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A Ukrainian oligarch with ties to the Kremlin, is ducking criminal charges in his homeland by living in exile in Spain, says he will run against President Petro Poroshenko in 2019.

With his links to Russian power brokers, including the spy-agency successor of the KGB, Oleksandr Onyshchenko is the Kremlin’s choice to depose Poroshenko, a pro-Western leader whom Vladimir Putin despises.

Onyshchenko fits the mold of Viktor Yanukovych, the corrupt pro-Russian Ukrainian president who was ousted in Kiev’s Maidan uprisings in 2014 and is living in Russia. In fact, Onyshchenko was a Yanukovych water boy as a member of Parliament from Yanukovich’s Party of Regions.

Onyshchenko contends he has recorded conversations purporting to show several members of the current government engaging in corruption, although he has released only a snippet of one conversation. Ukrainian journalists have speculated that, if the tapes are legitimate, they came from the Russian FSB.

Onyshchenko got repeatedly caught lying. A glaring example would be a recent scandal involving Ukrainian anti-corruption activists. Using screenshots made from Onyshchenko’s phone, a Ukrainian journalist Dmytro Gnap published an investigative story on the website slidstvo.info revealing Onyshchenko’s involvement in corruption schemes. It is interesting that Onyshchenko gave them to Dmytro Gnap himself in 2016 with the sole goal of causing panic and confusion in the media.

Over the past year, however, Mr Onyshchenko himself has joined a different political camp and now these materials have become useless, if not harmful, so the easiest thing for him to do was to accuse independent press of making up stories about him. It didn’t take long for the media to slap back. The journalists starting putting up evidence denoting Onyshchenko’s lies, calling him a puppet master eager to profit from the upcoming presidential elections.

“When I first stood up against President Poroshenko, I received overwhelming support,” Onyshchenko told the German daily newspaper Die Welt in announcing his Ukrainian presidential run. He has denied both the embezzlement and soliciting charges.

The voter support he received standing up to Poroshenko “gives me strength and motivation, as according to current legislation, I can run for office even while in exile,” he said. Poroshenko, who was elected in 2014 partly on an anti-corruption platform, has lost much of his credibility with voters because of corruption allegations swirling around his own team.

Onyshchenko would be able to return to Ukraine with impunity if he ran for president because of a provision in Ukrainian law — some would say a glitch in the law — that prevents a candidate from being arrested while campaigning for the country’s top job.

Onyshchenko was a gangster in the 1990s who spent time behind bars but ultimately received probation. He changed his name from Oleksandr Radzhabovych Kadyrov to Oleksandr Romanovych Onyshchenko to try to hide his extensive criminal history, journalists have reported.

Onyshchenko loves beauty contestants and models swirling around him, partly because it helps him forge deeper ties with alpha male business leaders. He has also offered elite dating services to bigwigs, both prosecutors and journalists have reported.

Ukrainian prosecutors have contended that not all of the introductions that Onyshchenko has made between the well-to-do and beautiful Ukrainians have been above-board.

In 2010, he and two others were charged with soliciting prostitution — basically, pimping. The case, No. 2010-10-31047, was filed under Article 303, Part 2 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry suggested that the charges involved under-age solicitation by noting that Onyshchenko organized beauty contests involving young girls.

The pimping case also accused Onyshchenko and showman Walid Arfush of trafficking women for the purpose of sexual exploitation to the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates. Onyshchenko made a lot of his fortune by trading gas in Central Asia.

A key reward he received for supporting Yanukovych was the seat in Parliament, which in Ukraine’s scheme of things opens the door to riches through connections and corruption. Soon after he obtained the seat, journalists said, he was paying for ministerial positions for himself and others, a common practice in Ukraine.

In 2016, Onyshchenko dodged the embezzling charges that the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine filed against him by fleeing the country. After some interim stops, he ended up in Spain. In an interview with Britain’s Independent, Onyshchenko bragged that he spent $30 million to discredit and drive from office Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a virulent Yanukovich opponent who assumed his position after Yanukovich was ousted. Many Ukrainians saw Yatsenyuk as a reformer.

“The media campaign lasted 10 months and cost $3 million each month,” Onyshchenko said of his Yatsenyuk smirching effort.

Onyshchenko’s connections to Russia’s security service, the FSB, date to his military service in East Germany during Soviet times, where he met Putin, who was then a KGB agent. This is how he ended up receiving a Russian passport later, journalists contend.

His blasts against Ukrainian authorities on Russian state television as the war in eastern Ukraine was raging only endeared him with the Kremlin. Given Onyshchenko’s coziness with the Kremlin, and the fact that Russian support helped to elect Yanukovich, no one should count Onyshchenko out of the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election.

Ukrainian political pundits think the FSB has the kind of dirt on Onyshchenko that would make him a useful Kremlin tool if he won. Not only could Russia use him to destabilize Ukraine, it could force him to bring back to power the politicians of the Yanukovych era, many of whom are desperate to return.

An unmistakable sign that the Kremlin will support him is that a time when Russian state TV doesn’t have a good word to say about Ukraine’s leaders, it is lionizing Onyshchenko. The blubbering praise is coming from none other than Vladimir Solovyov, a television commentator who is the main broadcasting mouthpiece of Putin’s propaganda effort.

Through his prime-time show “Evenings with Vladimir Solovyov,” which reaches millions of Russians, Onyshchenko is trying to paint a scary image of the Ukrainian authorities and the country itself, while justifying Yanukovych and his associates.

Yanukovych sympathizers are always welcome on Solovyov’s show. Onyshchenko cashes in by serving up pro-Russian sentiments and fantasizing about a coup in Ukraine.

“As has happened before, Onyshchenko hit the ground running and spoke on a bunch of Russian federal TV channels to educate viewers about the terrible realities of life in modern-day Ukraine. Well, of course, who wouldn’t, when the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine initiates a corruption investigation against you? You really do need all the Russian TV channels you can get to broadcast your message,” said Olesya Yakhno-Belkovskaya, a Ukrainian political scientist.

“On April 25, appearing on another one of Solovyov’s programs, he went on and on about ‘political persecution.’ As he is such a forward-thinking politician advocating for Ukraine, naturally he was a victim of the country’s repressive regime,” Yakhno-Belkovskaya said sarcastically. “Yanukovych said something along these lines and so did his associates. By the looks of it, it seems fairly reasonable that the idea of the so-called tapes was born in Russia. After all, that is where Onyshchenko ran after fleeing Ukraine. And Russia will always offer a shoulder to cry on to those who need it most.”

For now, with the embezzling charges facing him, Onyshchenko cannot return to Ukraine.

He has permanent residency in Spain, where he has claimed he is a political dissident and has applied for political asylum.

Ukraine has issued a fugitive warrant for him and asked the European Union to extradite him. But when there is even a small shred of evidence that a person from the former Soviet Union is a dissident rather than a criminal, the EU has usually given the person the benefit of the doubt and refused to extradite.

The status of presidential candidate would grant Onyshchenko immunity from prosecution in Ukraine while the campaign lasts. So for the most part, he has nothing to lose. The Kremlin views his candidacy as a win-win situation that would help it continue to subvert Ukrainian democracy.

Writer: Vincent K. Steele

 

Family

Price Hike to Ebike Citi Bike

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Taking a ebike Citi Bike is a wonderful way to get around Manhattan, but beginning Wednesday, July 10th. It’s the second price hike already in 2024.

On January 4, a yearly subscription was raised to $219.99 from $205, while unlocking a standard Citi Bike for non-members and riding it for 30 minutes went from $4.49 to $4.79. The per-minute fees for non-members riding longer than 30 minutes or riding an electric bike, rose $0.30 per minute from the current $0.26, or 15 percent. Basically every price was raised 17 percent.

Unlike other cities like Washington, DC and California, New York City doesn’t give public subsidies to bike share, instead allowing the private half of the public-private partnership to cash in.

Membership and e-bike prices inWashington DC are just $95 per year and 10 cents per minute. In California you pay $150 per year for a membership and 15 cents per minute for e-bikes.

Mayor Eric Adams says he endorses the idea of subsidies for bike share, but he has not followed through, like most things he says and does.

The fees being raised are E-bike fees for those with an annual Citi Bike or Lyft Pink All Access membership will increase to $0.24 per minute from the current $0.20.

Non-members will see fees raised to $0.36 per minute from $0.30.

Lyft, which runs the bikeshare program, cites battery swapping, insurance costs and vehicle expenses costing more than the company anticipated when the rates were set in December.

Citi Bike acknowledged the price changes only affect rides in New York City.

E-bike prices for rides in New Jersey are not changing. Only in New York!

 

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Broadway

Remembering Marilyn Clark Langner

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by Lee Roy Reams

I heard the sad news on Saturday, June 22nd, 2024, that my dear friend, Marilyn Clark Langner, had died in her Central Park West apartment with her family at her bedside. Like the classic column  in the Reader’s Digest Magazine, Marilyn Clark Langner was one of my “Most Unforgettable Characters.”

Growing up in Covington, Kentucky, I always dreamed of a glamorous show business life like the movies I watched on late night TV.  Having lunch with Kitty Carlisle Hart at a beachside restaurant in Barbados, cocktails with Gena Rowlands at Harry’s Bar in Venice, perhaps a late night supper at a rooftop restaurant in Athens celebrating the First Lady Of The American Theatre, Helen Hayes, on her 90th bithday, were just the kind of things I dreamed about. I got all of this and so much  more from Marilyn and Philip Langner during my tenure as artistic director of their trail blazing and truly amazing project called Theatre At Sea.

Theatre Guild

Marilyn was born in Spokane, Wadhington, on September 28, 1924. Even as a child Marilyn was drawn to the theatre.  Marilyn attended UCLA and set her sights on a show business career. She moved to New York City and hit the jackpot when she met and fell in love with Philip Langner, the only child of Lawrence Langner and Armina Marshall, co-administrators of the Theatre Guild and arguably the two most important figures in the history of the American Theatre.

Marilyn played roles in four Broadway plays including The SevenYear Itch and Absurd Person Singular.  A cast mate in The SevenYear Itch named Gena Rowlands became a life long friend. Marilyn played roles in a number of feature films including several films written and directed by John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands’ husband.

Loretta Swit in SHIRLEY VALENTINE had a very succesful national tour winning a Sarah Siddons Award for Ms. Swit in Chicago.

Perhaps Marilyn’s most lasting show business legacy will be the creation of Theatre At Sea. Long before the current Broadway style entertainments on cruise ships including Playbill At Sea, Marilyn and Philip Langner and Armina Marshall paved the way  by creating Theatre At Sea.

Lee Roy Reems and Tammy Grimes

Their casts were made up of legendary stars of both theatre and film including Lillian Gish, Roddy McDowall, Tammy Grimes, Dean Jones, Carol Channing, Cyril Ritchard, Patrice Munsel, Eli Wallach, Loretta Swit, Ed Asner, Donna McKechnie, and many more. On an early cruise on board the SS Rotterdam, a musical evening was created called MUSICAL JUBILEE which transferred after the cruise to a Broadway theatre. An “out of town tryout at sea” of a musical called Ruthless! lead to a tranfer to the Players Theatre in New York City. Ruthless! won the Outer Critics Circle Award that year  for Best Musical.

Ed Asner played the role of FDR. The one man show played first on ship and then around the country.

Stars including Loretta Swit, Ed Asner

Jean Stapleton captured the unique spirit of one of America’s most admired first ladies, Eleanor Roosevelt.

and Jean Stapleton performed plays on ships that went on to successful national tours. Academy Award winner Patricia Neal and Joel Vig created a version of Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory, which played around the country for many years.

Academy Award winner Patricia Neal and Joel Vig played A CHRISTMAS MEMORY on ship and then around the country for decades.

Marilyn Clark Langner will be remembered both as a savvy artistic producer and also as the perfect hostess for these remarkable voyages.   Whether sailing up the Amazon River with a final performance in the legendary Manaus Opera House or a Meditteranean cruise ending with a reception in the Princess Grace Theatre in Monaco hosted by Prince Albert II, Marilyn was always charming and elegant with an air of whimsy and a wonderfully wicked sense of humor. When Marilyn and Philip Langner were honored with.the Gold Medal at the National Arts Club in December of 2010, stars of more than thirty years of unforgettable Theatre At Sea cruises expressed their gratitude for the gift.and honor of being part of the Theatre At Sea legacy.

Marilyn Langner: a Most Unforgettable Character.

Marilyn is survived by her husband, Philip, two daughters Lola and Eve, and two grand daughters Lauren Kennedy and Brielle Kennedy.

 

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Cabaret

My View: Happily Ever Laughter at 54 Below……Liz Callaway & Jason Graae

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At first glance they might seem like a musical and personality mismatch, but the chemistry between Liz Callaway and Jason Graae is far from problematic.  It is an enormously entertaining integration of these two artists musicianship, acting, and comedic expertise. Liz Callaway’s once in a lifetime voice and vocal dexterity doesn’t just sing in tune.  It lands in the middle of the middle of a note with a clarity that pierces your soul.  Jason, once he gets his oboe in tune (that’s a double entenndre) also possesses excellent vocal technique, and my camera, no matter how many photos I snap is incapable of capturing his enormously expressive facial movements that glide between comical and the heartfelt with such ease. His rendition of William Finn’s “What More Can I Say” brought tears.  The duets from “BABY” for which Ms Callaway was nominated for a Tony and her two songs from the animated film Anastasia (in which she starred) were highlights.  This evening’s friendship (they’ve been for forty years) was the perfect blendship, together with the masterful Alex Rybeck on the piano at 54 Below last night. The show was very appropriately titled “Happily Ever Laughter” and it has two more performances, July 5 & 6.

Speaking of friendship and blendship, my table of KT Sullivan, Eda, and Debbie Gravitte was pretty special too.

JASON GRAAE & LIZ CALLAWAY

LIZ CALLAWAY & JASON GRAAE

LIZ CALLAWAY & JASON GRAAE

LIZ CALLAWAY & JASON GRAAE

JASON GRAAE

JASON GRAAE

JASON GRAAE & LIZ CALLAWAY

JASON GRAAE & LIZ CALLAWAY

LIZ CALLAWAY

JASON GRAAE & LIZ CALLAWAY

54 BELOW

LIZ CALLAWAY & JASON GRAAE

ALEX RYBECK, LIZ CALLAWAY, JASON GRAAE

54 BELOW

JASON GRAAE & RICHARD SKIPPER

KT SULLIVAN, DEBBIE GRAVITTE, EDA SOROKOFF

HAPPILY EVER LAUGHTER

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Cabaret

My View: Jamie deRoy & Her Friends….Who’s Like Them….Damm few

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There wasn’t a sign on the door that said “ Private Party…you have to know Jamie deRoy to get in”, but it seemed that way last night as all the tables in Birdland were filled with Jamie’s friends. They came for another edition of her long running (34 years) variety show.  Jamie as usual hosted the evening and presented a talented line up of performer friends which included: Jason Graae, Jason Henderson, Cory Kahaney, MOIPEI, A.J. Shively, and Jim Vallance & Catherine Porter. The evening, which benefited the Entertainment Community Fund, was directed by Barry Kleinbort with musical direction by Ron Abel.

A show tends to be well received when an audience is mainly comprised of friends. However, even an audience of strangers would have become Jamie’s friends after watching this outstanding cast creating a highly enjoyable evening of music and humor.  As the song says.. “ya’ got to have friends”, and to answer the question asked by the many friends who couldn’t snag a ticket…yes, Jamie sang “Jews Don’t Camp”.

Check out the show photos and the Cast Party

JAMIE deROY

A.J.SHIVELY

JASON HENDERSON

CORY KAHANEY

CATHERINE PORTER & JIM VALLANCE

CATHERINE PORTER

JASON GRAAE

JASON GRAAE

JASON GRAAE

RON ABEL, music director

RON ABEL

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Lifestyle

Major Announcement His Highness Prince Mario-Max zu Schaumburg-Lippe of Germany Is T2C’s Newest Columnist

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Today at lunch His Highness Prince Mario-Max zu Schaumburg-Lippe consented to become T2C’s newest columnist. On Wednesday check out “Live from The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents” interview with the Prince. This is definitely one to watch, as the Prince disclosed for his next chapter, he is looking for his Princess.

Starting July 4th his column on the Royal’s begins and this should offer insight into the world of Kings, Queens, Princes and Princess with maybe a frog or two thrown in done by someone who knows them all personally.

T2C is thrilled to be growing and expanding.

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