Nov 3, 2020

The Kyiv Post reported on November 2, “In the last two weeks, Ukraine’s Constitutional Court has rebelled against the country’s anti-corruption institutions, threatening to eliminate years of progress in battling graft. Now, new information shows how compromised judges likely laid the groundwork for this judicial insurrection.

Pavlo Vovk, one of Ukraine’s most controversial and influential judges, charged with corruption, allegedly coordinated with top power brokers to replace the chairman of the Constitutional Court in May 2019.

The incumbent chairman, Oleksandr Tupytsky, spearheaded the court’s recent campaign against anti-graft institutions that put the country on the brink of a political and constitutional crisis.

Vovk discussed appointing Tupytsky in tapes recorded by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) as part of an investigation of Vovk, two sources familiar with the matter told the Kyiv Post on Nov. 2. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

Earlier, the news site reported, citing anonymous NABU sources, that Vovk had discussed Tupytsky’s appointment with two people: Andriy Bohdan, then-chief of staff for President Volodymyr Zelensky, and his friend, Andriy Portnov, a politician and former President Viktor Yanukovych’s ex-deputy chief of staff in charge of the judicial system. also reported that the three men, none of whom have any legal authority to influence the Constitutional Court, discussed tasks that Tupytsky was supposed to fulfill as chairman. 

The Kyiv Post was able to confirm, through its sources, that the tapes feature Vovk discussing the appointment with at least one man he refers to as ‘Andriy’ – the name of both Bohdan and Portnov.

Vovk and other judges of his court have been charged with obstruction of justice and corruption – accusations that they deny. The case is seen by civil society as one of the most egregious examples of judicial corruption and impunity. Top officials, prosecutors and judges have done their best to help Vovk and other suspects escape responsibility and keep their jobs. […]

A law enforcement source told the Kyiv Post that Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova continues obstructing the Vovk case. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

Specifically, Venediktova has refused to extend the Vovk investigation, and it had to be extended by ex-Chief Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Nazar Kholodnytsky before he resigned in August, according to the source. Venediktova has also refused to have Vovk brought in for interrogation by force due to his refusal to come, conduct further searches in the Vovk case and wiretap him, the source said. Venediktova and her office did not respond to requests for comment.”