The Ukrainian parliament appointed Herman Halushchenko, vice president of Ukraine’s state nuclear giant Energoatom, as the country’s new energy minister on April 29, making him the first permanent energy minister in more than a year.
This appointment came a day after Yuriy Vitrenko, Ukraine’s former acting energy minister, came back at the head of Ukraine’s gas giant Naftogaz following the ousting of Andriy Kobolyev, a day after Naftogaz reported financial losses of $685 million in 2020.
Halushchenko held the position of vice president of Energoatom since May 2020. He joined the company in 2013 as the executive director of the legal support’s branch.
However, such a nomination in this context made energy experts grind their teeth because Energoatom sustained a net loss of $177 million in 2020, anti-graft watchdog StateWatch reported on March 11, its worst financial result of the past three years.
“This is a good example of double standards in politics and shows that respective staff decisions have nothing to do with the results of the companies’ operations,” energy expert Yuri Kubrushko told the Kyiv Post on April 28.
During his speech in parliament before the vote, Halushchenko also dodged the questions over his alleged links with Ukrainian oligarchs and lawmaker Andriy Derkach, the former head of Energoatom who allegedly submitted his nomination.
Derkach is an independent lawmaker who has been under American sanctions since September for acting in Russia’s interests and attempting to influence the 2020 elections in the country.
“All the stories about my connections with oligarchs, and with Derkach, are absolutely fake, and so is the information discrediting the company (Energoatom). So let’s stop all this hysteria,” Halushchenko said during his speech on April 29.
Still, Ukrainian media and watchdog organizations repeatedly wrote about the company’s electricity auctions, where lots were allegedly sold below market price in favor of companies associated with the country’s two most influential oligarchs, Rinat Akhmetov and Ihor Kolomoisky.
Most of the electricity was sold to the company United Energy that’s associated with Kolomoisky and D. Trading, owned by Akhmetov, according to the Nashi Groshi investigative project.
On Nov. 13, during an auction, these companies received a 40% discount on the electricity price. Three months later, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) conducted searches at Energoatom amid an investigation on unreasonable electricity prices.
Energoatom stated back then that the company is open for an investigation and “ready to cooperate with detectives in every possible way.”
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