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Sytnyk Has Destroyed 37 Enterprises: Farmworkers Lay Wreaths in Front of Parliament

37 wreaths, one for each of the farming enterprises that the agricultural holding company Ukrlandfarming has been forced to shut down under pressure from NABU. Some five thousand farmworkers rallied in front of parliament and cabinet buildings demanding action to end pressure on their enterprises

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On 3 February, thousands gathered in the government district to protest against NABU Director Artem Sytnyk's actions. Employees of Ukrlandfarming accuse him of destroying 37 agricultural enterprises calling on MPs to protect their jobs from pressure by law enforcement and demanding that an ad-hoc investigation commission be empanelled to inquire into Artem Sytnyk's pressure on the agricultural holding company. The farmworkers laid wreaths in front of the parliament building with the names of the destroyed enterprises and handed out the last eggs from the egg farms shut down under NABU's pressure.

The rally in front of the parliament and cabinet buildings drew farmworkers from 22 regions of Ukraine. They are accusing Artem Sytnyk of putting wrongful pressure on the agricultural holding company for eighteen months, which has already resulted in the shutting down of 37 enterprises and dismissal of 13 thousand employees. The farmworkers delivered a petition to parliament, in which they call on MPs to set up an ad-hoc investigation commission to probe into Sytnyk's deliberate actions aimed at destroying a Ukrainian agricultural producer and urge lawmakers to put an end to NABU's attacks against farmworkers.

We have been under pressure for a year and a half. We have been pleading with the president, parliament and cabinet for a year now demanding to be heard and urging them to stop Artem Sytnyk who is deliberately destroying farming enterprises. Under pressure from NABU, we have been forced to close down 37 enterprises, cattle farms and egg farms. And we'll have to shut down more if Sytnyk's war on Ukrainian farms continues. Thirteen thousand people have already lost their jobs, the state has already lost 1.5 billion hryvnias in foregone taxes. If MPs turn a deaf ear to our pleas today and refuse to launch an inquiry into Sytnyk, they will be to blame for any further losses to the state and lost livelihoods as more farmworkers lose their jobs, says Ukrlandfarming's Chief Operating Officer Galyna Kovtok.

For the past eighteen months, NABU has been investigating a case, previously closed for lack of evidence of criminal activity, against the former acting governor of the NBU, Oleksandr Pysaruk, and the owner of the agricultural holding company, Oleg Bakhmatyuk, into allegations of fraud in refinancing VAB Bank. Expert examinations, statements by the NBU and findings from audits conducted by the Deposit Guarantee Fund have refuted NABU's allegations, while the owner of Ukrlandfarming accuses NABU Director Sytnyk of personal vengeance because an advisor to Bakhmatyuk's sister was a key witness for the prosecution in a trial that found NABU Director Artem Sytnyk guilty of corruption. In late January, the Pechersk District Court of Kiev found NABU officials to have a conflict of interest and determined that the charges were baseless. The judgement was later upheld on appeal by the Court of Appeal of Kiev.

Ukrlandfarming is one of the largest companies in Ukraine's agroindustry specialising in crop and animal farming. The company has operations in 22 regions of Ukraine. The company is owned by the Ukrainian businessman Oleg Bakhmatyuk.

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