Rinat Akhmetov Vows To Revive Mariupol One Year After Its Destruction

Ukraine’s richest man, billionaire businessman Rinat Akhmetov, has renewed his pledge to help rebuild the port city of Mariupol, which was destroyed and captured by Russian forces following a siege last year.

Mariupol was home to a great deal of Metinvest Group’s operations, the steel and mining conglomerate owned in part by Akhmetov. According to Metinvest, more than one-third of Ukraine’s metal production capacity prior to the war took place in Mariupol.

In an interview with Reuters, the businessman said, “Mariupol is a global tragedy and a global example of heroism. For me, Mariupol has been and will always be a Ukrainian city.” Akhmetov has seen his business empire shattered by more than eight years of fighting in areas including Donbas.

Rinat Akhmetov: Defiant as Ever

Despite significant losses suffered by Rinat Akhmetov’s businesses, he remains defiant. “For us, the war broke out in 2014. We lost all of our assets both in Crimea and in the temporarily occupied territory of Donbas. We lost our businesses, but it made us tougher and stronger,” Akhmetov told Reuters.

Although Metinvest Group has been forced to scale back many of its operations due to the ongoing war, Akhmetov has stated that the company will play a major role in the post-war reconstruction of Mariupol, beginning this year with a $1.5 million allocation of funding towards a new revitalization plan.

“I believe in the future of Mariupol, which is why I am allocating $1.5 million for the construction of the Mariupol Reborn project office, which will work together with our international partners and involve Mariupol residents to create a common vision for the new Mariupol,” Akhmetov said in a recent press release.

The Mariupol Revitalization Plan

Announced in April, Rinat Akhmetov’s Mariupol revitalization plan is being developed as part of the Mariupol Reborn initiative, which was launched by the local administration in the autumn of 2022 in partnership with Akhmetov’s holding company, System Capital Management (SCM) Group.

The revitalization plan will be developed in cooperation with international partners and citizens of Mariupol by the end of 2024, reads the announcement published on the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation website. The initial $1.5 million in funding will be used to develop the revitalization plan in terms of specialist training, the formation of the project office, and the deployment of fundraising initiatives.

“A year ago, the Russian army was ruining the city of Mariupol day after day, taking and destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of the Mariupol civilians and the courageous defenders of the city. A year ago and forever Mariupol became a symbol of human tragedy, but also a symbol of the invincibility of the Ukrainian soldiers,” said Rinat Akhmetov in the announcement. “But the destruction and occupation of Mariupol is not the end of its history. Mariupol should become a symbol of the revival of our country after the war.”

Rinat Akhmetov’s Aid for Mariupol

In the meantime, to help the innocent civilians affected by the destruction of Mariupol, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation has been and will continue to send humanitarian aid kits that include essential food products to displaced residents across the country. This assistance is provided within the framework of the Rinat Akhmetov — Saving Lives program.

Most recently, internally displaced persons currently living in Khmelnytskyi received such food kits through the Ya Mariupol support center. It’s estimated that the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation will send a total of 20,000 kits to Mariupol residents across 12 cities by the end of May.

Each food kit contains long-term storage products such as pasta, sugar, salt, flour, canned beans, and cookies. “In total, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation donated about 600,000 food kits to residents of 22 regions of Ukraine. From Feb. 24, 2022, 800,000 food kits from the foundation are scheduled to be handed over to the residents of Ukraine,” says a press release published in March.