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Chernobyl-affected children eaten out of house and home by officials

On 24 July 2008 a married couple, Oleksandr Petrovych and Viktoria Mykolaivna Kelbas, applied to me with a request to help them and conduct a journalist investigation. In her official application Viktoria Kelbas asked to inquire into the fact of “extorting and receiving a bribe from my husband, a director of Private Enterprise “Zodchyi Kyiv”, Oleksandr Petrovych Kelbas, by a group of people consisting of two people’s deputies Senchenko and Velizhanskyi, the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc faction, and a Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy Barabash V.V.”. It was hard to believe the things they told us and confirmed documentarily: the said group of officials literally ate children-victims of the Chernobyl disaster out of house and home.

They did it brassily and unscrupulously. I am going to describe below the mechanism of their enrichment on children’s misfortune. For the time being, I think the reader will be interested to know whom the Kelbases consider to be the “group of people”-extortioners, and who are those “orphans,” using the words of Ilf and Petrov.

The information about them has been taken from open official sources. So, as it is written in theatre programmes...

…protagonists and the cast:

Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy of Ukraine

He was born on 7 November 1956 in Poltava. He graduated from Poltava Cooperative Institute by the profession of an “economist”, later – Kyiv Institute of Political Science and Social Administration by the profession of a “political scientist, teacher of social and political subjects.” Candidate of Sociological Sciences, an author of numerous scientific researches.
He started working for fiscal administration of Poltava Region Union of Cooperative Societies, and then for komsomol service. He was the First Deputy Minister of Ukraine for Youth and Sport, a governmental official of the I rank. He held executive positions in Commercial Bank “Inkombank-Ukraine” and OJSC “Kreditprombank.”
Married, with a daughter and a son.
A member of the Executive Committee of the Federation of Judo of Ukraine.
Keen on Russian and Foreign Classics. Fond of having rest in an open air in his free time.

2. Senchenko Andrii Vileovych
Born in 1959, a member of the party All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland", higher education, temporary unemployed, residing in the city of Simferopol
"Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc", No. 64 in the voting list

3. Velizhanskyi Serhii Kostiantynovych

  • Head of the Subcommittee for Social Security of the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for National Security and Defence
  • Member of the Special Control Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for Privatization
  • Member of the Ad-hoc Investigating Commission of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for Clarification of Circumstances as to the Violation of the Constitution and Legislation of Ukraine by Sevastopol City State Administration and Sevastopol City Council, other executive authorities for land relations, and as to abuse of office and embezzlement of state funds at the time of works under the Sevastopol Social and Economic Development Program
  • Member of a Permanent Delegation for the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States

Velizhanskyi Serhii Kostiantynovych:

elected at the multicandidate national electoral district
"Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc" is an electoral bloc of political parties All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland", Ukrainian Social Democratic Party, Party "Reforms and Order"
Number 158 in the list

Date of acquiring deputy’s powers: 23 November 2007.

Member of a deputies’ faction "Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc" (of political parties All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland", Ukrainian Social Democratic Party, Party "Reforms and Order")

Birth date: 03 September 1960.
at the moment of being elected: a member of the party All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland", higher education, the Head of Supervisory Counsel of OJSC "Krymzalizobeton", residing in the city of Simferopol

As you can see, according to their high posts these characters should watch over the interests of citizens and national security of the country. Because under the Law of Ukraine “On Committees of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine”, (Article 3. Principles of Committees Activity): “Committees are guided in their activity by principles of the rule of law; lawfulness; publicity; their equality; reasonability; functionality; planning; scientific validity; collective nature; free discussion and problem-solving.»

Double Additional Agreement No. 1
Every year the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy of Ukraine holds a bidding for purchasing the services on organization of meals for children affected by the Chernobyl disaster. Enterprises that win the race receive budget money from the Ministry during a year; a part of it is left for the enterprise expenses, and the greater part is transferred to accounts of sponsored schools in so-called Chernobyl zones. Depending on the age of children, the amounts for meals due to them are different. Therefore the enterprise-winner of the bidding reports to the Ministry each month for the money spent. The Ministry doesn’t pay for meals for the next month without this report.
In late 2007 the bidding didn’t take place due to the known political events in Ukraine. Children affected by Chernobyl disaster were fed under old agreements. Only when political tremors calmed down and financing started, the Ministry of Labour organized obligatory under the law open bidding held on 19 February 2008. Among other commercial firms, Private Enterprise (PE) “Zodchyi Kyiv” won in 11 lots. Under the Acceptance and Addendum No. 1 signed to the Agreement No. 08/74 of 27 February 2008, the PE was to feed some 50 thousand Chernobyl-affected children each month under the following criteria:

  • children from 6 to 10 years old must eat for 11 UAH 25 kopecks a day;
  • children from 10 to 14 years old must eat for 12 UAH 78 kopecks;
  • and children from 14 to 18 years old must eat for 14 UAH 33 kopecks.

According to the Acceptance of the Ministry of Labour, the agreement on services on providing meals must be signed by the parties within 21 business days.
As the Additional Agreement No. 1 to the Agreement states, at that moment and till the end of February old prices for meals were in force, namely: for children of 6-10 years – 6 UAH 97 kop., 10-14 years  – 8 UAH 11 kop., 14-18 years – 9 UAH 26 kop. The Agreement No. 08/74 and the Additional Agreement No. 1 thereto with such prices were dated as of 27 February 2008.

February, and a half of March passed. Children affected by Chernobyl disaster had to be fed every day, but the Ministry of Labour didn’t transfer the money for some reason. It was only after the persistent pleas of the PE which had won the bidding that the money was transferred to the enterprise account on 18 March. During all that time the enterprise had been feeding the children at its own expense.
Having received the money, the Kelbases breathed a sigh of relief. But a few days later Oleksandr Petrovych was invited for a conversation by the Deputy Minister Barabash Volodymyr Vasyliovych. As the PE Head presupposed, the talk had to flow around the terms of agreement fulfilment by the enterprise’s own forces, with no contractors being attracted.

Oleksandr Kelbas came to the Ministry of Labour. Barabash, the Deputy Minister, started his conversation with the fact that the PE Head would have to give him 10% of the amount for meals transferred by the Ministry in cash each month. So as to let the reader comprehend what money is spoken of, I will refer to the signed Additional Agreement No. 1, par. 2, stating that the “total amount of the Agreement is 63,770,995 UAH 68 kop. (sixty three million seven hundred and seventy thousand nine hundred and ninety five  UAH 68 kop.). Thus, the 10% which Volodymyr Barabash wanted to get from Oleksandr Kelbas equal to 6,377,099 UAH 50 kop. (six million three hundred and seventy seven thousand ninety nine UAH 50 kop.).

What a nice appetite does an “orphan” have. But Kelbas got obstinate and said that he would not be able to pay such a sum because he would not only be left without earning himself, but the children would be left hungry. After prolonged persuasions by the high-ranking Deputy Minister V. Barabash and equally prolonged resistance of the PE Director A. Kelbas, the 1-rank state official offered the following scheme. He would increase significantly the monthly payment, but this increased amount would have to be brought to him in cash. In case Oleksandr Petrovych refused, he was threatened to have the contractual relations with the PE terminated.
Kelbas was in the dead-end situation. And on the spot there appeared a new Additional Agreement signed post factum, but still as of the same date, 27 February 2008, however the amount was really increased significantly. The new par. 2 stated: “the total amount of the Agreement is 66,124,306 UAH 26 kop. (sixty six million one hundred twenty four thousand three hundred and six UAH 26 kop.)”. Just the same as in the previous Additional Agreement No. 1, with lesser amount, par. 3, the twin of the previous par. 3, stated: “This Additional Agreement is an integral part of the Agreement No. 08/74 of 27.02.08.”

Both Additional Agreements No. 1 bear seals of the Ministry of Labour and signatures of V.Barabash.

Thus, having temporarily retreated and refused from 10% each month, V.Barabash  wanted to receive an initial contribution in the amount of 2,353,311 UAH (two million three hundred and fifty three thousand three hundred and eleven UAH). Without kopecks which he was merciful enough to grant to the children affected by the Chernobyl disaster.

Ice broke up!

This was where Oleksandr Kelbas understood that he was seriously in trouble. All his previous attempts to win the bidding could go to the dogs. At the same time he realized that Volodymyr Barabash was preparing a “trap” for him. And the Deputy Minister of Labour played his own game. Comprehending that Kelbas was in his hands, he invited him to the cabinet personally, and not via the secretary as the first time. Oleksandr Petrovych went to the meeting with his dictaphone on.

Besides the owner of the cabinet, Kelbas saw a man in a tracksuit there. Volodymyr Vasyliovych introduced the sportsman as Viktor Ivanovych, an Honoured Judo Trainer.

“You will pass the money to him,” Barabash pointed at the trainer.

They exchanged mobile phone numbers. They agreed that Kelbas would call Viktor Ivanovych by phone +38067- 444-09-96, and the latter would set the place and time where the PE Director would have to bring money. And so as to prevent Oleksandr Petrovych from any stupid things, Barabash warned him that they have a certain people’s deputy of Ukraine as a serious cover.
The talk turned into a confidential direction. Barabash asked Kelbas in a familiar way whether there were any other enterprises that would launder money under such scheme.

But Chernobyl-affected children had to be fed every day. Barabash didn’t transfer money waiting for Kelbas to bring him his share.
There was no way to go. He had to take a loan. On 22 April 2008, after withdrawing 320 thousand UAH from his personal account, he dialled the number of the trainer Viktor Ivanovych. The latter said he was at the Spartak Stadium, and suggested meeting at Bohatyrska Street, in front of Obolon beer factory. The trainer played safe in case of an ambush; the place was well within view there from any direction.

Around 04:00 p.m. Viktor Ivanovych drove up to the fixed place on a black RAV4, and got into the Kelbas’s car. The latter passed him a package with 320 thousand. The trainer took it hesitatingly, pressed to himself and stood still.
“That’s all,” said Kelbas. The trainer got off like a zombie. Immediately after that the PE received the long-expected money from the Ministry of Labour to its account.

Immunity of a deputy in force!

Kelbas hoped to earn the money given to the trainer from the future profit, as the amount for the meals of children affected by the Chernobyl disaster seemed to be increased significantly, unlike other analogous breadwinner enterprises. But suddenly he started receiving calls from the PE contractors from districts who told him that the Ministry of Labour has increased monthly amounts not only for him, but also for other winner members of the bidding. And the pressure scheme on the part of Barabash was the same: the amount was reduced in the Acceptance, and later it was increased – obviously, to the extent of compliancy of directors. Kelbas supposed the terms were the same as Barabash offered him.

Having received 320 thousand, the Deputy Minister invited the PE Director again and insistently asked to bring the monthly amount to 10%.
“This is impossible,” replied Kelbas. “There will be nothing to feed children for.”

The Deputy Minister was adamant and gave him time till middle May, that is till the moment when the Ministry of Labour transfers money to enterprises’ accounts.
The money came on time in May 2008, exactly to a day. Volodymyr Vasyliovych couldn’t wait to get his “lawful” 10%, and he called Kelbas personally every day. This continued for a week, and then his calls stopped. But immediately after that there was a call from Chernobyl Department of the Ministry, and they inadvertently said that the activity of similar enterprises in Cherkasy and Vinnytsia regions had been monitored, and according to results of the monitoring the agreements with the enterprises would be terminated. Kelbas regarded this unambiguously as pressure upon him.

But he was offered another variant: to bring the rest of the sum and take place of those enterprises. Kelbas refused as he knew that non-fulfilment of norms in Cherkasy and Vinnytsia regions is, in fact, the result of imperfect bidding. The enterprises of that area fed at a loss for small amounts. And once again Kelbas had nowhere to go, and he called Barabash.
Volodymyr Vasyliovych persisted in not picking up the phone. Then Oleksandr dialled the number of Viktor Ivanovych. The trainer responded. Kelbas in a harsh manner told him of Barabash’s behaviour, asking why he was setting him up, that is to say.

The trainer fixed a meeting with Oleksandr Petrovych on 16 June 2008, at half past twelve, at Podil, by the famous monument of Samson. However, he didn’t appear for the meeting himself. There was the Deputy Minister Barabash himself waiting for Oleksandr and his wife Viktoria.
He invited the Kelbases to the coffee house. Volodymyr Vasyliovych offered Viktoria to have a seat at another hall there, while he showed Oleksandr to a table with a man already sitting behind it. Barabash introduced the stranger. He turned out to be a people’s deputy of Ukraine Serhii Kostiantynovych Velizhanskyi, faction “Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc.” They exchanged business cards.

The meeting started with the criticism of Kelbas’s behaviour by the People’s Deputy and the Deputy Minister. But the PE Director stood his ground. He was telling the officials that the feeding norms were not met, that the amounts were decreased on purpose so that an enterprise didn’t fulfil the feeding norms which was a ground for Barabash to terminate contractual relations in case they refused to bring cash.

Yet Kelbas had another reason to worry, and he told the officials about it. He felt that the Security Service of Ukraine was interested in his activity.
“And you shouldn’t worry,” the people’s deputy said. “If you feel afraid that you will be caught red-handed, bring the money to me to the Verkhovna Rada, to my cabinet. Because you know that a people’s deputy is an immune person!..”

Barabash entered the conversation. He said that if Kelbas wanted to receive money from the Ministry of Labour, he had to bring them cash and a reconciliation report. Oleksandr had to promise that he would bring them 500 thousand UAH in the near future, and he would give the remaining sum after the report was signed and the money of the Ministry of Labour was transferred to the account of his enterprise. Since that day he had to take the money to the people’s deputy Velizhanskyi to his cabinet. All that time while the Ministry of Labour didn’t transfer money to the PE account, the enterprise contractors fed children at their own expense and demanded money from the Deputy Minister. He replied them that he dealt only with the enterprise of Kelbas, but not with them.

Non-confidence to Barabash

On 22 June 2008 Oleksandr Petrovych Kelbas officially applied to workers of the “К” Department of the Security Service of Ukraine. Having passed through the necessary procedure of registration, the service began its work. The workers advised not to take the whole sum the first time, but 80 thousand UAH. They would allegedly have more opportunities to document the fact of receiving bribes by the people’s deputy.

However, the service didn’t possess even that sum of money. Kelbas borrowed 80 thousand, and he took them to the Verkhovna Rada on 24 June. Despite being on the mission, Velizhanskyi had provided for everything.

Kelbas went up to the committee room No. 1222. There was a people’s deputy Senchenko, as he claimed, who ordered to put the 80 thousand brought by Oleksandr into the safe. However, soon after Oleksandr had left the Verkhovna Rada, he received a phone call from Velizhanskyi enraged at receiving less money and demanded to meet as soon as he was back in Kyiv.

He was back on 30 June. He called Kelbas beforehand and arranged a meeting at the Boryspil Airport. Special Services were also wide awake. SSU specialists fastened audio recording equipment to Oleksandr. He came to Boryspil. He was watched attentively.

Velizhanskyi was the most interested in the formation of the amountwhich Kelbas had, in his opinion, to give for the won bidding. He didn’t seem to trust Barabash completely. At the same time he managed to instruct Oleksandr during the short pre-flight time and try to calm him down: that is to say, who would kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

There are ground squirrels, fleas and sheep working in the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Verkhovna Rada people’s deputy Velizhanskyi Serhii Kostiantynovych claims.

On Thursday morning, 3 July 2008, Velizhanskyi invited the Kelbases to his cabinet No. 1222. But his secretary had made a mistake in spelling of surnames of the spouses, and they didn’t have a pass issued at the access control department at Sadova St. Then Velizhanskyi personally came down to take the precious guests to the Verkhovna Rada. Once again Oleksandr Petrovych was covered with SSU’s equipment and brought 100 thousand to the people’s deputy that time. Velizhanskyi was cross as two sticks.
“Today, immediately, this is the way,” he inscribed a figure on paper for Kelbas.
Oleksandr started arguing with him complaining of Barabash.
“You are to call me. If you had called at once, I would have resolved,” Serhii Kostiantynovych persuaded. He really did call Barabash, and the latter agreed to transfer 5 million UAH to the PE account.
“When will the money be?” Velizhanskyi was worried “I have various obligations too…”
He didn’t clarify, though, towards whom the people’s deputy had those obligations to share cashed money. But it isn’t hard to guess.
Finally they agreed that Oleksandr would bring another 260 thousand that evening at 4:00 p.m.
“Right you surname yourself correctly,” Velizhanskyi became kinder, “or otherwise you won’t have the pass again.”
In the evening Oleksandr Kelbas brought 220 thousand UAH to the deputy. 40 thousand from the amount stipulated in the morning couldn’t be gathered.

Can special services be trusted?

The most interesting things followed. As Velizhanskyi warned Kelbas during their first meeting by the Samson monument, SSU workers didn’t dare to disturb the gentle lapse of life of the deputy. Moreover, someone from the “K” Department gave Oleksandr away to the deputy and the Deputy Minister. Both of them ceased any relations with Kelbas, stopped answering any of his calls, and his PE became a subject of active monitoring by workers of the department under the command of Barabash.

In a word, Oleksandr Kelbas and his wife Viktoria became too dangerous for a whole group of state officials. And unprotected…

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