How the President's Party Collects Millions
Every party needs a lot of money to function.

President Poroshenko's party is no exception. In the past two years, private individuals have contributed almost 6 million hryvnias to the BPP account.

The money has been sent using public sector workers' personal data, and the contributions were disguised as membership fees. What's even more interesting is that many Rivne Region public sector workers didn't even know that they were party members and that they funded the President's party.

A similar scheme was used by the Fatherland Party in the Kyiv Region. According to our information, after the publication of this text, the BPP instructed its party members on how to "correctly" answer journalistic questions about funding.

In the Mykolaiv Region, the BPP and its then-leader Biriukov used a different scheme for party funding which helped them to break records in sponsor contributions.
The BPP Solidarity party found the results of the CHESNO investigation interesting and promised to carry out an internal investigation.

The CHESNO Civil Movement set out to find out who funds the President's party.
Are education workers the actual donors of Solidarity?
Members of the CHESNO Civil Movement traveled to the Rivne and Kharkiv Regions. These are the regions where more than two thirds of all the BPP donors live, the majority of them education workers.

More than a dozen of teachers whom we managed to talk to in Rivne claimed that they had given the BPP headquarters their personal data in order to become members of territorial and district election commissions.

None of the teachers CHESNO talked to had known that they contributed money and were party members before the journalists came to talk to them.

Valentyn Kravchuk, a history teacher at the Rivne School No. 27, claims that he gave his personal data to the BPP, but did not directly participate in the election process.

Valentyn Kravchuk
a history teacher at the Rivne School No. 27
"I think that there was a directive from the top, from the city education administration (regarding the involvement of teachers in district election commissions as BPP representatives. Auth.). I cannot say for sure, but I believe it was the case, because it's the ruling party, of course it has the administrative resource. This shouldn't happen in a normal democratic country"
He also noted that he never funded Poroshenko's party and never transferred any money.

Valentyn Kravchuk
a history teacher at the Rivne School No. 27
"I can donate money to sick children or to support ATO warriors, but I do it voluntarily. You don't have to force me to do it. But when I'm treated as an idiot, excuse my language, then wait… I am strongly against such things. I don't think that the party which has the administrative resource and can use it has any advantage over others. Doing such things without people knowing… I learn from you that I 'sponsor' the party. I wonder"
It turned out that teachers of nearly all Rivne schools financially supported the BPP.

Serhiy Sydorchuk, a history teacher at the Rivne School No. 18, says he does not fund any party. On the contrary, in 2014, he tried to become a BPP district commission member to earn some money. But the party's financial report lists contributions under his name.
The teacher assumes that political parties have long had his personal data because he has served as an election commission member. The commission membership is based on party quotas.

The CHESNO Civil Movement has talked to teachers at four Rivne schools. All the teachers that CHESNO has talked to learned that they were party donors only from the journalists. But not all of them agreed to talk about it publicly. One of the teachers even started crying when she heard the news. She confirmed that she did not fund the party but said she was afraid to talk about it publicly.
We managed to find information about 457 BPP donors out of the selection of 630 donors who funded the party in 2016 and 2017
146 of those whose information we found were education workers
were medical workers
were public sector workers (mostly employees of village cultural centers, librarians, foresters, etc.)
were students
were public officials (mostly at district state administrations)
Most often, local educational administrations are managed by people who are connected to the ruling party. It allows the party to effectively form the election commissions they need. Rivne is no exception.

Vasyl Kharkovets, the head of the Rivne City Education Administration, ran for Rivne City Council membership in 2015 as a BPP candidate. So it is not surprising that the city's school teachers were offered to become district election commission members as representatives of this particular party.

It is likely that the personal data from schools or education administrations were not leaked. In most cases, teachers gave their data to BPP representatives willingly, in order to become district election commission members and receive pay for the job.

This information was confirmed by more than a dozen Rivne educators whose names are listed in the BPP financial report.

The report about debit and credit operations on the Rivne BPP's account in the 4th quarter of 2017 demonstrates that dozens of party contributions were received simultaneously, at the same second.
The Rivne BPP accountant Oksana Khandrus, when asked by CHESNO about the simultaneous contributions, answered that many party members cannot pay the contributions on their own:

Oksana Khandrus
Rivne BPP accountant
"Look, there are certain areas, and there are different people, older, younger. Some of them can pay for themselves using a terminal, others can't. Not all people there can use a computer, the internet… And that's why it happens like that"
However, very soon, probably after consulting her colleagues, the accountant changed her mind and said she didn't know how the contributions were made. The law requires that the contributions are paid personally.
Does the BPP actually have the most numerous support?
At the schools of Slobozhanske, in the Zmiyiv District of the Kharkiv Region, almost ten teachers confirmed that they did not make the contributions personally and that they were not BPP members. All of them are listed in the Kharkiv BPP's financial report. The teachers refused to talk about it on the record and justified their refusal with protecting the schools' reputations and trying to avoid dragging schools into politics.

A significant difference is that these teachers did not participate in election campaigns and did not hand their personal data over to the BPP. It should be noted that the Zmiyiv Education Administration's head Vira Shapovalova ran for the district council membership as a BPP candidate.

It turned out that one of the Zmiyiv District schools employs as many as 9 teachers who are supposedly party members and contribute membership fees to the BP. We managed to talk to seven of these teachers, and all of them first heard that they were party members and that they funded the party only from CHESNO.
At another school, we talked to a teacher who was actually a party member, but, according to her, had not paid membership fees for a long time.

At two other schools they probably already expected us, because the information about our investigation in Zmiyiv district had reached the Regional State Administration. It turned out that in Zidky and Heniyivka school principals were heads of local BPP branches, and a considerable fraction of teachers were party members — at least 13 teachers from both schools.
In Zidky and Heniyivka, the teachers claimed that they made the contributions personally, although they got confused about the details, such as what amounts and how often they transferred, and through what channels. Nevertheless, the majority of them assured us that they transferred the funds personally through the Zmiyiv branch of the Megabank.

However, this version contradicts the bank records. The records show that all the contributions from the residents of this district (almost 200 people in the 4th quarter of 2017 only) were made on the same days through the Kharkiv branch of the Megabank.
According to the records, every month, on the same day, two hundred Zmiyiv residents drove to Kharkiv down one of the worst roads in the Region in order to transfer the 20 hryvnias of their membership fees. Our analysis showed that more than 50 percent of BPP donors in Zmiyiv District were education workers.
The road there is so bad that, according to the locals, they recently privately hired a grader to level out the shoulders which drivers use to drive around the "road paving," and local activists planted potatoes in the holes on the road.

The cost of return trip to Kharkiv and back by minibus is 40 hryvnias for Zmiyiv residents. The story about 200 people simultaneously traveling from the Zmiyiv District to Kharkiv in order to transfer 20 hryvnias to the party account, each of them paying twice as much in travel costs every time, looks unlikely to say the least.

Planting potatoes in road holes
The fact that different districts made their contributions simultaneously also raises questions. While some districts transferred the funds on the same day, a number of other districts did it the next day. And this turn-taking repeated over time.

The leaders of the Kharkiv BPP were promptly informed that journalists were coming to local schools. The evidence for this is a post by Vitaliy Maliarenko, the head of the Secretariat of the regional party branch. He explains the teachers' denial that they contributed money to the party with their fear of fraud.
Maliarenko knew about the CHESNO representatives' visit even before they returned from the Zmiyiv District to Kharkiv.

The CHESNO Civil Movement called Maliarenko to inform him about the facts we found and to ask for his comments. But when he heard that he was speaking to CHESNO representatives, Maliarenko refused to talk.

To be fair, we must note that back in the fall of 2017, CHESNO talked to some of the people who were mentioned in the Kharkiv BPP's financial report as the most generous donors. Most of these people, particularly the deputy heads of Kharkiv District State Administration who ran as BPP candidates in 2015, confirmed that they funded the party.

However, usually they were unable to say exactly how much money they contributed, and their answers were phrased in very similar words.

It should be noted that the head of the Presidential Administration Ihor Raynin is a member of Kharkiv Regional Council, and he missed 100 percent of Council sessions. He is the head of the party branch in the Kharkiv Region.

In order to avoid speculation around accusations of "leaks" and illegal personal data collection, we will indicate right away that the source of information for our investigation was exclusively the open-access data that can be found online.

An investigation of this kind can be done by anyone who has a computer and internet access. The data about the places of the donors' residence (the names of their towns and villages) are provided in the BPP's financial report for the 4th quarter of 2017. This information is open!
To check whether you are listed in the BPP financial report, click on the flag on your region of residence. We must note that even within the same region there can be full namesakes, so the likelihood that it is you who is listed in the BPP report increases considerably if you work in the public sector and/or if you worked with the party during the 2014-15 election. At the Party Gold website, you can write your name in the search field and check out the information in more detail.
From the analysis of these reports, it follows that the highest number of Ukrainians support the ruling party, rather than any other party, with their contributions.
6 700

ukrainians contributed money to the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko in the past 2 years
6 000 000

hryvnias is the total sum
of the contributions

the BPP has three times more contributors than all the other parties combined
Residents of the Rivne and Kharkiv Regions supposedly make the most contributions to the ruling party.
of all transactions to the central and all regional branches of the party were received from the Rivne and Kharkiv regions
While in the Lviv, Chernihiv and Cherkasy Regions fewer than 10 people supported the party, in the Kharkiv Region more than 3,200 people donated money to the BPP. From these small contributions, most often of only 20 hryvnias, the party collected 200,000 in Rivne and almost 1.5 million hryvnias in Kharkiv.
For comparison, during the local elections in 2015, the BPP won the highest number of votes in Kyiv and the Zhytomyr, Ternopil and Vinnytsia Regions. The BPP's results in the Kharkiv and Rivne Regions were also good, but the party did not lead the elections there.
The BPP claims that they have the highest number of party members in the Vinnytsia Region, more than 4,000 people. So it would be logical if the Vinnytsia Region, as the BPP's base region, was the leader in membership fee contributions.

However, in the Rivne Region, membership fees are supposedly paid by 10 times as many people as in the Vinnytsia Region. In Kharkiv Region, they are paid by 30 times as many people.

In the Kharkiv, Rivne and several other regions, the transfers were made on the same day in small payments, mostly of 5, 20, 40 hryvnias.
The numbers of the accounting documents should also be noted. The fact that these numbers increase by one every time means that, most likely, all the money was transferred at the same time and in a centralized manner. Even though the contributions were received from people who live in different cities, towns and villages.

In response to a request from CHESNO, the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption provided a bank report about the turnover on the Kharkiv BPP's account. It turned out that all the donors funded the party exclusively through Megabank branches. Megabank is also the bank of the regional BPP's accounts which receive all the money from the districts.

According to Youcontrol, the ultimate beneficiary of Megabank is Viktor Subotin. Subotin himself is the CEO of Turboatom, was a member of the Kharkiv Regional Council representing the Party of Regions, and in 2015 he ran for the same council membership as a BPP candidate and failed.

There can only be two credible scenarios. The first scenario: hundreds of people from different district towns traveled to Megabank branches en masse on the same day. And the contributions from different districts did not come through local Megabank branches, but rather from the Kharkiv branch. And these were not isolated cases.
The second version: the money was transferred in a centralised manner — each district BPP branch collected money for the regional party budget, but did it using the names and personal data of people who were supposedly party members.

A logical question arises, Do people whose names are listed in the financial reports know about it? To be honest, the contributed amounts are not too impressive, but this is not so much about money as about the use of personal data. In addition, the law requires that all the contributions are made personally, via a bank branch or a post office.

In order to transfer money under another person's name, you need to have at least their taxpayer's number or ID number and their exact address. These are the data that parties have to include in their financial reports which they submit to the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption.

Maksym Savrasov
head of the Secretariat of the BPP's Central Office
"Probably the Zmiyiv District head overdid it somehow, I am currently checking all the information. There is no logic in his actions. I'm telling you again, if we need money, we can contribute it as a targeted contribution to support the party. There is no need to divide it into 3,200 membership fees, 240 hryvnias a year. It's nonsense. You can just pay it in one installment and not raise this question. As for receiving money from people who are not party members, we are investigating this case. We just cannot understand what happened and why someone did it"
How Biriukov's young team helped the BPP
The Mykolayiv party branch was funded with large contributions. From the early 2016 and until mid-2017, the local BPP Branch was managed by Yuriy Biriukov, an advisor for the president and for the minister of defense.
1 750 000

hryvnias were received in contributions from private individuals by the Mykolaiv Branch of the BPP
This is the record among all the regional BPP branches, including the Central Office. Most of this money was contributed by only 6 people.
What is the most interesting is that three of the six main donors received salaries from the party — that is, worked for the BPP. Another two work at an NGO and a charity connected to Biriukov and Oleksandr Noynets, who is believed to have been Biriukov's aide and PR manager during Biriukov's service as the head of the local BPP branch.
In the comment she gave to the CHESNO Civil Movement, Oleksandra Kupinets, the accountant of the Mykolayiv BPP, claimed that she had been able to fund the BPP because she had 8 years of work experience:

Oleksandra Kupinets
the accountant of the Mykolayiv BPP Branch
"I actually contributed more than 130,000 hryvnias to the Mykolayiv BPP account, and I actually work for the Mykolayiv BPP. But until recently, my income did not come only from the salary I received at that organization, but also from my salaries at other companies: I have more than 8 years of work experience"
When asked what the logic was in contributing 130,000 to the BPP while receiving 4,500 hryvnias of salary per month, Kupinets joked:

Oleksandra Kupinets
the accountant of the Mykolayiv BPP Branch
"But you are forgetting about the years of work and insurance experience which I would not have if I refused the salary. I want to be more confident about the future, if I live to reach the retirement age and the pension payments are not canceled by that time. But seriously, my decisions to contribute to the party are always spontaneous and do not depend on the amount of salary I receive at the Mykolayiv BPP"
Between May 2016 and December 2017, Oleksandra Kupinets received more than 160,000 hryvnias in salary from the Mykolayiv Branch of the BPP.

Yuriy Biriukov does not see anything odd in the fact that the key BPP donors during his leadership at the Mykolayiv Party Branch were employees of the party and of NGOs:

Yuriy Biriukov
an advisor for the President and for the minister of defense
"Back then, we were tasked with developing various party building technologies. In general, we often used our own financial resources when we worked on a certain technology. And then we got bored. We tried to build a nice, honest, discreet organization with district branches, branches at united territorial communities which would honestly pay their rent, which would pay the wages to their workers correctly, pay taxes on the wages and so on"
When asked to clarify whether the party employees contributed their own money, Biriukov answered:

Yuriy Biriukov
an advisor for the President and for the minister of defense
"Mostly, yes. Not only theirs, but yes. Kyiv gave us something to cover rent and so on. We had a year, but when the year ended, we left. Not because of politics, not because of any scandals, we just took a year and developed technologies of clean party building, and then we were done with that job"
Will the BPP be held responsible for the use of educators' personal data?
Investigation of abuses in party funding is the job of the special department of the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption. They are supposed to inform the National Police about these violations.

In the two years of its investigations, the NAPC has not found any significant violations related to reporting fake data, illegal use of personal data and so on.

It would be very difficult to prove that Mykolayiv BPP donors did not contribute their own money to the party. When the party employees claim that they did actually contribute such considerable amounts, it is impossible to build up the evidence. However, the situation is different in case of the use of personal data of public sector workers.

In March 2017, the CHESNO civic movement already revealed a similar party funding scheme. Residents of the Kyiv Region, quite often retired pensioners, did not know that they contributed to the Fatherland Party tens of thousands hryvnias each.
The lawyers of the Pressure Project ( claim that in the 8 months of investigation of the criminal charge of falsifying and reporting incorrect data in official documents, it has become clear that the proceedings are intentionally prolonged.

The National Police has not even asked the NAPC to give them access to the original report of the party which lists the donors' personal data (since only the reports without personal data are available openly). In the same period, they interrogated only two witnesses, although the lawyers have requested that the police also interrogate a number of other "donors." In total, the Fatherland Party likely used the personal data of more than 400 people from the Kyiv area in 2016 for transferring its funding.

Another criminal investigation of illegal use of personal data in this case was launched upon request from Ihor Bilashenko, a resident of Boryspil and a former Fatherland member.
The Boryspil Police Department ignored Bilashenko's requests for several months until he sued them. The police were obliged to investigate this case by court decision. However, the investigation has still not made any progress.

Therefore, the most likely prospect is that several criminal cases will be open against the BPP, just like in the similar situation with the Fatherland Party. But there is no point in hoping that the National Police will investigate the cases effectively.

If investigators ignore the cases even against an opposition party, despite the Fatherland's claims about pressure against them, there is no reason to hope that in a similar situation, a case against the BPP will be investigated effectively.

We can probably expect some managerial decisions by the party itself, given that they claim they are checking the information which they have received. The responsibility for these violations lies primarily on the heads of the territorial branches whose job is to sign the regional financial reports.
The material has been prepared with the support from the International Renaissance Foundation, as a part of the project Promoting Political Competition and Access to Politics by Public Monitoring of Political Parties' Expenses on Media Materials and by Their Verification. The position of the authors of the material does not necessarily reflect the position of the International Renaissance Foundation.
The material was prepared by:
Ihor Feshchenko
author, CHESNO analyst of party funding
Anton Kryvko
data processing specialist, CHESNO analyst

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