PrivatBank CEO Petr Krumkhanzl has been hospitalized after reportedly suffering a heart attack amid ongoing protests by workers from the Ihor Kolomoisky-owned Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant outside of PrivatBank’s headquarters in Dnipro.

Oleksandr Dubinsky, a lawmaker in President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, was the first to report the news on his Telegram channel on Nov. 23. Dubinsky is also a former presenter on Kolomoisky’s 1+1 TV channel who has been outspokenly loyal to the beleaguered oligarch.

Dubinsky has been supportive of the protests and he celebrated Krumkhanzl’s heart attack by appearing to compare him to a Nazi. He even threatened to bring the protests to the hospital where the banking executive is recovering.

While the PrivatBank’s press service acknowledged in a statement that Krumkhanzl was hospitalized, it did not confirm that it was due to a heart attack.

“Mr. Krumkhanzl was provided with medical care, but not diagnosed with a heart attack. He is now in the hospital, in the outpatient clinic. And his health condition is normal, nothing is in danger. This is not a heart attack. It was overwork,” PrivatBank spokesperson Oleg Serga said on Nov. 23.

PrivatBank did not respond to requests for comment, but a source close to PrivatBank management told the Kyiv Post they were “furious” about how Krumkhanzl was being treated, and that Dubinsky’s messages about protesters heading to the hospital or storming the bank were threatening.

Dubinsky did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tension mounts

Messages on Dubinsky’s Telegram feed suggest that Kolomoisky and his supporters are jockeying for the return of PrivatBank by any means necessary.

Writing on Telegram, Dubinsky often attributes statements and information to unknown sources in what appears to be an effort to avoid responsibility.

In one of the posts, he said that oligarch Kolomoisky made a toast at a birthday party for Oleksandr Dubilet, former PrivatBank CEO, whose son Dmitry has been appointed Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers in August 2019, a key position in the Zelensky administration.

In the toast, Kolomoisky referred to the current Czech CEO of PrivatBank Krumkhanzl as a member of the Waffen-SS and hoped that the chairman would be sent home “in any form” or “in any state.”

In his Telegram messages, Dubinsky also appeared to threaten further intimidation, writing, “According to my information, the strike committee of the Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant is currently considering the possibility of sending workers to the hospital where Krumkhanzl is located.”

A screenshot of messages Oleksandr Dubinsky wrote on his Telegram channel on Nov. 23, 2019 celebrating PrivatBank CEO Petr Krumkhanzl’s heart attack.

Since September 2019, oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky has ratcheted up his campaign for the return of PrivatBank, which he owned until 2016, when the bank was nationalized after auditors discovered a $5.5 billion hole in its books.

While Kolomoisky is on the defensive in the United Kingdom and the United States, where PrivatBank is suing him for the return or allegedly looted assets, he remains defiant at home in what some see as increasingly unhinged attempts to pressure the government to hand over the bank.

On Nov. 19, Kolomoisky paid $40,000 to lease a parking lot outside of PrivatBank’s main office in Dnipro. This lot has been the site of protests for the last two months by workers at Kolomoisky’s Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant protesting pay delays, for which they blame the bank.

Kolomoisky used the plant as collateral to obtain a loan from the National Bank of Ukraine before PrivatBank was nationalized, and since the loan was never paid off, the plant was forced to pay $875,000 in September to recoup the National Bank’s takeover of the property.

PrivatBank issued a statement on Nov. 22, calling the parking lot rental and protests “yet another attempt” by Kolomoisky to destabilize the bank. The central bank previously called the protests a provocation and an attempt to put pressure on the bank.

Despite the International Monetary Fund’s strong warnings that undoing PrivatBank’s nationalization could derail ongoing loan negotiations with Ukraine and Zelensky’s assurance that the bank will not be returned, Kolomoisky bragged to the Kyiv Post on Nov. 22 that “The IMF knows that PrivatBank will be returned (to me) in the near future.”

The statement came while an IMF delegation was negotiating a new aid program worth $5–6 billion for Ukraine in Kyiv. The delegation left on Nov. 22 without reaching a deal.

On Dec. 19, the Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal will hear the state’s appeal against the decision the District Administrative Court’s abolition of PrivatBank’s nationalization, which ruled that the bank’s nationalization was illegal in April — this appears to be a major victory for Kolomoisky.

Kyiv Post news editor Jack Laurenson contributed to this report.

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