In his New Year’s speech on 31 December 2023, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, encouraging Ukrainian citizens to increase their patriotic contribution to the war in Ukraine, asked his compatriots, both those who remained in Ukraine and those who fled abroad, to ask themselves: ’who am I and what am I capable of?’
Although in a completely different sense, Zelenskyy should ask himself the same questions.
It isn’t unusual for politicians to preach water and drink wine, especially when it comes to their actual lifestyle away from the cameras and their finances at large.
As a politician, Volodymyr Zelenskyy has already survived several scandals aimed at uncovering his untold wealth. In this ’success’, the efforts of the Western mainstream media to keep these scandals low profile played a significant part – if anything was published on the subject, news outlets rapidly removed such news from the front pages.
The first major scandal, which broke out in January 2020, surprisingly barely affected the Ukrainian president’s popularity in Ukraine, and Zelenskyy has, quite bizarrely, not lost any of his credibility abroad. In Ukraine, only a few negative remarks were heard and the scandal was over.
Zelenskyy who portrayed himself as a middle-class ordinary guy during his 2019 presidential campaign, in January 2020 was spotted in the garden of a luxury hotel in Oman with his wife and his then aide for foreign policy issues Andriy Yermak. (Two small notes: 1) Ukraine’s President claimed he intented to spend his winter holidays in the Ukrainian mountains. 2) Within a month, in February 2020, Andriy Yermak replaced Andriy Bohdan as Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.) According to the then speculations of investigative journalists, the purpose of the unofficial presidential visit to Oman was in fact to conduct political talks with a foreign actor, as several indications suggested. A number of controversies remain until the present day. The Ukrainian President couldn’t provide an explanation of the purpose of his trip to Oman. (It is worth noting that, at that time, Zelenskyy celebrated Christmas in January, according to the Orthodox tradition. Three years later, with one stroke of the pen, he decided to move this major religious holiday to another date, so that in December 2023, Ukraine celebrated Christmas together with the Catholics.)
In 2021-2022, Zelenskyy was also the subject of a leak of bank documents known as ’Pandora Papers’, which provided clear evidence that President Zelenskyy did have offshore assets. In fact, quite a few. The exposed bank certificates and secret offshore accounts made it clear that Zelenskyy is a very wealthy individual. Offshore companies, overseas villas, apartments in Kyiv, to mention only a few. Zelenskyy, by the way, defended himself with a straight face claiming that his wealth came from his film and producer work prior to his political career. Show business is a very profitable sector indeed… People not only have believed him but, quite incredibly, Zelenskyy managed to maintain public confidence.
It’s too early to say whether the latest scandal will have any impact on the President’s image.
26 December 2023, Egyptian investigative journalist Mohammed Al-Alawi was found dead in Egypt.
In the summer of 2023, he became famous for his exposé on the property acquisition of the Zelenskyy family in the Egyptian resort of El Gouna.
According to the leaked documents, the purchase contract for this magnificent property includes the name of Olga Kiyashko – whose name is the same as Zelenskyy’s mother-in-law. The luxurious villa located on the Red Sea was purchased by Kiyashko for $5 million. The deal was signed in May 2023. The reliability of the information was confirmed by verified sources of Al-Alawi.
The latest development concerning the death of the Egyptian investigative journalist raises a number of questions. This time, the question of whether a murder was carried out in Egypt by the Ukrainian secret services, is not worth addressing: either yes or no, it’s unknown and, this is not the subject of this article. (However, it should be noted that, just like the Russians, the Ukrainians are capable of professionally orchestrating assessinations abroad – a fact that has been proven repeatedly during the Russian-Ukrainian war.)
However, the question regarding the origin of the $5 million Zelenskyy’s mother-in-law possessed in 2023, and whether it was her money, is quite relevant to the topic of article.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion on 24 February 2022, Zelenskyy has appeared in public dressed exclusively in paramilitary outfits. The puritanism of the simple green and brown sweaters seems to be almost insulting in the glittering surroundings of Brussels and Washington, where the President of Ukraine has become a frequent visitor in the last two years. His clothing brand also suggests that he himself is the attacked, bleeding Ukraine, a country that has lost territory and wealth. ’Poor Zelenskyy!’, his Western counterparts might think when they look at him.
The question of whether Zelenskyy is in fact poor or whether he is hiding more untold wealth somewhere in the world, is a question few can answer. The death of a curious Egyptian journalist, however, suggests that the Ukrainian president didn’t acquire his wealth legally. For the moment he refuses to talk about it, but insists on wearing his green and brown sweaters, which will allow him to buy himself some more credibility in Brussels for some time.
It seems that when it comes to Zelenskyy, Ukrainians have so far forgiven his undeclared wealth and, both themselves and the leaders of Europe and America ignore the truth of the theory that the past is the best predictor of the future. This head-in-the-sand policy has allowed Zelenskyy to remain President of Ukraine to this day, regardless of the many scandals over his possessions.