The Runaways

Kyiv Post - - Front Page - BY OLEG SUKHOV AND AL­LI­SON QUINN [email protected] AND [email protected]

As an em­bod­i­ment of ex-Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych’s cor­rup­tion, ev­i­dence of Ser­hiy Klyuyev’s al­leged crimes was known more than a year ago. Yet pros­e­cu­tors not only moved slowly, they let him get away as Par­lia­ment on June 3 fi­nally stripped the law­maker of his legal im­mu­nity from pros­e­cu­tion. Crit­ics say the case – and many oth­ers – call into ques­tion whether Poroshenko, Yat­senyuk and top law en­forcers are even try­ing to fight cor­rup­tion. More than 15 months af­ter the end of the EuroMaidan Revo­lu­tion, the record is dis­mal in solv­ing crim­i­nal cases, from mur­der to multi­bil­lion-dollar fi­nan­cial cor­rup­tion, of the Yanukovych era.

More than 15 months af­ter the EuroMaidan Revo­lu­tion, Ukraine’s law en­forcers have proven them­selves to be cor­rupt or in­ept while un­able to de­liver jus­tice.

The score­card of top for­mer Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych of­fi­cials brought to jus­tice stands at zero. The score­card of of­fi­cials on the run from jus­tice or crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions amounts to at least 50 peo­ple.

Yet Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko, in an op-ed for The Wall Street Jour­nal, claimed on June 10 that 2,702 for­mer of­fi­cials have been con­victed of cor­rup­tion in the last year.

That as­ser­tion star­tled Daria Kalenyuk, head of the Anti-Cor­rup­tion Ac­tion Cen­ter in Kyiv.

“I think this is a mis­take,” Kalenyuk said. “I don’t know who th­ese peo­ple are.”

She said it ap­peared that Poroshenko was steal­ing a page from Yanukovych, whose ad­min­is­tra­tion would add up fig­ures of mi­nor of­fi­cials caught for smaller-scale theft to make it ap­pear that the cor­rupt ex-leader was, in­deed, bat­tling cor­rup­tion. Poroshenko’s press of­fice was un­able to im­me­di­ately pro­vide a list of the 2,702 con­victed cor­rupt of­fi­cials when asked on June 11.

But the case of mul­ti­mil­lion­aire Ser­hiy Klyuyev is the one that sparked re­newed at­ten­tion to Ukraine’s bro­ken law en­force­ment sys­tem. Klyuyev is the one­time top ally of Yanukovych and a cur­rent mem­ber of par­lia­ment. He is also the younger brother of Yanukovych’s last chief of staff, An­driy Klyuyev.

Ser­hiy Klyuyev dis­ap­peared the same day that Par­lia­ment stripped him of his legal im­mu­nity from crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion on June 3. He is wanted on sus­pi­cion of large-scale fraud, abuse of power and other crimes, ac­cord­ing to pros­e­cu­tors.

His van­ish­ing act is only the lat­est is in a long list of high-rank­ing runaways tied to Yanukoyvch in­volv­ing the al­leged em­bez­zle­ment of bil­lions of dol­lars from Ukraine.

The ease with which Klyuyev evaded jus­tice for more than a year in­di­cates to many peo­ple that noth­ing has changed in law en­force­ment’s un­will­ing­ness or chronic in­abil­ity to put an end to the im­punity of high-level of­fi­cials sus­pected of cor­rup­tion.

“The largest prob­lem with cor­rup­tion lies with law en­force­ment and im­punity,” Kalenyuk said. “The re­sis­tance of the law en­force­ment sys­tem is very strong....It’s all about the money, the bil­lions that were em­bez­zled and the bil­lions which are still be­ing em­bez­zled and no­body is be­ing pun­ished. If we do not do some­thing with im­punity, real re­forms will not hap­pen in this coun­try.”

Just to keep for­mer Yanukovych of­fi­cials on the Euro­pean Union sanc­tions list, Ka­lynyuk said she and other ac­tivists had to pres­sure pros­e­cu­tors to do their job.

The Pres­i­den­tial Ad­min­stra­tion, pros­e­cu­tors and Se­cu­rity Ser­vice of Ukraine all blamed each other for the Klyuyev fi­asco.

Par­lia­ment ful­filled the pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral’s re­quest to pros­e­cute Ser­hiy Klyuyev by strip­ping him of legal im­mu­nity. But the law en­force­ment body ig­nored the most damn­ing ev­i­dence against Klyuyev and par­lia­ment con­se­quently didn’t vote to ar­rest him, al­low­ing him to re­main free.

The next day, he failed to ap­pear for ques­tion­ing and the In­te­rior Min­istry placed him on a wanted list on June 8.

From there, the sit­u­a­tion be­came in­creas­ingly com­i­cal, with re­ports of Klyuyev try­ing to fly to Aus­tria and a state­ment by the Se­cu­rity Ser­vice of Ukraine that he had been mis­tak­enly placed on the fugi­tive list.

Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral Vik­tor Shokin sub- se­quently said that Klyuyev was in­ter­na­tion­ally wanted, but Interpol de­nied re­ceiv­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tion from Ukrainian au­thor­i­ties to sup­port the claim.

Cur­rently, his where­abouts are un­known, although law­mak­ers Ser­hiy Leshchenko and An­ton Gerashchen­ko spec­u­lated that he is in Rus­sia – along with Yanukovych and many of his cronies.

His lawyer, Yuriy Sukhov, cited legal pro­ce­dural is­sues in ab­solv­ing his client. Sukhov told the Kyiv Post that Ser­hiy Klyuyev “could not be con­sid­ered a sus­pect,” be­cause he wasn’t given three days’ no­tice for ques­tion­ing, as re­quired by law.

“He can­not legally be on a wanted list,” Sukhov said, while cit­ing client priv­i­lege for not com­ment­ing on “his where­abouts at this time.” Be­fore he dis­ap­peared, Klyuyev de­nied com­mit­ting any crimes.

Svit­lana Zal­ishchuk, a law­maker in the Petro Poroshenko Bloc and a founder of the Rean­i­ma­tion Pack­age of Re­forms ini­tia­tive, said Klyuyev’s dis­ap­pear­ance could lead to a ma­jor loss of public trust in the pres­i­dent and Prime Min­is­ter Arseniy Yat­senyuk.

“If Klyuyev ran away, Shokin has to re­sign,” she told the Kyiv Post. “Oth­er­wise it will un­der­mine trust in the pres­i­dent, par­lia­ment and gov­ern­ment...He was part of this big pyra­mid of cor­rup­tion in this coun­try. The pros­e­cu­tor failed...mis­er­ably. If no one will take re­spon­si­bil­ity, it will be a great dis­ap­point­ment.”

In jus­ti­fy­ing why they were not seek­ing the ar­rest of Klyuyev, Zal­ishchuk said pros­e­cu­tors ig­nored the strong­est ev­i­dence against Klyuyev in their re­port to par­lia­ment, por­tray­ing the case as weak. For in­stance, she said, the pros­e­cu­tors did not in­clude

Klyuyev’s role in the al­leged il­le­gal pri­va­ti­za­tion of state as­sets in­volv­ing Yanukovych’s bil­lion-dollar Mezhy­hirya es­tate or his pur­chase of a Kyiv apart­ment for a wildly in­flated $7 mil­lion, what she called a clear-cut money-laun­der­ing scheme.

Zal­ishchuk said that, as bad as Shokin is per­form­ing, it is Poroshenko and the rest of the gov­ern­ment who will pay the po­lit­i­cal price for in­ac­tion against cor­rup­tion.

“Peo­ple didn’t ex­pect their pen­sions would be in­creased the next day or year. They un­der­stand that we have a war and an eco­nomic cri­sis,” Zal­ishchuk said. “But peo­ple ex­pected real in­ves­ti­ga­tions of crimes and jus­tice and pun­ish­ment of the peo­ple in­volved in the bloody ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing the revo­lu­tion.”

An­driy An­drushkiv, spokesman for the Rean­i­ma­tion Pack­age of Re­form, said Ukraine will start to re­sem­ble Amer­ica’s Wild West in the 19th cen­tury if law en­force­ment doesn’t start func­tion­ing prop­erly.

“That’s why peo­ple are ready to have their own guns in hand so they pro­tect them­selves and they make rule of law by them­selves,” An­drushkiv said. “It could be a big prob­lem if we don’t have re­forms by the end of the year.” In fu­el­ing public anger, he also cited the pros­e­cu­tors’ con­tin­u­ing in­abil­ity to iden­tify the killers of roughly 100 demon­stra­tors dur­ing the EuroMaidan Revo­lu­tion last year.

Crit­ics sus­pect Klyuyev cut a deal with the au­thor­i­ties. That’s the the­ory of Yury Derevyanko, a law­maker from the Volya party. Law en­force­ment agen­cies were work­ing “not in the in­ter­ests of jus­tice and in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but in the in­ter­ests of those who flee,” Derevyanko said.

The rea­sons, ac­cord­ing to the law­maker, are a lack of po­lit­i­cal will and “cor­rup­tion,” Derevyanko said.

Bo­ryslav Bereza, a law­maker from the Ukrop group, which unites law­mak­ers whose po­lit­i­cal base stems from the EuroMaidan Revo­lu­tion, said the Klyuyev case was fur­ther proof of ram­pant cor­rup­tion in ev­ery struc­ture of gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing judges and pros­e­cu­tors.

“Our coun­try is built on bribes for cor­rupt judges and cor­rupt law en­force­ment, and we are once again see­ing that it is pos­si­ble for any­one with money to avoid jus­tice,” Bereza said.

A mem­ber of the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral’s Of­fice who is not au­tho­rized to speak to the press, told the Kyiv Post that the ar­rest of Klyuyev was not sought be­cause he was be­ing pros­e­cuted un­der an ar­ti­cle that al­lows bail.

An­driy Demartino, a spokesman for the pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice, said he could not com­ment on the mat­ter.

The Se­cu­rity Ser­vice of Ukraine, or SBU, has also been crit­i­cized for fail­ing to pre­vent the flight of high-pro­file sus­pects.

“We can’t track some­one with­out a court’s au­tho­riza­tion,” Olena Hik­lian­ska, a spokes­woman for the SBU, told the Kyiv Post. She said that pros­e­cu­tors had not in­structed the agency to put Klyuyev on sur­veil­lance. She added, how­ever, that the SBU was tasked with help­ing bor­der guards mon­i­tor il­le­gal cross­ings.

The Pres­i­den­tial Ad­min­is­tra­tion de­clined to com­ment on Klyuyev’s es­cape.

“So far, we don’t com­ment on this be­cause it’s an is­sue for law en­force­ment agen­cies at this stage,” An­driy Zhy­hulin, spokesman for the pres­i­den­tial ad­min­is­tra­tion, said.

Klyuyev’s flight fol­lows a suc­ces­sive chain of sim­i­lar cases.

At least 18 top Yanukovych al­lies ac­cused of cor­rup­tion and of the vi­o­lent crack­down on EuroMaidan pro­test­ers fled Ukraine dur­ing or im­me­di­ately af­ter Yanukovych fled on Feb. 22, 2014. Most of them, as well as at least 18 riot po­lice of­fi­cers sus­pected of killing demon­stra­tors, re­port­edly found refuge in Rus­sia or in Krem­lin-an­nexed Crimea.

The flight of other top of­fi­cials con­tin­ued well af­ter the chaos of the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the revo­lu­tion that drove Yanukovych from power.

In May 2014, the for­mer act­ing po­lice chief of Odesa Oblast, Dmytro Fuchedzhi, who is ac­cused of aid­ing Rus­sian-backed sep­a­ratists in the city, fled to Moldova’s break­away re­gion of Transnis­tria.

An­other fugi­tive, for­mer Deputy Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral Re­nat Kuzmin, fled af­ter be­com­ing a sus­pect in May 2014 in a crim­i­nal case into the un­law­ful ar­rest of Yury Lut­senko, the for­mer in­te­rior min­is­ter and then an op­po­si­tion politi­cian, in 2010.

Kuzmin’s flight was fol­lowed by that of for­mer riot po­lice of­fi­cer Dmytro Sadovnyk, who com­manded a unit ac­cused of killing EuroMaidan demon­stra­tors. He es­caped af­ter a judge re­leased him from a detention fa­cil­ity in Septem­ber 2014 and put him un­der par­tial house ar­rest.

An­other ma­jor es­capee was for­mer Kyiv traf­fic po­lice head Mykola Makarenko, who is ac­cused of run­ning an extortion racket and crossed the bor­der to Be­larus in April.

Some ex-Yanukovych al­lies re­main a flight risk.

Olek­sandr Ye­fre­mov, a heavy­weight in the for­mer rul­ing Party of Re­gions, is also sus­pected of abuse of power. In Fe­bru­ary he was re­leased on bail from a pre-trial detention cen­ter, trig­ger­ing a public back­lash, and is cur­rently un­der house ar­rest. More­over, some ac­tivists are alarmed that some op­po­si­tion mem­bers of Par­lia­ment — and for­mer al­lies of Yanukovych — are not un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The most fre­quently named are Yuriy Boyko, the for­mer en­ergy min­is­ter, and Ser­hiy Ly­ovochkin, the for­mer Yanukovych chief of staff.

The flights of top of­fi­cials and po­lice of­fi­cers come as Par­lia­ment con­sid­ers can­celling im­mu­nity from pros­e­cu­tion for law­mak­ers and judges. Yet the ini­tia­tive, cham­pi­oned by Poroshenko, is cur­rently stuck in the Con­sti­tu­tional Court be­cause the bill re­quires amend­ments to the Con­sti­tu­tion.

An oil paint­ing hangs in the res­i­dence of for­mer Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral Vik­tor Pshonka, de­pict­ing him as Rus­sian mil­i­tary leader Mikhail Ku­tu­zov (seated) and his deputy, Re­nat Kuzmin, stand­ing to the left with his head turned on Feb. 27, 2014. Both men are...

Law­maker Ser­hiy Klyuyev pauses at the par­lia­men­tary ros­trum on June 3 while urg­ing his col­leagues not to vote for a mea­sure that even­tu­ally re­moved his right to pros­e­cu­to­rial im­mu­nity that day. (UNIAN)

Riot po­lice com­man­der Dmytro Sadovnyk, who is ac­cused of killing EuroMa­dian demon­stra­tors, at a court hear­ing on Sept. 25 be­fore flee­ing Ukraine. (UNIAN)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ukraine

© PressReader. All rights reserved.