Ukraine leader says he will not let oligarchs sow ‘chaos’
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Saturday pledged to stop oligarchs from sowing "chaos" after the governor of a key industrial region quit following a row over a state oil firm.
Billionaire Igor Kolomoisky reluctantly offered to step down this week as governor of the key industrial region of Dnipropetrovsk after a dispute over control of the country’s largest oil producer ended up with armed men storming the offices of two state-controlled oil firms.
“As long as I am president, I will not allow conflict at the heart of power,” Poroshenko told the private ICTV channel.
“My main priority is the fight against oligarchs,” he said. “I will not allow chaos, neither in Kiev, nor in other cities.”
Kolomoisky, a banking tycoon, was appointed to the post after the ouster of Kremlin-backed president Viktor Yanukovych last year.
He funded a powerful volunteer militia group that has played a leading role in fighting the heavily-armed pro-Russian insurgents in the east.
Although the 52-year-old officially resigned after the standoff, experts believe it was Poroshenko’s decision.
The president — himself a billionaire — is under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which approved a $17.5 billion rescue package for Ukraine’s war-battered economy earlier this month, to clean up the country’s politics.
The end of Kolomoisky’s tenure came after armed men suspected to be working for him barricaded themselves inside the headquarters of the Ukrnafta energy company and its subsidiary, before leaving peacefully Tuesday after a tense two-day standoff.
Kolomoisky’s Privat Group owns 43 percent of Ukrnafta.
The show of force followed parliament’s adoption of a law that increases state control over public companies, weakening Kolomoisky’s de-facto grip on the oil producer.