Masked men armed with assault rifles have been searching the Kyiv apartment of Valeria Gontareva, ex-governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, she told journalists on Sept. 12.
Gontareva, who no longer lives in Ukraine, said that her unoccupied apartment was being raided by 10 armed men in body armor. She suggested that the men were law enforcement officers of some sort.
The State Bureau of Investigations has said it wants to question Gontareva in connection with an investigation into alleged abuse of authority while she made decisions at the central bank.
Gontareva did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment. She is still hospitalized in the U.K. following an Aug. 26 accident in which a motorist struck her in a pedestrian crossing in central London that left her with multiple bone fractures.
A police spokesperson in Kyiv declined to comment, saying she had no information on the matter. No statement has been issued by law enforcement or the courts in relation to the Sept. 12 search.
Timothy Ash, a London-based Ukraine analyst, said: What is going on here? (President Volodymyr) Zelensky is pushing on with key reforms – like land reform, privatisation, and seems to be making all the right noises. Meanwhile, he meets with (billionaire oligarch Ihor) Kolomoisky, then police raid the headquarters of PrivatBank, presumably taking information related to the bank’s nationalization, and now we hear former NBU governor Gontareva’s apartment is raided, this comes after her family car was torched last week, and she was somehow ‘run over’ in a freak ‘accident’ in London a few weeks back. For me, any hint at backtracking around the nationalization of Privatbank is a deal-breaker for the International Monetary Fund – and quite rightly.”
Andriy Portnov, former deputy head of the Presidential Administration of Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted by the 2014 EuroMaidan Revolution, also reported on his Telegram channel that searches were taking place at the Gontareva residence.
Portnov has positioned himself as an adversary to Gontareva, and to former President Petro Poroshenko. Both the ex-head of the NBU and former president face multiple court cases and investigations, which they argue are politically motivated.
“The door was broken with a crowbar and 10 people wearing bulletproof vests hold the search. Yesterday, PrivatBank, today me,” Gontareva told Interfax, referencing the Sept. 11 police raids on PrivatBank HQ in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro.
Gontareva and her supporters allege that cases brought against herself and PrivatBank executives are politically motivated and designed to help one man: Kolomoisky.
PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest lender, was nationalized in 2016 after investigators discovered the bank had a $5.5-billion hole in its ledger and faced collapse after years of insider lending and fraud, alleged schemes in which Kolomoisky and others are implicated. Kolomoisky denies the allegations and is seeking the return of PrivatBank.
Gontareva alleges that the Ukrainian oligarch and his supporters have threatened her and that those threats are now evolving into a campaign of legal and physical reprisals against Gontareva and her family.
After the Aug. 26 hit-and-run in London, a family car belonging to her son and daughter-in-law was torched in Kyiv in an apparent arson attack outside their family home on Sept. 5. The vehicle is registered to the wife of Gontareva’s son, who is also named Valeria Gontareva.
Gontareva blames Kolomoisky and those close to him for the reprisals. The oligarch has not responded to requests for comment from the Kyiv Post.