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Ukrainā mēģina nogalināt Latvijas uzņēmēju

Latvian entrepreneur almost murdered in Ukraine

Businessman Andis Priednieks, who owns a woodworking company in Ukraine, came under gunfire recently, possibly due to his activities reporting corruption he faced in the war-torn country, reported Latvian Television (LTV) Sunday.

LTV says it's possible that the hit was perpetrated by the so-called Ukrainian "forest mafia", or corrupt forestry officials. Priednieks told Latvian Television that Ukrainian officials only talk about fighting corruption while little has actually changed.

Late on February 21 Priednieks went to the Tulchyn city in the Vinnytsya province. He stopped at a bus stop to throw out an empty pack of cigarettes and was shot at from a car driving by, with the video showing several impact points on nearby trees and his car having a broken window.

"It seems that they were waiting for me as a day before I got a call from the Ukrainian Security Service. They told me that I shouldn't be driving alone anywhere, that I should be careful. That day I didn't go anywhere," he told LTV.

He is convinced that the attempt to take his life was related to corruption he uncovered doing business in the country.

In 2013 Priednieks' firm, a manufacturer of sports equipment, concluded an agreement with the state forestry company in the Vinnytsya province over the rental of an abandoned woodworking factory.

After renovation, it started producing hurling sticks for export. Priednieks was promised the workshop would be given for long-term rental, however he was told to pack up and leave after he was asked by the state forest management to give a $500 bribe.

"[At first] I thought [the money] was for the company. I asked for a receipt. I was told they cannot [give me one] as it had to be in the national currency. Then I gave them 5,000 Hryvnias and asked for a receipt... and so it happened a few times until I understood that they're pocketing the money. In the end I told them I won't be paying," Priednieks told LTV.

Priednieks thinks that the forestry company director apparently didn't like him spending so much time in the forest and seeing that wood is being stolen there. 

"Nothing has changed here. It's a veritable den of corruption. Investors don't interest them," said Priednieks.

In January, about 20 men came to the workshop and started dismantling and removing equipment. Furthermore, someone tampered with the wiring a while ago, and Priednieks got a strong electric shock. Afterwards a wheel of his car was unscrewed and fell off as he was driving. He got off without a scratch as he managed to take control of the vehicle, only to be shot at afterwards.

While Anna Oleynik from the Ukrainian National Police said that currently the entrepreneur is under police protection and proceedings have been started over the murder attempt.

The LTV story above (Latvian only) features footage from the place the entrepreneur was shot at, as well as a fragment depicting the twenty men who entered the workshop. 

On February 3 Aivaras Abromavičius, Ukraine's Minister of Economy and Trade, announced his resignation, citing corruption-related resistance to reforms needed for the Ukrainian economy to grow. 

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