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Putin's crony and his partner double their 'stash' in Belarusian bank

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Vladimir Putin, Viktor Medvedchuk, and Absolutbank owner Mikalai Varabey / collage by Euroradio​

In 2020, Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, whom the press calls "Putin's crony," doubled his "stash" in a Belarusian bank owned by businessman Mikalai Varabey, Lukashenka's associate. Euroradio has studied Medvedchuk's tax return for 2020. While in 2019, he and his wife kept about 4.8 million euros in the Belarusian Absolut Bank, in 2020, they declared more than 9.5 million euros.

Most of these funds are registered in the name of Medvedchuk's wife, Oksana Marchenko.

Medvedchuk has long cooperated with oligarchs who are friends with the Belarusian authorities, most notably Mikalai Varabey. Euroradio has already reported on their close ties. Over the past year, despite the sanctions that Volodymyr Zelensky imposed on Medvedchuk and the inclusion of Mikalai Varabey in the European sanctions list, their cooperation has only strengthened.

Vladimir Medvedchuk today is one of Absolutbank's major clients. As of October 1, 2020 (more recent data is not available yet), the bank had 127 million rubles of clients' funds. More than 29.5 million of them belong to Medvedchuk and his wife.

Viktor Medvedchuk's partner, Verkhovna Rada MP Taras Kozak, noticeably increased his "stash" in Absolut Bank. Now, his accounts in Absolut Bank have more than €8 million in them, and almost the same amount of dollars. A year ago, the MP had 6.6 million euros in his account.

In total, this is more than 48 million rubles. This money plus Medvedchuk's funds is half (!) of all the funds held in Mikalai Varabey's bank.

Varabey's problems in Ukraine

Ukraine imposed sanctions against Kozak and Medvedchuk in early 2021. They are charged with aiding and abetting Russian militias in Donbas. Because of this, their accounts are blocked in Ukraine, among other things. However, this is not a problem for politicians: there is money in Belarus, which is not obliged to execute internal Ukrainian sanctions.

The Ukrainian authorities did not limit themselves to freezing accounts. They decided to nationalize the large pipeline "Samara-Western Direction," which is often referred to in the local media as "Medvedchuk's pipe," although the actual beneficial owner was Mikalai Varabey. Kyiv decided that the privatization of the pipeline violated Ukrainian legislation. As a result, this asset was taken away from the Belarusian oligarch.

Because of the European sanctions, Varabey was prohibited from buying the Ukrainian BTA Bank. Theoretically, it, too, could have been a reliable "cushion" for storing Medvedchuk and Kozak's money. But no, it did not work out.