The man behind the Babchenko murder plot?

Vyacheslav Pyvovarnyk has been named as the organiser of Putin’s slush fund for destabilising Ukraine, according to Ukrainian media reports. The accusation was made by Borys German, who stands accused of hiring a hit man to kill Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko in Kyiv on 29 May. But who is Pyvovarnyk, and what are his links to Russia?

The Daily Mail has inaccurately described him as being from St Petersburg, on the basis of a deleted Vkontakte profile, and Moscow based but other social media profiles indicate that he lives in Ukraine.

Pyvovarnyk’s linked in profile

Pyvovarnyk is registered as the director or one of the owners of five companies in Ukraine, including a 50% stake in a firm entitled Hromadska Sluzhba Bezpeky Ukrainy (public security service of Ukraine)

Corporate details of the company linking Pyvovarnyk to Putin proxies in Ukraine

The company’s co owner is Sergei Eremiyovich Deev who participated in a “Slavic World” conference in Minsk in 2015.

Deev at an ethno-nationalist gathering in Minsk

The conference although notionally sponsored by Belarus, seems to have been a Russian soft power project which would appeal to devotees of mystical, ethnic nationalism . Deev is also reportedly an expert at a Russian organisation entitled the “Fond Natsionalnoi i Mezhdunarodnoi Bezopasnosti” (the fund for national and international security).

The fund was founded by Leonid Shershnev, who died in 2014. Shershnev, a Soviet general and propaganda specialist also established the Russian nationalist fund Ruskie and the «Centra pomoshhi sootechestvennikam iz Novorossii i Ukrainy» (centre for assisting compatriots from Novorossia and Ukraine). Novorossia was the name the Kremlin wished to apply to a swathe of Southern and Eastern Ukraine which it planned, and failed, with the exception of part of the Donbas, to seize in 2014. The centre is still active and notionally provides “humanitarian assistance” to people in the areas occupied by Russia and actively promotes the proxy forces used by Russia.

The Facebook Page of the «Centra pomoshhi sootechestvennikam iz Novorossii i Ukrainy» glorifies Putin’s occupation of Donbas

Pyvovarnyk is therefore possibly linked to the type of Fascist organisation used by the Kremlin to provide a measure of deniability for its occupation of Donbas. His current role, as chief executive of Ruscon-Ukraina, the Ukrainian subsidiary of Ruscon, a Russian haulage firm, links him to the company’s owner Sergei Shyshkarev. Shyshkarev is a close friend and business and political associate of Dmitri Rogozin, Russia’s extreme nationalist politician and ex deputy defense minister from 2011 to 2018. The haulage firm has several potential possible uses in connection with the accusations against Pyvovarnyk,, the link to the Russian military, and the centre’s role in providing “humanitarian assistance” to Russian occupied Donbas. 

Pyvovarnyk is one of many questionable Putin linked figures who have utilised UK based shell companies

An intriguing footnote is Pyvovarnyk’s UK based shell company, which was wound up in 2015.  These companies often, in a Russian context, act as conduits and receptacles for holding assets or deniably financing activities. Could some of the funds financing Putin’s dirty war have passed through the accounts of a UK based firm? I cannot say for certain. However, this initial review of Pyvovarnyk’s links and activities shows that he has the connections and infrastructure required to fulfill his alleged role in Putin’s dirty war.

The article uses a mixture of my own research and material from

Steve Komarnyckyj is a PEN award winning literary translator and poet whose work is published by Kalyna Language Press and features on the PEN World Bookshelf. You can e mail him on komarnyckyj.steve(at)