Ukraine: Poroshenko cases unfold into a ‘tik-tok’ war

Exchange of video messages between the General Prosecutor's office and Poroshenko's lawyers continues as the cases against the former President unfold [Ascannio/Shutterstock]

A Kyiv district court has decided not to order pre-trial restrictive measures against former President Petro Poroshenko, and the country’s prosecutor general accused his defence team of attempting to stall the process by questioning “absolutely everything”.

Prosecutor Iryna Venediktova voiced her grievances in a taped address posted on Wednesday (8 July) on the Prosecutor General’s YouTube channel, the latest in a series of publicised video exchanges.

“Today’s case is one in which there is enough collected evidence to serve a person suspected of having committed a serious crime,” Venediktova in the video, blaming the shortcomings and contradictions of criminal procedural code for allowing “untouchables to remain such.”

The post came after the third hearing in less than a month in which the court in Kyiv dismissed the prosecution’s motion to impose pre-trial restrictive measures on Poroshenko, following the prosecutor’s announcement that the pre-trial investigation is over.

Poroshenko is suspected of abuse of office by illegally pressuring the then-chief of Ukraine’s Foreign Intelligence Service, Yehor Bozhok, into appointing Serhiy Semоchko as his deputy, charges he denies.

Poroshenko called in for questioning ahead of court date

Ukraine’s former president, Petro Poroshenko, will be questioned by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) on Tuesday (30 June) ahead of his court hearing the next day.

The tape is the latest of recorded video exchanges between the General Prosecutor’s office and Poroshenko’s lawyers, the first of which Venediktova’s office uploaded last Tuesday (30 June), rebutting the arguments of the fifth president’s legal defence team that Poroshenko was not served in accordance with the applicable laws.

Poroshenko’s lawyer, Ilya Novikov, shared his video reply to the prosecution’s first post a day later, saying that Venediktova seems to “think that you and I live in the era of ‘tik-tok justice’ – when you can record a vid, not justify your position, and not admit your mistakes, but that’s not true.”

The exchanges continued on Wednesday when Novikov shared on social media a video where a State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) official alleged investigators were pressured to continue to work on cases involving Poroshenko despite lack of evidence. There are 23 open cases involving the former president, with four others recently closed.

The SBI denied the allegations in a statement, calling them “politically motivated”.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a former Ukrainian border guard was charged with helping Poroshenko and his family illegally leave the country without going through passport control to fly to the Maldives in 2018, Kyiv Post reported.

Poroshenko has denied all allegations in a recent interview with the BBC and called the investigation a political “revenge of an inexperienced politician,” the current President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zelensky said Poroshenko “wants to be a victim, he wants everyone to believe that there is political persecution in Ukraine,” he told The Globe and Mail on 22 June.

On Thursday (9 July), independent parliamentarian Andriy Derkach released an audio recording supposed to be a 2015 phone conversation between Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin, purportedly discussing negotiations in the trilateral Minsk Contact Group for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.

Derkach has previously released recordings supposedly showing Poroshenko and then-US Vice President Joe Biden making American aid to Ukraine conditional on the dismissal of Viktor Shokin, the former Soviet country’s prosecutor general at the time.

Former Ukrainian president in another round of questioning amid 'geopolitical' leaks

Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, now a lawmaker, has been called in for “urgent questioning” by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) in a case involving the smuggling of 43 valuable paintings out of Ukraine, the state’s investigation service agency said on Friday (22 May).

“For six years, fakes have been one of the permanent instruments of the Russian hybrid war against Ukraine, as well as against Poroshenko personally,” the former president’s party, European Solidarity,  told Ukrayinska Pravda.

“This is as crudely assembled, carefully compiled forgery as the alleged conversations with Biden,” the party said.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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