UARU
‘Searching for Football Players’. Why Are Zelenskyy’s Ex-Colleagues Visiting President's Office?
1 February, 2020

Friends and former colleagues of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Kvartal 95 production studio, as well as relatives of his assistants and advisers, are frequent visitors of the Presidential Office during working hours, an investigation of the RFE/RL’s "Skhemy" (Schemes’) project reveals.

In October 2019, "Skhemy" journalists noticed Mika Fatalov, the concert director and actor of the Kvartal 95, heading to the Presidential Office. He explained his visit with the search for "players for a sports game."

Actually I go negotiate about football – we have a friendly match,” Fatalov said, without specifying who the game would be with.

In the fall of 2019, "Skhemy" also reported that Fatalov had also quietly visited Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk together with the Kyiv developer Artur Mkhitaryan.

Mika Fatalov is heading to the Presidential Office to "negotiate about football". Photo: Schemes

In October, three days after the creative producer of Kvartal 95 Serhiy Sivokho visited the Presidential Office “to meet his friend”, not the president, and left through the side door, he was appointed an adviser to the Secretary of National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine.

On the contrary, the director of the "Servant of the People" series Oleksiy Kiryushchenko who visited the Office in December 2019, was not elected as the head of the State Film Agency of Ukraine and did not go beyond the first round. He told journalists that he had been invited to the President's Office as a consultant.

“This is about creativity, about cinema, about series  The Minister of Culture was present, there was a person from the Office in charge of humanitarian issues. We discussed certain topics with them. I came to advise as a consultant,” said Kiryushchenko.

Oleksiy Kiryushchenko in front of the Presidential Office. Photo: Schemes

A lawyer and a consultant of Zelenskyy’s team in the presidential elections Serhiy Nyzhniy was spotted near the Presidential Office twice. Nyzhniy said his visit was “a private matter”. His brother Andriy Nyzhniy, a judge at the Leninskyi District Court of Dnipro, became a member of the Legal Affairs Commission after Volodymyr Zelenskyy became president. Andriy Nyzhniy also told the journalists of “Skhemy” that he had visited the Presidential Office.

Denys Yermak, a brother of president’s aide Andriy Yermak, also visited the Office. According to him, he was engaged in research work and wanted to tell his brother about an initiative, but did not specify which one.

Denys Yermak in front of the Presidential Office. Photo: Schemes

An MP of the Servant of the People Oleksiy Ustenko faction came to the Presidential Office to meet his father Oleg Ustenko, who is an Executive Director at The Bleyzer Foundation and a non-staff advisor to President Zelenskyy.

The Presidential Office refused to provide information about visitors and the purpose of their meetings stating that it was "confidential information".

All this contradicts Zelenskyy’s claim during the presidential campaign that he is ready to publish the visitor lists of the Presidential Office – "taking into account the national security issues" – if he becomes president.