Russian Oligarchs

Vadym Novinsky: Biography of Ukrainian Businessman and Priest

Vadym Novinsky, born on June 3, 1963, in Staraya Russa, Novgorod region of the RSFSR, hails from an Armenian family with his father, Rudolf Ervandovich Malkhasyan, and his brother Ashot Malkhasyan. Graduating from the Academy of Civil Aviation in Leningrad in 1985 with a degree in Air Transport Operations, Novinsky embarked on a diverse career that traversed aviation, oil, metallurgy, and politics.

Early Life

The Life of Vadym Novinsky
The Life of Vadym Novinsky

Vadym Novinsky‘s early life led him to work in the Petrozavodsk aviation squadron and later at the Academy of Civil Aviation. In the 1990s, he ventured into business, establishing Lukoil-North-West and delving into the Ukrainian fuel market. He invested the proceeds in purchasing major iron ore enterprises in Ukraine, laying the foundation for his substantial presence in the country’s industrial landscape.

Career and Profession

His business acumen led him to establish Neva Holdings, acquiring the Bulgarian metallurgical plant Promet and overcoming legal challenges to maintain control. Vadym Novinsky continued his ventures, founding Smart Group in Dnepropetrovsk and becoming a significant player in the oil and titanium sector. His influence expanded further into mining, metallurgy, and shipbuilding, as evidenced by acquisitions like the Kryvyi Rih Iron Ore Plant and the formation of the shipbuilding sub-holding “Smart Maritime Group.”

Novinsky faced challenges in the mid-2000s during the auction for Krivorozhstal. Lakshmi Mittal won the auction.
However, Vadym rebounded by forming Smart-Holding in Kyiv and participating in privatizing the Zeljezara Split metallurgical plant. Eventually, he exchanged his metallurgical assets for a stake in Rinat Akhmetov’s Metinvest holding.

Beyond industry, Novinsky entered the political arena, gaining Ukrainian citizenship for outstanding service and later becoming a member of the Verkhovna Rada. His political career, aligned with the Party of Regions and later, the “Opposition Bloc,” witnessed successes and controversies.

However, by July 2022, Vadym Novinsky resigned as a deputy amid criticism for unfulfilled promises and absenteeism. Despite this, his multifaceted career has left an indelible mark on Ukraine’s industrial and political landscape.

Personal Life

  • Spouse: Maria Novinskaya.
  • Son: Mikhail Novinsky
  • Daughter: Darya Novinskaya

Key milestones (Vadym Novinsky)

1963Born on June 3 in Staraya Russa, Novgorod region of the RSFSR, to an Armenian family
1985Graduated from the Academy of Civil Aviation in Leningrad with a degree in Air Transport Operations
1990sWorked in the Petrozavodsk aviation squadron and later at the Academy of Civil Aviation
1990sFaces challenges at auction for Krivorozhstal; Lakshmi Mittal wins the auction
2000sEstablishes Smart Group in Dnepropetrovsk, becoming a significant player in the oil and titanium sector
2000sVentured into business, establishing Lukoil-North-West and entering the Ukrainian fuel market
2000sExpands influence into mining, metallurgy, and shipbuilding with acquisitions like the Kryvyi Rih Iron Ore Plant and the formation of “Smart Maritime Group”
Mid-2000sExchange metallurgical assets for a stake in Rinat Akhmetov’s Metinvest holding
Mid-2000sBounces back by forming Smart-Holding in Kyiv and participating in privatizing the Zeljezara Split metallurgical plant
Mid-2000sEnters political arena, gains Ukrainian citizenship for outstanding service
Entered political arena, gained Ukrainian citizenship for outstanding service
Became a member of the Verkhovna Rada and aligned with the Party of Regions
Joined the “Opposition Bloc”
July 2022Resigned as deputy amid criticism of unfulfilled promises and absenteeism

Net worth of Vadym Novinsky

According to Forbes magazine, Vadym Novynskyi is one of the wealthiest people alive. Forbes magazine ranked him 2190th on its list of the world’s richest people in 2022, estimating his net worth at $1.2 billion.

YearsNet Worth (in billions)
20112.7 Billion
20121.9 Billion
20131.9 Billion
20141.5 Billion
20181 Billion
20191 Billion
20211.4 Billion
20221.3 Billion
20231.4 Billion

In February 2022, Novynskyi’s fortune was evaluated at USD 3.5 billion. However, by the end of the year, he experienced a loss of USD 2.1 billion. Subsequently, in April 2023, Forbes estimated his fortune to be valued at USD 1.4 billion.

On December 2, 2022, the business assets belonging to Vadym Novinsky were transferred to the management of a trust company duly registered in the Republic of Cyprus.

Insights about Lukoil

Organization Lukoil
Organization Lukoil

Lukoil, headquartered in Moscow, specializes in extracting, producing, transporting, and selling petroleum, natural gas, petroleum products, and electricity as a major multinational energy corporation.

Vadym ventured into business in the 1990s to establish Lukoil-North-West, delving into the Ukrainian fuel market.

It is one of the world’s largest vertically integrated oil and gas companies, operating in over 30 countries across the globe. In 2018, Lukoil was the second-largest company in Russia after Gazprom and the country’s largest non-state enterprise in revenue.

In 2020, Lukoil was ranked as the 99th-largest public company in the world.

Brief details of the Smart Holding Group

Ukrainian businessman, priest and former politician Vadym Novinsky previously owned Smart Holding Group, a giant Ukrainian investment and industrial group. However, in November 2022, Novinsky decided to transfer the assets of Smart Holding to a trust, and the trustees now own, control, and manage the group’s assets. As of November 2023, Novinsky has no beneficial interest in the group and exercises no control over its activities or processes.

Smart Holding is one of the largest investment groups in Ukraine. One of its main assets is a 23.76% stake in the mining and metallurgical holding Metinvest.

What was the reason behind Vadym Novinsky’s transfer of assets to the trust?

Vadym Novinsky transferred his assets to a trust prior to the imposition of sanctions as part of the restructuring of Smart Holding, a huge Ukrainian investment and industrial group that he founded.

The group completed the transfer of assets to a trust in November 2022, which was then registered with the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission. The group’s assets are now owned, controlled, and managed by trustees who are highly qualified fiduciary administrators.

Charitable contributions

Contributions by Vadym Novinsky
Contributions by Vadym Novinsky

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Vadym Novinsky Foundation has reorganized its operations to direct all resources toward humanitarian aid and to assist medical professionals in saving the lives and health of war victims, including the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The Foundation allocated over 900 million UAH for various forms of assistance from February to October 2022.

As part of its humanitarian efforts, the Foundation launched an ambulance importation project, successfully delivering more than 101 vehicles. They sent 40 thousand food packages to various regions of Ukraine to provide vital sustenance during these trying times. In order to improve healthcare infrastructure, the Foundation invested 15 million UAH in medical equipment for the ‘Zaporozhye’ hospitals.

The Novinsky Foundation actively supports the orphan section of the Ascension Banchensky Monastery, where they care for and educate over 400 orphans, demonstrating their commitment to vulnerable populations. Since 2017, they have partnered with Ukraine’s Ministry of Health’s Heart Institute to run the all-Ukrainian charity project “Help the Heart Beat.”

Furthermore, by supporting a rehabilitation program, they reach out to children and young people with cerebral palsy and organic nervous system lesions. This initiative occurred at the Kozyavkin International Rehabilitation Clinic, demonstrating its commitment to addressing various challenges and providing comprehensive support within the charitable domain.

Scandals and Controversies

Vadym Novynskyi’s controversial public life gained prominence after he acquired Ukrainian citizenship and ventured into politics. Presenting himself as a devout follower, he is well-known for his allegiance to the Moscow Patriarchate, a significant sponsor in Ukraine. The focal point of the scandal was the church itself.

Involvement and the Abduction of Archbishop Alexander

In 2013, Novynskyi, alongside former President Viktor Yanukovych, former Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko, and former Kyiv police chief Valery Koryak, made an attempt to seize control of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. The endeavour included the alleged abduction of Archbishop Alexander, who at the time served as an assistant to the late Church Primate, Volodymyr. Novynskyi was purportedly involved in an unlawful attempt to detain the archbishop for negotiation purposes.

The incident prompted a criminal investigation, and in December 2016, legal proceedings gained momentum, leading to the removal of parliamentary immunity for Novynskyi. Despite being a defendant in the case under pressure from Metropolitan Vladimir, Novynskyi is yet to face any formal charges.

Illegal Seizure of Amstor Supermarket Chain Property Involving Ukrainian Deputy Vadym Novynskyi

Criminal proceedings against Vadym Novynskyi
Criminal proceedings against Vadym Novynskyi

Reports include that an investigation was held into the suspected illegal seizure of property from the Amstor supermarket chain, allegedly involving current Verkhovna Rada deputy Vadym Novinsky, which could potentially result in damages exceeding UAH 2 billion to the national budget.

Journalists revealed that the case, dating back to 2014, revolved around the questionable transfer of ownership of the Amstor group companies. The legal process exposed the submission of fake documents to the state registrar, with no valid shareholders meeting conducted.

The Pechersk court intervened by issuing an arrest on the unlawfully seized buildings, prohibiting their use. However, the scheme persisted, as the stores were already subleased to new entities by the time the court reached its decision. Notably, these new lessees paid rent to companies associated with Novynskyi rather than to Amstor.

Despite the court’s actions, Amstor eventually ceased to exist, making way for markets under different brand names. The investigation now suggests that deliberate delays are hindering the case, such as a shift in jurisdiction from the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) to the district level, despite the involvement of a sitting member of parliament.

Prosecutor General Iryna Venedyktova initiated criminal proceedings against Vadym Novinsky. The case was brought to court by Gratant LLC, alleging that Novynskyi unlawfully seized Amstor’s property, including collateral and mortgage assets from Ukreximbank.

While parliamentary immunity was abolished in September 2019, granting the Prosecutor General the authority to open criminal proceedings against members of the Verkhovna Rada, the investigation into Novynskyi’s alleged involvement in the Amstor case continues to unfold.

Court Seizes Corporate Rights of 72 Companies Linked to Vadym Novinsky

The Shevchenkivsky District Court of Kyiv seized the corporate rights of 72 companies linked to Vadym Novinsky‘s assets and controlled by Smart Holding or affiliated offshore firms. The ruling came into effect on May 10, 2023, as part of criminal case No. 761/15294/23, which was issued on May 4, 2023.

The court seized Novinsky’s corporate rights in companies such as PJSC Ukrgasvydobyvannia, Smart-Holding LLC, Arkona Gas-Energy LLC, Regal Petroleum Corporation (Ukraine) Limited, Zaporizhstal, and others, including a 23.76% stake in Metinvest Holding LLC and its enterprises.

He also owns two land plots, three apartments, and a garage in Ukraine, as well as assets in other countries.

Brief Details about the Case

The SBU court placed under arrest over UAH 10.5 billion in hidden assets belonging to the sanctioned oligarch and former People’s Deputy Vadym Novinsky, according to a statement from the SBU press service.

The blocked assets consist of 230 real estate properties owned by Novinsky through an offshore trust fund. Notable among them are an upscale hotel complex in central Kyiv, the sea trade port “Ochakov,” and various premises related to agricultural holdings and shopping centres across different regions of Ukraine.

Law enforcement officers discovered that Novinsky had re-registered his assets with several controlled foreign individuals in offshore jurisdictions to evade NSDO sanctions. The investigation revealed the involvement of affiliated private notaries and state registrars in executing these transactions. The SBU successfully exposed and blocked this criminal scheme.

SBU investigators have initiated criminal proceedings under Art. 111-2, focusing on charges related to assisting an aggressor state.

It’s worth noting that the Ministry of Finance had previously reported a court decision to seize Vadym Novinsky’s property, valued at over UAH 3.5 billion. Additionally, the court seized 18 million cubic meters of gas, worth more than UAH 144 million, owned by Novinsky’s companies.

Sanctions imposed on Vadym Novinsky

Penalties on Vadym
Penalties on Vadym

Vadym Novinsky, the Ukrainian tycoon, found himself ensnared by sanctions levied by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine. The council, in an effort to assert its stance, imposed punitive measures, alleging Novinsky’s affiliations with the Russian Orthodox Church and entanglements in the realms of the energy and steel sectors. Sanctions encompass the freezing of his monetary assets for a protracted span of five years.

This stringent action forms part of a sweeping initiative targeting individuals aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church, an ecclesiastical entity vocally supportive of the Russian government’s endeavours within Ukrainian borders. Novinsky’s opulence, previously appraised at a spectrum ranging from $1.3 billion to $3.5 billion, now becomes a focal point of meticulous examination and financial oscillation.

In a strategic response to the imposed sanctions, Vadym Novinsky orchestrates a complex maneuver by divesting the assets of Smart Holdings, a formidable Ukrainian conglomerate he spearheaded, into the protective embrace of trust.


Vadym Novinsky, born in 1963, is a Ukrainian businessman and former politician from an Armenian family. Graduating in Air Transport Operations, he diversified into aviation, oil, metallurgy, and politics. Novinsky’s early careers included Lukoil-North-West and Ukrainian fuel ventures.

He entered mining, metallurgy and shipbuilding, forming Smart Maritime Group. Challenges arose in the mid-2000s, notably losing Krivorozhstal to Lakshmi Mittal. He rebounded, forming Smart-Holding and participating in privatizing Zeljezara Split. Novinsky entered politics, aligned with the Party of Regions and “Opposition Bloc,” resigning as deputy in 2022 amid criticism.

He amassed considerable wealth, with Forbes estimating $3.5 billion (Feb 2022), dropping to $1.4 billion (Apr 2023). Novinsky transferred the assets to a trust in 2022. His foundation contributed over 900 million UAH for humanitarian aid post-Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Novinsky faced scandals, notably involvement in the abduction of Archbishop Alexander and allegations of the illegal seizure of Amstor supermarket chain property. His corporate rights were seized in May 2023 amid investigations. Sanctions were imposed, freezing his assets for five years.

Alexander Harris

Alexander Harris - The Digital Bloodhound Alexander isn't your typical investigative journalist. He thrives in the digital world, scouring the web for hidden connections and leaked documents. An expert data analyst and coder, he builds intricate digital trails to expose fraud, cybercrime, and government overreach. Alexander Harris began his career as a journalist. He is one of the founders of the " Russian Oligarchs Tracker Unit ".

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