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10 Nov, 2022 19:30

Ukraine’s top oil company workers issue plea to Zelensky

Ukrnafta employees say its office has been blocked for days by security services, soon after it was nationalized
Ukraine’s top oil company workers issue plea to Zelensky

Workers of one of Ukraine’s largest oil and natural gas companies, Ukrnafta, have made a personal appeal to President Vladimir Zelensky to intervene in the takeover of the company’s head office.

A letter on behalf of 20,000 employees was published on the company’s official Facebook page on Thursday. It claims that armed men from Ukraine’s Security Service and Economic Security Bureau have been blocking workers from entering the Ukrnafta building for three days now. They still haven’t presented a court decision authorizing the move, the letter reads.

“For the third day, armed persons have been in the office of Ukrnafta, they do not allow employees to work, block all operational activities of the company and interfere with the performance of normal operational processes,” the message states.

The workers claim that all of Ukrnafta’s bank accounts have also been blocked during this time and that all of the company’s activity has essentially been halted.

The plea comes after the Ukrainian securities regulator, the National Commission for Securities and Equity Market, announced the nationalization of Ukraine’s top energy companies, using emergency wartime authority as the legal basis to transfer ownership of these companies to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

Among the targets for nationalization was oil and natural gas producer Ukrnafta, which was partially owned by Ukrainian billionaire Igor Kolomoysky. Back in 2019, Kolomoysky said he “wanted” Zelensky to become president. The other companies to be nationalized included gas refinery Ukrtatnafta, helicopter engine producer Motor Sich, automaker AvtoKrAZ, and electricity equipment producer Zaporozhtransformator.

Zelensky has yet to respond to the Ukrnafta workers, but he had previously explained that the decision to nationalize the companies was made in order to meet the needs of Ukraine's military sector.

The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine has also stated that the seized assets “may be returned” to their original owners after martial law in the country is lifted, or they may be compensated.