Artur Mkhitaryan’s address to the President of Ukraine
Full text of address
My name is Artur Mkhytarian.
I am a Ukrainian entrepreneur. I manage an open, transparent business publicly promoting entrepreneurship, innovation and progress of our city. Over the past few years, I have built a number of iconic and innovative facilities. I have systematically invested in Ukraine and created jobs. I have never had access to state budget financing; I have never been involved in politics.
I am a citizen and a patriot of Ukraine. However, today I am addressing the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, as I believe that my business has fallen victim of extortion by the Security Service of Ukraine.
I have never deluded myself that the issue of corruption in Ukraine would be dealt with in a short time. However, presently officials have already crossed the line and are eliminating Ukrainian business. What is happening to me, to my company, and to other construction companies on the market is more than corruption; it is extortion!
Over the past two years, the Ministry of Culture has instituted procedures that create artificial barriers for obtaining approvals and, thus, a corruption scheme was implemented. The Ministry of Culture is sabotaging the issuance of approvals to several dozen construction and development companies. Moreover, the analysis of the issued documents — since such restrictions do not apply to all “Approved” decisions — clearly shows that often developers who get approved are those associated with former and current officials.
What does the Ministry of Culture have to do with it in the first place? I am developing a building in the territory of a former factory and the site is not listed as historical and cultural heritage. This fact has been confirmed by the Ministry of Culture itself, and the Institute of Archeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
At the same time, the General Prosecutor’s Office and the SSU investigators have opened criminal investigations regarding the alleged lack of coordination with the Ministry of Culture. Many companies, including my own, have become targets of such criminal cases that involve evident abuse of power and violation of investigative jurisdiction! The SSU has no authority to investigate them since the made-up accusations are not related to the defense of national security and are in no way connected with terrorism.
Now, at the time of instituted martial law in Ukraine, does the SSU have nothing else to do other than terrorize private businesses and demand apartments for solving problems?
What has broken in our system that instead of looking for terrorists, offenders, spies, and corrupt officials, special services are engaged in blackmailing progressive businesses?
Furthermore, certain persons from the Security Service of Ukraine approach us with offers to solve our issues in return for big sums of money and threaten to close the constructions otherwise. The price is one million dollars or apartments in our building.
To make us ponder the “irrefusable” proposal swiftly, the SSU resorts to dirty PR methods, various dishonest media sources and social networks to discredit my company and our project.
Where did the pseudo-journalists, who never took any comments from us, get copies of string-bound documents from the case file that could only be stored at the SSU?
This whole flow of false accusations suggests the conclusion that the goal of such dirty PR campaign is to stop sales, scare customers away, and force me and my company into a corner.
It seems that we live in the kingdom of crooked mirrors: those who must protect against corruption are the ones who engage in it, thereby destroying private business, which is the basis of the economy of Ukraine.
I am certain that at this moment, when Ukraine is in a state of war, we, entrepreneurs, must carry on together creating something new, taking care of jobs and boosting the country’s economy. We are the ones keeping the country strong! If the state does not want to help, at least it should not prevent business from developing!
My company Taryan Group is a recognized trendsetter of the Ukrainian real estate market. Our projects have repeatedly represented Kyiv at the main international real estate exhibition MIPIM, and I have received awards for actively increasing the investment attractiveness of the capital of Ukraine.
I personally contribute to the country’s image encouraging foreign investors to come to Ukraine. Customers from all over the world, including Israel, Germany, the UK, Japan and the USA, invest in Taryan Group projects. What should I tell them?
That the SSU has opened a criminal case because they also want to live in the towers of the future? I am not prepared to give blackmailers apartments in the best building in the country! Could you imagine something like this happening in any other free country?
Thinking rationally, for me, an entrepreneur who wants to succeed in Ukraine, it would probably be more efficient, safer and easier to make such a deal with the SSU and remain silent.
However, I will not be silent! And I am doing it not only for myself! I am doing this for the market, for the whole industry, for the future of the country because I advocate free entrepreneurship and progressive Ukraine.
If these things are happening to me — a successful, influential and public businessperson, the head of the Building Committee of the Union of Ukrainian Entrepreneurs — then it is hard for me to imagine what could be happening to small and medium-sized businesses.
If we all keep silent, pretend that nothing has happened, and allow blatant lawlessness and injustice to occur, then when problems come to our door it would be too late to speak out and act!
I understand that now, after my video message, they can “unleash the hounds” on me and come up with new allegations in order to slander and compromise me. They can put more spikes in the wheels and block any progress in my business.
However, I am ready for this because I do not want to become their unwilling accomplice and promote chaos, which would destroy and squeeze progressive businesses out of the country.
If I, a person with Western education, moral values and innovative projects, do not say a loud “No!”, then my silence will contribute to stagnation in this country.
Therefore, I consider it my duty to publicly address blackmail of the SSU in order to live in a better Ukraine! Even by risking my own business and interests!
Petro Oleksiiovych, I appeal to you as the Guarantor of the Constitution of Ukraine, as the last instance capable of breaking this vicious circle!
If the Security Service officials do not stop harassing businesses, purposefully creating problems and driving entrepreneurs into a corner, our country will have no future!
I sincerely hope that my own example of acting contrary to the existing practice in Ukraine, to the detriment of my interests but according to my conscience, will inspire you to take real measures in order to save the entire industry. Now, I believe, inaction becomes criminal!