Gubarev’s claim came just two days after Akhmetov’s company announced that it would establish an unarmed militia in Mariupol, the site of massive clashes between separatists and government troops in eastern Ukraine.
However, Akhmetov issued a flat denial in a statement released about 6 p.m. on May 12. He said that he supports the Donbas region remaining in Ukraine and a peaceful settlement to the turmoil that has already claimed nearly 50 lives in Donetsk Oblast alone in the last two months.
“Pavel Gubarev said that I had bought out two thirds of activists. I am telling you with confidence that I have not given, nor will I ever give, a cent to anyone. The most important thing is that I have not bought out anyone, I have persuaded them. And if I have persuaded two thirds so far, I will continue to persuaded them further. People would come to me with one type of argument and leave with another one,” Akhmetov said. “I told them to unite around the words ‘the Happiness of Donbas’ so that every citizen in our region is happy. And what is the happiness of the region? It is when we have a strong economy, new jobs, good employment, good salary and good life. It is when our heritage, our history and our language are respected; in short, when our traditions and our ambitions of making the life better are respected. I am strongly convinced that Donbass can be happy only in the united Ukraine. I am for a strong Donbas in a strong Ukraine.”