By Alexander Rubinstein / The Grayzone
High end jewelry, hypnotism and multi-level marketing are not qualifications typically associated with international diplomacy. But these skills are featured prominently on the resumé of Ukraine’s new ambassador to Bulgaria, Olesya Ilashchuk.
Since her December 23 appointment by Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky as Bulgarian ambassador, Olesya Ilashchuk has locked her Facebook account. At the time this report was filed, only the “intro” section of her Facebook page was visible. It listed some educational experience and contained the following professional fields: “Clinical psychologist, Systemic family therapist, Gestalt therapist, sexologist-consultant.” Ilashchuk was reportedly posting updates to her page on subjects related to gestalt therapy and sexology “until recently.”
Ilashchuk’s dearth of diplomatic qualifications is so glaring that even the British government-funded BBC has branded her appointment “scandalous.” As the mockery grows, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has fired off a statement defending the political novice as an expert in international relations and noting her fluency in English – not the official language of Bulgaria.
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A Facebook Live from April 2020 features Ilashchuk introducing herself as a modern hypnotist. Kiev has yet to comment on whether she intends to make use of this skill in her diplomatic efforts.
In late July, 2021, Ilashchuk appeared in two videos on a YouTube channel belonging to Eduard Burdakov, a self-proclaimed expert in multi-level marketing. Burdakov is a “Diamond Elite” member of RAIN International, a health and wellness pyramid scheme. In videos entitled “MONEY, SUPPLEMENTS AND TABOO,” and “Supplements, SEX AND MAGNETISM,” Ilashchuk touts the positive benefits of dietary supplements on libido, which she calls “the energy of money.”
While Ilashchuk has no history of work in diplomatic services, or in government at all, she boasts a considerable background in jewelry sales. According to the Ukrainian news website Bukinfo, Ilashchuk is listed as a manager at a jewelry company called Jemma from 2010 to 2014, and until October 2021, was credited as its co-founder.
The company reportedly “ignited” an investigation against Ukrainian oligarch Ivan Rynzhuk, who was arrested in 2011 for money laundering and taking a bribe worth a quarter of a million USD. Of the 25 companies tied to Rynzhuk, Jemma was the “main source” of his income. Police seized nearly $650,000 in gold and diamonds from the jewelry company. Though Rynzhuk was eventually acquitted, one Ukrainian news outlet noted “there are still a lot of questions.”
The appointment of Ilashchuk has arrived at a momentous time in relations between Bulgaria and Ukraine. Until early December, Bulgaria was among the the lone EU hold-outs refusing to send arms to Ukraine. (The country’s socialist party had blocked a measure to ship weapons in May).
During President Zelensky’s nationally televised visits to the White House and Congress on December 21, he characterized American military aid to his country as an “investment” in “democracy.” Two days later, with his appointment of Ilashchuk as ambassador to a key European ally, Zelensky is demonstrating to the world just how meritocratic his country’s political system can be.
In what other nation can a comedian-turned-president appoint a sexologist pyramid schemer as a high-ranking diplomat? Perhaps the same one where Hunter Biden was handsomely compensated for his oil and gas expertise.