District court orders prosecutor’s office to drop corruption case against Zelensky’s deputy chief of office

13 January 2022, 05:14 PM

Kyiv’s Shevchenkivskyi District Court ordered the Prosecutor General’s Office to drop a legal case against the deputy head of the President’s Office, Oleh Tatarov, in mid-December last year, the Anti-Corruption Action Center (AntAC), a Ukrainian non-profit anti-corruption watchdog, wrote on their Telegram channel on Jan. 12.

Tatarov was suspected of bribery in the so-called “Ukrbud case” concerning state-granted apartments for servicemen of the Ukrainian National Guard.

“On Dec. 14, 2021, the Shevchenkivskyi court made Tatarov a gift on the anniversary of the Pecherskyi court’s ruling, and surreptitiously ordered (Prosecutor General Iryna) Venediktova’s prosecutors to drop a case due to the expiration of the investigation period,” reads the report.

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AntAC pointed out that the court had made this decision on the eve of the approval of the competition results for the head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, or SAPO.

The selection commission on Dec. 21 almost elected Oleksandr Klymenko, a former detective of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, as the new head of SAPO.

However, five commission members that were appointed by the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, refused to vote for final approval for Klymenko’s candidacy.

In a recent interview, Klymenko said that he would have investigated the Tatarov case in a different way if at the time of the investigation he had have been the head of SAPO, AntAC wrote.

“Perhaps that is why ‘Tatarov’s’ part of the commission is blocking the approval of the competition results in which Klymenko won,” the watchdog speculated.

According to the investigation, Tatarov, in his role as an attorney retained by the Ukrbud development firm, formed a conspiracy with the company’s owner, Maksym Mykytas, to bribe an employee of the Interior Ministry’s State Research Forensic Center to understate the cost of a residential complex from UAH 81 million ($2.9 million) to UAH 7 million ($252,641).

The bribe was a parking space, which often sell for inflated sums in Ukraine’s increasingly crowded capital of Kyiv.

Tatarov joined the president’s office on Aug. 5, 2020.

During the presidency of fugitive ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, who subsequently abandoned his office during the Euromaidan, Tatarov served as the head of the Main Investigation Department of Ukraine’s Interior Ministry.

Later, his office was subject to the law "On the purification of power," or lustration, which was introduced to remove Yanukovych-era officials from power. However, Tatarov managed to avoid having the law applied to him.

In response to criticism of Tatarov’s hiring, then-incumbent President Volodymyr Zelensky said that “only professionals” had served in the Interior Ministry in the Yanukovych administration.

However, many members of the Yanukovych-era Interior Ministry have been credibly accused of corruption and treason. Former Interior Ministry Vitaliy Zakharchenko is suspected to have also fled to Russia after being removed from his post by a parliamentary vote due to his authorizing that live ammunition be used against Euromaidan protesters.

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