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Kyiv Post | 17Jun2016 | Serhii Leshchenko

My list of dirty deals

You can smell the rottenness of Ukrainian politics in the Prosecutor General’s Office more than anywhere else. It seemed that after the “human safari” that Viktor Yanukovych organized on the Maidan, when people were dying in the name of an honest and democratic Ukraine, the punishment of the corrupt officials of the past should be a matter of honor for the new government. But instead, it has turned into a story of betrayal.

There is already a list of people who have got off the hook:

1. Former member of the Party of Regions Yuriy Ivaniu­shchenko tops the list of the authority’s betrayals. He was removed from Interpol’s Red Notice wanted list and can travel freely now, without the risk of being arrested. This was possible due to the decision of the Dniprovsky Court in Kyiv -- a venue favored by President Petro Poroshenko’s eminence grise, Oleksandr Granovsky.

In 2014, Ivaniushchenko, a former accomplice of Yanukovych, managed to make First Deputy Prosecutor General Mykola Gerasymiuk issue a document saying he had no criminal record. With it, Ivaniushchenko tried to appeal against the international sanctions against him. Fortunately, he didn’t succeed.

2. In second place in the ranking of betrayals is the case of Mykola Zlochevsky, the former minister of ecology in the government of Mykola Azarov. He was unlucky to get on the radar of the British intelligence -- they arrested a suspicious $23 million in his account under a criminal investigation. However, Zlochevsky found accomplices in the Prosecutor General’s Office who, on the eve of the hearing in Britain, issued a letter saying that Zlochevsky wasn’t a suspect in Ukraine. The money was unfrozen.

3. The third largest betrayal was the escape of lawmaker Serhiy Klyuyev, who managed to leave the country a day after being stripped of his immunity from prosecution. None of those who let Klyuyev cross the border were found or punished.

4. But an attempt by another crony of Yanukovych to take the heat off himself was prevented thanks to a public outcry. Ex-Energy Minister Eduard Stavytsky fled to Israel and obtained there a new passport under a new name -- Nathan Rosenberg. He planned to have the case dismissed by moving it from Pechersk Court to Solomiansky Court in Kyiv, but he failed, even though a judge had already scheduled his hearing -- illegally.

5. In fifth place in the dirty deals ranking is the case of Yuriy Boyko. A year ago, the Prosecutor General’s Office investigators prepared a submission for the arrest of Boyko, the current leader of the Opposition Bloc, but then-Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin stopped progress on the case. Boyko now obediently plays the role of Bankova’s pocket opposition, enjoying immunity in accordance with the “Vienna Pact” between Poroshenko and oligarch Dmytro Firtash.

6. Similar examples of investigation blockage have been seen in the case of the former head of the Ministry of Revenues and Duties, Oleksandr Klymenko. The budget paid Hr 3 billion in illegal VAT compensation to this former cashier of Yanukovych. One third of this amount was transferred through the Pechersk Tax Office. Viktor Dvornikov, the first deputy head of the regional tax authorities, signed off on the transaction. When investigators tracked Klymenko down, he went to his influential friend -- Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko. As a result, the Prosecutor General’s Office blocked the case for several months. Since Yuri Lutsenko became prosecutor general, they’ve been trying to move this case to the military prosecutor’s office.

7 and 8. Brothers Serhiy and Oleksandr Katsuba, who worked as deputy heads of Naftogaz one after the other and were recognized as accomplices of Yanukovych-era businessman Serhiy Kurchenko, were also able to secure immunity. On the eve of being declared wanted, they managed to escape (one to the Cote d'Azur in France, and the other to Turkey). After being in the Interpol database for a few months, they returned to the country. Their father dutifully supports the coalition, being a member of the Vidrodzhennya faction, controlled by Ihor Kolomoisky and Kharkiv Mayor Hennadiy Kernes.

9. Slightly less fortunate was the ex-governor of Kyiv Oblast, Vira Ulianchenko, who was involved in the case of the allocation of land in the Suholuche hunting area to Yanukovych. She received a notice of suspicion, although before that the case had been blocked for a long time. By a not-so-surprising coincidence, Ulianchenko’s stepdaughter is married to Makar Pasenyuk -- one of Poroshenko’s personal investment bankers.

10. And it was a forlorn hope that Ukraine would take up a challenge from Austria to investigate the case against the Head of the President Administration Boris Lozhkin, who was suspected by Vienna of money laundering during the sale of Ukrainian Media Holding to Kurchenko. Deputy Prosecutor General Yury Stolyarchuk personally signed a letter sent to the Austrians saying that there was no case against Lozhkin.

Those are just some of the betrayals, where in high-profile cases, as a result of connivance, investigations have been blocked. The universal recipe for salvation has long been known: Just have your pieces of silver ready -- they will do nicely for the Judases of the new government. There’s just one thing: in contrast to Yanukovych and his accomplices, these Judases have nowhere left to run.

Sergii Leshchenko is a lawmaker with the Bloc of President Petro Poroshenko and a former journalist. This op-ed was originally published in Russian in Novoye Vremia magazine on June 10, and is republished with permission. Translation by Anastasia Yarova.