Morley Safer   Letter 15   27-Jul-1999   Who did Leonid Wolf murder?
Although you have lost all claim to journalistic competence and integrity, at least you can console yourself with not being alone and unappreciated.  Indeed, you are a valued member of a large and successful team.  Grigory Luchansky, Vadim Rabinovich, and Leonid Wolf undoubtedly know of your work, and they thank you for it.
July 27, 1999

Morley Safer
60 Minutes, CBS Television
51 W 52nd Street
New York, NY
USA       10019

Morley Safer:

I bring to your attention the following Kyiv Post article:

I reproduce the Kyiv post article in its entirely on the chance that it will be useful to 60 Minutes researchers interested in developing a good story.  However, for purposes of this letter alone, we are primarily interested in information on Leonid Wolf which is contained in the three segments in blue:

External link to Kyiv PostExternal link to Kyiv Post

Who is Leonid Wolf and what is behind government action?

News Analysis

Post Staff Writer

01 July 1999

In making wealthy businessman Vadim Rabinovich persona non grata on June 24, the Ukrainian government created a mystery.  By simultaneously announcing that it had taken a similar action against Leonid Borisovich Wolf back in December, it created another one.

The government linked Wolf to numerous unsolved contract killings.  But it did not specify the link between Wolf and Rabinovich, other than to name them in the same press release announcing that both Israeli citizens are banned from Ukraine.

That leaves the public, as usual, out of the loop about what the twin actions mean and what evidence the Ukrainian government is holding.  While Wolf could not be reached for comment, Rabinovich denied the Ukrainian government's allegations in a June 30 news conference in Tel Aviv.

The unanswered questions are numerous: What led the Ukrainian government to bar Rabinovich from the nation for five years?  What are his ties to Wolf?  What evidence links Wolf to murders?

The ban on the two men also raises larger questions about government motives: Coupled with the pending embezzlement charges against former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko and an aide, is the Ukrainian government finally getting tough on corruption?  Or is it simply being unfair to successful businessmen who happened to fall out of favor?

Those questions in turn raise the most unpredictable question of all: What's next?

The official State Security Service (SBU) press release appears straightforward:

"Today Ukraine's Security Service, according to materials in its possession and in the interests of Ukraine's national security, has forbidden the entrance the citizen of Israel Vadim Zinoviovich Rabinovich, (passport numbers) from entering Ukraine for the period of five years beginning 24 June 1999, for causing especially serious damage to the Ukrainian economy.

"Moreover, on 17 December 1998, the SBU closed the right of entrance into Ukrainian territory to Israeli citizen Leonid Borisovich Wolf, who is considered a member of a professional organized criminal group, which is suspected of carrying out contract killings in the Odessa, Kyiv, and Dnipropetrovsk regions."

The relationship between Rabinovich and Wolf was not spelled out, nor was the reason why the Ukrainian government chose to announce the decisions in the same news release.  Who is this Leonid Wolf?

A search of Ukrainian media archives for the last 10 years turned up nothing.  Ukraine's SBU and Ministry of Internal Affairs flatly declined comment, as did Israeli Embassy spokesmen.

However, according to Kyiv law enforcement and Odessa business sources, Wolf is a Ukrainian native who was born in the 1940s.  He emigrated to Israel in the late 1970s and became a citizen there.

By the early 1990s, the sources said, Wolf was playing a key role in developing Ukraine into an international smuggling hub.  His business activities were said to include shipping, oil trading, narcotics, export of weapons, chemicals, metals, and agricultural commodities sometimes in cooperation with Soviet-era mobsters, sometimes with the assistance of local officials.

Wolf first came into contact with Vadim Rabinovich in Israel in the early 1990s, one Ukrainian police source said.

One of Wolf's important business associates, the police source said, is one of the former Soviet Union's most notorious alleged criminals, Grigory Luchansky.  That, if true, could be the link between him and Rabinovich.

Luchansky was born in the 1940s, possibly in Latvia, according to several sources contacted by the Post.  He became a career KGB officer and served overseas in a variety of posts.  By the mid-1980s, Luchansky set up and ran Vienna-based Nordex, a KGB-owned and operated business designed to launder money for overseas intelligence operatives.

Nordex's primary trading partner in Ukraine was government-owned Ukragrotekhservis, U.S. Congressman Dan Burton alleged during congressional hearings in April 1997.  Burton identified Rabinovich as Luchansky's key Ukrainian lieutenant, serving in a variety of capacities including, until 1995, Nordex vice president.

Rabinovich has stated repeatedly that he severed relations with Luchansky in 1995 due to Nordex's poor international reputation.  He has consistently denied participating in any criminal activity while he worked for Nordex.

An April 1997 Time magazine article identified Luchansky as "the most pernicious unindicted criminal in the world."

Luchansky's trading activities in the former Soviet Union encompass weapons, oil, narcotics, natural gas, chemicals, precious metals, fertilizers, agricultural commodities, and consumer goods.

Other Luchansky enterprises reportedly include prostitution, drug manufacture, racketeering, influence peddling and fixed privatization auctions.

Nordex grossed $2 billion in 1994, investing some of its income in enterprises ranging from a Moscow beer brewery to a Kyiv tire plant, a Magnitogorsk steel mill, an Austrian health spa and even a Uruguayan car dealership, according to various media reports.

Luchansky's biggest business coup came in 1993, when he engineered a fuel-for-food deal between Russia and Ukraine.

In 1995, after meeting at a Democratic Party fundraiser with U.S. President Bill Clinton and sparking a U.S. political scandal, Luchansky fell under increasingly intense international investigation.

In 1996 a $35 million gold mine deal brokered by Luchansky between the Kazakhstan government and a Canadian mining company flopped, cutting into Nordex earnings.

Nordex has reportedly suffered in the wake of the emerging-markets economic crisis.

Luchansky maintains a residence in the Israeli seaside town of Netanya, a Mecca for Soviet-region emigres and scene of intense Russian mob activity, the Jerusalem Post newspaper reported.

The Post was unable to contact Luchansky for comment and his whereabouts are unknown.

I Expand My Summary Table Once Again

The table which I have been developing in my previous four letters to you can now be elaborated with the Leonid Wolf entry.  As the SBU press release gives no dates for the Leonid Wolf assassinations, I am assuming that they took place in the last five years:

Date of my letter Subject of my letter Date of Attack
Violence that you should have reported in your 23Oct94 The Ugly Face of Freedom
04Jul99 The Wiesenthal-Safer Calumny Summer 1941
25Jul99 Who did Israel Roitman murder? 1941-
15May99 Who murdered Volodymyr Ivasiuk? April 1979
30Jun99 Who murdered Vadim Boyko? February 14, 1992
Violence that you might have encouraged by your 23Oct94 The Ugly Face of Freedom
09Apr99 Who blew the hands off Maksym Tsarenko? Summer 1995
17May99 Who murdered Volodymyr Katelnytsky? July 7-8, 1997
01Jul99 Who murdered Borys Derevyanko? August 11, 1997
27Jul99 Who did Leonid Wolf murder? 1994-1999

And I Find My Earlier Conclusions Strengthened

For your 23Oct94 60 Minutes broadcast The Ugly Face of Freedom, you went to Ukraine determined to broadcast the story no matter what the evidence of Ukrainians oppressing and murdering Jews.  In order to do so, you had to blind yourself to the plentiful evidence that exactly the opposite was taking place.  The reality is that Ukraine is being plundered and assaulted by a Jewish mafia based in Israel.  You can begin your investigation of this phenomenon with the cases of the following three Israeli citizens: (1) "the most pernicious unindicted criminal in the world" Grigory Luchansky, (2) his "key Ukrainian lieutenant" Vadim Rabinovich, and (3) "contract killer" Leonid Wolf.  Please note that in your smearing of Ukraine, you were unable to come up with evidence of a Ukrainian mafia based in Ukraine and victimizing Israel.  The evidence was the opposite, but you were not interested in evidence.

But since the subject of our discussion is not merely crime, but rather cross-ethnic violence, I restrict my attention to assassin Leonid Wolf, and with respect to Leonid Wolf, I ask you to note that you were unable to come up with evidence of a Ukrainian assassin who roamed Israel murdering as he went, especially one whom Israel, fearing the vengeance of a powerful Ukraine, neglected to arrest and put on trial, but merely banned from Israeli soil for a time.

Mr. Safer, Ukraine's plunderers and assassins cannot operate in a vacuum.  They need support.  They need Swiss banks to stash their loot.  They need Israel to provide them with sanctuary.  They need journalists to smear their victims.  And so, although you have lost all claim to journalistic competence and integrity, at least you can console yourself with not being alone and unappreciated.  Indeed, you are a valued member of a large and successful team.  Grigory Luchansky, Vadim Rabinovich, and Leonid Wolf undoubtedly know of your work, and they thank you for it.

Lubomyr Prytulak

cc:  Ed Bradley, Jeffrey Fager, Don Hewitt, Steve Kroft, Andy Rooney, Lesley Stahl, Mike Wallace.