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    Bob Amsterdam’s latest attack paid for by Russia national Vadym Novynskyi

    Robert Amsterdam, already known to SFUs’ readers, launched another attack on Ukrainian parliament in an attempt to hinder the vote on Bill 8371 that would affectively ban Russia-affiliated religious organizations in Ukraine. We found signs that Amsterdam is doing it for the money of Vadym Novynskyi, a former Ukrainian MP who turned out to hold a Russian passport.

    Threats to Ukrainian lawmakers

    Amsterdam launched an attack on the Verkhovna Rada leadership and other people’s deputies. In his letter, published by LB.ua, Amsterdam directly accuses Ukrainian parliamentarians (“your attack on the UOC is intensifying”) and threatens them (“this exposes you personally to legal responsibility in countries around the world”, “as well as possible criminal prosecution”) in case the Ukrainian Parliament passes Bill 8371.

    The latest draft of the law on amendments to certain laws of Ukraine on the activities of religious organizations in Ukraine” (No. 8371) that passed the profile committee on March 5 and informally referred to as the law on the prohibition of the UOC (MP), requires an expert discussion of mechanisms it lays down. But this is purely a domestic Ukrainian matter, in which Amsterdam is therefore intervening, for the money provided by a Russian-Ukrainian oligarch, Vadym Novinsky.

    Who hired whom for the “protection” of the UOC (MP)

    Let’s recall how this all unfolded. Late September 2023, the Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (in unity with the Moscow Patriarchate) ruled to appeal for international legal assistance. In less than a month, “in compliance with the decision of the Holy Synod, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church turned to the international law firm AMSTERDAM & PARTNERS LLP for legal assistance, and the latter agreed to provide it on a charitable basis.” The said company has confirmed the relevant retention.

    And literally the next day, a large-scale campaign was launched targeting the Ukrainian government.

    First, American lobbyist William Bjork-White published an op-ed, and in a week – Robert Amsterdam gave an interview to propagandist Tucker Carlson, who just recently also interviewed Vladimir Putin.

    But prior to that, in August 2023, Vadym Novynskyi, a sanctioned Russian-Ukrainian oligarch, hired Robert Amsterdam and his company to protect his own interests. Lawyers claimed he was being persecuted in Ukraine on religious grounds.

    Who’s paying for the show?

    As stated above, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (MP) officially declared it did not pay anything to Robert Amsterdam as his company was rendering services on a charitable basis. In fact, it’s Vadym Novynskyi who is covering these rather hefty costs.

    Sanctions imposed on Novynskyi in December 2022 did not prevent him from retaining control of at least part of his assets. This is Trading and Finance Firm Santis LLC  (UA reg.No. 30603074), which is owned by a Cyprus-based company, with Novynskyi being its ultimate beneficiary.

    It so happened that Robert Amsterdam in late February 2024 was driven across Kyiv in vehicles belonging precisely to this company. These were the armored MERCEDES-BENZ S600L (reg.plate КА7583СТ) and LEXUS LX 570 (reg.plate КА7583НЕ).

    It was in these cars that Amsterdam along with the delegation arrived at the meeting at the State Service on Ethnopolicies and Freedom of Conscience. And it was in these cars that Amsterdam was taken to the the office of Novinsky’s company, Smart-Holding, located on Ihorivska Street in Kyiv.

    Novynskyi, a Russian businessman holding a Ukrainian passport

    In all of his reports, Amsterdam avoids answering questions about Novynskyi’s Russian citizenship. The team likely chose the following tactic: “the Ukrainian government persecutes a Ukrainian businessman on religious grounds.” But in fact, the Ukrainian passport is most likely not the only one Vadym Novynskyi holds.

    After disgraced ex-president Viktor Yanukovych granted Ukrainian citizenship to Vadym Novynskyi in 2012, the latter continued to use his previous Russian passport (4004914426) until 2016, in particular when flying from the Russian Pulkovo Airport to the Ukrainian Boryspil. Novynskyi then used Russian passport No. 4008504014, which is still valid and not listed in the register of “invalid passports of the Russian Federation” as of December 11, 2023.

    It is also worth noting that Vadym Novynskyi may as well use a different last name. As it turned out in 2015, his biological father is Rudolf Malkhasyan, although Novinsky uses the patronymic Vladyslavovych (implying that his father’s first name is Vladyslav).

    Stakes are rising

    Under the guise of “protection” of the UOC (MP) and through Vadym Novynskyi, a large-scale operation is being run in the Kremlin’s interest: by creating an image of the Ukrainian government in the eyes of Ukraine’s Western partners as a “persecutor of the Orthodox”, Ukraine’s enemy is trying to put to a halt international support for the embattled nation, at the same time creating problems for the governments of those countries that continue to support the nation – portraying them as those supporting someone who violates human rights. First of all, this concerns U.S. President Joe Biden. That’s because his obvious competitor in the upcoming election, Donald Trump, is already actively employing the rhetoric about “protecting the rights of believers”.

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