• Austria's news in English

New Ukraine agency slammed as 'PR ploy'

The Local · 6 Mar 2015, 17:29

Published: 06 Mar 2015 17:29 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Serhiy Leshchenko, a government official in Kiev, said that the agency which is backed by Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash is a blatant attempt to restore his reputation and prevent him from being extradited to the US.

Firtash has been a fugitive in Vienna for over a year and is fighting extradition for fraud charges in the US. Speaking at a conference to launch the new agency on Tuesday, he said that Ukraine is close to collapse and that power must be devolved to the regions if it is to modernise. He added that up to $300 billion of new investment is needed to help reconstruct the country.

"In my view, from Firtash’s side this is simply an attempt to restore his reputation and artificially create a discussion, so that he won’t be handed over to the FBI - instead he hopes to become some high-up official in Ukraine," Leshchenko, an MP with President Petro Poroschenko’s party, was quoted as saying by Austrian broadcaster ORF.

Pro-European MP Wiktorija Wojzizka told Ukrainian radio station Svoboda that she believed Firtash and his supporters were "trying to buy goodwill and loyalty in Europe, especially in Austria, to avoid extradition to the United States" and added that the agency was merely a public relations ploy, set up to “whitewash” allegations of corruption.

Firtash is seen by many as an influential go-between in relations between the Kremlin and Kiev, but his critics say he is pro-President Putin.

He led talks to bring together politicians from Germany, France and the UK to put together the new AMU, which has the support of the Trade Unions of Ukraine and the Federation of Employers.

President Poroschenko is also reported to have given his backing to the new plan.

Story continues below…

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy and German politician Karl-Georg Wellman are co-founders and advisers to the agency alongside the UK’s Lord Risby, who is chairman of the British Ukrainian Society.

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Austrian far-right leader brands Merkel 'dangerous'
Heinz-Christian Strache. Photo: Facebook/Personal

The head of Austria's far-right Freedom Party has branded Angela Merkel Europe's most dangerous politician.

Austria 'horror clown' attacks leave several injured
Clown performers are not happy about the negative media stories. Photo: Graeme Maclean/Flickr

Several people have been injured in attacks by masked assailants dressed as 'creepy clowns' in the lead-up to Halloween.

Brunnenmarkt murder 'could have been prevented'
Locals remember the murdered woman. Photo: Wien Caritas

The random murder of a woman in Vienna could have been prevented if the homeless and mentally disturbed man who killed her had been admitted to a psychiatric institution.

Iraqi family ask ECJ to help them stay in Austria
Kumberg locals hold a vigil for the family. Photo: ORF

A group of people from Kumberg in Styria have asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for help in trying to stop the deportation of an Iraqi family.

The Local List
Five things you need to know about winter tyres
Photo: carmagazine.co.uk

It’s that time of year when temperatures start to plunge and drivers are advised to switch to winter tyres to avoid being caught out by snow and ice on the roads.

Radioactive uranium rocks on display in Austrian schools
Uraninite crystals. Photo: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com/Wikimedia

Education officials have carried out urgent checks in schools across the country after one of the stones on display in a classroom turned out to be radioactive.

Austrian churches slam far-right's 'God' slogan
Campaign poster for Norbert Hofer. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Austrian church officials have denounced far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer for "instrumentalising" God in a new slogan.

'Scary clown' pushes 14-year-old off his bike in Salzburg
Generic photo: Graeme Maclean/Flickr

A 14-year-old boy in Salzburg has been injured after being pushed off his bike by an individual dressed as a scary clown.

Police puzzled by random stabbing of teenager in Vienna
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A 15-year-old boy who was stabbed near his home in the Vienna district of Liesing on Friday morning by a complete stranger has spoken to the police.

'Sensational' 300-year-old Madonna found in Burgenland
The head of the statue was found beside the body. Photo: ORF

A 300-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary has been found hidden in a chapel next to a Catholic church in Loretto, Burgenland.

12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available