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Expert says Ukrainian tycoon closing TV channel signals his intention to leave country

March 30, 8:53 UTC+3 KIEV
According to the expert ex-governor Igor Kolomoisky plans to retire from "Ukraine’s political and economic battlefield together with his assets"
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Igor Kolomoisky (right) and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (archive)

Igor Kolomoisky (right) and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (archive)

© Mikhail Palinchak/Ukrainian presidential press service/TASs

KIEV, March 29 /TASS/. The Ukraine Today international TV channel, affiliated with the "1+1" media group of oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, stops all TV broadcasts as of April 1, 2016. The closure of this and other of Kolomoisky’s projects may be signs of his intention to curtail his Ukrainian assets and eventually leave Ukraine, Ruslan Bortnik, director of the Ukrainian Institute of Analysis and Policy Management, told TASS on Tuesday.

"Lack of funds is just one of the reasons for closing Ukraine Today," Bortnik said commenting on Tuesday’s statement of the TV channel’s General Producer Tatyana Pushnova. The expert believes the TV project turned out to be unprofitable for the Ukrainian oligarch.

"[Kolomoisky] failed to find any external sponsors for his project while the [Ukrainian state] develops its own projects in this field [foreign broadcasting]," Bortnik explained.

But the key reason, in Bortnik’s view, is Kolomoisky’s obvious desire to retire from Ukraine’s political and economic battlefield together with his assets. "It’s not the oligarch’s only project, which is facing problems. Other projects, like [Kolomoisky’s] football club Dnepr [where the players are not receiving their salaries], are also in trouble," the Ukrainian expert went on to say.

"It may signal that the Privat group [a major Ukrainian financial-industrial group co-owned by Kolomoisky] is slowly giving up its patriotic stance and is switching over to more moderate, medium democratic approaches in many spheres, including the media, which, in turn, will lead to the closure of many militarized and propaganda projects," the political scientist said noting that the rhetoric of Kolomoisky’s media has become less radical than it used to be.

Bortnik said that Kolomoisky had been living outside Ukraine for quite a long period of time, ever since he stepped down as the governor of Ukraine’s Dnepropetrovsk region.

"He quitted his governor’s post relatively painlessly. The United States was the arbiter in his case. It issued a U.S. visa, which the oligarch had not had for more than 10 years because of an entry ban, to Kolomoisky. Today, the oligarch mainly resides in Switzerland. He spends much time in the United States and is getting less and less involved in the Ukrainian affairs," the political analyst said.

According to Bortnik, it proves that Kolomoisky does not link his future with Ukraine. "Therefore, he will start curtailing part of his Ukrainian assets; then he will withdraw them abroad to invest in countries where he is going to live," the expert said adding the oligarch was definitely associating his future with countries in which he would invest his capitals.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ukraine Today’s General Producer Tatyana Pushnova said in an interview with the Detekor Media publication that the "1+1" media group would close the channel’s TV programs and would move it entirely to cyberspace. She explained that the high cost of TV broadcasts and insufficient investments were the root cause behind the decision.

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