Ukraine charges former ministers with state treason

25 July, 06:18 PM
Oleksandr Lavrynovych was the Minister of Justice at the time of preparation and signing of the Kharkiv Accords (Photo:Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Oleksandr Lavrynovych was the Minister of Justice at the time of preparation and signing of the Kharkiv Accords (Photo:Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

For their role in signing Kharkiv Accords with Russia in 2010, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine (PGO) has charged former Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Hryshchenko and former Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych with treason, PGO said in a Telegram post on July 25.

The message suggests Hryshchenko and Lavrynovych conspired with then-President Viktor Yanukovych to sign Kharkiv Accords in April 2010. The treaty with Russia was contrary to Ukraine’s national interests, and jeopardized national security by extending Moscow’s lease on its Black Sea Fleet base in Crimea by 25 years, PGO said. The document was rushed through by the government through the parliament without any substantial scrutiny and debate.

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Extending Russia’s Black Sea Fleet basing rights has left Crimea vulnerable for the eventual Russian invasion and annexation.

“This created conditions for Russia to upgrade and expand its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea and Sevastopol, instead of having to withdraw,” PGO said in its message.

Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) will work on the treason case, before it makes its way to the courts.

SBI said the accused participated in developing the treaty and curated its following ratification and implementation.

Both Lavrynovych and Hryshchenko left Ukraine a while ago, so the charges were made in absentia.

Oleksiy Danilov, National Security and Defense Council Secretary, instructed Ukraine’s SBU security service to investigate the signing of Kharkiv Accords on April 27, 2021.

The treaty itself was signed by Yanukovych on April 21, 2010, granting Moscow a 25-year extension on its Black Sea Fleet naval base, ostensibly in exchange for a discount on Russian natural gas shipments. However, SBI said that the discount was fictitious, as the nominal gas price was artificially inflated shortly before the treaty was signed.

Russia used its naval base as the beachhead for an invasion and eventual annexation of Crimea in 2014.

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