Galey Tzahal (Army Radio) reported today that Israel welcomed with open arms two Ukrainian oligarchs wanted by Interpol for serious crimes. The suspects, Yuri Borisov and Eduard Stavitsky, are suspected of embezzlement and money-laundering in Ukraine. They flew into Ben Gurion airport and received Israeli entry visas. Borisov’s visa was approved for the purposes of medical treatment, though it’s not clear what, if anything ails him except him criminal predicament. Borisov fled Israel immediately after the arrest of Yisrael Beitenu MK Faina Kirschenbaum, but stayed long enough (about a month) to get citizenship and passports for him and his entire family.
They were granted citizenship despite the fact that one of them isn’t Jewish and both are wanted fugitives and suspected criminals. These matters should make them automatically ineligible for citizenship.
The United States had asked Interpol to apprehend Borisov, former CEO of a Ukrainian oil company, on suspicion that he embezzled at least $40-million (the article uses the word “billion” but that seems an error) in U.S. foreign aid intended for Ukraine. An Israeli private investigator believes Borisov’s visa was granted so quickly because a cash bribe was offered to an Interior Ministry official.
It should be mentioned that Gideon Saar was the minister at the time this happened. Coincidentally, he resigned within the past few months under a pall. Some said he was about to be charged with an unspecified crime. That still has not happened.
The second Ukrainian oligarch, Edward Stavitsky, arrived a few months ago and is still residing in Herzliya. He is a former Ukrainian energy minister. As he was fleeing, Ukrainian police raided his home, where they allegedly found $4.5-million in cash, millions in luxury watches, and kilograms of gold bullion. Stavitsky earned Israeli citizenship even though he is Christian, not Jewish.
The Israeli private investigator told Galey Tzahal that Israel has become the destination of choice for fugitive oligarchs. If you know the right people, you can get whatever you need there. So the nation founded as a haven for Jews in distress, as a place destined for the Ingathering of Exiles, has become a beacon of criminality to the world’s filthy rich.
H/t to Iftach Shavit and Yossi Gurvitz.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.