Political renegade, Trump fan and treasurer of the “Right Sector”. What do we know about the MP Andrii Artemenko?
The MP Andrii Artemenko of the right-wing “Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party” handed over a plan concerning Ukraine to then US National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The plan included a proposal how to reconcile Ukraine and Russia and lift anti-Russian sanctions. In particular, it suggested to hold all-Ukrainian referendum on leasing Crimea to Russia, withdrawal of troops from Ukraine and lifting sanctions from Russia. Kremlin called the plan 'an absurd' and denied connections to formation of it.
A week later Flynn resigned because of his leaked conversations with Russian diplomats on lifting American sanctions. In an interview with “Strana.ua” Artemenko claimed, that he turned over material compromising Poroshenko to the American government with the help of Valentin Nalivaychenko – Head of Ukrainian Security Service.
In interview with Russian radio station “Echo of Moscow” he said: “I won’t deny, I sympathised with Trump since his confirmation. I am convinced that the American people ought to have elected someone like him. There are new international agreements in the making, new possibilities, also to end the Ukraine crisis. I can’t look at what Ukraine has become, the economic collapse we’re in. Poroshenko’s and the current government’s politics have led the country to a point, at which the loss of our autonomy and unity is a matter of days. The main goal and my duty is to establish peace. I am glad that my colleagues – the congressmen of the US, the Ukrainian MPs and hopefully the Russian MPs as well – will support my initiative. I hope we can create a platform to put an end to this ghastly conflict.”
Who is Andrii Artemenko?
Andrii Artemenko is a known renegade. He was the president of СSKA Kiev football club, later he went to prison for stealing $4 million through it. He also was Kyiv mayor advisor in 2000, before going to prison.
Artemenko was imprisoned together with Mykola Karpyuk – a frontman of far-right Ukrainian organization UNA-UNSO till March 2014. In 2000-2001 he and Artemenko were activists in protests "Ukraine without Kuchma" (ex-president of Ukraine) and were jailed for 4,5 years. During Maidan at 2013-2014 Karpyuk’s organization became a part of Right Sector - a union of far-right movements, which was set off during Maidan. In March 2014 after "referendum" in Crimea he went to Russia to negotiate with Putin's aides about destiny of Crimea. Artemenko insisted on this. He was arrested by FSB officers on Russian-Ukrainian border and later condemned to 22.5 years in prison.
In the 2014 elections Andrii Artemeko entered parliament on the list of “Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party”, which is more populist, than ideological. Its odious leader was a member of Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc before taking the leadership of a new political movement. His US Viza was cancelled earlier. Artemenko claims that he is responsible for security in the party, as wells as „some economic issues and projects involving the attraction of foreign investments to Ukraine.“ But after NYT article brought to the lights the delivery of a ‘peace plan’, MP was excluded from the party.
When the second Maidan started, Artemenko ended up – through Karpyuk, who by then was the leader of UNSO – in the “Right Sector”. According to former „Right Sector“ leader Dmytro Yarosh, he was responsible for the finances there. In March. 2014, before the referendum in Crimea, Russian court opened a case on him, accusing Dmytro Yarosh of ‘calls for extremist activity”. Two years after Interpol deleted the information about international search of Dmytro Yarosh. Now he is non-affiliated member of parliament and an advisor to the Chief of the General Staff.
Later he started to oppose Yarosh, before leaving the “Right Sector” and becoming an MP with “Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party”.
Referendum in Crimea
Artemenko told in Hromadske’s interview that couple days before the referendum on the status of Crimea was held on March, 2014, a meeting with Dmytro Yarosh, Mykola Karpiuk and other right movements took place. They were discussing the annexation of Crimea and a crisis plan.
During the meeting it was decided that Karpiuk with the head of Kyiv Right Sector department will go to Russia to negotiate on the top-level.
“Mykola (Karpiuk) decided to go to Russia by himself. [...] Then the question of the annexation of Crimea was arrised, and some propositions from a person, close to Karpiuk, appeared. He suggested they could come and negotiate. Meabe we had a chance to cancel that “referendum”,” said Mr. Yarosh.
The next day after the referendum Mykola Karpiuk and his collegue frim Right Sector were arrested on the Russian-Ukrainian border. Russian court sentenced him to 22,5 years of detention for allegedly participation in the Chechen war on separatists side. Amnesty International called this lawsuit “a mockery of justice”.
Meanwhile Andrii Artemenko started clamour against then leader of Right Sector Dmytro Yarosh and got into the parliament as a member of “Radical Party”.
What surprises most American analysts and journalists is, how a marginally known and even less influential Ukrainian politician had a connection to the now ex-National Security Advisor to the President of the US. Artemenko claims that he worked seven years in the US and before returning to Ukraine, owned a logistics company in Qatar and that his work was connected to supplying military bases.
In his interview with “Strana.ua”, Artemenko said that his “peace-plan” with Russia had been developed by a group of Ukrainian MPs (he wouldn’t tell names) and two key figures of this story – the personal lawyer and special advisor of Trump, Michael Cohen and the American businessman of Russian origin Felix Sater. Artemenko claims that he has known them for a long time. According to “Strana.ua”, he got acquainted with Sater through mutual friends and Cohen he knows since the time the lawyer founded a family “business on ethanol” in Ukraine.
It was Cohen who left a sealed envelope containing the Ukraine plan in Michael Flynn’s office in the beginning of February. According to Artemenko, he discussed the “peace-plan” with Cohen and Sater “at the time of the primaries, when no one believed that Trump would even be nominated.”
Trump has been acquainted with Sater for a long time. Sater had been Trump’s senior advisor for ten years. He claims that before that he actively cooperated with American intelligence agencies and allegedly helped to find Osama bin Laden.
Michael Cohen – Trump’s lawyer – is said to be the US President’s connecting link to the Kremlin. In January 2017 “BuzzFeed” published an article on Trump’s ties to the Russian government, claiming that Trump has being cooperating with it for many years through Cohen. Among other things the articles says that Cohen met secretly Russian emissaries in Prague on 29 August 2016. He soon insisted on the article to be fake.
Now he is denying that he transmitted the Ukranian MP’s “peace-plan” to the White House. But he confirmed meeting with Artemenko and receiving this plan from him.
Can Trump lift sanctions on Russia by himself?
In March 2016 the Obama Administration imposed sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea and what followed in Crimea and Donbas.
One of Obama’s last actions as President was the extension of those sanctions. Unless Trump changes something, they will last another year – until March 2018. They are coordinated with the European Union.
Meanwhile Trump has the right to undo the decision of his predecessor by decree. However a number of American experts believe that right now the majority of American politicians – including some of his own team – don’t support lifting the sanctions.
On 11 January 2017 the Senators Ben Cardin and John McCain – representing two different parties – proposed a new law, by which the President has to give the Congress good reasons in order to lift sanctions. This proposition is yet to be approved. The Senate told “Hromadske” that it may happen any moment, as soon as there is a need.
By Ekaterina Sergatskova. Translated by Fyodr Shulgin