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Ukraine moves one step closer to jailing its former president; his supporters bring on the caricatures

Poroshenko’s supporters have revamped the Creation of Adam by Michelangelo mocking Zelenskyy as Adam and oligarch Kolomoyskyi as God, in response to numerous attempts of Ukraine’s authorities under Zelenskyy to jail the former president. Source: rakurs
Ukraine moves one step closer to jailing its former president; his supporters bring on the caricatures
Article by: Bohdan Ben
Edited by: Sonia Maryn, Alya Shandra
On 10 June 2020, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova authorized a notice of suspicion for former President Petro Poroshenko that the previous Prosecutor General Ruslan Riaboshapka refused to sign in March, for which he was subsequently dismissed. A notice of suspicion theoretically means that a preliminary measure of detention during the period of investigation can be applied to Poroshenko, provided the court supports this decision. Poroshenko’s attorney claims the notice of suspicion was handed to Poroshenko in violation of procedure, and this is why the attorney refused to recognize it.

Poroshenko is suspected in the usurpation and abuse of power when appointing the deputy head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine. The accusation has no clear grounds since such an appointment is under the direct purview of the president

Accusation of exceeding power 

The notice of suspicion as presented by the Prosecutor General also states that Poroshenko is suspected of “instructing the official – the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service – to exceed his power and official authority” by appointing the second person as the deputy head of the Intelligence Service when one man had already been appointed for this post. The notice of suspicion also states:

“Poroshenko, for reasons of personal interests, consisting in the desire to establish a kind of state regime in which state power is concentrated in the hands of an unaccountable group of people, had a direct intention to seize state power by appointing persons under his control to the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine.”

Yet, the next paragraph of the document states that according to the law the Foreign Intelligence Service is controlled by the president, as defined by the Constitution. In summary, the investigators claim Poroshenko wanted to seize state power by appointing personnel to the service he was legally responsible for as the president. “The organizational structure of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine is determined by the President of Ukraine,” is the wording of the law, which also says that Presidents appoint staff to the Intelligence Service.

The only minor violation that indeed could have occurred would be that Poroshenko appointed the deputy head for Intelligence Service without the required statement in advance from the head of the Service. Nevertheless, there is no argument as to how such an appointment could have provided personal benefit or how it could have expanded Poroshenko’s power over the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine that he was already controlling completely as the sitting president.

Called in for an interrogation, handed a notice of suspicion instead

On 10 June 2020, Poroshenko appeared at the State Bureau of Investigations (DBR) for interrogation as a witness in another case — no less absurd — regarding his allegedly smuggling paintings, when they were immediately thereafter presented in a public exhibition.

However, instead of the scheduled interrogation, the prosecutors tried to deliver the notice of suspicion mentioned above. As viewed in the video published by the DBR, an unknown person preemptively began reading the note. Poroshenko’s attorney, Illia Novikov, demanded the prosecutors provide official documents of authority. Since they did not, Poroshenko and Novikov refused any further dialog and left. The official DBR video consists of several fragments so that it is hard to garner the chronology of events and establish whether the notice was provided according to legal procedure. Novikov stated that in the absence of proof the DBR can not claim that a notice of suspicion was legally served.

At the time of the scheduled interrogation — that did not occur — protesters and journalists were waiting for Poroshenko at the main entrance of the DBR. His supporters from the European Solidarity party placed a collection of satirical caricatures on display. They ridicule Zelenskyy, Venediktova, and DBR Deputy Director Oleksandr Babikov (who prior to assuming this position was the lawyer of fugitive ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, who escaped to Russia during the Euromaidan revolution and was put on trial by Ukraine) posing as different figures in world-famous masterpieces.

Exhibition of caricatures depicting Zelenskyy on famous masterpieces in front of the DBR at the time of Poroshenko’s planned interrogation, 10 June 2020. Source: rakurs

After the attempt to serve Poroshenko with the notice of suspicion that would have theoretically opened the door for his detention, Poroshenko visited Prosecutor General Venediktova. According to the former president, a discussion took place but no public record was shared.

Poroshenko’s supporters have revamped the Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci to show Zelenskyy holding Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, thus mocking Venediktova authorizing a notice of suspicion for former President Poroshenko

Oleksandr Lemenov, a lawyer from StateWatch NGO, has also confirmed that the notice of suspicion for Poroshenko has no basis at all. He emphasized that there is no way to determine whether the notice was served on Poroshenko appropriately, since the DBR video is heavily cut. He adds that, in fact, the whole event was a media story and totally absurd:

“The one side and its opposite side play as a purely media story. They [Zelenskyy’s team] are trying to satisfy the electorate in any way — trying to make Poroshenko the main enemy. But Poroshenko in turn is beating them. It seems to me that this is the second time he has overcome them in public. The first time was with the paintings [that the DBR announced had been smuggled by Poroshenko, but then immediately were presented by him to the public at an open exhibition].”

Other pictures from the exhibition are pictured below; you can get a sense of the atmosphere in this video.

President Zelenskyy is shown “killing” his Prosecutor General Riaboshapka, who was dismissed shortly after refusing to authorize a notice of suspicion for Poroshenko. Photo: snapshot from a video report
Venediktova pictured as the “Girl with Peaches” by Valentin Serov. Photo: Telegram of Channel 24
Here Venediktova is pictured as Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Photo: Telegram of Channel 24
From left to right: Venediktova, Zelenskyy, and ex-lawyer of fugitive ex-President Yanukovych, and now DBR Deputy Director Oleksandr Babikov are pictured as the three gusli players by Viktor Vasnetsov
“The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci is completed by law enforcers of the DBR. Photo: Telegram of Channel 24
Ex-lawyer of fugitive ex-President Yanukovych, and now DBR Deputy Director Oleksandr Babikov became the hero of a painting by Fyodor Reshetnikov “Again, a ‘D'”. This painting was quite famous in Soviet times and served to instruct schoolchildren to do better in school. Photo: Telegram of Channel 24
The “Hunters at rest” by Vasily Perov features Zelenskyy, Babikov, Venediktova (L-R). Photo: Telegram of Channel 24
Zelenskyy here stands in place of the first man in space Yuri Gagarin. Photo: Telegram of Channel 24
A law enforcer aiming to give former President Poroshenko a notice of suspicion stands on the backdrop of Salvador Dali’s “The persistence of memory.” Photo: Telegram of Channel 24
Here Zelenskyy is pictured as an interlocutor of Vladimir Lenin on a painting the author of which we couldn’t identify. Photo: Telegram of Channel 24
Zelenskyy becomes the “Girl on a sphere” by Pablo Picasso. Photo: Hrim
Venediktova and Zelenskyy are pictured in the “Breakfast on the Grass” by Edouard Mane. Photo: screenshot from video report

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Edited by: Sonia Maryn, Alya Shandra
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