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Igor Kolomoisky: I have an outer armor-plated shell of lead, but inside I am a great romantic

On the 13th of February one of the most influential people in Ukraine celebrates his 52nd birthday

Igor Kolomoisky was born in Dnepropetrovsk into a Jewish family of engineers, was an excellent school pupil, and after graduating from the local metallurgical institute, he received the diploma of a “metallurgist engineer”. In his early 20s, he went into business – as soon as the Soviet regime permitted cooperative society, Kolomoisky and his friends organized their first trading cooperative. First they supplied office machines, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union they switched to selling consumer goods, ferrous alloys and oil.

Then he went on to bigger and better things. Igor Kolomoisky’s business expanded every year, spreading to new industries. At present the main assets of his empire are shares in “PrivatBank”, the media holding “Glavred-media”, a ferrous alloys holding, TV channels (including 1+1) and airlines. According to Forbes, his fortune is currently valued at $1.8 billion.

Additionally, in 2008 Kolomoisky became president of the All-Ukrainian union of Jewish public organizations, “United Jewish Community of Ukraine”.

Since spring 2014, Kolomoisky has been actively involved in affairs of state, standing up for the Ukrainian position and making extremely negative statements about the pro-Russian actions of other officials. A little less than a year ago, on 3 March 204, he became the head of the Dnepropetrovsk Oblast. Last summer, Kolomoisky proposed to build a fortified wall on the border between Russia and the three eastern Oblasts – the Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov Oblasts.

Igor Kolomoisky talks about:

His dual citizenship

“Besides my Ukrainian passport, I have an Israeli and Cypriot passport. It says in the Ukrainian constitution that dual citizenship is prohibited, but triple citizenship isn’t”.


“Oligarchy died here with the flight of Yanukovich, since Russia attacked Ukraine there is no more oligarchy in the country”.

Laws and bravery

“Properness and lawfulness are not always the same thing. Sometimes there are moments when a person needs to decide whether between a chest of medals or burying their head in the sand”.

His nature

“[My harshness] is an outer armor-plated shell of lead, but inside I am a great romantic.”


“Do you know the difference between a hamster and a rat? The difference is their PR. A hamster is a charming little pet, children like it and play with it. But a rat is a revolting, vile animal which makes women faint. But the difference only lies in their PR. I don’t waste money on my image. What’s more, all the legends that we hear are legends thought about by people who may not even know me.”

Succession in business

“I don’t think that you should involve children or relatives in family business. I wouldn’t like them to get involved in business”.


“I don’t regret anything at all in business. I could even say that about my life in general. But I would probably find it interesting to live another life. For what do we do? We issue banknotes.”

Simple joys

“I’m not picky. I hardly ever eat black caviar. Mashed potatoes are my favorite, or fried potatoes with onions.”

The return of the Crimea

“I don’t think Ukraine will ever give up the Crimea voluntarily. Will it be able to get it back? This is a question of historical perspective, in the light of which ten or twenty years is not a long time, while from the standpoint of a human life it is a very long time.”

The war and Putin

“I don’t understand how Ukrainians and Russians can fight. Taking into account – I’ll put it undiplomatically – the schizophrenia of the second opponent… We had one big schizophrenic, and there they’ve got a schizophrenic of short statue. He’s completely delusional, he’s gone completely mad. His messianism, the restoration of the Russian empire of 1913 or the USSR of 1991 may bring the world to catastrophe.”

The brotherhood of Ukraine and Russia

“…Russia is no longer a blood brother, no. Perhaps it’s a distant relative who can come to your home if you’re sick, and start to boss you around and throw you out. Putin cut the umbilical cord that linked our people. In Kiev there’s an Arch of the Friendship, and Vladimir Vladimirovich destroyed it with a direct hit from a 45-mm cannon, and now he’s trying to tie it back together with a St. George’s ribbon, but that isn’t working.”

The wall on the Ukrainian border

“We should treat Russia like an ordinary country without any sentiments – sentiments are in the past – and build a normal border, normal checkpoints. Our relations are over.”

The difference between Russia and Ukraine

“I was born in Dnepropetrovsk, in Ukraine. I always knew that this was Ukraine, not the Soviet Union. I crossed the border between Russia and Ukraine, and I knew that I was home. That’s what I felt inside. The houses were different, the trees were different, the paint was white, the fences were tidy, but over there the houses were in ruins.”
Anti-Semitism in Ukraine

“We never had anti-Semitism here, there was never any fascism, and no xenophobia. I always tell everyone: there’s anti-Semitism on an everyday level. If there are Jews, there will be anti-Semitism. If there are Georgians, there will be “anti-Georgianism”. Anti-Semitism on an everyday level is no big deal, but anti-Semitism on a state level is. And we saw this and felt it during the Soviet period. Not everywhere, it depended on where you were. This anti-Semitism did not exist in Ukraine.”

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