Lit­tle progress in high-pro­file crim­i­nal cases

Kyiv Post - - National - BY OKSANA GRYTSENKO AND OLEG SUKHOV GRYTSENKO@KYIVPOST.COM, SUKHOV@KYIVPOST.COM

Although there has been lim­ited progress in ma­jor crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions, no ma­jor break­throughs have hap­pened since the EuroMaidan Rev­o­lu­tion that drove Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych from power in 2014.

EuroMaidan cases

Only one per­son — a paid pro-gov­ern­ment thug, or “ti­tushka” — is be­hind bars for crimes against pro­test­ers. The other 35 peo­ple con­victed for EuroMaidan crimes so far were given fines or sus­pended sen­tences.

Five Berkut riot po­lice of­fi­cers are cur­rently on trial on charges of mur­der­ing demon­stra­tors, and Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral Yuriy Lut­senko promised in Septem­ber to send to court the case against the or­ga­niz­ers of EuroMaidan mur­ders by the end of the month.

How­ever, the case has not yet gone to trial. Sergii Gor­batuk, who over­sees in ab­sen­tia tri­als at the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral’s Of­fice, has ar­gued that the cases can­not be sent to trial be­cause the Ukrainian au­thor­i­ties have so far failed to bring leg­is­la­tion on such tri­als into line with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

In April, four Berkut of­fi­cers charged in EuroMaidan cases fled to Rus­sia af­ter be­ing re­leased by courts.

Yanukovych cases

Only one top of­fi­cial who served ex-Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, ex-Jus­tice Min­is­ter Olek­sandr Lavrynovych, is on trial on graft charges.

In March, a Kram­a­torsk court con­fis­cated $1.5 bil­lion in funds linked to Yanukovych as­so­ci­ates. But crit­ics have dis­missed the con­fis­ca­tion hear­ings as a po­lit­i­cal show. Both the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the trial were con­ducted in se­crecy and over just two weeks, and the rul­ing has not been pub­lished.

Prose­cu­tors also sent a high trea- son case against Yanukovych to trial in March, ac­cus­ing him of urg­ing Rus­sia to send its troops to in­vade Ukraine in 2014.

In­cum­bent cor­rup­tion

State Fis­cal Ser­vice Chief Ro­man Nasirov, an ally of Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko, and ex-Peo­ple’s Front law­maker Mykola Mar­ty­nenko were charged by the Na­tional An­ti­Cor­rup­tion Bu­reau in graft cases in March and April, re­spec­tively. How­ever, the cases have not been sent to trial yet.

Poroshenko’s top al­lies Ihor Kononenko and Olek­sandr Hra­novsky, who are un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion in sev­eral graft cases, have not been of­fi­cially charged yet.

Sep­a­ratism cases

Yanukovych ally Olek­sandr Ye­fre­mov is now in cus­tody and on trial on charges of sep­a­ratism.

An Odesa court on Sept. 18 ac­quit­ted 20 pro-Rus­sian ac­tivists charged with tak­ing part in clashes with pro-Ukrainian pro­test­ers on May 2, 2014, which re­sulted in dozens of deaths. Five of them were re­leased from cus­tody, while two were re-ar­rested.

Court hear­ings on Kharkiv Mayor Gen­nady Kernes, charged with kid­nap­ping, tor­tur­ing and threat­en­ing to mur­der EuroMaidan ac­tivists, started in March 2015. How­ever, Kernes is not even un­der ar­rest, and the trial has seen no progress.

Ex-Slo­viansk Mayor Nelia Shtepa, who was ar­rested in 2014 on sep­a­ratist charges, was re­leased from cus­tody and put un­der house ar­rest in Septem­ber.

Ilo­vaisk mas­sacre

In Au­gust the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral’s Of­fice pub­lished a re­port blam­ing Rus­sia for the mas­sacre of hun­dreds of Ukrainian troops dur­ing the Bat­tle of Ilo­vaisk in 2014.

How­ever, prose­cu­tors have been crit­i­cized for ig­nor­ing the al­leged neg­li­gence and in­com­pe­tence of Chief of Staff Vik­tor Muzhenko and then De­fense Min­is­ter Valery Heletei dur­ing the bat­tle. They have not faced any charges.

Ter­ror at­tacks, ammo de­pots

Ear­lier this year Georgian-born Timur Makhauri and in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers Maksym Shapo­val, Yuiry Vozny and Olek­sandr Kharaberiush were killed in car ex­plo­sions. Rus­sia was blamed for the mur­ders but no charges have been filed yet. De­nis Voro­nenkov, a former pro-Krem­lin Rus­sian law­maker, was gunned down in cen­tral Kyiv in March. His as­sas­sin, who was fa­tally wounded on the spot by Voro­nenkov’s body­guard, turned out to be Ukrainian, but the in­ves­ti­ga­tion found he had links with Rus­sia. In Septem­ber, prose­cu­tors claimed the mur­der case had been solved but have not named any sus­pected or­ga­niz­ers of the mur­der so far.

Three big am­mu­ni­tion de­pots have been de­stroyed by fires or ex­plo­sions over the last six months. The most re­cent one oc­curred on Sept. 28 in Ka­lynivka in Vin­nyt­sia Oblast. The au­thor­i­ties didn’t name any at­tack­ers.

Jour­nal­ist mur­ders

No sus­pects have been named in the high-pro­file mur­der of Ukrainian-Be­laru­sian jour­nal­ist Pavel Sheremet in July 2016.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors have so far failed to name the or­ga­niz­ers of the 2000 mur­der of Ge­orgy Gon­gadze, edi­tor-in-chief of the Ukrain­ska Pravda web­site. Ex-po­lice gen­eral Olek­siy Pukach was sen­tenced to life for this mur­der in 2013, but oth­ers im­pli­cated in the crime, in­clud­ing former Pres­i­dent Leonid Kuchma, have never been charged.

Bank fraud

In De­cem­ber the gov­ern­ment na­tion­al­ized Pri­vatbank, putting the bur­den of the bank’s losses — worth $5.6 bil­lion — on the coun­try’s tax­pay­ers. Cen­tral bank of­fi­cials and anti-cor­rup­tion watch­dogs ac­cused the bank’s former own­ers Ihor Kolo­moisky and Gen­nadiy Bo­golyubov of em­bez­zle­ment and bank fraud. In July, the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral’s of­fice opened a crim­i­nal probe against the former ex­ec­u­tives of Pri­vatbank for mak­ing the bank in­sol­vent. But no charges have been filed so far.

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