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US Energy Secretary's supporters got lucrative Ukrainian gas contracts

TWO political supporters of US Energy Secretary Rick Perry secured a lucrative oil and gas exploration deal in Ukraine after Mr Perry attended Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inauguration.

The revelation comes as US Democrats seek to impeach President Donald Trump for asking Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential nomination hopeful Joe Biden over his son Hunter’s appointment to the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings in 2014, of which Mr Biden senior was then vice-president. Hunter Biden joined Burisma just after the US had helped facilitate the Maidan coup that overthrew the elected government of Viktor Yanukovych.

Mr Perry recommended Ukrainian-American businessman Michael Bleyzer, a long-standing supporter, as an energy adviser to Mr Zelensky. Mr Bleyzer’s joint bid with Alex Cranberg, a Republican donor, led to a 50-year contract for oil and gas exploration being awarded by the Ukrainian government weeks later, despite their offer being millions of dollars less than that of a Ukrainian competitor.

Mr Perry denies trying to influence the awarding of the contract.

Mr Bleyzer said the process “will hopefully serve as an example of how the Ukrainian energy market can be opened for new investments.”

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