Article by: Serhiy Leshchenko
On Tuesday Interpol removed former President Viktor Yanukovych from the “most wanted” list.
This is bad news, but there is much more hidden behind the headline than simply the word “betrayal.” If you are not satisfied with superficial answers to difficult questions, then you should know what is behind it all.
In order for Interpol to place a person on the “most wanted” list the person must first be declared a suspect in a concrete criminal case. For Yanukovych, it was the Ukrtelecom matter.
Why was Yanukovych listed a suspect in this particular case? Because Interpol refuses to search for any Ukrainian citizens for crimes against Maidan — starting with Yanukovych and ending with (Dmytro) Sadovnyk, commander of the Berkut unit — since they view this as political persecution.
Moreover, this syndrome of refusals is already spreading to other episodes as well. Yes, in 2015 the organization refused to place the former Prosecutor General Pshonka on the wanted list, arguing about a lack of evidence (even though his accomplices had already been sentenced in the case!). It is possible to have issues with one case, two or three cases. But not with all the cases without exception involving Yanukovych’s associates.
Therefore, to avoid risking a refusal for the Maidan case, the so-called “economic crime” was used to place Yanukovych on the wanted list.
The Ukrtelecom case, which was used to place Yanukovych on the wanted list, has to do with the obligations of the buyer of this company, who was supposed to build a special network at his own expense. During the Yanukovych presidency, the Ukrtelecom company (telecom monopoly created from Soviet communication networks — Ed.) was privatized in a closed sale (only one buyer was allowed to bid — Ed.). The assets were acquired by a Kyiv firm called ESU, which belonged to the Austrian EPIC company and then to some Cyprus off-shore owners.
In fact, the real shareholders in EPIC were never identified, but my sources tell me this was a “pool” of oligarchs and corrupt officials, including Yanukovych, Akhmetov, Firtash, Lyovochkin, who “pooled their funds” to buy Ukrtelecom while taking advantage of financing by Oshchadbank. At least these names appear in Ukraine’s request to several European countries for legal assistance in identifying the ultimate beneficiaries of the EPIC company.
Therefore, in order to remove the ESU company’s obligation to spend UAH 220 million to build a network , Yanukovych had to devise a special operation that culminated in the introduction of amendments to Ukraine’s state budget that saddled the citizens of Ukraine with these expenses.
The conspiracy was implemented by Yanukovych’s subordinate Gennadiy Reznikov, head of the State Service of Special Communication and Information, who in June 2012 turned to the former Prime Minister Azarov asking him to allocate UAH 220 million out of the budget to complete the construction of the secret communication network.
A month later, the Ministry of Finance reported to Azarov that there were no justification for funding these projects out of the budget. But, despite this refusal, during the meeting of the Cabinet on July 18, 2012, Azarov instructed the State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection to accelerate the creation of the network. According to investigators, Azarov did this “contrary to the interests of the state and in the interests of the buyer of the Ukrtelecom shares.”
Then Yanukovych entered the picture. In late July 2012, he met with Reznikov, who suggested that the former president order the government to finance the network instead of the ESU company. “Yanukovych agreed, thus directly becoming involved in the criminal conspiracy, and ordered Reznikov to send him the appropriate letter. ”
Reznikov gave his letter to Yanukovych during the following meeting and on August 1, 2012, Yanukovych personally gave written authorization to Prime Minister Azarov and Finance Minister Yuruy Kolobov to allocate UAH 220 million to the State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection.
This is the authorization . These few strokes represent US $25 million:
After receiving Yanukovych’s letter, Azarov instructed the Finance Minister Yuriy Kolobov to carry out the order even though he knew that the network was supposed to be built by the new owner of Ukrtelecom.” Azarov, “acting for reasons of personal gain and to retain his government position,” prepared the amendments to the budget, which were first approved by the Cabinet and then, on October 2012, by the Verkhovna Rada. Subsequently, the law was signed by President Yanukovych “with the goal of bringing the joint criminal plan to completion in order to get control of budgetary funds.”
The case against Yanukovych after the Ukrtelecom episode is based on the results of the audit conducted by Mykola Hordienko. This is the same Hordienko who, after being dismissed as the head of the State Financial Inspection, was declared a national hero who confronted corruption.
In the General Prosecutor’s office Davit Sakvarelidze is responsible for the relationship with Interpol. But, of course, no one has any reason to consider him “an agent of Yanukovych.”
The accusation in the Ukrtelecom case was prepared against Yanukovych on October 7, 2014, and Interpol placed a “red notice” on his name on January 12, 2015. Simultaneously, the former Finance Minister Yuriy Kolobov was detained in Spain and preparations began for his extradition.
And now Yanukovych has been removed from the wanted list. This is an event with consequences that go much beyond simply the fate of the former president. This will affect the credibility of the government in the eyes of the Ukrainian population that wants to see the former government officials punished. But the problem is that appearing on the Interpol wanted list is by law the necessary condition for beginning the process for convicting Yanukovych in absentia. And what happened today is a stab in the back of all Ukrainians who seek justice in the case of Maidan and the looting of the state budget.