Dec 29, 2020
The Kyiv Post reported on December 28, “The High Anti-Corruption Court on Dec. 28 failed to arrest President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Deputy Chief of Staff Oleh Tatarov for the third time because the prosecutors did not show up for the hearing. The hearing was delayed until Dec. 30.
Zelenskyy and his protege, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, have been accused of protecting Tatarov from prosecution ever since information on the investigation into him first surfaced on Dec. 1. Tatarov is among numerous influential suspects whose cases appear to be blocked by Venediktova’s office.
The Prosecutor General’s Office and Zelenskyy’s office did not respond to requests for comment. Earlier, Venediktova denied any wrongdoing. Zelenskyy said on Dec. 25 that Tatarov must prove his innocence but added that he would only fire Tatarov if the deputy chief of staff was involved in corruption recently, while working for him.
Tatarov is under investigation in a case linked to Maksym Mykytas, a former lawmaker and ex-president of state-owned construction firm Ukrbud. Mykytas has been charged with alleged embezzlement conducted through an Ukrbud housing development contract for Ukraine’s National Guard in 2016-2017.
On Dec. 18, Tatarov, who used to serve as a lawyer for Ukrbud, was charged with bribing forensic expert Kostyantyn Dubonos on behalf of Mykytas to get false evaluation results that helped the company. Tatarov denies the accusations.
Earlier, the court already failed to arrest Tatarov, twice. Each time, it was due to the actions of the Prosecutor General’s Office, which prompted accusations that it was protecting Tatarov.
The Dec. 28 hearing on Tatarov’s arrest was disrupted due to the second change in the group of prosecutors in the case. They were replaced because the Prosecutor General’s Office transferred the case from the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).
On Dec. 21, acting Chief Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Maksym Gryshchuk authorized the charges for Tatarov. Immediately after that, Venediktova stripped him of the job of acting deputy prosecutor general, although he remained the acting chief anti-corruption prosecutor. Anti-corruption activists believe this to be Venediktova’s revenge for his stance on Tatarov. Zelenskyy has also been accused of protecting Tatarov by failing to suspend him during the investigation.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an aide to Zelensky’s Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak, claimed on Dec. 21 that Tatarov had asked the President’s Office to suspend him. The Anti-Corruption Action Center accused the President’s Office of lying, since no official documents on Tatarov’s suspension have been published.”