Ukraine's Zelenskiy announces second pro-business body after fury over banker's arrest

(Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced on Friday the creation of a second body to assist businesses in wartime after several entrepreneurs voiced outrage at the arrest of a prominent banker.

Zelenskiy, speaking in his nightly video address, said the All-Ukraine Economic Platform would help businesses overcome the challenges posed by Russia’s nearly two-year-old invasion.

Earlier this week, Zelenskiy announced the formation of a Council for the Support of Entrepreneurship, which he said sought to strengthen the economy and clarify issues relating to law enforcement agencies.

Decrees creating both bodies were published on Friday.

In his latest remarks, Zelenskiy said the platform would be a “new communication mechanism with entrepreneurs” and would encompass the “entire business community”.

He said he was grateful to all entrepreneurs “who stay in the country and maintain their businesses and jobs”.

The creation of the two entities followed a meeting with business leaders after the arrest last week of banker Ihor Mazepa, which Zelenskiy acknowledged had been “difficult”.

The council was formed on the basis of a decision of the

National Security and Defence Council, which sets defence policy. The council also pledged to alter provisions of the criminal code on the arrest and prosecution of business figures.

Business owners objected to Mazepa’s detention on allegations he engaged in an illegal acquisition of land north of Kyiv to proceed with construction of luxury housing. Mazepa has since been released from pre-trial detention after posting reduced bail.

Mazepa has pledged to appeal the court ruling ordering his detention and said the case against him was being pursued because of his criticism of law enforcement bodies.

His company, Concorde Capital, has operated in Ukraine for some 20 years. His brother and company officials were also detained.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski and Oleksandr Kozhukhar; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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