An investigation by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Schemes program, which aired on January 17, has uncovered evidence that comedian turned presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his partners own three film companies in Russia.
According to the investigation, three companies – Weisberg Pictures, Platinumfilm and Green Films – all belong to the Cypriot company Green Family Ltd, of which Zelenskiy is one of the ultimate beneficiaries, along with business partners Andriy Yakovlev, Borys and Serhiy Shefira and Timur Mindich, an associate of oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky. Green Family Ltd. is also a co-founder of Zelenskiy’s Kvartal 95 production company in Ukraine.
Using data from the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, Schemes journalists found that the companies Weisberg Pictures and Platinumfilm have not been notably profitable, however Green Films has. Between 2014 and 2017, the total revenue of this company was around $13 million.
The investigation also revealed that Green Films had even won state funding from Russia.
Speaking to Ukrainian journalist Dmytro Gordon in December, Zelenskiy stated that the Moscow office of one of his companies closed in 2014.
Zelenskiy had also stated that Kvartal last made a film in Russia in 2012, which was released in 2014, before the company stopped working in Russia. However, according to the investigations analysis of the Russian film registry, three films were produced by Green Films after 2014, the last one being “8 Best Dates” which hit the screens in 2016.
When Schemes journalist Maksym Savchuk attempted to interview Zelenskiy outside his office in Kyiv, the comedian refused to give any further information apart from stating that he does not work with the Russia-based companies.
“I don’t owe you anything, I only owe my parents,” Zelenskiy told Savchuk.
Schemes later received an official statement from the showman’s press service, which read: “Over many years, Volodymyr Zelenskiy has built up an international business in the field of audiovisual content production, therefore there are companies, real estate and other assets not only in the jurisdictions you mentioned, but also Italy, Great Britain etc… Studio Kvartal 95 is aware of the situation and does not produce content within the territory of the Russian Federation.”
Zelenskiy also took to social media in response to the investigation. In an Instagram video posted on January 18, he stated that after “what Russia did to Ukraine,” Kvartal 95 ceased operating in Russia, adding that a criminal case was even opened against him in Russia after Kvartal donated to the Ukrainian army.
He also commented that Kvartal 95 trades intellectual property rights with 21 countries, including CIS countries.
“These are our formats, ideas, scripts. This money, like the money from royalties, from the sale of this rights, comes from various western companies, but, from there, comes back to Ukraine. It is in Ukraine where we spend it on our employees, on producing our content, we will only work here, in Ukraine,” Zelenskiy explained in the video.