).

Syvulskiy was first deputy finance minister in several Ukrainian cabinets between 1992 and 1996 and adviser for Ukraine’s banking system to then Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko in 1996-1997, when Ukrainian Gas Resource Consortium was established. The consortium was virtually controlled by UES which officially had a 20 percent share in it. Then UES indirectly controlled more than a half of the Ukrainian wholesale natural gas market. On April 9, 1997 the New York Times wrote that Lazarenko owned a share in UES, which earned him US$200 million a year–a report both Lazarenko and the UES president, Yulia Tymoshenko, vehemently denied. UES’s turnover equaled US$10 billion in 1996. After Lazarenko was constrained to resign in the summer of 1997, however, UES was edged out of the gas market, accused by the media, several prominent parliamentarians and indirectly by Prime Minister Valery Pustovoytenko and President Leonid Kuchma of customs and currency violations and unfair competition. Tymoshenko, a member of parliament since December 1996 and one of the leaders of Lazarenko’s Hromada (Community) party and faction in parliament, is known for bitter attacks against the cabinet of Pustovoytenko and persistent calls for impeachment of Kuchma.–OV