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The Keyser Söze of Ukrainian politics

18 April 2014

Dmitry Firtash is the Keyser Söze of Ukrainian politics — a mystery figure about whom you hear two very different stories. According to one version, he’s a benign self-made businessman who gives generously to charities around the world, with the power — perhaps greater than any other Ukrainian citizen — to steer his troubled country towards stability and prosperity.

According to the other, completely unproven version, which he denies, he’s Putin’s bagman, another of those crooked oligarchs who made their money through dirty means — and is now about to get his just deserts at the hands of the US legal system, which has the power to extradite him, imprison him and seize his billions.

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Now’s our chance to find out, for here he is, finally, in a chair in front of me. He’s 48 and has watchful grey-blue eyes, a beaky broken nose, a close-cropped beard and the air of a man very used to being obeyed. He’s polite, even allowing himself a quick, sweet smile at times, but intimidating. When, for example, his young translator fails to make the grade, the speed with which he is ejected from the room and replaced is terrifying. If he doesn’t like your questions — he irritably batted away my first one, when I tried to get him to sum up, as simply as possible, the political situation in Ukraine — he lets you know. But once he has warmed up he’s unstoppable.

This is an extract from James Delingpole’s interview with Dmitry Firtash in this week’s Spectator. Click here to subscribe to the Spectator.

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Show comments
  • you_kid

    Has the Spectator found no better Easter weekend night-watchman than the purveyor of this somniferous sort of irrelevant piffle? Less is more.

  • HookesLaw

    I see the pro Russians have ordered all jews in eastern Ukraine to register themselves with the authorities (ie them).

    • saffrin

      So they should, better to know where the trouble makers are than not, wouldn’t you agree?

  • paulus

    I just love the way they sold you on that assignment : were arranging a meeting with an all powerful, psychopath in a Country where the rule of Law does not exist. On the plus side Ryan air are doing there and back for £38.00.We have allocated £100.00, so in the unlikely event where you have to make a quick exit. you can pay for a taxi to Belgrade. But unfortunately we can’t pay for any roaming charges on your mobile.

  • Frank

    Impose sanctions and travel bans until the pips squeak.

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