Who influences Odesa media outlets?
Politicians’ connections to media are being thoroughly concealed
Field of influence of mayor Trukhanov
A number of media outlets of the city are said to be affiliated with the mayor, yet there is practically no evidence of his media presence. The media group “Glas” is a typical example of such media outlet. This group of channels is believed to have links to Hennadiy Trukhanov. Yet, the analysis of its ownership structure can uncover only quite indirect connection with the mayor.
The group includes three TV channels – “Glas”, “Plius,” and “Prime Time”. The listed ultimate owners of the channel "Glas” are Valentyna Zholina and Leonid Moldavskyi, its listed top executive is Olena Hennadiyivna Yevdokymova. In the channel “Prime Time”, Olena Yevdokymova is the ultimate beneficiary together with Tetiana Koltunova. In the channel “Plius”, Tetiana Koltunova is also one of the final owners, along with three more people: Ivan Vasyliovych Pozdniakov, Oleksiy Oleksiyovych Kostusev, and Andriy Andriyovych Ivancho.
Therefore, in the ownership structure of the three channels united into the group, we can see the same people: Olena Yevdokymova and Tetiana Koltunova. Among the ultimate owners of the channel “Plius”, the persons we are interested in the most are Oleksiy Kostusev – the former mayor of Odesa has the same name, and Andriy Ivancho. The latter is listed among the co-founders of NGO “Ukrainian federation of Thai boxing “Muay Thai”. Other founders of this federation are Hennadiy Leonidovych Trukhanov and Pavlo Serhiyovych Yevtushenko.
Hennadiy Trukhanov’s sphere of influence is also said to include the TV channel “Hrad”. According to the ownership structure, the channel has two beneficiaries: Anatoliy Konkovych Balinov (49%) and Tetiana Vasylivna Shpaltakova (51%). Anatoliy Balinov was elected to Odesa city council in 2010 from the party “Sylna Ukraina”. He was the leader of the city council group “Doviriay Dilam” (Trust actions), which, according to Odesa media outlets, favors the mayor Hennadiy Trukhanov. Tetiana Shpaltakova is a member of the supervisory board of PJSC “Odestsyvilproekt”, as well as a co-owner and co-founder of LLC “Leg-trans”. Her companion in this LLC is Hennadiy Chekita, MP from Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc.
The websites “Volnorez” (volnorez.com.ua) and “Odessit” (www.odessit.ua) are also said to be affiliated with Trukhanov. While the former does not include any information to identify its owners at all, the website “Odessit” is more open about it. The media outlet shares the office with a press center located in the business center at 32 Pushkinska Street. According to the state register of real estate, the owner of the building is Artur Oleksandrovych Korobchynskyi. A person with the same name was Hennadiy Trukhanov's assistant in the 7th Parliament. Also, this person was revealed in the investigation “No to corruption” as a person affiliated with the present city mayor.
Media ownership of MPs from Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc
The website “Dumskaya.NET” and the similarly-named TV channel “Dumskaya.TV” are affiliated with Oleksiy Honcharenko, a former Party of Regions member, who got elected to the new Parliament from Petro Poroshenko's Bloc. According to the National Council, LLC “TV and Radio Company “Moya Odesa” broadcasts under the logo “Dumskaya.TV”. According to the state register of legal entities, this company’s final owner and founder is Mykhailo Volodymyrovych Shmushkovych. He is called a close comrade of Oleksiy Honcharenko. Shmushkovych is also a former Party of Regions member and a former chair of the oblast council. Later, he was the vice-leader of the local regional branch of Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc, headed in Odeska oblast by Oleksiy Honcharenko. Currently, the media outlets title Shmushkovych an advisor to the chair of Odeska oblast council Anatoliy Urbanskyi (also a representative of Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc). The website of the channel “Dumskaya.TV” is a section in the website of “Dumskaya.NET”.
The channel UTV does not have any website, and, correspondingly, did not publish its ownership structure. The channel is also said to be affiliated with another MP from Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc, Hennadiy Chekita. Still, the only type of connection discovered between the official owner and Chekita is an indirect one.
From the National Council’s register it is known that this logo is used by the LLC "Visual Communications of Ukraine” to broadcast in Odesa. The listed ultimate owner of the channel is Oleh Volodymyrovych Shmatko. According to the state register of legal entities, he is also the founder and ultimate owner of the LLC “Altan-Ko” (main type of its activities is safe waste collection). The listed head of this company is Oleksiy Ivanovych Tymchenko, who is also indicated as a head of several enterprises, in particular, LLC “Leks-Union”, whose founder and ultimate owner is Hennadiy Chekita.
Changes in media controlled by Kivalov
Serhiy Kivalov is said to control the TV channel “Reporter” and the similarly-named informational agency. They both are the same legal entity. According to the disclosed ownership structure, 49% of the channel, and 85% of the LLC “TV company “ITV”, which is the founder of the channel, is owned by Natalia Mykolayivna Mohyl. Correspondingly, in total she owns 92% of the channel's share, the remaining 8% are owned by Hanna Mykolayivna Pysarenko. In the state register, it is indicated that the legal entity has the "terminated" status since September of 2015, yet there is still no final conclusion on termination yet. Now the channel has licenses that are in effect until September of 2018 for multichannel broadcasting, and until 2023 – for over-the-air broadcasting. The IMI research conducted in 2015 shows that all channels controlled by Kivalov have some connection with Natalia Mohyl and Hanna Pysarenko.
In 2015, Natalia Mohyl and Hanna Pysarenko were listed in the structure of the TV and Radio Company “Akademia”. Yet on November 9, 2016, the registration data, namely the list of founders, was amended. Now, the listed ultimate owner and founder of the channel was Svitlana Bohdanivna Shchelkunova. Therefore, this channel's connection to Kivalov is the fact that it is the TV and Radio company of the Odesa National Legal Academy, of which Serhiy Kivalov is the president.
On December 15, by the resolution of the National Council for TV and Radio, the LLC “Radio Mayak”, owned by Svitlana Shchelkunova, was branched off from the Company “Akademia”. As “Detector media” reported, the representative of the company informed the National Council that Svitlana Shchelkunova is the mother of Dmytro Holubov – the MP elected from Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc and the leader of “The Internet party of Ukraine”.
One more TV channel, which, according to IMI research, was affiliated with Serhiy Kivalov in 2015, also transited to people close to Dmytro Holubov. This is the channel “Zdorovya”. Currently, Anastasia Petrivna Lashkariova, Dmytro Holubov's wife, is listed as the founder in the register.
“Tretiy tsyfrovyi” ("Third digital"), which was affiliated with Kivalov before, also changed its ownership structure. Currently its listed owner (via LLC “Telekonekt”) Elvina Cherniak and Andriy Prodayevych. Elvina Cherniak is a co-founder of NGO “Civil Association of Development and Management”, and also a member of the governing bodies of LLC “LSU”. Iryna Orekhova, who is said to be affiliated with Serhiy Kivalov, is a co-founder and top executive of the organization.
The “First city” channel is said to be connected with the former (in power in April-May of 2014) head of Odeska oblast state administration, Volodymyr Nemyrovskyi. According to the documents published on the website, the official owner of 100% of the channel's shares is Maksym Victorovych Tsymbaliuk. He is a member of the supervisory board of PJSC “Manufacturing Group “Stalkanat-Silur”. According to the state register, the ultimate owner of this enterprise is Volodymyr Leonidovych Nemirovskyi.
The former mayor of Odesa Eduard Hurvits is believed to be affiliated with the TV and Radio Company “Krug”. The channel’s listed co-owners are Yevhenia Eduardivna Zamchynska and Mariya Leonidivna Zamchynska. In the TV channel’s ownership structure, Eduard Hurvits is indicated as an affiliated person, as he is the father of Yevhenia Zamchynska.
“Russian spirit” and former Party of Regions members
Two popular online websites of Odesa are said to be affiliated with Ihor Markov. The website “Timer” (timer.od.ua) uses pro-Russian rhetoric, and the website “Otkat” (otkat.od.ua) was actively used for publications in 2014 by Ihor Markov's brother, Oleh.
The channel “Media inform” (LLC “Information Agency “Media-Inform”), according to the register of legal entities, was founded by Arseniya Petrivna Pokrovska and Victoriya Victorivna Volkova. IMI's research as of 2015 mentioned that Victoriya Volkova is the daughter of the former Party of Regions member, Victor Volkov, the companion of the present vice-mayor of Odesa, Serhiy Chernenko. In 2015, Volkov was running for Odesa oblast council from the party “Vidrodzhennia”. The listed ultimate beneficiary of the media outlet is Arseniya Pokrovska. Notably, a journalist with this name is an author and anchor at the TV channel “Glas”.
The owner of the channel “Yuzhnaya Volna” is Tetiana Dmytrivna Dimchohlo, the wife of the vice-head of Odesa oblast council Yuri Dimchohlo (elected from the party “Nash Krai”). Dimchohlo is also a volunteer assistant of the MP, co-leader of the party “Nash Krai” Anton Kisse.
The Odesa online media outlets “Rupor” (rupor.od.ua) and “Topor” (topor.od.ua) are also said to be affiliated with Kisse. His name can be quite often found in the articles of these media outlets that are likely covertly commissioned (so-called dzhynsa).
Businessmen in media outlets
The “Channel 7” of Odesa is owned by the businessman of Syrian origin, owner of the company “Kaddor Group”, Adnan Kivan. Two legal entities in the channel's structure are LLC “TV and Radio Company “Art” and LLC “RIAK-inform”. Kivan is the owner of both. The businessman is also said to control the website “Ukrainska sluzhba informatsiyi” ("Ukrainian information service") (usionline.com). The website itself gives some reasons to believe these speculations are true, as the banner for the fitness center “Kaddor” is displayed at the top of their main page, and there are many flattering news featuring Kivan there.
The owner of “Prosto radio” of Odesa is Artem Vozniuk – a businessman, the owner of the network of cinemas “Odesa-Kino”. He is also said to control “Narodne Radio” due to similarities in their content. Yet according to the register, the founder and ultimate beneficiary of the LLC PE “Radio-1”, where the broadcaster is registered, is Maryna Kryvosheyeva.
The radio “Odesa Mama” is a broadcasting callsign of LLC Radio Company “Radio Odesa”, which, according to the state register of legal entities, was founded by the executive committee of Odesa city council and LLC “Odesa Mama”. This company, in turn, was founded by Dmytro Illiuk and LLC “G M G Group”. The radio station’s ultimate beneficiary is Oleksandr Shevliakov. According to open registers, he, together with Oleksandr Kozyr, owns LLC “TV and Radio Company “Miskyi Telekanal” (the TV channel “GNews”, which is part of the media holding “Kozyr Digital”).
State-owned and communal media outlets
Odesa has its regional branch of the National public TV Company of Ukraine, which is completely state-owned.
A number of printed media outlets that were founded by state-owned agencies or bodies of local self-government are in transit to being communal entities.
The newspaper “Chornomorski novyny” was founded by Odesa oblast state administration and by the newspaper's staff as a legal entity. Its editorial office is a legal entity that has 28 founders. Its top executive is the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Ivan Melnyk.
The newspaper “Odeski visti” was founded by Odesa oblast council and the staff of its editorial office. On June 17, the oblast council approved the resolution about its withdrawal from the founders of the newspaper. Still, in February of 2017, on request of IMI, the editorial office notified that the founder (co-founder) of the newspaper is the oblast council, and the media outlet, based on the resolution, received funding in the amount of almost 3.8 million hryvnias.
The newspaper “Odesskiy vestnik” was founded by Odesa city council, and is still a municipal printed edition. Its editorial office as a legal entity exists in a form of the city council’s communal enterprise.
Press and online media
The newspaper “Vechirnia Odesa” was founded by its staff as a legal entity. The listed ultimate beneficiary is its editor-in- chief Larysa Burcho.
The newspaper “Porto Franco” was founded by Arkadiy Rybak and LLC “Publishing House “Porto-Franco”. The company itself was founded by Bella Rybak and LLC “Litopysets-ХХІ”, which in turn was founded by Arkadiy and Ruslan Rybak. Arkadiy Rybak is the editor of this newspaper.
The newspaper “Vremya Ch” was founded by the similarly-named local NGO, whose founder is activist Oleh Biletskyi.
Some Odesa websites do not try to conceal the names of their owners. An example is the website “Yuzhnyi kurier”, owned by the media group “Dozory”, founded by the Kharkiv journalist Rostyslav Kasyanenko. “Odesa Daily” (odessa-daily.com.ua) as a printed edition was founded by a well-known activist and journalist Leonid Shtekel and by Natalia Bedran'. The website “Informer” (informer.od.ua) was created by NGO “Institute of Political Information”, founded by Pavlo Kolotvin, Yevhen Popov, and Serhiy Pudich. The website “Izbirkom” (izbirkom.org.ua) was founded by Odesa branch of NGO “Committee of Voters of Ukraine”. The website “Odesa Life” (odessa-life.od.ua) is registered as the Information Agency “Tsentr Media” founded by Victoria Kuchurka and businessman Hennadiy Chabanov. The city website Odesa (048.ua) is owned by the network “City Sites”, which is managed by Yevhen Yavtushenko, and owned by Fedir Zhukov. The domain 048.ua is registered to Zhukov’s name.
The website “Khrabro” gives an idea that it belongs to Vadym Chornyi, the leader of “The Union of Anarchists of Ukraine”.
The website “Trasa E95” (trassae95.com) is said to be affiliated with the MP Ivan Fursin (group “Volia Narodu”). The website frequently publishes news about how this particular MP helps the region, which in fact is his covert advertisement, so-called dzhynsa.
The website “368.media” is believed to be affiliated with the former Party of Regions member, Kostiantyn Shpyliov, and the website “Mayak” (mayak.org.ua) – with Oleksandr Borniakov. The website “Vzgliad iz Odesy” was earlier said to be controlled by Eduard Hurvits, yet lately the media outlet changed its editorial policy. We were unable to identify, who controls it now.
Analysis was prepared by Zoya Krasovska, IMI, supported by the Ukrainian Confidence Building Initiative (UCBI), and funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).