Normal evidence or trumped up charges?
This much is clear. When Ze!Team promised one year ago to punish former top government officials, if elected, they meant Petro Poroshenko.
"SPRING WILL COME AGAIN AND WE WILL THROW PEOPLE IN JAIL" Those were the words on Ze!Team's billboards throughout Ukraine more than a year ago. Oleksandr Kabanov, the author of the slogan, a screenwriter from Zelensky's Kvartal 95 production studio, is today a member of parliament. So far, no top former government officials have been convicted and "thrown into jail." That could change.
What is Poroshenko accused of?
Servant of the People Party parliament faction head David Arakhamia told reporters on March 5 that failure by Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka to sign notices of suspicion was the "last straw."
"The notices of suspicion against Poroshenko have been prepared, but no one is doing anything," Aarakhamia said, referring to a 21-page draft notice of suspicion published by the Kyiv-based ezine Ukrainska Pravda on March 4.
Ryaboshapka confirmed that the document was forwarded to him by Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) for signature. The draft notice says Poroshenko is suspected of abuse of office and seizure of state power. The suspicion notice is based on two episodes - the appointment of two members to Ukraine's High Council of Justice (HCJ) and deputy head of the Ukraine's Foreign Intelligence Service.
Episode 1. By law, the president is authorized to appoint two members to the HCJ based on the recommendations of a special commission that vets candidates in a competition. After the Kyiv District Administrative Court suspended the competition, Poroshenko appointed two candidates to the HCJ.
Episode 2. In the summer of 2018, Poroshenko appointed Serhiy Semochko to be First Deputy Head of Ukraine's Foreign Intelligence Agency. The SBI alleges Poroshenko made the appointment improperly.
Servant of the People MP Oleksandr Kachura said the SBI draft notice of suspicion is justified.
"There is a court decision forbidding Poroshenko from appointing Semochko, but he did it anyway during the last days of his presidency," Kachura told LIGA.
What's wrong with the draft suspicion notice?
Parliament sacked Ryaboshapka as Prosecutor General on March 6. He told LIGA that he refused to sign the notice of suspicion because it contained "legally nihilistic" and unproven charges.
Ryaboshapka said he referred the case under Article 364 (abuse of power) to Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), which had jurisdiction of the case. In order words, the SBI was unauthorized to draw up charges against Poroshenko.
Ryaboshapka transferred Poroshenko's case to NABU before being fired, voiding the SBI's case against the former president.
“This means that all this time, the SBI was freelancing, wasting government money and investigating matters which could be later called into question because the cases were opened by an unauthorized person," Equity Law Firm partner Yaroslav Zeikan told LIGA.
NABU's press service, meanwhile, said they did not have information about whether sub-jurisdiction in this case had been determined for them, and, if so, whether the case materials were physically transferred to NABU offices.
What does Ze!Team say?
MP Kachura said SBI detectives compiled a "normal evidentiary base" it case against Poroshenko. Kachura said he is certain the case will not fall apart in court.
"From the procedural point of view, we now need to stick with some case production, determine a preventive measure and continue to investigate other cases. And then we should consider the charges (against Poroshenko) in their entirety," he said.
Another MP in the Servant of the Party faction further developed Kachura's idea.
"The SBI has also looked into Ukreximbank. There is also the case involving PrJSC Kuznya on Rybalsky Plant (previously PJSC Leninska Kuznya – a shipbuilding facitily formerly owned by Poroshenko)… And two or three more cases will be added," the MP said.
Kachura and the MP said the President's Office has set the task of finding a new Prosecutor General "with a steady hand" who will sign notices of suspicion for Poroshenko. They said Servant of the People MP Serhiy Ionushas would be an ideal candidate.
Kachura said other candidates with legal and law-enforcement experience are also being considered by the president.
"It would be proper if a lawyer becomes Prosecutor General," he said.
Another anonymous MP from Zelensky's party said acting SBI Director Iryna Venediktova had also been considered for the post.
LIGA.NET (March 12)