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Former Polish president in 'ambiguous' relationship with Ukraine gas company

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 15.05.2014 08:48
Former president of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski says he sees “nothing wrong” in working for a gas company associated with ousted Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovich.

Aleksander Kwasniewski in Warsaw, wednesday: photo - Jacek Turczyk/PAP

The reports by the Buzzfeed web site that Kwasniewski, an EU envoy to Ukraine, and son of US vice president Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, are members of the supervisory board of Burisma – which describes itself as “Ukraine's biggest private gas firm” - raises issues of a potential conflict of interest, as the European Union and US seek to find a solution to the conflict with Ukraine and Russia.

On its web site, Burisma Holdings Ltd says that Aleksander Kwasniewski “was appointed director of the company in 2014”, though the former president of Poland has told Polish media that he is “a member of an independent supervisory broad advising the company on politics”.

The revelation that Kwasniewski and Hunter Biden are connected to the gas firm has raised questions as to the propriety of the appointments, however, during what has become a civil war in the east of Ukraine and a tense stand off between the West and Russia, which controls Ukraine's gas supply.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Burisma is controlled by Nikolai Zlochevsky, a former member of parliament for ousted Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions and served as his environment protection minister from July 2010 until Yanukovych fled to Russia late last year.

Aleksander Kwasniewski has told Poland's TVP broadcaster that “support for the company is important from the point of view of Ukraine's independence from Russian gas”.

“I do not see nothing wrong [in collaborating with Burisma]. I believe that this activity is supremely useful,” said Kwasniewski, president of Poland between 1995 and 2005.

Burisma is part of a group that produced around 450 million cubic meters of gas in 2013 - or 10 percent of the country's gas needs - and became the largest independent gas producer in Ukraine by volume in the first quarter of this year.

Poland's prime minister, Donald Tusk said on Wednesday that Kwasniewski's involvement with Burisma is “awkward and ambiguous”.

“It doesn't look good,” Tusk added.

Kwasniewski, alongside former president of the European parliament, Pat Cox, acted as an envoy for the EU during negotiations to free former Ukraine prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko from prison, where she was serving a seven year sentence for “abuse of power” when concluding gas deals with Russia in 2008. (pg)

tags: Ukraine
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