WASHINGTON (AP) The moment Kurt Groszhans set out from North Dakota for Ukraine in 2017, he was keen to reconnect to his ancestral home and cultivate the fertile black soil that the country is famous for.
However, his partnership with the law professor, who’s now a senior Ukrainian government official, quickly dissolved amid a scuffle and accusations and culminated in his arrest in November last year on the charge of plotting to kill his former business associate. His family and friends say they are not accurate and fabricated to discredit Groszhan’s accusations that he was a corrupt official in Ukraine, a country caught in a tug of war between Russian and Western interests and attempting to erase its image of corruption and corruption.
The situation is unfolding as Ukraine is preparing for a possible Russian invasion. It is reported that the U.S. has ordered the families of American staff in the U.S. Embassy there to move out. The tumult has the Groszhan family worried the North Dakota farmer could be abandoned and authorities of the U.S. government preoccupied with more general concerns about potential military action and geopolitical turmoil.
“We’re concerned for my brother’s safety in the present, especially about what you’re hearing about in the news regarding the Russian soldiers at our border,” the sister of his, Kristi Magnusson, told an interview for The Associated Press. As she feared that an attack could trigger an evacuation for U.S. diplomatic staff, she urged the Biden administration and the State Department to “use their leverage” to bring him home.
“If the embassy’s not in the area to assess the man and ensure that the man is in good health, we don’t know what will take place,” she added.
When asked for their comments When asked for comment, The State Department said the administration was committed to aiding those in detention Americans and was monitoring the situation; however, it declined to discuss the matter further.
Republican Senate. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, who has recently visited Groszhans in the detention center where he’s awaiting trial, claimed that the incident has “created friction between myself and the Ukrainians, even if it’s not our two governments. This must be resolved” in a moment when U.S. and Ukrainian interests must be in alignment in tackling the threat posed by Moscow.
“This little bit of friction isn’t necessary,” he added. “And I believe we can free ourselves from it by releasing Kurt.”
Grosshans, a farmer of 50 years old of Ashley, North Dakota, visited in 2017 Ukraine, which is the country where his ancestors came from. According to his sister, the opportunity to work on the world’s most sought-after black soil was a “dream fulfilled,” and he invested in a substantial amount to get his farm in operation. In a nation with a highly prized agricultural industry, Groszhans was proud of his accomplishments. She added sending photos to his family members of his harvests.
There, he established a connection with law professor Roman Leshchenko, who offered himself as a native speaker who had experience in the local agriculture industry and the regulations. Groshans appointed him director of his firm.
Things went downhill rapidly.
Grosshans has claimed in a suit and an online blog post that Leshchenko started embezzling funds from him, defrauding Groszhans of more than $250,000 total, and transferring funds to a family business. Grosshans has been outspoken about his claims and has described himself in a Medium article in August as a “humble” but an ill-informed investor.
“Probably I’m not the first or last American investor who has made an error in the person hired to be a manager. But the nature of the manager makes my experience distinctive,” he wrote.
Leshchenko did not respond to the AP. However, she has denied allegations of embezzlement in interviews with Ukrainian media. He also insists that the men had an agreement that the company owned by Leshchenko would oversee the farming operation.
He’s made his accusations against Groszhans and claimed that an American farmer had planted genetically modified soybeans prohibited from cultivation and sale within Ukraine. This discovery prompted Leshchenko to quit his position at the company and was the reason for their disagreement.
Ukrainian media that started to investigate the crisis revealed that Leshchenko had used a portion of the funds to make an approximately $60,000 donation to the campaign of the current Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Later, he announced Leshchenko as the minister in charge of food and agricultural policy.
The AP could not independently confirm the source. Zelenskyy’s Office did not respond to a request to comment.
Amid controversy over the donation, Leshchenko was interviewed by the Kyiv Post last year. The article claimed that the $60,000 contribution came from the dying father of Leshchenko. Leshchenko stated that he and his father believed Zelenskyy “as one and only one who would like to transform Ukraine and bring about structural changes.”
Magnusson claims Leshchenko, in the end, did repay some of her money for her son and threatened to bring him to justice If he didn’t cease talking in public about his fraud allegations.
On November 1, Groszhans was arrested, along with an assistant for allegedly conspiring to assassinate Leshchenko and other people. These are allegations Groszhans supporters believe are fabricated but could result from Groszhan’s appointment of a private investigator to look into Leshchenko in connection with his lawsuit.
As his family and his supporters consider, the detention was a justification to silence his complaints, especially in a country that has tried to shore the military and diplomatic assistance by U.S. U.S. through reassurances. It is taking serious steps to stop corruption.
“My brother has never had a chance to get into legal trouble in the entire fifty years of life,” Magnusson said. “And we’re not convinced that all of this is accurate because you wouldn’t want to kill someone in the hopes of obtaining the money legally due towards you?”
The group’s supporters are asking the Biden administration to officially declare the detainee as a wrongful one, which could permit this case to be transferred into the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs in the State Department.
However, his family is concerned that the chance of being heard about Groszhan’s situation could be limited due to the potential for an invasion from Russia and the diminishing diplomatic presence of the U.S.
“It is making us more worried for Kurt and his safety knowing that people are departing and Kurt is not being remembered and abandoned,” Magnusson said.
Sri Lankan delegation travels to the USA to ask for a $4 billion IMF bailout package.
This visit comes days after Tuesday’s announcement by the finance ministry that it would suspend repayments of foreign loans.
On Sunday, a delegation from Sri Lanka will travel to the United States to meet with IMF officials to discuss a $4 billion package. This is as the government desperately attempts to save the country’s struggling economy that a severe forex crisis has ravaged.
Between April 19 and 24, Finance Minister Ali Sabry’s delegation will meet with representatives from the International Monetary Fund.
After having previously resisted requests to obtain a facility from the international lender, Mr Sabry stated that Sri Lanka wants a $4 billion bailout package from the IMF.
The visit is taking place days after the finance ministry announced that it is suspending repayments of foreign debt, including bonds and government-to-government borrowing, pending the completion of a loan restructuring programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This year, Sri Lanka was required to pay $7 billion in debt payments.
This was Sri Lanka’s first debt default since 1948. The country’s 22million inhabitants are now facing 12-hour power outages and severe shortages of fuel, food and medicines.
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) announced Saturday that the Colombo Stock Exchange would remain temporarily closed from Monday to give investors “more clarity and understanding” of current economic conditions in crisis-hit Sri Lanka. This will allow them to make informed investment decisions.
Sri Lanka was currently facing the worst economic crisis since 1948, when it gained independence from the UK. The financial crisis triggered political turmoil in Sri Lanka, with residents staging nationwide protests over prolonged power cuts, fuel shortages, and the demand for the ouster of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
After thousands of protestors defied the country’s state of emergency and curfew, all of Sri Lanka’s Cabinet resigned earlier this month except President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Sources claim that President Gotabaya has made arrangements for the swearing-in of a smaller Cabinet. Other than Prime Minister Mahinda, it will not include any Rajapaksa member.
President Gotabaya fired Basil Rajapaksa, his brother and finance minister, earlier. He invited the Opposition parties into a unity cabinet to address the public’s anger against the economic crisis. The Opposition turned down the invitation to form a unity Cabinet. Next week, the Opposition will move a no-confidence against the government.
An Indian credit line of $500,000,000 for fuel imports was created to help the country’s dire financial situation.
India announced recently that it would extend Sri Lanka a $1Billion line of credit as part of its financial aid to the country to address the economic crisis. This follows a previously $500B line of credit in February, used to purchase petroleum products.
President Rajapaksa defended his government’s actions by stating that the foreign exchange crisis wasn’t his fault. The economic downturn was largely caused by pandemics, with the island nation’s tourism revenue declining and its inward remittances decreasing.