Oligarch Firtash: – “Ukraine will have to pay back everything”

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Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash has been living – rather inconspicuously – in exile in Vienna for ten years.

The general public is not really his thing. The 58-year-old gave one of his rare interviews to the ‘Krone’ – the first since Putin’s war of aggression against his homeland. Firtash has been ‘at home’ – out of necessity – in Vienna for ten years.

The US wants to bring him to justice (see infobox below), but there is a tug of war going on with our judiciary. Since his brief arrest in 2014, Firtash has run his empire from a palace in the city center.

“Kron”: Mr. Firtash, ten years ago you were arrested on the street in Vienna. Not good memories I guess?
Dmytro Firtasch: I will never forget this day. I was shocked, didn’t know what was going on. Only later did I realize that the US government was demanding my extradition.

Do you see Austria as your prison?
100 percent not. I am grateful that Austria has welcomed me, also through the public. And grateful for the fair justice system in this country.

In the meantime, a war has broken out. Are you in contact with the Ukrainian leaders?
Yes, socially and economically. Our main activity is still in Ukraine. We help as best we can – especially with money.

Speaking of money, Western aid has come to a somewhat standstill lately.
Nothing in the world is free. We must be clear that once the war is over, Ukraine will have to pay back everything. Weapons, money and other benefits.

It is estimated that seven million Ukrainians fled to the West during the war. Do you think they will ever return?
The government in Kiev must make them an offer and offer them prospects. The longer the war lasts, the more difficult it becomes.

Maybe by joining the EU?
Politically, Ukraine has developed towards Europe. But people in Ukraine believe that all problems would be solved by joining the EU. You have to explain to people what that means. Nothing is free, you have to work hard to be part of it. After ten years in Vienna I can say that every Austrian works hard to make ends meet. There are no miracles: you have to work hard and see how you pay the bills.

If the charges against you are dropped, where do you see your future? In Vienna, in Ukraine – or somewhere else?
If you had asked five years ago, I would have said Kiev. In the meantime, Vienna has also grown close to my heart. We’ve moved a lot of companies here, I don’t travel for business anymore. I always wondered how people could go out for dinner at 6 p.m. But now I also recognize the benefits: you go to bed much earlier and can get up earlier.

Source: Krone

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