Ukrainian government and business representatives have agreed to establish a business support council, which will include heads of Ukraine's prominent companies, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Jan. 23.
The move follows the recent detention of influential investment banker Ihor Mazepa, perceived by some as an escalation of law enforcement pressure on businesses. Mazepa is suspected of illegally seizing land in Kyiv Oblast in 2020-2021, which he has denied.
The newly created council will bring together leaders of businesses from various fields to " strengthen our economy, our society," Zelensky said in his evening video address. He didn't provide any details on what exactly would be the council's responsibilities.
According to Zelensky, the government will also introduce changes to the law on the Bureau of Economic Security, which is accused of unfounded attacks on Ukrainian businesses, and to some other laws to "limit the potential of any possible pressure on legal businesses."
"The state will fulfill its part of the moral contract with business. It is important that every Ukrainian entrepreneur also fulfills their part of the agreements, having a business that pays taxes, works legally, respects workers, and definitely does not work with Russia," said the president.
Mazepa, a Ukrainian businessman and the founder of the Concorde Capital investment firm known for his criticism of state pressure on business, was detained on Jan. 18 as he tried to cross the border into Poland.
According to Concorde Capital, he was on his way to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, when law enforcement officers detained him and raided the company's office.
His arrest sparked criticism from the Ukrainian business community that called the incident a continuation of systemic pressure from the state, including unannounced searches, asset seizure, and detentions. Ukrainian business leaders met with senior government officials on Jan. 22 to address these concerns.
Mazepa was released from pre-trial detention on Jan. 23 after a court reduced his bail from the initial Hr 350 million ($9.3 million) to Hr 21 million ($550,450).
Mazepa's detention was related to the acquisition of land rights for the construction of the luxurious cottage resort Goodlife Park in the Vyshhorod district, Kyiv Oblast. The resort is located on the shore of the Kyiv Reservoir.
According to law enforcement, Mazepa allegedly organized a scheme to illegally seize the land on which the state-owned Kyiv Hydroelectric Power Plant facilities are located. The investment banker and his press service called his detention an unfounded attack against his business.