House of Ukraine’s former top central banker set on fire

Valeria Gontareva

FILE – In this Monday, April 10, 2017 file photo, the chief of the Ukrainian Central Bank Valeria Gontareva makes a statement on her resignation during a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine. Police said in a statement on Tuesday Sept. 17, 2019, that they are investigating a suspected arson attack late Monday on the house of Valeria Gontareva outside the capital, Kyiv, in the third chilling incident concerning the banker. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov, File)

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MINSK, Belarus (AP) — The home of Ukraine’s former central bank chief has been burned to the ground, the third chilling incident involving the banker over the past few weeks.

Police said in a statement Tuesday that they are investigating a suspected arson attack late Monday on the house of Valeria Gontareva outside the capital, Kyiv.

An unknown assailant is said to have hurled a gasoline bomb over the fence of her property. Firefighters were unable to put out the blaze.

Gontareva, who is currently a senior policy fellow at the Institute of Global Affairs in London, was also hit by a car at the end of August, and earlier that month a car registered to her daughter-in-law was set on fire in Kyiv.

Gontareva has said she has received threats from Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, who lost his PrivatBank to a government nationalization that was carried out while Gontareva was at the helm of the central bank in 2016.

Kolomoyskyi, who previously publicly promised to send a plane to London to bring Gontareva home, has denied involvement in the incidents. He insisted that his comments in an interview about “helping” Gontareva back home were not a threat.

Gontareva has been at loggerheads with Kolomoyskyi after she proposed to nationalize PrivatBank. The government ended up injecting 155.3 billion hryvnas ($6 billion) into the struggling lender following the move. Then Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, fully supported PrivatBank’s nationalization.

Iuliia Mendel, spokeswoman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said in a tweet Tuesday that the president “expects the relevant agencies to investigate this provocation as soon as possible.

Mendel said investigating the arson should be a priority for law enforcement agencies.

Former comedian Zelenskiy had business dealings with Kolomoyskyi’s media holdings during his acting career before he was elected in April this year. The arrival of Zelenskiy has stoked speculation that the decision to nationalize the bank could be reviewed.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk on Tuesday dismissed reports that the government is considering reversing that decision though he said it looking into how the nationalization was conducted.


Nataliya Vasilyeva contributed to this report from Moscow.

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