Does Mazepin manage Lukashenka’s assets in Cyprus?
A Russian company Uralkhim is the formal owner of the Belarusian dictator’s money.
In the discussions of the Cyprus crisis’ influence on Russia the public has completely missed another very important moment about the island, Novaya Gazeta reports.
Lukashenka had to publicly disprove the information about $3 billion, controlled by him and his entourage and frozen in Cypriot Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank. The web-site charter97.org reported about that. The sudden dismissal of the first deputy chairman of GGB Viktar Viahera is also being linked to that. Media reports, referring to sources in Lukashenka’s establishement, that he could have organized the information leaks about the money of Belarusian origin, frozen in Cyprus.
Viahera confronted the appointment of a well-known Russian businessman Belarus-born Dmitry Mazepin as a vice-Prime Minister of Belarus. The Uralkhim group belongs to Mazepin and is the formal owner of the $3 billion, frozen in Cyprus. It is necessary to say that the situation may turn out painful for Lukashenka as well as for Mazepin.
The attempts to appoint the Russian businessman a vice-Premier Minister of the Belarusian government may be looked at from a different angle. This situation has already acquired a shade of a scandal. In particular, in February a member of Russian State Duma Ilia Ponomarev addressed Lukashenka with an open letter on this issue. In particular, he asked Lukashenka to confirm the information that Dmitry Mazepin "acquired a Belarusian citizenship in the framework of the special procedure for outstanding service to the Republic of Belarus".
New information about the money, frozen in Cyprus, may potentially cast light on the character of the "outstanding service". The information that Lukashenka uses Cyprus as a shelter for the assets of his family has been circulating for long: already couple years ago European media reported that Lukashenka’s family was investing the assets, pulled out of the country, in purchasing real estate in Minsk via the company Eastleigh Trading, registered in Cyprus and controlled by Lilia Lukashenka, the wife of Belarusian ruler’s elder son Viktar. An oligarch, close to Lukashenka and having the reputation of Belarusian dictator’s wallet and sanctioned by the EU, has long been having a business in Cyprus.
Now media report that there are attempts to transfer the assets, frozen in Cyprus, to Latvia, where Mazepin’s Uralkhim has a large business (in particular, the company Uralchem Trading SIA, specializing is selling mineral fertilizers via the port in Riga), as well as connections in the political elite.
The scandal over the freezing of the assets may threaten Lukashenka and Mazepin with more unpleasant consequences: the information on the schemes, by the means of which the Belarusian dictator controls large assets, could get to European officials and also made public. The role of the Russian businessman Dmitry Mazepin in these schemes is still to be clarified. But it would be a very unfavorable thing if it turned out that the assets of the Belarusian dictator were managed by Russian businessmen – we have enough corruption problems of our own in Russia.