The Chesno anti-corruption movement has called on presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy to voluntarily make his asset declaration for 2018 public before the runoff election on April 21. But the presidential frontrunner doesn’t appear to be willing.
Zelenskiy’s press service offered a non-committal response: “His declaration will be filed according to the law and in the timeframe specified by the law.”
According to Ukrainian law, Zelenskiy is not required to file a declaration since he is not a public official.
But his opponent in the runoff, incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, has already declared his income and assets. In 2018, he earned Hr 1.56 billion ($57.6 million) and owned over 90 companies in confectionery, agriculture, food processing, media, banking and insurance.
In a video posted on April 5, activists from Chesno called on Zelenskiy to abide by the principles of transparency and accountability and file his declaration voluntarily in order to place both candidates on equal footing.
In January, Zelenskiy filed his 2017 declaration of income and assets to the National Agency for Corruption Prevention — a requirement established by electoral law for all candidates.
Zelenskiy, a comedy actor and television producer, co-owns a network of 15 companies that produce comedy shows, television series, animation films, and movies; arrange concerts and sell tickets; and run a cable television channel. Five of those companies are registered abroad in Belize, the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, and Italy.
Zelenskiy and his wife Olena hold assets and property worth over $6 million and lease an apartment in the United Kingdom. Zelenskiy also declared a collection of luxury watches and two cars — a Land Rover and a Mercedes-Benz S-500. In 2017, the comedian earned some $280,000 in income.
Since announcing his bid for the Ukrainian presidency, Zelenskiy has come under scrutiny twice for allegedly lying about his assets.
In January, journalists from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Schemes investigative project found that Zelenskiy co-owned three filmmaking companies in Russia, despite previous claims that he had given up business in Russia after it launched a war against Ukraine is 2014. One of the companies was active, continued to produce movies and television series, and even received funds from the Russian government.
After the scandal broke, Zelenskiy explained that he didn’t play any operational role in those companies and only received royalties according to a contract that was due to expire in 2021.
In March, Ukrainian media reported that Zelenskiy had officially transferred ownership of Cyprus-registered firm Green Family, which controls three filmmaking studios in Russia, to his business partner Andriy Yakovlev.
In another case, journalists from the Slidstvo.info investigative news site found that Zelenskiy owned a villa in a luxury resort town in Italy, which he hadn’t declared in his 2017 declaration. The comedian owned the villa through his Italy-registered company.
Zelenskiy’s team deemed the investigation an attempt to discredit him before Election Day and claimed that, by law, he was not required to declare assets owned via a legal entity since he wasn’t a public official.