More on Yukhym Zvyahilsky
Want to know more about the man who controls the Zasyadka Mine and who called in sick yesterday? Here’s a quote from "The Theft of the Truth," a 2001 article by Julian Evans published in New Statesman:
Zvyahilsky is indeed a powerful man. You can see his power here, here, and here. So how many more people have to die before we stop stabilnist?
Zvyahilsky is an old political colleague of President Kuchma's, having briefly been prime minister in the mid-Nineties. When his political career ran off the road after he was said to have diverted somewhere between $40m and $250m of state funds into his own pocket, he avoided the hue and cry by emigrating to Israel for two years. The case against him was dropped for "lack of evidence", and he returned to Ukraine, where he became the mine chairman.
Some of the miners I spoke to said Zvyahilsky had agreed to pay back some of the allegedly stolen money, and that Kuchma forgave him. Other versions say that it was Kuchma himself who told him to leave the country for a few years, to allow things to settle down. It is said that he has acquired 60,000 hectares of prime Ukrainian farmland since his return. An informant who works in the agricultural sector has proof that Zvyahilsky owes 400,000 hryvna (£51,000) for seeds purchased for use on his farm.
There is no doubt that Zvyahilsky is a powerful man. At the offices of a Donetsk newspaper, I spoke to a journalist, who preferred not to be named. "Put it this way," he said, "in this region there are two clans. Mr Zvyahilsky is the head of one of them." He, too, was nervous of saying more. Would his newspaper publish anything negative about Zvyahilsky if it had proof? "No."