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Ukraines Gas Traders Revealed

Published: April 28, 2006 (Issue # 1165)


MOSCOW Gazproms Izvestia newspaper announced with a flourish Wednesday that two Ukrainian businessmen, Dmytro Firtash and Ivan Fursin, were the beneficiaries behind the mysterious other half of RosUkrEnergo.

Citing what it said were excerpts of a PricewaterhouseCoopers audit of the secretive gas trader, the newspaper named the men in a front-page article written in a sarcastic, anti-American tone that attempted to link them to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.

The audit named Firtash and Fursin as the owners of Centragas, a company that owns the 50 percent of RosUkrEnergo not owned by Gazprom. Centragas is held by Austrias Raiffeisen Bank for beneficiaries who had refused to be named.

Centragas confirmed Izvestias report in a statement late Wednesday, saying Firtash owned a 90 percent stake in Centragas, and Fursin a 10 percent stake.

Firtash is director of the Cyprus-based investment company Highrock Holdings, as well as board chairman of Estonian fertilizer factory Nitrofert, according to anti-corruption watchdog Global Witness. Fursin owns an Odessa bank and a movie theater, and is also president of a branch of Highrock Holdings, according to Izvestia.

Izvestia said Highrock was owned by Semyon Mogilevich, a Ukrainian-born businessman wanted by the FBI and reputed to be a major figure in organized crime.

The revelation came after Gazprom had for months redirected inquiries about RosUkrEnergos ownership to Ukrainian officials.

Yet the article appeared to raise far more questions than it answered in particular, about the timing and motives behind its publication.

Written under the name Vladimir Berezhnoi, the article attacked the U.S. Justice Department, which was reported last week to be investigating RosUkrEnergos then-unknown beneficiaries.

The internal problems of their own country, evidently, have long since been resolved (the only thing left is to execute the terrorist Moussaoui), and thus they have the time and desire to meddle in other peoples affairs, the Izvestia article said.

Several staff members at Izvestia contacted by telephone Wednesday identified Berezhnoi as a freelance writer.

But a source at Izvestia said on condition of anonymity that Berezhnoi did not exist, and that the article had been written by an Izvestia staff member under a pseudonym after a Gazprom representative showed him the PwC audit.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Dec. 26


Celebrate Boxing Day by playing various tabletop games during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening tonight at 5 p.m. Spread the Christmas cheer and goodwill by making other people regret their decision to come and try to match their intellectual prowess against yours.



Saturday, Dec. 27


Indulge cultural and material needs simultaneously during the free classical music concert at the Galeria shopping mall in the heart of the city. Starting at 7 p.m., shoppers and mallwalkers will be able to hear the sounds of Tchaikovsky and Strauss softly lilt over the constant buzz of people bustling from store to store, trying to get their shopping done before New Year.



Sunday, Dec. 28


Prepare for the holidays at the Russian Winter New Years Fair on Moskovskaya Ploshchad, which concludes today after starting on Dec. 22. Games and attractions as well as numerous performances will be on offer for those looking to get into the spirit while numerous vendors will help make sure you have something for everyone on your list.



Monday, Dec. 29


Learn how the Swedes observe Christmas, or Jul, in their land of ice and snow, during aSwedish Christmas celebration at the Lermontov Childrens Library this afternoon at 4 p.m. Activities explaining and demonstrating Swedens cultural traditions will be accompanied by traditional dishes and sweets.



Tuesday, Dec. 30


Today is the final day of the Christmas Market at the Europolis shopping center on Polyustrovsky prospekt. Indulge your holiday sweet tooth by tucking into some gingerbread men, or attend one of the master classes that will teach you about how to make beautiful, festive decorations for your tree using only your hands.



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