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The Mysterious Odyssey of Pavel Fuks

Valeriy Solovey, a distinguished Russian political scientist, has publicly disavowed Putin’s saber-rattling and anti-Ukraine propaganda. Recently, Dr. Solovey has blown the whistle on a dark conspiracy amongst the pro-Russian elements in Ukraine—a conspiracy thought to be orchestrated by Pavel Fuks, the Kremlin-linked oligarch.

During an enlightening conversation with the well-known Ukrainian talk show host, Dmitri Gordon, Dr. Solovey disclosed revelations about corrupt Ukrainian politicians and FSB agents who sought to trade Ukraine’s sovereignty to Putin during the 2014 Russian invasion. In the interview, Solovey laid bare the murky backroom deals that politicians and mini-oligarchs in Kharkiv—Ukraine’s second-largest and highly strategic city—had engaged in, effectively agreeing to sell the city to the Russians. This was happening concurrently with Russia’s first incursion into Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, and the establishment of two contrived separatist “states,” Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics

The narrative offered by Solovey was startling in its depiction of brazen betrayal, unchecked greed, and staggering audacity. Kharkiv, according to Solovey, was being administered more like a rogue vessel than a city by its populist mayor, Gennady Kernes—a figure with a criminal history dating back to the Soviet era.

Kernes, in collaboration with his associates (Mikhail Dobkin, Yuri Dement, and the supposed Russian intermediary Pavel Fuks), had negotiated terms to cede control of Kharkiv to the Russian military. In exchange for their treachery, they were slated to receive billions funneled from the Kremlin.

Pavel Fuks, who later conveniently obtained Ukrainian citizenship through means some describe as “extrajudicial,” rebranded himself as Ukrainian businessman Pavlo Fuks. But as subsequent events would demonstrate, a mere name change did not signify a transformation in ethical disposition. Known in Kremlin and Russian underworld circles as the “Mercenary,” Fuks had a background as a Moscow-based real estate magnate and served as a conduit between Eastern European criminal syndicates and the FSB. The FSB, according to leaks from U.S. intelligence, utilized Fuks to bypass sanctions and to disseminate disinformation.

Vitali Klitschko with Pavel Fuks
Vitali Klitschko with Pavel Fuks. (Wikimedia)

Fuks presented Kernes with a lucrative proposition, endorsed by his FSB associates, and managed to sway the already corrupt Kharkiv leader to go along. The price of betraying Ukraine by selling its territory to Russia was a staggering $2 billion, with Fuks himself forwarding an initial down payment of $500 million to the Kharkiv operatives.

Subsequently, Fuks facilitated a dialogue where Kernes would negotiate directly with Vladislav Surkov, a trusted advisor and confidant to Putin at the time. The only caveat was that Kharkiv would have to be the first city in Ukraine to willingly open its gates to “welcome Russian tanks with bread and salt,” as Dr. Solovey articulated.

When this traitorous plot eventually fell apart, Surkov demanded the reimbursement of the funds. According to Dr. Solovey, the moment the Kremlin made this demand, Dobkin and Fuks rapidly complied and returned the money. Kernes and Dement, however, attempted a futile scheme to deceive Moscow. Needless to say, their gambit failed spectacularly, quipped Dr. Solovey.

Putin’s reprisal was immediate and brutal. In April of 2014, a sniper’s bullet found Kernes, paralyzing him for the remainder of his life—a life that ended rather abruptly after he contracted COVID in 2020. Fuks is believed to have been instrumental in his mentor’s downfall. Following his near-death experience, Kernes returned his share of the Russian advance. Dement was not so fortunate; he met his end by a bullet to the head, executed next to his mother’s grave, in Kharkiv in February of 2016.

Fast forward to 2023, the conflict in Ukraine has escalated to the point where it threatens the stability of not just Ukraine but also Europe and the former Soviet satellite states. Close to 13 million Ukrainians have been displaced, and Russian aggression has ignited a new Cold War between the Kremlin and the West.

Fuks was recently sanctioned for serving as a front for Russian interests in the Ukrainian economy and stands criminally accused as of May for tax fraud and for the illegal acquisition of Ukrainian companies valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet, he managed to move to England just prior to Russia’s expansive invasion, reestablishing himself in London in apparent violation of both the sanctions that were imposed on him and Ukraine’s wartime conscription laws. Sources allege that Fuks has provided information to British intelligence to secure his residency in the UK. Despite the dismantling of his pro-Russian network and the seizure of assets he allegedly embezzled, Fuks continues to operate on behalf of his Moscow handlers.

According to confidential reports, Fuks has aligned himself with a low-profile but corrupt pro-Russian oligarch named Vitaliy Khomutynnik and has been spearheading the funding of pro-Russian opposition in Ukraine. This includes support for Serhiy Prytula, a well-known Ukrainian television actor who plans to challenge President Zelensky in the upcoming election. Furthermore, Fuks is covertly providing support to Kyiv’s Mayor, former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, while maintaining close relations with Ukraine’s former Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov.

And so, as history repeats itself, Fuks has reprised his role, assisting his Kremlin overlords in fabricating a pretext for the expansive invasion of Ukraine in 2022. According to reporting from both Rolling Stone and The Times of Israel, Fuks may be positioning himself to be a power broker in the event of a change of government in Ukraine.

As the world watches, the question remains—will the international community continue to sit on the sidelines as Pavel Fuks exploits and manipulates the socio-political fabric of Ukraine to aid Putin’s renewed expansionist ambitions, enriching himself in the process?