NewsUkraine is considering nationalizing cellphone operator owned by Russian financier

Ukraine is considering nationalizing cellphone operator owned by Russian financier

Mikhail Fridman on the left and Peter Aven, co-owners of Kyivstar.
Mikhail Fridman on the left and Peter Aven, co-owners of Kyivstar.
Images source: © Getty Images | 2017 Mikhail Svetlov
ed. PRC
5:19 PM EST, November 21, 2023

There's a strong likelihood that Ukraine's authorities will impose sanctions on Kyivstar, a key player in the Ukrainian telecommunications market. The company may also face expropriation - warns Ukraine's Deputy Chief of the Presidential Administration, Rostislav Shurma. Kyivstar is owned by Russian businessman, Mikhail Fridman.

Current discussions in Ukraine are focused on the possibility of nationalizing Kyivstar, reminded by "Kommersant". Previous co-owners of this significant player in the Ukrainian telecommunications market were Russian businessmen, Piotr Aven and Andriej Kosogov.

The Ukrainian state's potential control over the company is currently being evaluated. This update was shared by Rostislav Shurma, Deputy Chief of Ukraine's Presidential Administration, in an interview with "Economic Truth".

Possible Scenarios

Shurma stated that the legal possibilities concerning the company's future are under review. According to him, there's a high probability that the Ukrainian authorities will impose sanctions on Kyivstar, followed by the confiscation of the company. He stressed that various scenarios are under consideration.

The Ukrainian government is fully taking over Kyivstar, or in other words, the company's nationalization is possible. Another alternative on the table is to seize only the portion of the company owned by Russian businessmen.

Shurma added that the final decision on the future of Kyivstar will be made by the "relevant departments" following a consultation with legal advisors.

Suspected Financing

In September of this year, Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) announced that Mikhail Fridman is suspected of funding several Russian military factories to the tune of about 2 billion rubles, reported Kommersant.

On October 6, the SBU revealed that a court had seized all Fridman assets and Aven and Kosogov, with the confiscated property valued at over 17 billion hryvnias.

Fridman faced sanctions from the Union for acts that undermined Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence on February 28, 2022. Later, on March 11, 2022, he was included in the British government's sanctions list. From April 26, 2022, the Polish authorities enlisted him among the people and entities under the sanctions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration.

Reports in October suggested that Fridman had left the UK and relocated to Israel. However, amid the Israeli-Palestinian conflict outbreak, the businessman was in Moscow.

Fridman, a leading founder and oligarch supporting Putin, is also a significant shareholder of Alfa Group, under which the most prominent Russian private bank, Alfa-Bank, operates.

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