Sept 13, 2021
The Kyiv Post reported on September 11, “According to a new journalistic investigation, a powerful alliance got rid of Stanislav Shevchuk, one of the most effective and independent justices on the Constitutional Court.
Notorious Judge Pavlo Vovk, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s ex-chief of staff Andriy Bohdan and lawyer Andriy Portnov organized the dismissal of Shevchuk, head of the Constitutional Court, in May 2019, according to a Sept. 8 investigation by the Slidstvo.info journalism project.
Portnov denied the accusations, while Bohdan and Vovk did not respond to requests for comment.
Vovk, head of the Kyiv District Administrative Court, was hit with obstruction of justice charges in 2019 and corruption charges in a different case in 2020. But prosecutors and other judges have effectively destroyed the Vovk cases.
Vovk is arguably Ukraine’s most infamous judge. Civil society sees him as the symbol of judicial corruption and impunity and he’s been audiotaped discussing corrupt deals and even bragging about the ‘political prostitution’ of his court. He has denied all allegations against him.
In May 2019, a majority of the Constitutional Court judges voted to fire Shevchuk as both the chairman and a member of the court and elected Natalia Shaptala as the new chairperson. In doing so, the Constitutional Court upheld a decision of its ethics commission and dismissed Shevchuk for an alleged disciplinary infraction and negligence.
Shevchuk denies the accusations and considers the dismissal as an unlawful coup engineered by Oleksandr Tupytsky, who became the court’s chairman when Shaptala retired in September 2019. Tupytsky denied the accusations.
According to new Vovk tapes released by Slidstvo.info, Vovk constantly discussed organizing Shevchuk’s dismissal with influential heavyweights.
Specifically, Vovk discussed Shevchuk’s dismissal and other issues with Portnov.
Portnov, who has held considerable sway over Ukraine’s judiciary for many years, fled Ukraine in 2014 and returned on the eve of Zelensky’s inauguration in May 2019. Vovk used to be an aide to Portnov before he became a judge.
In the tapes, Vovk told Portnov to ‘launch’ the process, apparently implying the dismissal of Shevchuk. He mentioned Portnov several times by name.
All attempts to hold Vovk responsible for corruption and obstruction of justice have run into an impenetrable wall. Courts have refused to extend investigations against the judge while prosecutors missed deadlines for sending the cases to trial.
For months, Vovk dodged summonses from the NABU. Zelenskyy’s loyal Prosecutor General Venediktova repeatedly refused to authorize an arrest warrant. She also refused to let NABU search Vovk’s office or wiretap him and fired her deputy who authorized corruption charges against the judge.
Responding to accusations of sabotage, Venediktova said in March that she cannot take Vovk to court by force. She added that she doubted the effectiveness of the investigation and said that she did not see any ‘trial prospects’ in the case.”