Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
Recently in the media there were rumors that President Petro Poroshenko started buying up media assets. This was mentioned by the news TV channel “112 Ukraine” and NewsOne, and the now owned by Igor Kolomoisky 1+1 TV channel. As “Strana” discovered, there is no smoke without fire. The process indeed exists.
As Poroshenko bargained for the channel 112
“Once Poroshenko has asked me to buy the TV channel “112 Ukraine” for him,” said the people’s deputy Oleksandr Onishchenko, who is hiding from Ukrainian law enforcement officers in London, to “Strana”. A year ago he was more than close to the President.
According to Onishchenko, this wish was made in May last year. During the negotiations on the sale, Petro Poroshenko proposed to sign a Memorandum – an agreement involving the mitigation of information policy of the channel in relation to the President – in exchange for assistance in the renewal of TV station licenses and withdrawal of the sanctions of the national council on television and radio.
As is shown in the document (at the disposal of “Strana”), “Party #2” (TV channel) was to provide positive coverage of political events in Ukraine on the air of the TV channel “112 Ukraine”. As well as the “priority right of purchase of the TV channel “112 Ukraine” at a price not less than $30 million when making a decision on its sale.
At the same time, negotiating the purchase was prolonged for financial reasons.
“The bargaining started. Poroshenko wanted the channel to be bought-sold for $17 million, but the owner of the TV channel Andrey Podschipkov requested at least $25 million,” said Onishchenko.
At the same time, negotiating the purchase was delayed for financial reasons.
According to him, at some of the stages in the negotiation process investment banker Makar Pasenyuk presidential Administration peared, more precisely he hired by the presidential Administration as an accompanying negotiator. According to Onishchenko, Pasenyuk proposed put the documents in the name of the off-shore company, which later surfaced in the Panama scandal. Namely, Prime Asset Partners Limited.
“The beneficiary was hidden. At some point we learned that the final buyer is Poroshenko,” said a source close to the negotiations to “Strana”.
According to Onishchenko, in order to lower the price of the TV channel “112-Ukraine”, the national council for television and radio controlled by the President reviewed the channel and announced a series of alerts for digital licenses and tried to withdraw it through the courts.
“There was several warnings like that, as a way to bring down the price – until the desired one,” says Onishchenko. “In the same logic, the Prosecutor’s office opened a criminal case against the owner of the TV channel Andrey Podschipkov. The presidential Administration asked Podschipkov to assign to the TV channel a person that suits Bankova. Podschipkov entered negotiations on this subject, but the presidential Administration did not keep its word, and actually ditched the owner, continuing the criminal prosecution. He emigrated. Now he is in London, by the way, and sits beside me in the restaurant,” Onishchenko said and turned his phone screen to the neighbor.
Podschipkov, the owner of the TV channel “112 Ukraine”, greeted the journalist of “Strana”.
In response to a request from “Strana” to confirm the information, said 5 minutes ago by Onishchenko, Podschipkov smiled, nodded, and promised to call back in a couple of days to provide more detailed comments on the topic.
“If you are told that this isn’t real, I still have a pile of correspondence with Sergey Berezenko (Deputy head of the faction PPO) and Makar Pasenyuk about the details of the future deals,” said Onishchenko, saying that he left the negotiations in late May.
In early June of last year, the owner of trading network “Eldorado” and business center “Gulliver” Victor Polishchuk became the negotiator from the presidential Administration. However, after a few months, he also left the negotiation process. “Strana” hasn’t managed to get a comment from Polishchuk yet.
At the same time, despite all these problems, now the team of Poroshenko again is occupied by the issue of buying TV channels.
The ideologist of the process, according to informed sources in the presidential Administration, are the friends of Poroshenko Igor Kononenko and the media manager Dmitry Nosikov. The latter is credited with the idea of creating a media-holding, which would unite under one roof of the presidential three leading news channels – Channel 5 (now belongs to the President), the Channel 112, and NewsOne (owned by opposition MP Evgeny Muraev). Information about the impending purchase by the President of Channel 1+1 has not yet been confirmed. “The issue with the TV Channel 1+1 is solved in the complex with the problem of “PrivatBank” and other issues of Kolomoisky. When they decide – the decision on the TV channel will be ready also,” said the source of “Strana” in the presidential Administration.
Negotiations about 112 and NewsOne, meanwhile, still continue, and with difficulties. Our sources in radical circles do not rule out aggravation around these two channels in order to make their owners more flexible. And the issue is not only about official pressure (through the national council) but also about forced pressure.
“At any time if we receive an order, we can repeat the scenario of “Inter” on the channels that cause suspicion of separatism and pro-Russian orientation,” said a source in radical circles to “Strana”.
By a curious coincidence, on the days when the material was ready to leave, “Strana” met in one of Kiev cafe Ilya Kivu and Dmitry Korchinsky (both accused in the organization of arson and blockade of inter).
Dmitry Korchinsky pulled sugar packets from the broad palms of Ilya Kiva. To the question of “Strana” about what this means, Kiva and Korchinsky explained that they are pulling straws – where to go next time. Whether it was a joke or it was serious…
“Strana” didn’t receive comment at the time of publication from the administration of the President and Makar Pasenyuk, but is ready to publish them as soon as they are received.
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