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Ukraine tycoon offers to build Russian border fence

A wealthy pro-Kiev leader in restive eastern Ukraine proposed Friday erecting a high-voltage fence along the Russian border to keep out separatist fighters and avert further Kremlin “aggression”.

Dnipropetrovsk Governor Igor Kolomoyskiy — a tycoon worth an estimated $2.4 billion and a renowned critic of Russia President Vladimir Putin — submitted the plan to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for formal approval, his deputy said.

The proposed 1,900-kilometre (1,200-miles) electrified metal fence could be built in six months and its 100-million-euro ($135-million) cost financed by a local charity, Gennadiy Korban told local news agencies.

“This project’s objective is to prevent people from breaking in from a country that is waging aggression against Ukraine,” Korban said.

Korban said the electrified fence would be topped by barbed wire and surrounded by deep trenches that are further fortified by remote control and anti-personnel mines.

The entire region would be protected by motorised divisions of the Ukrainian interior ministry and the part-volunteer National Guard force.

There was no immediate comment to the proposal from the president’s office.

Kolomoyskiy, a 51-year-old Dnipropetrovsk native, was appointed governor on March 2 as part of the new pro-Western leaders’ efforts ensure control over the heavily-Russified east.

He has since succeeded in preventing the separatist violence that has enveloped the neighbouring Donetsk and Lugansk regions since early April from spreading to his region of Dnipropetrovsk.

Kolomoyskiy is vilified by the Russian state media for his overt support for Ukrainian nationalist causes and heavy criticism of the Kremlin.

His business empire includes Ukraine’s largest bank Privat and three small regional airlines along with some oil companies.

Kolomoyskiy also controls several national television stations and oversees the local Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk football club.