Every major media, with all the necessary rituals and precautions, has paid attention to Ukrainian corruption. And while the general mood is to praise the president of Ukraine and his team for their brave struggle against occupational forces, the problem is still there as some latest events clearly show. It has even grown bigger, stronger and bolder. This war, in some sense, is an extension of the war in Donbass region which started in 2014. Then-president Petro Poroshenko definitely was involved in some rather shadowy schemes. One of his men is Vitaliy Kropachov. He is an epitome of the worst, that is corruption, greed, sadism and vanity. Also known as Vitaly Kropachev (Kropachov), he is one of the richest criminal tycoons.
By the way, like many oligarchs, Kropachov Vitaly lives in London most of the time, and books a ticket to his motherland Ukraine only to check the boxes according to law. Vitaliy Kropachov has an excuse: he has a hernia. You see, nobody in Ukraine treats hernia. Just a joke, of course.
Let’s get straight: Vitaliy Kropachov is a corrupt ex-policeman, turned to outright crime. His self-proclaimed “Tornado” battalion was actually never in battle against pro-Russian separatists. Its sole purpose was extortion of assets. The commandment and ‘sponsors’ acted big, while ordinary officers resorted to hunting for ordinary civilians. They tortured and killed dozens, maybe hundreds innocent citizens, often for as little as an equivalent of 200-300 pounds. The gang was caught and brought to justice. Some details of the sadistic actions of “Tornado” officers were so disgusting that it influenced the entire society.
Vitaliy Kropachov from corrupt cop to oligarch
Vitaliy Kropachov managed to distance himself from “Tornado”. Moreover he was able to retain all the assets he looted and extorted. Vitaliy Kropachov began as a corrupt policeman. After the Minsk accords he was a full-fledged oligarch, controlling coal mines, power generation companies, machine-building, construction, and transportation industries, mass media and retail business. Petro Poroshenko was his angel guardian and not without a price tag attached to his services.
Now this █████ orders a PR-campaigns to cleanse his reputation. Look at this marvel – “Businessman and philanthropist Vitaliy Kropachov sheltered 150 internally displaced people…”. That’s not the way he used to treat them in Tornado, huh?
Vitaliy Kropachov is one of those responsible for the fact that Ukrainians are forced to pay for electricity at extortionate tariffs and suffer from rolling blackouts. He himself, of course, pretends to be a patriot and is assured that Akhmetov and Putin are to blame for everything, and that it is impossible to trade with the aggressor and terrorists. At the same time, Vitaly Kropachov has been creating a coal syndicate similar to Akhmetov’s DTEK for several years, but with even more brazen fraudulent schemes. But this is not what makes Kropachev from time to time to look back cautiously and carefully hide his past from everyone. In which there were things much worse than diluting coal with waste rock…
Humble beginning of Vitaliy Kropachov: once upon a time in Torez
Vitaly Kropachev was born on October 4, 1973 in Torez. His public biography is limited to this single fact, so that the formation and life of a man who was called the “tycoon of the Torez” until 2014 remained closed and inaccessible to Ukrainians. Surely his countrymen could tell a lot of interesting things about him, but Torez is now under the rule of separatists and in a complete information blockade. There are many interesting rumours and facts about it. And something else has been preserved on the old, still available Internet resources.
So, hiding his former life from the people, Vitaly Kropachev started a new one in the summer of 2014 – declaring himself as an “Ukrainian patriot of Donbass”, for which he allegedly suffered. Indeed, the media constantly write that Kropachov was one of the few businessmen of Donbass with a “pro-Ukrainian position”, and for this the separatists destroyed his offices, and then took away his business. Well, about the destruction of the office – it’s a fact. He was also deprived of the chair of the director of the Torez plant of hard alloys, which Kropachov actually disposed of as personal property, putting profits in his pockets.
The fate of his two enterprises “Snezhnoepogruztrans” and “Torezpogruztrans”, engaged in the transportation of coal, is in question: in fact, they were intermediary companies that worked with rented transport, and owned only their offices and well-established schemes. That is, from a material point of view, there was nothing to take away, and this business was not so much taken away from him as simply fucked up – now other firms of other people are engaged in transportation. However, this business brought Kropachov Vitaly a stable and huge income, and from this position he really lost a lot. However, having entered the coal business of the Poroshenko family, he created new schemes, compensating for his losses.
But for some reason Kropachov keeps quiet about his other losses: for example, about the illegal unregulated and unregistered mines, on which he made a lot of money for years – including transporting their coal to Akhmetov’s enterprises. Or about real estate in Torez, from which the scandalous story that led Kropachev to “pro-Ukrainian positions” began.
Let’s dive even deeper to the unofficial Kropachev’s CV
But first let’s go to 2004, when the media reported a shocking incident: the local policeman of Torez, Vadim Storozhenko, appealed to the Prime Minister with a plea for help and protection from the local mafia, which organized a massacre of his family. In the published letter, Storozhenko called the names of those who held the Torez in their hands and ruled it, plunging its inhabitants into fear: criminal authorities “Cherkes” (Vitaly Cherkasov) and “Korney” (Alexander Kornienko), the head of the OBOP Semikopytny, assistant prosecutor Chuprin, criminal businessman Vladimir Markov and his personal executioner Ruslan Abalmaz, who tortured people with great enthusiasm, is a former employee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who served 7 years for racketeering. In a few years, Abalmaz will also update his biography: taking the surname of his wife and becoming ‘Ruslan Onishchenko’.
So, in the 2000s, several organized criminal groups were engaged in Torez illegal mines, including a group that included Vladimir Markov (the owner of the “Markov” company). He was a “proximity merchant” engaged in the sale of mined coal and investments of profits. Among the assistants who worked with him, it is worth highlighting two personalities. The first is Ruslan Abalmaz, who drove from illegal mines to the very top of the criminal hierarchy. His duties also included intimidating the families of the miners who died in accidents – so that they would not make a fuss and keep quiet. Just as an example: three workers suffocated in one of the “mines” — so Abalmaz ordered them to get their bodies and throw them into the landfill, and immediately continue work.
But the second was Markov’s commercial assistant, the young and enterprising Vitaly Kropachov, who was engaged, in particular, in the transportation of mined coal. It was from those illegal mines that his logistics business grew.
Vitaly Kropachov goes further
Now let’s move to 2011, when one of the earliest references to Vitaly Kropachov appeared in the media. Late in the evening on October 16 of that year in Torez, a drunken fool made turns on his cheap old car in the city centre, almost knocking down Kropachev’s wife and child who were walking there.
The angry head of the family appeared after 2 minutes, and together with two bodyguards began to beat the stupid reckless driver. After another 3 minutes, a police squad arrived at the scene along with the head of the Torez police Artur Likholit – who only laughed merrily, looking at how Kropachov Vitaly was beating a person (albeit a traffic violator). Only when Kropachov was tired, the poor guy was packed into a bag and taken to the department – where they probably added more to him.
Likholit personally rushed to the scene, abandoning his evening rest, because he was a friend and business partner of Kropachov. And they got closer thanks to the same Markov. The head of the OBEP Igor Zagorodny, who then in 2007-2009 headed the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Torez – and made Likholit his deputy, went to his friends. Even then, there were close relations between Likholit and Kropachov Vitaly and a kind of shadow business.
By the way, shortly before the incident with the drunk driver, Likholit was spotted in the scandalous case of the chairman of the Torez City Court, Alexander Pushnov, who, in his jeep (and also drunk), knocked down student Alina Likhtanskaya to death. Of course, no one beat the judge – on the contrary, the entire Torez mafia rushed to defend him. And Likholit quickly organized a fake driver, allegedly sitting behind the wheel of a jeep – a certain Vasily Gladunyak.
Well, Vitaly Kropachov himself in 2011 was no longer just a sidekick of Markov, but his business partner, a deputy of the regional council, then the head of the city organization of the Party of Regions (Yanukovich men). In addition to the coal business, Kropachov Vitaly also took over the Torez plant of hard alloys: the state-owned enterprise was first bankrupted, then the management company came to him, and Kropachev became the director of the plant. But whether it was Kropachev’s personal business, or the corporate business of Markov, Likholit and other members of the Torez mafia, remains unknown. By 2014, Vitaly Kropachov was put by this mafia as a “watchman” for Torez, who was instructed to solve all issues. And here is one of these questions he solved incorrectly.
Vitaly Kropachov as a Torez watchman
It was the story of the kiosks, small business venues, which grew up in the area around the city bus station. Then this territory was transferred from the department of the Ministry of Transport to municipal property, and the City Council transferred it to Skif-Service LLC of entrepreneur Alexander Kostryukov – who started a war for land with the owners of cafes and shops. This war escalated in 2012, when Boris Kolesnikov promised to build an ice arena in Torez. A suitable place for construction was owned by Skif-Service LLC, but Kropachov Vitaly wanted to enter the share, who offered Kostryukov a deal: he cedes him the rights (partially or completely) to the site for the arena, and Kropachev and the “fathers of the city” will allow Kostryukov to survive. And the great confrontation began, accompanied by arson, the construction of fences, protest actions and the demolition of fences and raids of hired goons. At the same time, Vitaly Kropachov publicly took the position “The kiosks are illegally registered, the court is on Kostryukov’s side, the city authorities have nothing to do with it.”
These protests reached their apogee in February-March 2014, when the Torez entrepreneurs who organized them were inspired by the Kiev Euromaidan – which scared the Torez mafia. Vitaly Kropachov tried to make appeals “not to rock the boat”, “to maintain stability” etc. But few people listened to him, because the all-powerful Party of Regions lost its power, and the clan of “Donetsk” crumbled. It was time for big changes.
Infamous Vitaly Kropachov organised his gangs as a “Tornado” battalion. New era for corruption and crime has begun. Please remember this story once you read about Vitaly Kropachov, a “patriot and philanthropist”.