On Dec. 11, a Kyiv district court issued a strange ruling in the lawsuit of lawmaker Boryslav Rozenblat against lawmaker Sergii Leshchenko and National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine chief Artem Sytnyk.
The court concluded that, in revealing the presence of U. S. President Donald J. Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s name in the Party of Regions’ so-called “black ledger” of illegal cash payments, both Leshchenko and Sytnyk had broken the law. The court also classified this disclosure as interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential election.
First, why is a court issuing a conclusion about election interference? This gratuitous statement is damaging both to Ukraine’s international reputation and relations with Washington.
Second, why was a district court ruling in an inherently politically motivated case questioning the legality of revealing corruption? Rozenblat has a longstanding grudge with the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and is embroiled in corruption scandals. Meanwhile, Leshchenko and Sytnyk are among the foremost corruption fighters in the country. By publishing the black ledger, they revealed that Manafort potentially received over $12 million stolen from Ukrainian taxpayers for his consulting services.
Leshchenko persuasively suggested that the ruling may constitute an effort by the Presidential Administration to discredit and eventually remove Sytnyk. It reeks of politics ahead of the March 31 presidential election.
The real question is why, nearly five years after the EuroMaidan Revolution drove President Viktor Yanukovych from office, no charges have yet been filed against Manafort, who whitewashed Yanukovych’s filthy reputaiton. We would like to see Manafort — or anybody significant — prosecuted for corruption in Ukraine. It's never happened. That's a court ruling we'd love to see.