Posted on May 09, 2019
Following claims by the Sunday Times (April 21st) that controversial human rights NGO Open Dialog Foundation (ODF) is implicated in the money laundering activities of fugitive Oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov, the organisation has issued a statement in which, remarkably, it fails to adequately refute a single claim made against it.
Instead, ODF resorts a series of character assassinations, questioning the credentials of the journalists involved in the story, Carlos Alba and Jordan Ryan - they “are not employees of the respectable newspaper”, ODF states. There is nothing strange about the Sunday Times employing the services of freelance journalists, of course. Alba himself is a former editor of the Scottish edition of the Times.
A damning and comprehensive report issued by the Moldovan parliament which is referred to by Alba and Ryan is dismissed with the words “No one I know takes reports of the Moldovan parliament seriously” and "I do not know anyone who believes in the findings of the Moldovan parliament”, attributed to Tim Judah, the Balkan correspondent of The Economist.
The Times story came as no surprise. ODF’s main clients, Ablyazov - who is widely believed to have set up ODF in order to sanitise his own past - and his associates Viktor and Ilyas Khrapunov, Bota Jardemalie, who Ablyazov appointed to the board of BTA Bank, from which they were to embezzle some $7.6 billion, and lawyer Olena Tyshchenko all have been implicated in large-scale money laundering activities.
Indeed, the Polish government is known to be taking a great interest in ODF’s funding.
In fulfilling the mandate as an MEP I always broadly try to build support for relevant issues on the EU’s Eastern policy. Several broad initiatives have been supported by ODF but I can give an assurance that all events and initiatives in which ODF will be involved will be met with a boycott [by me] and I would encourage the same action by colleagues from all political groups and international partners.
The net has been tightening on ODF for some time: Head of the organisation, Ukrainian citizen Lyudmyla Kozlovska, found herself subject last year to an order prohibiting her from travelling in the Schengen zone. This was imposed at the behest of the Polish government which alleged that her activities constituted a threat to the country’s national security. This would appear to stem from a statement by husband, Bartosz Kramek, a Polish citizen, “Let the state stand: let’s shut down the government!”
At the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw in September of last year, delegates signed a resolution calling on the organisation to investigate the activities of ODF, which in addition to its human rights activities, is known to have supplied military equipment to warring factions in eastern Ukraine, and which states in its statute that its remit includes involvement in gambling activities.
It should be noted that online gambling, a sector from which ODF appears to have attracted donations in the past, is notorious for its money laundering activities.
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