Ihor Kolomoisky is again accused of an attempt to kill a lawyer. We remind you of a long story about bandits, oligarchs of 2000s and an investigator with a tragic fate

Oksana Kovalenko
Dmytro Rayevskyi
Ihor Kolomoisky is again accused of an attempt to kill a lawyer. We remind you of a long story about bandits, oligarchs of 2000s and an investigator with a tragic fate

Getty Images / «Babel'»

On May 8, 2024, oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, who has been in the detention center of the SBU for eight months, was informed of a new suspicion. The investigation believes that in 2003 he ordered an assassination attempt on lawyer Serhiy Karpenko. The Prosecutor Generalʼs Office is conducting "urgent investigative actions" to expose all those involved in the crime. And Babel sources in the law enforcement agencies say that Karpenko and other witnesses point to Kolomoisky as the mastermind of the attempt. Babel correspondent Oksana Kovalenko reminds us what this case is about and why it has been going on for 21 years.

Who is Serhiy Karpenko?

He was born in 1972 in the small town of Pershotravensk in the Dnipropetrovsk region. Graduated from the Faculty of Law of Dnipropetrovsk State University. Since 1998, he has worked as a lawyer, and since 2000, he has been an arbitration manager. Before the attempt, he worked for a short time in the regional bankruptcy agency in the Dnipropetrovsk region. From 2006 to 2008, he was the deputy mayor of Dnipropetrovsk, and from February 2021 to May 2022, he worked as an adviser to the head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional state administration. In 2021, he received the title "Honored Lawyer of Ukraine".

Serhiy Karpenko

And what happened to him in 2003?

At the center of this story is the enterprise Dniprospetsstal. This is an electrometallurgical plant and a key producer of grade stainless steel in Ukraine. Among its owners in 2003 were businessmen Hryhoriy Surkis and Kostyantyn Hryhoryshyn. In July 2003, Hryhoryshyn decided to sell 15% of Dniprospetsstal to Viktor Pinchuk, a businessman and son-in-law of the then President of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma. Serhiy Karpenko, as a lawyer, was the guarantor of this agreement.

At the same time, Kolomoisky, the owner of the Privat business group, also fought for the plant. According to Karpenko, the oligarch invited him to his office and demanded to "change the situation with the shareholdersʼ meeting at Dniprospetsstal." Kolomoisky wanted a lawyer to help annul the decision of the general meeting of shareholders, which allowed Pinchuk to buy shares. Karpenko refused. The media wrote that after that, in July 2003, Karpenko turned to the law enforcement authorities with a statement about threats from Kolomoisky.

A few weeks later, Karpenkoʼs partner was attacked and his skull was broken. According to the investigation, the killers were simply mistaken. Already on August 16, 2003, Karpenko himself was attacked in Feodosia city in Crimea. Four unknown persons beat him on the head with a metal rod and inflicted numerous stab wounds, damaging his right lung and stomach. His wife prevented from killing the lawyer — he miraculously survived. In a few days, the perpetrators of the attempt were arrested. The court sent them behind bars on April 28, 2005.

And how did we get to Kolomoisky?

The investigators were looking for the mastermind of the attempt — the investigation was transferred to a separate proceeding. On May 30, 2005, Prosecutor Generalʼs Office investigator Ihor Sholodko issued a resolution accusing Kolomoisky of organizing the murder. The decision was approved by the then Deputy Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Kolomoisky said that it was pressure on him from Hryhoryshyn and the then Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Petro Poroshenko. So they allegedly wanted to force a change in the leadership of the regional energy company, which belonged to the oligarch.

The investigation revealed that the attempt on Karpenko was organized by Kolomoiskyʼs bodyguard Serhiy Nikitin. However, he was found dead. The initial version was suicide, but after the exhumation of Nikitinʼs body, many stab wounds were found on him.

In the summer of 2005, investigator Sholodko sent a petition to the Pechersk Court of Kyiv to detain Kolomoisky. However, even before the court session, the then Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun forced Sholodko to withdraw the submission. The oligarch himself left Ukraine on the same day, citing an allergy to ragweed.

In 2005, the case was closed twice — first by Sholodko himself with the wording "due to the absence of a crime." And later, Kolomoiskyʼs lawyers received a court decision about the "absence of a crime."

How did the matter arise again?

In 2013, Viktor Pinchuk started suing Kolomoisky, who soon became the head of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration, in the London Arbitration. At the same time, Pinchuk tried to prove Kolomoiskyʼs involvement in the assassination attempt on Karpenko. He initiated an investigation into the Dnipropetrovsk judges, who closed the case in 2005. Representatives of the oligarch, including the former Deputy Prosecutor General Mykola Obykhod, submitted applications to law enforcement agencies and courts. Obykhod also conducted his own investigation.

In the summer of 2014, law enforcement agencies again attempted to assassinate Karpenko. Former investigator Sholodko, who at that time left the prosecutorʼs office and lived in Zhytomyr region, was supposed to testify in this case. But on August 4, 2014, he was mobilized by the military committee of the Dnipropetrovsk region, which was then headed by Kolomoisky. And already on November 30 of the same year, Sholodko died defending the Donetsk airport.

In February 2015, the materials of the Obykhod investigation were sent to all the then members of the National Security and Defense Council. Obykhod claims that before ordering Sholodko to take the petition for Kolomoiskyʼs arrest from the court, Piskun held negotiations with the oligarchʼs representatives. He allegedly paid $40-50 million in bribes to the then Prosecutor General. And a few days before Sholodko was at the front line, he was contacted by one of Kolomoiskyiʼs deputies in the regional administration. The Ministry of Internal Affairs investigated Sholodkoʼs death as an intentional murder.

Babel turned to the Prosecutor Generalʼs Office with questions: how did the investigation into Sholodkoʼs death end and whether Piskunʼs role in this story was investigated. At the time of publication of the article, we have not received an answer.

Translated from Ukrainian by Anton Semyzhenko.

You may not remember everything about Ukrainian politics — we will remind you. Support Babel: 🔸 Buy Me a Coffee, 🔸 Patreon, 🔸 PayPal: [email protected].