Wall Street’s Newest Airplane-Banner: Flown For Freedom of ‘Ukrainian Madoff’?

Three's a trend!

The trend of political dissent regarding financial matters as flown from airplanes over Manhattan continues! First, a St. Louis housewife attempts to send a message to Washington D.C. by air (“THANKS FOR THE DOWNGRADE. YOU SHOULD ALL BE FIRED.“) and it’s widely misinterpreted as aimed at America’s least favorite credit-downgraders Standard & Poor’s, but becomes a national sensation no less. Then, some ridiculous company seizes the moment to ruin it with a cheeky ad for their product the next day. And today, another banner flies high buzzing the Hudson.

Incidentally, the same tipster who sent us the photos of the first airplane with a banner—and then, the second!—has come through with yet a third one! How do we know Observer de-facto Airplanes With Banners Photo-Tipster Stephanie Judge is a credible source? Because like any good reporter, citizen or otherwise, she expresses cynicism, incredulousness, and finally resignation:

We have another one, it’s weird though. It said V Vassilkenko – Jailed 5+ years – no trial – is this legal? Apparently he’s the Ukranian Madoff, it’s flown by a few times now. I think flying banners has officially jumped the shark.

Inclined as we are to agree, be forewarned: one man’s shark-jumping is another’s trend piece. The full photo (plane on bottom-left):


The “Ukranian Madoff” theory would appear to emerge from this moderately incomprehensible Live Journal page about a man named Vadim Vassilenko; Mr. Vassilenko was charged with illegally running money to Eastern Europe and Russia from an unlicensed check-cashing operation in 2006. It would appear—and we’re just taking a guess here, from the banner—that he’s still in jail. The LiveJournal page contests that he’s being held in violation of the Vienna Convention. His next appearance in court—the 42nd installment in his trial, apparently—comes on September 13, 2011, and it appears as if he’ll be defending himself against a litany of money laundering charges. The lawyer listed on his court records is seemingly nowhere to be found; we gave the Assistant D.A. named to the case, John Bandler, a call for comment, which we’ll update with if we get it.

Until then, for a guy in prison for five years, he’s fairly savvy to this whole Airplane Dissent Thing. Maybe he stands a chance at freedom, or at the very least, finding out if his detention is legal.

fkamer@observer.com | @weareyourfek Wall Street’s Newest Airplane-Banner: Flown For Freedom of ‘Ukrainian Madoff’?