In an incident entangling high-profile figures from Ukraine’s political sphere, Anastasia Kotvitska, wife of former Ukrainian MP Igor Kotvitsky, was caught crossing the Ukraine-Hungary border with six suitcases full of cash.
According to reports, after Kotvitska had been waved through by Ukrainian border officials, Hungarian customs discovered cash amounts of $28 million in U.S. dollars, and €1.3 million in euro, hidden in the suitcases during an inspection March 14. She was then obliged to declare the funds.
Kotvistka was traveling with her mother and two Hungarian men in a minivan when she was stopped at the border crossing in Vylok.
In response to the incident, Kotvitsky said that his wife was leaving Ukraine due to pregnancy, but claimed that his money was deposited in Ukrainian banks and that he had not withdrawn any of it. He further claimed that his wife was not being held.
A criminal case has now been initiated by the Ukrainian State Bureau of Investigation against Kotvitska for not declaring the funds.
Ukrainian businessman Seyar Khushutov broke the news of the incident via social media, publishing the names of the Ukrainian border officials who had allowed Kotvitska through, on March 20th. Khushutov claimed that the names of the border officials in question were “well known in narrow circles,” as they had a reputation of turning a blind eye to significant amounts of cash leaving the country, in exchange for receiving a share “between 3% and 7.5%,” depending on the total amount being smuggled.
Between 2014 and 2016, Kotvitsky served as a deputy for the Narodni Front (Popular Front), the same party to which interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk belonged. After leaving politics, Kotvitsky became a businessman, but since his days as a Member of Parliament has been a close confidant of Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s former interior minister, who resigned from office in 2021 amid allegations of corruption.
According to allegations published in The Times, Kotvitsky controls Ukraine’s nuclear energy systems, as well as a significant portion of the country’s uranium deposits. Austria’s Kurier reports that an investigation has been launched as to whether Kotvistky and his wife were able to amass such wealth through legal means.
As of this writing, Hungarian customs have not released an official response to these reports.