Additional reporting by Yuri Aksyonov, freelance reporter based out of Kiev.
In July, another Ukrainian billionaire joined the roster of the country’s wealthiest in the fight to save Ukraine’s political and economic future. Yuriy Kosiuk, who founded and grew MHP into Ukraine’s largest agricultural holding, joined the administration of billionaire President Poroshenko as the first deputy head of Presidential Administration.
Kosiuk told Forbes several years ago he had no interest in politics. But as MHP’s products were increasingly subjected to import restrictions and inspections at the Russian border and tensions between the two countries escalated, Kosiuk became more involved in political discussions. He stepped down as MHP CEO in early July to serve as a liaison between the president’s office and law enforcement.
Kosiuk’s new perch has him supporting military logistics such as supplying troops fighting separatists in east Ukraine – which dovetails with saving his operations. Two of three MHP meat processing facilities are located in eastern regions: his Ukrainian Bacon operating in Donetsk Region (near heavy military activity) and Druzhba Narodiv in Crimea (which is now part of Russia). MHP has another asset in Donetsk region, the poultry farm Shakhtarska Nova which is also very near the current fighting.
Sometimes more Oblasts can be referred to as “Eastern Ukraine”: Orange – West Ukraine Yellow – Central Ukraine Blue – East Ukraine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Kosiuk and Poroshenko, along with Ukraine’s seven other billionaires control nearly 6% of Ukraine’s GDP. The country’s economy is in a shambles after the loss of Crimea and mounting military reprisals in country’s eastern regions. According to the latest report from SigmaBleyzer, Ukraine’s GDP is “forecast to fall by 5% in 2014 due to weak export performance, fiscal austerity and low bank lending activity.” Hard hit are the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk where there are a large number of industrial enterprises which account for about 16% of Ukraine’s GDP and almost 30% of total industrial output production. According to the SigmaBleyzer report, “As pro-Russian insurgents captured control over a number of cities and towns in the region during March-May, including Donetsk and Luhansk, economic activity in the [these areas] was seriously undermined.
Earlier this year, billionaire baking and industrial magnate, Ihor Kolomoyskyy, joined the fight to take back control of the country’s economy by stepping in as Dnipropetrovsk region governor (west of the turmoil in Donetsk). He’s been targeted by Moscow with a recent court ruling ordering his arrest in absentia for ordering warfare in Donetsk. Kolomoyskyy is standing firm stating that certain companies privatized illegally from 2011 to 2014 ought to be renationalized.
Other entrepreneurs aiding Poroshenko: Ukrainian publisher Boris Lozhkin who sold the Ukrainian Forbes licensee UMH last year, and former Forbes billionaire, Serhiy Taruta.