Yanukovych ally, ex-Justice Minister Olena Lukash arrested in Kyiv
Disgraced ex-President Viktor Yanukovych’s last serving justice minister, Olena Lukash, was arrested in Kyiv by the Security Service on Nov. 5.
She was subsequently taken to the General Prosecutor’s Office where Lukash was issued a notice of suspicion for allegedly embezzling Hr 2.5 million of public funds and of committing forgery while serving as justice minister in 2013-2014.
Lukash, 38, is also being investigated for involvement in the crimes committed during the EuroMaidan Revolution, SBU spokeswoman Olena Hitlyanska told journalists at a joint briefing with Vladyslav Kutsenko of the prosecutor’s office. They didn’t, however, specify for which crimes she is being investigated related to the popular uprising that ousted Yanukovych.
Prosecutors are seeking a court order to have Lukash placed in custody, according to a statement on the law enforcement agency’s website. An Aug. 4 court order gave permission to detain her for that reason. The SBU said she was detained as she was returning to Kyiv from abroad.
Three of Lukash’s apartments were also frozen by Kyiv’s Pechersk District Court in the summer.
Lukash denied she was actually detained and said she had “voluntarily” gone to investigators for questioning, according to an audio interview she gave 112 television channel.
She also said she had never left Ukrainian territory despite being on a wanted list and had been actively cooperating with law enforcement agencies.
But according to prosecutor Kutsenko, the former Yanukovych ally had been abroad and was wanted by Interpol. “Such a luck came to us and we arrested her,” he said.
In a video the SBU published after detaining her, Lukash said: “No one put me under pressure.”
Lukash also was sanctioned by the European Union following the EuroMaidan Revolution, which imposed a travel ban and asset freezes, measures that are still in force.
On Jan. 15, 2014, a day before parliament voted for a series of draconian laws that severely curbed civil liberties at the height of the Maidan protests, Lukash said that Ukrainian police had every right to use force to stop the “illegal” actions of the protesters.
Lukash’s star rose as Yanukovych ascended power. She was Yanukovych’s lawyer during the 2004 Orange Revolution and represented him in legal proceedings related to the tainted second-round presidential vote that was rigged in his favor.
She was elected to parliament under the Party of Regions ticket to which Yanukovych belonged and was a high- ranking member. Before her appointment as justice minister in July 2013, Lukash served as minister of the cabinets of ministers and was the president’s representative in the Constitutional Court.
She was fired on Feb. 27, 2014.
Former Justice Minister Olena Lukash in a 2013 file photo. (UNIAN)