DGP part 1: Kozlovska’s case. State trash lab [DGP investigations]
25 June 2019|Authors: Authors: Zbigniew Parafianowicz & Bartek Godusławski, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna
DGP has a full report from the Moldovan Investigation Committee on the Open Dialogue Foundation. The document indicates that Poland might have cooperated on the ODF case with the special services in that country controlled by the oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc. The matter came to light after the power in Moldova was taken two weeks ago by the opposition supported by the European Union and the US. Maia Sandu became Prime Minister and Andrei Năstase Deputy Prime Minister; they know Kozlovska and were the main targets of the attack of the Investigation Committee next to her.
The head of the Open Dialogue Foundation holds a Belgian residence card. Yesterday – under Article 25 of the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement, her name was deleted from Schengen Information System (SIS) which means that she can move around the zone unhindered. Secret evidence from the Polish special services that she is a threat to national security was also recently challenged by the Regional Administrative Court which Onet wrote about. We wrote in DGP as early as in September last year, relying on informers from the ABW (Internal Security Agency) circles that the data had been of poor quality. Now the Court has confirmed this. We read the April judgment of the Regional Administrative Court (WSA) and the statement of grounds therefor. DGP also has a full version of the Moldovan Parliament’s report, which was supposed to disgrace ODF and Bartosz Kramek’s company Silk Road Biuro Analiz i Informacji. It’s an amalgamate of truth, half-truths and a manifest falsehood. We familiarised ourselves with accounts of people involved in the work of the Investigation Committee which produced this document. In a conversation with us, they revealed the backstage of its formation and the pressure exerted on them by the oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc – removed from power two weeks ago. It was against him that the ODF spoke against in Moldova.
Both what is happening in Poland and in Belgium, as well as messages coming from Moldova, allow an assumption that the Polish State in the clash with the ODF is close to failure. Evidence is missing of Kozlovska’s links with the Russian services. Besides, Maia Sandu, working closely with the ODF, and now supported by the US and the European Union and approved by Russia has become head of the government in Moldova, which is considered a tectonic change in the definition of the eastern policy by Brussels and Washington. Meanwhile, it was the links with her and her circles that were supposed to be the primary evidence of the Foundation’s being engaged in obscure financial schemes and money laundering under the so-called Moldovan laundromat. However, neither the Moldovan report nor the inspection by the Łódź Customs and Treasury Office, which examined the Foundation’s finance, demonstrated that (we have a document that contains the results of this inspection. The inspection is still continuing with respect to the business of Ludmyla Kozlovska’s husband, Silk Road Biuro Analiz i Informacji, is still going on).
The authors of the 34-page report, made in the Rumanian language, of the Investigation Committee of the Moldovan Parliament are six MPs. Half of them come from the Democratic Party controlled by Plahotniuc. As one of the DGP interlocutors argues, the informal curator of the work on the document was his mate and vice-head of the Democrats Andrian Candu. – Even though he was not a member of the Investigation Committee, he was the one to edit its final version, and this is evidenced by the information contained in the so-called metadata word file in which the report had been saved before it was converted to PDF – DGP’s informer says – It is clear from it that the document was edited or even entirely written by Candu and his people – he adds.
Plahotniuc, who began his career in the pimp business and specialised over time in gathering erotic films discrediting his political and business opponents, ruled the country indivisibly until mid-June this year. A week ago – immediately after a conversation with the US Ambassador – he evacuated himself by car from Chisinau, through the separatist Transnistria, to the Ukrainian Odessa, and from there by plane to Istanbul. For several years, he enjoyed the support of the West because he had caused the signing of an association agreement with the European Union and in the declarations at least he guaranteed geopolitical orientation towards the West and the deterring of Russia’s influence along eastern border of the EU-NATO – Moldova. He lost that support when it turned out that the agreement was only an alibi which allowed him to rob, without moderation, the state in which a rebellion was still smoldering, following the model of Viktor Yankovych.
After Kozlovska was entered into the SIS by Poland last summer, Plahotniuc – referring directly to the statement that came from the Ministercoordinating the Special Services Mariusz Kamiński – ordered the appointment of an investigation committee to demonstrate the diversionary activities of ODF. The target of the hunting was not only Kozlovska, but above all the pro-Western opposition seeking to seize the power. – An attempt was to delegalise groups that could threaten him, Natalia Morari, a Moldovan journalist and activist collaborating with Maia Sandu and Kozlovska, was saying in a conversation with DGP. In her view, the objective of Plahotniuc was total monopolisation of the state. The building of a system of power relying on family and friends known as cumetrie. In Romanian, this term has double meaning. It means loyal, quasi-family links and arrangements but also plain cronyism.
The head of the Moldovan Investigation Committee, which began its work on 5 October 2018 and was inspired by Poland’s measures towards ODF, was a trusted politician of the Democratic Party and a trusted friend of Plahotniuc himself, the lawyer Igor Vremea. His direct curator was the aforementioned Candu. The main sources of knowledge of the Committee were three local special services which the oligarch controlled – Information and Security Service (SIS – equivalent of the Polish ABW), the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Anti-money Laundering and Prevention service (SPCSB – equivalent of the Polish tax intelligence). We read in the document that the persons who testified in the matter of ODF and the opposition included Vasile Botnari, representing the SIS, head of the SPCSB – Vasile Şarco and secretary of state at the Ministry of Internal Affairs – Dorin Purice. The report concludes that the foundation was financed by the Russian Ministry of Defence, and the funds were supposedly to flow through tax havens. No evidence is presented though. The main donor of the foundation was supposedly to be Petro Kozłowski, Ludmyla’s brother (which is no secret, which the ODF did not conceal and which appeared, inter alia, in the so-called Rey Report, the Polish publication describing the foundation’s links) and his business partners Arkadiy Agarkov of the Stali company operating in Saint Petersburg and Andrey Brovchenko from the same city. You can also read that Ludmyla’s sister, Olena Miroshnikov, is a co-owner of a network of companies in Sevastopol (this information was also contained in the Rey document). ODF was supposedly provided with money from these people, and Silk Road supposedly cooperated with a number of companies related to Petro Kozlovsky and his businesses (DGP has a full list of these entities, and about some of them which did not appear in the so-called Rey Report – the Moldovan side could find out from the Polish side by which it might have infringed treasury secrecy in the ongoing proceedings against Silk Road).
All of the aforementioned persons have long been present in reports of Polish media in the context of the Kozlovsky’s links with the Crimean company Mayak producing lighting for the Russian Navy.
– We never concealed the relations with Lyudmyla’s brother and the fact that he was the chief donor. The information about Mayak is no secret either. However, it is hard to understand the thesis of his relationship with Russia, since he permanently lives in Florida, he left Crimea at the beginning of 2014, supported the pro-Ukrainian Foundation, and has nothing to do with Mayak today, Bartosz Kramek, head of Silk Road Biuro Informacji and the husband of Ludmyla Kozlovska tells DGP. As is apparent from our information, some of Kozlovska’s family remained in the Crimea. – Some supported the peninsula’s annexation. As it is said, they were vatniks (from term originating from the Russian and Ukrainian languages vata (cotton wool) to describe those who uncritically endorse the idea of the Russian world – editor’s note). However, this tells nothing about the activity of Ludmyla in Poland – our informer argues. Cases are common in Ukraine where a family is divided around the question of how they see what happened during and after the Majdan in 2014. This includes, for example, the former miner, and the famous Ukrainian publicist and writer today, Maxim Butchenko, who comes from the Luhansk and now lives in Kyiv. Some of his family supported the separatists of the Luhansk People’s Republic. He himself participated in the revolution of dignity against Viktor Yanukovych. He defines members of his family define as an opolchenye (uprising and insurgents), using a term which is disliked in the Ukrainian capital, because it does not have a pejorative context.
Network from havens
The Moldovan document talks a lot about funds transferred to the accounts of Kramek’s company (Silk Road Biuro Analiz i Informacji) by entities registered in tax havens (we have a full list of these companies and where they are registered). According to our information, two of these – Kariastra Project and Stoppard Consulting – did cooperate in the past with Petro Kozlovsky. However, there is no evidence in the report to suggest that Kozlovsky did money laundering through these companies, or that the companies actually transferred funds to ODF or to Silk Road. Bartosz Kramek, whom we presented with the list of the entities mentioned in the report, denied that he had ever had any relationship with them.
The Moldovan report also says that Silk Road supposedly transferred 2,000 dollars to the account of the Moldovan company supporting the opposition group Civic Platform Dignity and Truth (Platform Demnitate și Adevăr), headed by Andrei Năstase, now Deputy Prime Minister in the government of Mai Sandu supported by the West. Parliamentarians from the Investigation Committee who grilled the then pro-Western opposition, and today they boast that they reached that “in the process of investigation carried out by Moldovan special services with foreign partners”. The Polish ABW might be meant here.
Our question whether the Polish side provided institutions on the Moldovan side with information about Kramek or Kozlovska, which were then fully controlled by the oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, and about the extent to which cooperation was going on with Chisinau on the issue of ODF and Silk Road, was answered by the Department of Analysis and Social Communication of the National Security Department, Chancellery of the Prime Minister (no person signed it with their the name and surname). “Please be advised that the Internal Security Agency is investigating the activities of the Open Dialogue Foundation and the company SILK ROAD Biuro Analiz i Informacji managed by Bartosz Kramek. The investigation was initiated by the Prosecutor’s Office on the basis of a notice from the Head of the National Treasury Administration, which had carried out a tax audit in ODF. Please be advised at the same time that the services perform their statutory responsibilities on an ongoing basis. The details of the actions undertaken by the services are not made public due to legal constraints”, the answer was.
The document of the Moldovan Parliament also cites an article, popular in Poland, of the Ukrainian antikor service, in which Kozlovska – without reliance on any prerequisite – is accused of liaisons with Russian special services. In order to make this material credible, MEPs recall ABW counterintelligence’s recommendation which became the basis for entering her in the SIS database and which was challenged by the Regional Administrative Court. A few sentences further there is untrue information that investigation was supposedly pending in Ukraine against Kozlovska. We demonstrated in DGP, in September, that the scanned document that appeared on the web on the case was not genuine. The person who signed it – former Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Vitaliy Kaśko – denied talking to our newspaper that he had ever seen such a document or placed his signature on it. We also asked the head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Pavlo Klimkin whether such investigation was under way. He denied. He was enigmatic answering DGP’s question about how he judged Kozlovska’s case in Poland:- and is there any Kozlovska case in Poland?
The main conclusion of the Moldovan report is that ODF had intervened into the internal affairs of the State (similar allegations in Poland are made against ODF by Law and Justice politicians) and financed the opposition from illegal sources. It supposedly manifested itself, amongst others, through the lobbying against Plahotniuc in the European Parliament, supporting Veaceslav Platon accused of taking 1.5 billion dollars out of the Moldovan banking system through so-called laundromat (in tomorrow’s edition of DGP we will publish a material about the laundromats mechanism, attempting to link him with ODF and Platon himself), inviting to international conferences people like Sandu and Năstase and paying for their flights to Brussels.
Indeed, ODF did get engaged on the side of the opposition, and presented Platon as a victim of Plahotniuc’s regime (sentenced in 2017 in a political case to 18 years in prison), and not a crooked businessman who had collaborated with him in the past. The foundation’s lobbying was painful for the authorities in Chisinau because it led, inter alia, to the European Commission reducing EU aid funds for Moldova to a total of €20 million per year. Also Platon’s lawyer, Ana Ursachi whom Plahotniuc accused of managing an organised crime group which was illegally taking over real estate, stayed in Poland upon an invitation from ODF. In fact, the oligarch’s acute attacks on Ursachi cooperating with the opposition (including an allegation against her that she had ordered an assassination) were due to the fact that representing Platon she had wide knowledge of Plahotniuc’s businesses and shared that knowledge in Brussels, Berlin and Warsaw. Talking to DGP in 2017, Ursachi argued that her client had communicated some information about in which tax havens Plahotniuc was hiding his money, to an officer of the American FBI during a hearing in Kyiv just before extradition to Chisinau. (Even though he had, in addition to a Moldovan passport, a Ukrainian passport, Platon was detained in Kyiv in the summer of 2016 and handed over to the authorities in Chisinau. Ukraine was then ruled by a close friend and a business partner of Plahotniuc in the past – Petro Poroshenko).
Evidence of poor publicism quality
According to our information, the Moldovan report was handed over to the Polish side. As one of our informants says, the theme of the foundation was to be addressed at the meeting of Minister Jacek Czaputowicz with his Moldovan counterpart, Tudor Ulianovschi, during the OSCE Council of Ministers in Milan in December 2018. That is still during Plahotniuc’s time.
Roughly during the same period, the report was considered to be of little credibility by Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of State for Europe and Eurasia George Kent. As he said, the document was a form of pressure “initiated by the oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc”. The opposition at the time which is now in power in Moldova was not involved in drafting it. Another of our interlocutors argues that anything in fact could be included in the report, because the Investigation Committee proceeded behind closed doors, and it was Plahotniuc through his mate Andrian Candu who had full insight into its work.
We asked the head of the Foreign Ministry Jacek Czaputowicz to assess the quality of the Moldovan report. We also asked about whether Poland would remove Kozlovska from the SIS, when she obtains a Belgian resident card. Until we closed this edition of DGP, we got no answer.
We also asked a comment of the chair of the Moldovan Investigation Committee, which developed the report on ODF – Igor Vremea. He did not answer our questions either.
Kozlovska herself argues in a conversation with DGP that she had long demanded the disclosure of all the information on the basis of which she was found to be a threat to the Polish national security. – There is no permission for this because there is nothing on me in secret documents. This was confirmed by the Regional Administrative Court in its judgment – ODF’s head tells us. – A specific machine of mutual citation and winding of the case was set up. First, Moldova relied on the prohibition of entry and Poland’s position (communique from Stanisław Żaryn of the summer of last year– editor’s note) which considered me to be a security threat. It therefore justified the need to set up a parliamentary investigation committee. And then Poland made use of the knowledge contained in the Moldovan report against us. Both sides found their conclusions to be revealed truth. The problem is that both states have not proven anything that could discredit me and the foundation – she concludes.
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