You can do business in two ways: farming for milk or farming for beef. In the first case, you nurse, look after, and feed the cows, because they produce milk.
Business stability and assets in cattle make the approach attractive. However, it has downsides too, as the business owner is less mobile, because the capital gets stuck in assets, not in cash. This makes him more vulnerable. This type of business is for romantics. It is a story about a long-term game, development, social responsibility, and so on. The governments and systems tend to force entrepreneurs into doing only this type of business.
The second type is farming for beef. One gets, even better grabs, steals or buys cows at a bargain price to kill them and sell the carcasses. This type of business is for cynics who need quick wins, mobility, and low risk. As to the cows… Well, they are just meat to sell. Kolomoiskiy is a staunch proponent of this school, an inborn butcher. Baron Harkonnen. His business strategy is “I came, I saw, I killed, I sold”. What is interesting is that the cows, which Kolomoisky has slaughtered and will continue doing so, are government-owned cows in most cases. Ihor Kolomoiskiy has always slaughtered them very cynically, step by step, flaying them slowly. At the same time, he has extorted money from the cow owner, i.e. from the government, to make euthanasia free from torture and pain as much as possible.
Clearly, this type of business brings reputation problems. To address them, Kolomoisky, who has always been his own political strategist, has come up with two lines of action: hand-raised experts and media killers.
[Andriy] Herus and [Aleksandr] Dubinsky. They work in different ways. Herus is a classic Orwellian character. Doublethink as a way of life. «Chocolate prices fell from 20 to 50.»
For more than two years, the “energy expert” has been repeating the lie that Rotterdam+ [a coal price formula] affects housing and utility rates, each time pegging it to another newsworthy development. Today, for example, the story is that some unnamed security service officers has allegedly taken fares from coal trains, and this affects utility bills. Now everyone should immediately surrender to the NABU [the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine].
When Andriy is told that Rotterdam+ has no effect on utility rates at all, but affects the rates for his boss, he accuses his opponents of venality and/or evades answering the question.
What is the magic of trickery? The viewers are much more interested in looking at the cover “Rotterdam+: Corruption Rate Meter”. Cheap and cheerful, clear to everyone. OK. Let’s imagine that we live in a parallel universe, and this lie is true. So, Andriy, let’s look at your personal meter. How much does it read? UAH 40 billion? What confirms this figure? Your opinion? Wonderful. And here we have UAH 160 billion confirmed by Kroll, the IMF, and the U.S. government. This is in Privatbank’s case alone. So reconfigure your meter. On second thought, no meter can catch up with your boss.
Sasha [Aleksandr] Dubinsky is another story. Sasha employs analysts who monitor the media coverage and give him five main topics for daily vlogs, unless Kolomoisky briefs Dubinsky personally. All topics relate to Kolomoiskiy’s enemies. Analysts systematize compromising information from open and unnamed sources and pass it on to Dubinsky as a guide. Then Sasha adds swear words and airs those stories. By the way, Dubinsky is not Kolomoiskiy’s knowhow. Berezovsky worked with Dorenko that way. The league was higher there, of course, and with his intellectual and professional capabilities, Dorenko could do it without swear words.
However, swearing is not Sasha’s whim, but Igor Kolomoiskiy’s technological requirement. This is the second line Kolomoiskiy is pursuing in attempt to save his reputation. Personal charisma. Kolomoisky created an image for himself: a bearded cynical pirate with Odessa dialect.
Sort of modern Benia Krik in the Ukrainian business [a typical polite gangster character in The Odessa Tales by Isaac Babel]. Journalists have bought in this image, and so have ordinary people. It is hard to fling mud at him, because he does not deny his villainy, but admits it as a norm: don’t hate the player, hate the game. Not only does he admit, but also deliberately cultivates his flaws, asking journalists interviewing him to retain all his aphoristic phrases with slang, dialectisms, and swear words.
Dubinskiy’s swearing is a part of this mosaic. This is a deliberate lowering of the bar and elaborate bravado to show: “look, we are brazen and charming baddies”.
In fact, this outrageous behavior is a purely practical tool that makes a “smoke screen”. The funny butcher comes out of the smoke, makes jokes and a couple of memes, and, while we are laughing, he dives back and dresses a couple of cow carcasses. What is the point of this performance? It is just that we do not bother he is a criminal and we do not hold him accountable.
However, the theft of something that is government-owned is always abstract. It seems all the time that the theft does not concern you personally. Well, let’s recall Kolomoiskiy’s aircraft business. A notorious Aerosvit company known for numerous scandals around flight cancellations because of aircraft faults, sales of more tickets than seats available in airplanes, thirty delayed flights on the Euro 2012 opening day, etc. The target of passengers’ curses.
In 2012, after he became a co-owner of Ukrainian International Airlines, Kolomoiskiy started bringing Aerosvit to bankruptcy. A year before the bankruptcy announcement, the airline had begun to increase its debts, stopped paying for airport services, flight navigation, and jet fuel. In international flights, for example, Kyiv – New York, it kept only water and corn curls as passenger meals. The airline also delayed the payment of salaries to its employees.
Having gone bankrupt, Aerosvit owed about UAH 80 million to Boryspil International Airport, about UAH 2 million to Odessa Airport, almost UAH 4 million to Ukrainian Aviation Meteorological Center, and a lot of money to many more public and private companies. As it turned out later, the total debt of the airline was approximately UAH 8.4 billion. Kolomoisky’s businesses appeared to have the biggest claims, and only those claims were met. Indeed, Kolomoiskiy’s new and still clean business, Ukrainian International Airlines, got the best routes and airplanes.
The icing on the cake: Aerosvit owes its employees about UAH 156 million. Trade unions have managed to have only UAH 45 million of the sum repaid after three years of judicial battles.
As we see, our charming pirate successfully robs his own rowers, the very people whose servant has recently become the president through the agency of Kolomoiskiy. Ihor Kolomoiskiy has taken everything away from his own people. By the way, today Ukrainian International Airlines is also accumulating loss and siphoning off assets, just like Aerosvit did in 2011-2012.
Kolomoiskiy has been robbing billions without being in power, but just having agents of influence in courts and allies of convenience among the country’s leaders. Today the tragedy of Ukraine is that now he has a chance to boost his influence immensely.
Let’s make one more comparison. Imagine a hyena in the savannah. It has always found prey in its natural habitat and felt great. Well, now this hyena is placed into an enclosure with herbivores. The country may fail to recover from the effects of this experiment.
We will continue the series of stories about Kolomoisky’s businesses to show models that will soon be introduced on a commercial scale, so to speak.