Economy 2021-09-15T05:52:53+03:00
Ukrainian news
Director of SBI can sour Zelensky’s relations with Americans, - Romanenko

Director of SBI can sour Zelensky’s relations with Americans, - Romanenko

Actions of the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) can worsen the relations between Ukraine and the USA by shaping negative attitude of the American mass media during President Zelensky’s visit to the United States.

This is claimed by Yuriy Romanenko, expert on home and foreign policy of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future.

"Zelensky starts getting communication with the USA President on track. This week, there is a meeting scheduled with Donald Trump during the UNO session. Yet, Ukraine is capable of causing difficulties for itself. In particular, I mean "the dead wood" from the SBI. Truba’s subordinates are investigating a case of signing a memorandum between the Cabinet of Ministers and the Philip Morris Company this winter. As a result, Zelensky can face an unexpectedly negative reaction of the national media, experts and politicians in New York because the tobacco company has a very powerful lobby and influential friends. The most interesting thing is that Ukraine is really wrong in its conflict with the Philip Morris," said the expert.

According to Romanenko, the Philip Morris Ukraine Tobacco Company turned to the Kharkiv Customs in May 2015 asking to let them follow the customs regime of processing. The Customs agreed but some time later the SFS changed its mind and imposed an additional 636 million UAH of taxes on the company.

"The Americans dug their heels in saying that it was cynical deception of the investor which ran counter to the treaties between Ukraine and the USA. It is true to a degree. The American side put pressure on all levels - both the President’s and the Prime Minister’s. As a result, the parties settled their dispute. The fines were cancelled. The Cabinet of Ministers confirmed the decision at its meeting. In January 2019, the SFS signed the settlement with the tobacco corporation in pursuance of the Cabinet of Ministers’ orders. However, in July 2019 there was a piece of news about the SBI carrying out a search in the SFS office "connected with the activities of international tobacco producers." Moreover, the Bureau arrested the company’s documents", explains Yuriy Romanenko.

According to the expert, the SBI is trying to bring absurd charges against the SFS authorities though the decision was made at the governmental level.

"For some obscure reason, the SFS authorities are appointed to be the guilty party though they were adhering to the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers. In the nearest future, the Americans will most probably be searched. What will the tobacco giant’s reaction be like? The Americans will say that the Ukrainian state cheated them twice. The first time when it let them have the customs regime of processing and the second time when they signed the settlement. The American press will be full of headlines that the new Ukrainian power is putting pressure upon big investors like Arcelor and Philip Morris. This will definitely not be favorable for the investment climate which our government is so eager to improve," - says the expert of the Institute for the Future.

Romanenko thinks that "it is absolutely obvious there is neither corruption nor a criminal deal in this story: the government reached a compromise with the Americans because otherwise our country would have faced international lawsuits which it would have most probably lost."

"Truba is simply leaving Zelensky high and dry. Everything that entails a risk of souring relations with the American establishment is so out of place for our president now… Volodymyr Zelensky should send the message to the security, defense and law enforcement officials that they are to act within the framework of common logic of protecting national interests. To do it, they should have a broad view of the processes understanding the whole of the context… At the moment when Ukraine badly needs the USA’s support we will do everything with our own hands for the Americans to give up on Ukraine," the expert summed up.

We would like to remind our readers that last week the SBI carried our searches and seizure of documents in the Cabinet of Ministers, the State Fiscal Service (SFS) and the Ministry of Justice. The SBI’s actions are connected with the criminal case involving the Philip Morris Ukraine Company and its top management".