Yanukovych ally, ex-Jus­tice Min­is­ter Olena Lukash ar­rested in Kyiv

Kyiv Post - - News - BY YU­LIANA RO­MANYSHYN RO­[email protected] Kyiv Post staff writer Yu­liana Ro­manyshyn can be reached at ro­[email protected]

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)

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