(photo credit: INIMAGE)
A prominent Ukrainian Jewish politician linked to tycoon Ihor Kolomoisky was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of running an organized crime organization.
Hennadiy Korban, who served under Kolomoisky as deputy governor of the Dnepropetrovsk region until earlier this year and currently heads the UKROP political party, was detained during a massive raid by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) that also targeted the Kolomoisky-linked Fund for the Defense of the Country and the office of Kolomoisky confidant and legislator Boris Filatov.
Korban is a member of the board of trustees of the Dnepropetrovsk Jewish community.
Kolomoisky, who is also closely connected with the community, was removed from his position by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March after the tycoon, along with a force of masked men, bulled his way into the offices of state-owned companies in what was described as a takeover bid.
While authorities were emphatic that the arrest was non-political, Filatov expressed skepticism.
“The security forces came up. They forced open the doors. Korban was standing by the entrance. They grabbed him and took him away without explanation and without presenting any kind of document,” he said, according to Ukraine Today television.
Linking the arrest to local elections recently held across the country, Filatov said that it was a form of “political persecution” and Poroshenko was “sending us a signal.”
Korban’s lawyers termed the arrest a kidnapping and stated that they had minimal information regarding how it came about.
According to the Kyiv Post, Korban stands accused of several politically motivated kidnappings during his time in the Dnepropetrovsk regional administration, as well as of embezzling millions of hryvnia from the Fund for the Defense of the Country.
“There is no connection between his arrest and the Jewish community,” Eduard Dolinsky of the Kiev-based Ukrainian Jewish Committee told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “It can only hurt the Dnepropetrovsk Jewish community as he was one of the donors.”
However, Dolinsky pointed out, there are still several tycoons involved in the community and the financial harm will not likely be great.
“I think his conviction is pure criminal but in this unstable situation we should be very careful that the law enforcement would not be used as a tool against political enemies,” he added.
The Dnepropetrovsk Jewish community declined to comment.