A prominent Ukrainian oligarch and current governor of an eastern Ukrainian oblast has offered cash rewards for the capture of Russian “saboteurs” and their arms.
Igor Kolomoisky, governor of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, offered a $10,000 reward for militant pro-Russians and various cash rewards for certain kinds of arms turned into the government. Ukrainians can get $200,000 if they liberate a government building.
He has also committed to paying nearly $50,000 to a group of national guardsmen who fended off a pro-Russian advance on a national guard base outside the eastern city of Mariupol and killed three protesters in the process.
At least one billboard exists with “$10,000 for a moskal” and the Privatbank logo. Moskal is an antiquated name for Russians that’s used as a slightly derogatory term in Ukraine.
Kolomoisky has been a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past, calling him schizophrenic, wholly insane and intent on “reviving the Russian Empire of 1913 or the USSR…” back when he was first appointed governor in Dnipropetrovsk by the new Ukrainian government on March 3. Putin called him a “unique swindler” in response.
Kremlin-friendly Russian media hasn't taken his appointment with enthusiasm either.
With an estimated wealth of about $2.4 billion spread between highly diversified assets, Kolomoisky is the third-richest person in Ukraine. He owns a piece of Ukraine’s largest commercial bank, Privatbank, which has been less than cooperative in working with the new Russian authorities in Crimea. Putin has been less than happy with Kolomoisky about those interactions.
Many of Kolomoisky's assets are in Ukraine, so bringing about peace is of both patriotic and personal interest. An unstable Ukraine would be disastrous for a man with ownership of Ukrainian natural gas, manufacturing and media. Dnipropetrovsk is particularly important to Kolomoisky: Not only is it his hometown but it’s a center of Ukrainian industry.
When Kolomoisky took office, he told the Associated Press that he hoped his appointment would “help cool the few hotheads that are present here and stabilize the region, to bring calm so that the citizens of Ukraine living in the Dnipropetrovsk region would feel safe.”
This isn’t the first time he’s put his own purse on the line to fund the stabilization of eastern Ukraine. Back in March, he pledged a $25 million donation to help kick-start the Ukrainian military in eastern Ukraine, though it's not clear how much he actually spent. The Guardian reported that he spent “several million dollars” to buy car batteries and fuel for the Ukrainian military.