Among the nearly one million Ukrainian refugees in Russia there is a small but very rich and once-powerful group – Ukraine’s former top officials. Most of them have been enjoying their carefree life in Moscow, bit there is one thing they can’t afford, which is returning home. Most of them face severe criminal penalties in Ukraine, including life imprisonment.

Many of them are experiencing a relentless nostalgia for their homeland, planning a comeback in the Ukrainian politics. That is no surprise, actually, as these moneybags have absolutely no real power in Russia. In this respect, their flight and emigration must have taught them a lesson that only at home could they enjoy influence, while in Russia they will never gain any political weight. Of course, the fugitives wish to return to Kyiv, and not to their native Donetsk or Luhansk, occupied bu heavily armed Orcs and the people are dying, and this is indeed their fault.

Azarov-Oleynik-Markov trio, wanted by the Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, have already voiced their political ambitions in Moscow. They presented the Ukraine Salvation Committee (perhaps, aiming to save Ukraine from the Ukrainians?) calling for mass riots to provide for their return to power. However, since the announcement of its plans, the Committee board has already lost one of its members in the Italian resort. Ihor Markov was arrested by Italian police with the Russian and Ukrainian passports and is to remain in custody for 40 days until the court considers his extradition to Ukraine.

Some other individuals formerly respected in Ukraine are also thinking about returning to their Homeland – either on a "white horse," or in a Russian tank. For example, Vitaliy Zakharchenko, ex-Minister of Internal Affairs is reportedly now focused on the activities of the SouthEast charitable foundation, registered in Crimea’s Simferopol. The organization says its goal is to provide "humanitarian aid" to Donbas and promote former law enforcers. Meanwhile, rumor has it that in the near future Zakharchenko would like to create and become head of a Kremlin-loyal political party in Ukraine.

Fomer first deputy prime minister Serhiy Arbuzov, moonlighting as an expert on Ukraine, seems to have similar plans. At the moment, he calls himself chairman of the Research Center for economic and socio-cultural development of the CIS countries, Central and Eastern Europe, but he doesn’t intend to stop there. The sources directly point out, Arbuzov wants to return to politics and may create or simply purchase a political party. His team is already thinking about a proper PR campaign.

Ex-chairman of the State Tax Service of Ukraine Oleksandr Klymenko also tries to catch up with his former colleagues. His ambitions, as they say, hit the roof, as they include running for president. As sources say, political scientists have been hired to form the new image of Klymenko as a “Pan Ukrainian political technocrat”, to start the process of his reestablishment in Ukraine, with further creating a political party that would reflect his agenda. In fairness, this team understands clearly that the party’s pro-Russian stance will be damaging, so it intends to distance itself from this paradigm as much as possible.

The list of Ukraine’s formerly high-ranking fugitives hiding out in Russia is still far from the bottom. How can we forget the “golden breadloaf lover” and “defender of ostriches”, ousted ex-president Viktor Yanukovych? He has focused on business, along with his son Oleksandr. Dozens of employees continue managing the Ukrainian assets of the “Family” from their luxurious office in Moscow’s Odintsovo.

Knowing the right places in the Russian capital, one can also encounter Serhiy Kurchenko ("business manager" of Yanukovych Jr.), former chief of the presidential administration Andriy Klyuyev, ex-deputy prime minister Volodymyr Sivkovych and many odious MPs from the Party of Regions. Some of them are happy to sling mud at Ukraine on Russian federal television.

It is interesting that the Kremlin is actually contemplating how to consolidate and coordinate the fugitive Ukrainian elite in Russia to fight with the "Kyiv Junta." It is believed that there will be a demand for an alternative political force in Ukraine, amid the war in the east and sharp economic decline. And then there will be a time for a deployment of a “Moscow Team,”  composed of personalities almost forgotten by the Ukrainians, to implement Kremlin-loyal policies.

Roman Tsimbalyuk