There are good grounds for believing that the Russian special services control all Ukrainian Internet and mobile communications.
All three mobile phone providers in Ukraine are Russian
Over the past 20 years, since the advent of mobile communication in Ukraine, only three major mobile operators – MTS, Kyivstar and Life – in a fierce competitive environment has survived. All three companies above are either foreign or have foreign capital, belonging to Russian owners.
For example, MTS-Ukraine occupying 34% of Ukrainian domestic market is 100% owned by MTS-Russia through the intermediary of its European partners in the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
The Kyivstar Company (44% of the market) is actually owned and controlled by Alfa Group, Russia’s largest privately owned investment groups through the Bahamas VimpelCom Ltd located in the Netherlands,
Meanwhile, Alfa-Group controls, as well, the third mobile operator in Ukraine – “Life” through intermediary of Turkish and Swedish-Finnish companies.
Control of Ukrainian mobile market by Russian business is completely clear and obvious taking into account the ownership structure. Much less obvious and less explicitly is the Russian presence in the Ukrainian Internet routes of communication. The situation is as it is for the sole reason that the issue is downplayed.
Pillars of Ukrainian traffic
The largest companies in the Ukrainian market of Internet – communication are the companies “Datagroup”, “Atracom” and “EuroTransTelecom”.
Datagroup is a leading company in this list. So far, at the disposal of the company there are 21 000 km of fiber optic cable laid in all regions of Ukraine, the latest satellite communications system based on KA-SAT satellite, which occupies 85% of the Ukrainian market of this type of communication. In general, Datagroup owns 40% of revenue from corporate customers across Ukraine.
The company is a major supplier of communication to Ukrainian military servicemen in the area of ATO providing in the past year on lease 20 VSAT stationary equipment systems. In 2015, this network includes more than 600 sets of units.
It looks very patriotic, unless you consider the fact that a few years ago Datagroup corp. has imported all such equipment exclusively from Russia so that, it was tied specifically to the Russian billing center.
One should recall that under Russian law all foreign satellite operators working within the territory of Russian Federation are obliged to create in Russia a gateway to public networks and provide it with the LESS equipment, that is to say to install the equipment for the benefit the Federal Security Service, Ministry of Interior and other agencies with a view to intercept and store information that is transmitted through the networks of the operator.
Such station is constructed in Dubno as part of the Centre for Space Communication. However, there is no information on the availability of similar billing station in Ukraine. Thus, the satellite communication provided by Datagroup technically is provided from the territory of Russia.
Parent company of Datagroup and its subsidiaries
The founder of the Datagroup is Alexander Kardakov, a KPI (Kyiv Polytechnic Institute) graduate. In 1990 he incorporated the company Information Computer Systems Ltd. (ISS), which in 2002 changed its name to Income.
Within this holding company the direction of Datagroup communication was formed. Datagroup bought the data-transmission channel from the state monopolist Ukrtelecom, supplied equipment and began selling channels to customers.
Created in 2001, Datasat and Crocus-Telecom, in 2003, they merged into one brand – the Datagroup.
In 2007 Mr. Kardakov created a management company “Octava Capital” managing assets of “Income”, “Datagroup”, “MEGATRADE”, “Compass FM”, etc.
The very same “Datagroup” changed its owner to a Cyprus company Datagroup Holding Ltd. incorporated in 2008. The first time Mr. Kardakov was officially listed as the Director under the Cyprus Registry. The rest of the owners were represented by Virginian offshores, such as Prestige Advisors Inc., Меndaх Invest & Finanсе Invest, Сustos Invest аnd Finanсе Inc.
In 2014, the company has successfully sold its Crimean network to Miranda Media Co. being Rostelecom subsidiary company.
As of today, Datagroup is in talks to merge with another monster of communications business – the “Volia” telecommunication company. So far, there is nothing of all these negotiations – neither any amount of the transaction, nor the conditions and so on are known.
That is not the end of the world. Much more curious is a massive intervention of Russian operators to the Ukrainian market and the business sharing.
Doing business with the enemy
The great activity is shown by the Russian companies on the market of Internet traffic that lease areas from the Ukrainian owners of networks, first of all, from Datagroup. The traffic analysis shows that Russians control now at least 60% of national traffic.
Among the Russian companies it’s necessary to distinguish the following: RENT Ltd, Data IХ, Filanko Group and FIORD.
RENT Ltd is the leading player on the international market of Internet. But it’s very difficult to look into the structure of the company owners. In each country the network is represented by separate firm. In Ukraine, however, the branch of this company is disguised as the property of not Russian, but British company, which is owned by citizens of the Russian Federation.
Data IX is founded in 2012 as the Russian company representative office of the same name on traffic exchange from St. Petersburg. In Ukraine, this company is exclusive partner of the Russian social network – VKontakte.
Filanko Group works in Ukraine as branch of the Russian company. And the property is incorporated not on the Russian side, but on certain mister Dmitry Sharov.
FIORD is also formally issued on the Ukrainian citizen Taras Kolesnik. That is legally the company seems as Ukrainian one, but visually it is Russian branch.
So, what turns out?
The following proceeds from all above.
1. All mobile operators of Ukraine are the Russian property. Meanwhile, it can exactly assert that just Russians take financial benefit. But it isn’t clear, whether the Russian owners are engaged in interception of the Ukrainian mobile traffic and whether they transfer information to intelligence services of Russian Federation?
2. Datagroup is strictly the Russian “Trojan Horse” on the Ukrainian market of satellite communication. And the technical satellite communication traffic passes through Russia.
3. The traffic of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, namely the units located in the anti-terrorist operation zone, also passes through Russia. It’s absolutely unnecessary to explain that such situation is not only unacceptable, but also in general completely scandalous one.
4. Datagroup and the Russian companies also control the Ukrainian market of the traffic exchange completely. It threatens with shutdown of communication at any critical moment. So, the fact is that Russians will earn all this time on Ukrainians unless the H-hour comes.
5. The situation when such companies as Datagroup deal with the traffic of Ukrainian governmental bodies and all the more with security ministries is absolutely unacceptable. As mentioned above, the satellite traffic passes through Russia.
6. The Ukrainian governmental bodies should raise the question and start creating its own separate network that will be completely autonomous from commercial Datagroup that is under control of Russians. Other way is to nationalize property of Datagroup because it obviously threatens national security of Ukraine.