Ukraine: The Mandelson connection

Writing recently about the creation of a social enterprise centre in Donetsk,  I’ve since been going over in my mind why this city was chosen ahead of the Kharkiv National University, suggested in our 2006 proposal.

Kharkiv had been proposed with the agreement of the university and was well placed as an existing centre of education for both Eastern Europe and students from the developing world.  Their was also local support in the form of the Maidan civic action leadership and the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group.

Donetsk on the other hand,  is regarded as the home turf for a leading oligarch who in Terry Hallman’s notes is referred to as “a reputed mob boss”:

“As the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan came around in June 2007, noise was emerging within Ukraine of a certain political boss preparing a Marshall Plan for Ukraine.  This person was a reputed mob boss — exactly the sort of entity that the original Marshall Plan meant to oppose.  It seemed most likely that whatever he came up with would be self-serving, hijacking the label ‘Marshall Plan’ and turning the whole notion on its head.”

Al Jazeera’s  documentary ‘Ukraine: State of Chaos’ describes the development of the Donetsk power base.

Where oligarchs are concerned, the presence of Lord Mandelson has become almost ubiquitous and in September last year the Daily Mail reported:

“Lord Mandelson was flown on an all-expenses-paid trip to the Ukraine to give a speech at an event sponsored by a controversial oligarch. The former Business Secretary lavished praise on the country while addressing a televised debate in Kiev.

His travel costs were paid for by a foundation set up and funded by Ukrainian multi-billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, but the peer denies claims from sources close to the organisers that he had received a ‘heavy load’ appearance fee. Mr Akhmetov, who this year bought Britain’s most expensive penthouse near Hyde Park for £136million, is Ukraine’s richest man. He has been been accused by his enemies of having underworld links.”

This article disappeared from the Daily Mail online  who are involved in ongoing litigation with Lord Mandleson and business associates. As journalist John Helmer reports in his ‘Dances with Bears’ blog, this group has already been defeated in high court action which demonstrates that telling the truth is a legitimate defence against any claim of libel.

When one considers the ludicrous situation  that back in the UK, as business secretary,  Lord  Mandelson had hosted a social enterprise summit  and promised help to firms who helped others, it is clear that no-one was better connected to make this happen.

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