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SBD Global/May 29, 2014/International Football

Ukrainian Oligarch Sergei Kurchenko Says He Will Keep Paying Metalist's Bills From Hiding

Ukrainian club Owner Kurchenko said he will keep paying bills while hiding out.
Ukrainian oligarch Sergei Kurchenko, the owner of football club Metalist Kharkiv, promised to continue to finance the squad. However, it is not clear how he is going to do it with an int'l arrest warrant out for him. "I guarantee that I will continue to finance the club and I won't abandon it, even though that might be exactly what our enemies want," Kurchenko, who fled the country alongside ousted president Victor Yanukovych last February, said in a statement published on Metalist's web site. A spokesperson for the club was unable to explain how Metallist could be legitimately funded by the exiled oligarch, whose whereabouts are unknown. "Following the season's end, all the players, coaches and management are on vacation," he told SBD Global.

ECONOMIC DAMAGE CLAIMED: Ukraine's security service, SBU, estimated damages done by Kurchenko to the country's economy at $335M. The agency did not reply to a request for comment. Metalist has faced financial problems since Kurchenko fled the country, which resulted in the departure of long-time coach Miron Markevich and several players last March. In spite of that, the squad, which won the Ukrainian league's bronze from '07 to '12 and was runner-up in '13, won bronze again this year, qualifying for Europa League.
Vladimir Kozlov is a writer in Moscow.
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