Open letter to Mr Igor Kolomoisky
'Life is like a supermarket: you take whatever you want, but you have to pay when you get to the checkout.'
Dear Mr Kolomoisky,
Once you were one of Ukraine's most powerful men, if not formally her richest. You ran Dnipropetrovsk as your personal fiefdom, the Police and a private militia all run on your pay cheque and at your personal disposal. For a period you were even officially the province's Governor. You owned the country's largest banking group, Privatbank, and you owned Ukrainian International Airlines as your personal private airline. You were the doyen of the West, responsible in particular for opening Ukrainian banking markets to the West. You were feted everywhere you went in the West, and Israel granted you citizenship.
All that came to an end when you funded the Maidan Revolution in 2014, successfully overthrowing Ukraine's then President, Viktor Yanukovich, who did not lean to the West sufficiently to your liking. You must have imagined that, in conjunction with your fellow Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, you were at the height of your powers.
Alas, it was not so. In your actions in disturbing Ukraine's delicate political balance between East and West, you made a deadly enemy in the Kremlin. The Kremlin pushed back against the Maidan overthrow, ensuring the installation of a shrewd chameleon of a President, Petro Poroshenko, who said all the right things to the West but also spoke to the Kremlin daily and followed their dictates. Some of their principal dictates were to make your life as difficult as possible. So you were placed under a corruption investigation in respect of the corrupt terms by which you acquired control of Privatbank; the bank itself was nationalised; so was the airline; you fled to Israel, which does not extradite its citizens; and the FBI in the United States opened a criminal investigation into your money laundering and corruption using Privatbank. You are now the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by the United States, which means that you cannot travel anywhere except Ukraine (which is at war) and Israel (but you cannot get there because airspace above Ukraine is closed).
You returned from Israel to Ukraine after you and Mr Akhmetov jointly used your corrupt funds to fix the 2019 Ukrainian Presidential election for your politically fictitious candidate, who had no political history and formed a new political party that had never existed before, Mr Zelenskiy. You even funded an absurd television show in which Mr Zelenskiy, a hitherto unknown minor comedian, was the principal star playing a comedian who became President. And then you fixed the elections to ensure that the fiction became reality.
Unfortunately the Kremlin did not share your sense of humour. Hence after two years of bilious anti-Moscow rhetoric spilling from the mouth of Mr Zelenskiy, and a complete severance of ties between Kyiv and Moscow, as Kyiv ceased to act as an intermediary buffer state and fell ever more into the western orbit, Russia cut her energy subsidies to Ukraine, sued for the balance - a massive sum nobody could afford to pay - and then sent the world's largest land column of armour since World War II to surround Ukraine. Still you did not pause to contemplate the prospect of negotiating with and coming to an accommodation with Moscow. Instead you ploughed on, causing your President to continue to insult the Kremlin and disregard her interests; and hence Ukraine was invaded by the Red Army. You bear a substantial proportion of the responsibility for this.
Now you sit in your fortified palace in Dnipropetrovsk, in your office with a shark tank in it into which you feed live shrimp, surrounded by members of your private militia who are armed to the teeth. So you live in a bubble, Dnipropetrovsk being an industrial city in the heart of central Ukraine, imagining that you are safe. Yet the Red Army is less than an hour and a half away. Do not think that the prospect of street-to-street fighting will deter the Russian Armed Forces; look what they did to Mariupol, the sometime stronghold of your colleague Mr Akhmetov, who now lives in presumably permanent exile in London after Mariupol was razed in battle with the Azov Brigades, Mr Akhmetov's personal militia (just as you have yours). At least, the parts of Mariupol controlled by Mr Akhmetov were razed, including his steel factory. The other steel factory in Mariupol, owned by a Kremlin ally, was untouched as were the residential areas for civilians working in the other steel works. It turns out that Red Army shells, with their contemporary inertial guidance systems, can be most discriminating when they want to be.
Your fake comedian President is making plans to flee the country as the Red Army advances ever further north and east from the north bank of the Khakovka reservoir that provides both Dnipropetrovsk and the sister town controlled by you of Zaporizhzhiya, overflowing with refugees from Ukraine's southeast as a result of Mr Akhmetov's comprehensive defeat. His problem has now become your problem; how very accommodating of him. Both your cities will fall once the Russians turn off the power (provided by three Khakovka Reservoir power stations) and water. As the Red Army closes in on your fortress in central Dnipropetrovsk, you with your most trusted private guards will have to escape. And the only way out will be north to Kyiv. But unlike Mr Zelenskiy, your flight to Poland will not be possible because it will result in your arrest by Polish authorities upon entrance to their territory pursuant to the international warrant issued against you.
That is if you make it to the Polish border; the Russians may assassinate you first, or pay your Praetorian Guard to shoot you or poison you. The Russians will prefer to poison you using nerve toxin, to make an example of someone so senior; whereas Mr Zelenskiy is more likely to die by the bullet.
So what do you do now? You have three options:
Create a convoluted plan for your disappearance, ending up in Israel. However the Russians are already onto this plan and have told the Israelis (in public, and in rather dramatic terms) what they think of it.
Cooperate with the Kremlin. This will not be more than a formal negotiation; you will do exactly what they tell you or they will kill you.
You need a good lawyer. In the event that you would like to retain us to use our services in extracting you from this unfortunate situation, we remain entirely at your service.
We remain, Mr Kolomoisky, your most humble and obedient servants.