Ukrainian MP linked to Ukrainian military supplier revealed to have Russian passport

23 December 2021, 09:46 PM

A Ukrainian MP and member of the pro-Russian Opposition Platform-For Life party is a Russian citizen, investigative journalism outlet Schemes, operated by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has reported.

The MP, Oleksandr Ponomariov, who is also the co-founder of Agrinol, a company that specializes in oil production and that is an official engine oil supplier for the Ukrainian army.

The State Investigation Bureau is currently investigating the company’s alleged supply of low-quality engine to the army in 2014. Twenty Ukrainian tanks were alleged to have been damaged by the usage of Agrinol’s poor quality oil. Agrinol claims that field “wear and tear” is to blame for the damage.

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Schemes journalists say Agrinol remains an official Ukrainian army supplier directly, or through its dealer Miroil. 

The Ponomariov-linked company was able to receive a privileged position as an engine oil supplier to the army thanks to a takeover of the bankrupt Berdyansk factory Azmol by Ultraoil, a company in Ponomariov’s sphere of influence. Berdyansk is a port city in south-east Ukraine, located on the northern coast of the sea of Azov.

Ponomariov is rumored to be the real power behind Berdyansk city authorities, holding sway over two-thirds of the city council, the Schemes investigation alleges.

According to the data provided by YouControl, an online company check service, Ponomariov’s business group consists of 35 companies. They are not mentioned in Ponomariov’s tax declaration, required by Ukrainian anti-corruption law, as their registered owners are Ponomariov’s friends and family. 

Ponomariov was granted Russian citizenship in 2003 in Ryazan oblast, 196 kilometers southeast of Moscow. In 2007, at the age of 45, Ponomariov renewed his Russian passport, Schemes investigation says, which journalists say are still valid.

Ponomariov himself claims he is not aware of the validity of his passport and he hasn’t used it in 20 years.  The pro-Russian MP said he did not recall if he had collected the passport in person and insisted he no longer had it in his possession. Ponomariov added that even if there was some 20-year-old paperwork, that would need to be double-checked. 

According to the MP, in the last 15 years he has only visited Russia once – to attend a construction expo. However, the Schemes investigation has revealed that the MP had visited Russia “at least four times, the last time being in early February 2017.” 

Ponomariov has been an MP for over 10 years. He started his parliamentary career in fugitive former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.

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