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“Vishnevsky didn’t look depressed, he also had other businesses.”

On 20 November, the member of the board of trustees of the Kharkov community, banker and former advisor to the Kharkov governor Vadim Vishnevsky was taken to hospital with a gunshot wound to the head, and died shortly afterwards.

Interfax-Ukraine news agency immediately reported that the 53-year-old businessman had committed suicide. As far as I know, suicide was involved. He even left a note,the Interfax source said.

But that evening, the advisor to the head of the Interior Ministry Anton Gerashchenko suggested that Vishnevsky may have been killed because of business problem. He wrote on his Facebook account:

Under circumstances that have yet to be cleared up, Vadim Vishnevsky died in Kharkov. He was not only an advisor to the former governor Mikhail Dobkin, but also a partner in a number of businesses. Including the now bankrupt bank Zolotye Vorota. This was the same bank that swiftly started flourishing after Dobkin became the mayor of Kharkov in 2006, and the governor of the Kharkov province in 2010”.

Gerashchenko also mentioned the fact that two months ago the chairman of the board of Zolotye Vorota bank Leonid Ulanovsky went to take his dog for a walk and vanished without a trace.

A source at JewishNews in Kharkov who knew Vishnevsky well confirmed that the theory of suicide was groundless:

Vishnevsky was just not the sort of person capable of doing such a thing. He had a real love of life. Even now, when he had started having problems with the bank, he didn’t look depressed. As well as the bank he had a lot of other businesses both in Ukraine and Israel.

Zolotye Vorota was in many ways an ‘insiders’’ bank: a certain circle of people kept their money there. It was called a ‘pawnshop’ as a joke. Additionally, all the municipal payments from Kharkov and the Oblast went through it, because the main share-holders there, along with Vishnevsky, was the Dobkin family. Kernes was also directly connected with the bank on an informal basis. Practically all municipal enterprises held their accounts, until recently at least, at Zolotye Vorota.”

Vishnevsky was also a partner of Yury Boiko – the vice-president in charge of the Ukrainian fuel and energy complex until the change of power in February. A considerable amount of gas payments and accounts of Ukrainian gas enterprises were also held at Zolotye Vorota.

It is said that Dobkin and Kernes, who kept most of their savings in the bank, withdrew them in summer.

The bankruptcy case started when gas payments stopped going to the bank, when Boiko ceased to be the vice-president of the fuel and energy complex. Municipal payments also stopped passing through Zolotye Vorota. And either sensing that pressure could be put on the bank for political reasons, or simply wishing to rescue their savings, Dobkin and Kernes decided to withdraw their money. But along with the resources from the municipal and gas sectors, they provided the basis for stable work. The bank became unstable, and people felt this, and started lining up outside branches. When a bank loses people’s trust, that’s the end of it.

The refusal of the National Bank of Ukraine to provide refinancing (which in many ways was probably for political reasons) and the drastic worsening in the general economic situation and the people’s trust in the financial sector finally buried the hopes of the bank management that it would be possible to preserve it during troubled times. Zolotye Vorota went bankrupt in July.

This did not give Vishnevsky any reason to be optimistic, but he owned a lot of real-estate in Kharkov, such as a chain of restaurants with partners. Formally the bank has no money, and Vishnevsky does not owe anyone anything. But de facto, this is one of the possible motives for the murder, if it was murder.

Vadim Vishnevsky was a prominent member of the Kharkov Jewish community, and was one of the five biggest donors. He even came into conflict with Feldman, and had certain ambitions to become the head the community. But he did not have as many resources. So Feldman headed the community, and Vishnevsky headed the trustee boards of organizations which were under the umbrella of Joint. (Joint also held all its accounts at Zolotye Vorota). Vishnevsky assisted the construction of the memorial complex for victims of the fascist terror ‘Drobitsky Yar’, and initiated the creation of the Oblast charitable fund ‘Jewish Cultural Revival’.

Vishnevsky relations with members of the community varied, but generally everyone respected him. So of course this comes as a blow for Kharkov Jews. It has never happened to us before, that an important member of the community has suffered such a tragedy…”

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