Prosecutor General accuses Saakashvili in cooperating with pro-Russian oligarch, latter calls for protests

Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko at the briefing. Photo: screenshot from 112.ua

Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko at the briefing. Photo: screenshot from 112.ua 

Maidan

Following the morning detention of ex-Georgian President and ex-Odesa Oblast governor Mikheil Saakashvili in his house in Kyiv, Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko had a briefing with journalists. During it, he presented a video which allegedly proves Saakashvili and his allies were cooperating with Serhiy Kurchenko, a runaway oligarch from the entourage of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych. In particular, he released the video of the conversation between Saakashvili and Kurchenko.

Read about the detention of Saakashvili: UPDATING: Saakashvili detained in Kyiv for “supporting criminal organizations”

“I have business-interests in Ukraine, I have financial resources and I have the opportunity to enter different cabinets in Russia. I am interested to build some long story with you. Is it possible?” asks Kurchenko in the video provided by the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO).

The answer of Saakashvili was positive, he said that there are people  through which they can cooperate.

Lutsenko also stated that Saakashvili received $500,000 [corrected from $1.5 mn] from Kurchenko in order to organize protests. Two days ago, a large Saakashvili-led rally was held in Kyiv in support of the adoption of a law on impeachment. For more than a month, a protest camp had been surrounding the Ukrainian parliament. The camp started out from a large rally organized by NGOs and political forces, led by Saakashvili. After a few days, the NGOs dropped out from the protest.

Lutsenko said that   Saakashvili ally Severion Dangadze , who the PGO also claims is heard on the wiretap, will be incriminating with high treason (article 110 of the Criminal Code) and also accused according the same article 256. Saakashvili will be accused only according to the article 256. Lutsenko said that the PGO will apply to court for home arrest for Saakashvili with an electronic bracelet.

So far, the question of his deportation has not been raised.

Meanwhile Lutsenko these days became a central figure in another scandal. It related to the interference of General Prosecutor’s Office and Security Services in spoiling special operations of the National Anti Corruption Bureau (NABU). Lutsenko’s institution insists that they uncovered illegitimate actions of NABU. While representatives of NABU went to the US for the Global Forum on asset recovery. Lutsenko did not go there, justifying this by the need to be in Ukraine because of the cases of Saakashvili and his allies.

Later today the representatives of General Prosecutor’s Office, NABU, and Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office will give speeches in the Ukrainian Parliament.

The situation with Saakashvili and fights within anti-corruption institutions affects Ukraine’s perception abroad by the country’s western allies.

After a several-hour long standoff between law enforcers and Saakashvili supporters in central Kyiv, Saakashvili managed to get out of the van and is now calling Ukrainians to come to the central square of Kyiv, Maidan, to “stand up against [President] Poroshenko.”

Saakashvili was a leader of protests near the Ukrainian Parliament which started in October. Led by representatives of NGOs and politicians, protesters came out with the demand of a “great political reform”.

It included three main demands: to change the election rules, to create an Anti-Corruption Court, and to cancel parliamentary immunity. Later the representatives of NGOs stated that they are going to continue the protest in another format, while the politicians lead by Saakashvili stayed in the street calling for impeachment.

Earlier this year, Saakashvili was deprived of his Ukrainian citizenship when he was abroad. Despite the lack of legal reasons to return to Ukraine, Saakashvili managed to do it with the help of protesters who helped him to cross the border.

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  • Ihor Dawydiak

    If the communication between Saakashvili and Kurchenko can be verified beyond any reasonable doubt, then what could be discerned as a result? While there are many possibilities, some points stand out more than others, including; 1) While Saakashvili should not necessarily be considered as a traitor, he has at the very least shown himself to be incredibly gullible. Why? Not only did he allow himself to be blackmailed but he also clearly demonstrated that he was not ethical to the point of being corrupt by accepting the monetary overtures from Serhiy Kurchenko who in turn has demonstrated that he in all probability has been an agent of the Kremlin. 2) If the communication can be verified, then Saakashvili has destroyed most of his credibility as well as any chance to become an effective opposition leader in the Ukrainian political forum. 3) President Poroshenko would be wise to tread carefully in this matter as it would appear, at least in part, to be an attempt by the Kremlin to sow further division among its opponents. 4) Finally, if handled correctly, any possible prosecution of Saakashvilil and others involved in this sordid affair should not be considered as an assault on democracy. In fact it would be a reaffirmation of democracy for the simple reason of professional accountability. In that regard, nobody should be above the law.

    • Tony

      Lutsenko is also the guy who broke a NABU sting earlier this week. It’s starting to look like Poroshenko thinks now is the time to start rolling back reforms. That’s why he was so slow to reform in the first place, that’s why we saw the government going after reformers since a year or two ago, cause Poroshenko is an oligarch who doesn’t want reform. Saakashvili is one of the loudest and most successful reformers, it’s a bad sign when Poroshenko goes after him.

      • Ihor Dawydiak

        As I have noted on several previous occasions, both Poroshenko and Saakashvilil (as well mas many other prominent politicians) have made numerous tactical errors. As such, there are no angels nor is there any such thing as a perfect politician. However, that is also why I made mention that it would be wise for Poroshenko to tread carefully. While everyone, including the Ukrainian President, should be held to account, that does not include providing the enemy (Putin’s regime) with ammunition or the ability to interfere in Ukraine’s internal and external affairs. The “Saakashvili Affair” is just another case in point.

        • Tony

          Sure but is Saakashvili really guilty or is it a political witch Hunt? This guy who Saakasvili is allegedly getting money from, are they arresting him as well, if not then why not? What about Opposition block guys, are they not getting funded by the kremlin? Yet they don’t get arrested?
          Maybe Poroshenko just wants to remove a vocal critic and he isn’t shy to be a dictator while going about it.

          • Ihor Dawydiak

            As of this time it is unknown if the alleged transcript of the conversation between Saakashvili and “the other guy”, namely Serhiy Kurchenko, has been fully verified by the competent authorities. As an aside, I do believe that many in the general public are justified in being suspicious as to the possible motives behind this investigation since Poroshenko’s Administration have; a) been less than forthcoming in the war against corruption, b) allowed judges to remain in their posts without suspension despite some hard core evidence that they were linked to corruption as well as absurd prosecutions (re: Yulia Tymoshenko) during the Yanukovych era, c) ditto for some previous members of the Berkut, and d) mistreated Saakashvili by using sleazy tactics in depriving him of his Ukrainian citizenship, etcetera. However, it should also be noted that Saakashvili has not helped his own cause when accusing the Government of corruption because he either could not or would not provide definitive proof of the alleged corruption nor did he try to challenge those accused of corruption by suing them in a court of law. But getting back to Kurchenko, this individual has been placed on the most wanted list by Ukrainian authorities on charges involving massive corruption. However, he cannot currently be apprehended as he fled to Russia at about the same time as Yanukovych and is under the protection of Putin. As such, time will tell what may or may not happen in this sordid affair.