Ukraine: The Curious Case of the Dismissed Prosecutor

Did former Ukrainian President Poroshenko act under instructions when he sacked his Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin? This question was raised by President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani for his film about corruption, filmed jointly on the One American News Network TV channel.

In an interview with the American television channel OANN, Shokin said that President Biden demanded his dismissal in exchange for $1 billion in US aid immediately after he had issued a summons for interrogation to Hunter Biden, a member of the Board of Directors of the Ukrainian oil and gas company "Burisma" owned by the oligarch Zlochevsky on the basis of payment orders received from the Latvian special services to Morgan Stanley Bank in the name of Hunter Biden.

A Ukrainian MP Andriy Derkach has been implicated in the dissemination of similar materials to those distributed by Giuliani, and has been described by the US Ministry of Finance as an "active Russian agent" cooperating with the Russian special services. Since 2019, according to US officials, Derkach and his associates used American media, social media platforms, and American influencers "to spread misleading and unsubstantiated allegations that current and former US officials are involved in corruption, money laundering and illegal political influence in Ukraine.”

So what did Derkach do to attract the attention of the American intelligence services? He now has the ambiguous honour of being mentioned twice in a short period of time by senior US national intelligence officials.

The first time he appeared on the security radar was when the Director of the American National Center for Counterintelligence and Security, William Evanina, spoke about him in early August 2020. The Russian authorities "are using a number of measures" to denigrate former US Vice President Joe Biden and what they consider to be an "anti-Russian establishment," Evanina said in a statement.

As an example, he referred to the "pro-Russian Ukrainian parliamentarian" Andriy Derkach, who spread allegations of corruption - including through leaked phone calls to "undermine the candidacy of former Vice President Biden and the Democratic Party.”

Evanina did not question the authenticity of the taped ‘phone calls. He called them “leaked phone calls.” At the time, the presidential campaign was in full swing and Joe Biden was about to be approved as a presidential candidate by the Democratic Party convention.

The second mention of Derkach was more recent in a statement by the new head of the department Avril Haynes. This time the despatch was more dramatic: the report issued by the US Director of National Intelligence's office explicitly stated that the Russian leadership authorised and conducted "influence operations aimed at denigrating the candidacy of President Biden and the Democratic Party, as well as supporting the candidacy of Donald Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process and exacerbating the socio-political division in the United States.”

The report emphasised that the Russian leadership "controlled the activities of Andriy Derkach, a Ukrainian legislator who played a prominent role in Russia's efforts to influence elections."

Andriy Derkach

The report stated that Derkach, allegedly “has connections with Russian officials, as well as with Russian special services.” The report did not cite specific evidence in support of this statement.

Why did the Ukrainian deputy annoy the US establishment so much? He himself answered this question in an article published on the Ukrainian website “Strana”. Derkach says on the site that the materials published by him did not interfere in the US elections - they were about corruption in Ukraine and the external control of Ukraine.

"I have a question,” he said. “On what topic did American intelligence see the threat and facts of interference in the US elections? On the topic of international corruption, when Poroshenko removed from their posts people who prevented “Burisma” from bringing millions of dollars to the Biden family for political "cover" and about which the financial monitoring of Latvia reported in 2016?”

“Or on the topic of external management, when Joe Biden asked Poroshenko to remove Prosecutor General Shokin?”

“There is corruption in these topics, there is external management, but there is no interference in the elections. And it appeared in the report, because the mutually beneficial cooperation of the two top officials became known to the whole world,” Derkach said.

It seems that there is a direct link between the release of audio materials that testified to Biden's influence on former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the persecution of Derkach in the United States. However, neither Biden nor Poroshenko filed a lawsuit against Derkach for the allegedly false materials he released. Both Giuliani's and Derkach's materials reveal the scale of corruption in Ukraine during the Poroshenko era, which they allege involved the active participation of the US Democratic Party.

In January 2021, new sanctions were introduced against seven citizens of Ukraine for communication with Derkach, and according to the US Treasury Department, all of them may have been involved in Russian interference in the US 2020 elections.

The sanctions were imposed on the deputy from the Servant of the People party Alexander Dubinsky, former Ukrainian officials Konstantin Kulik, Alexander Onishchenko, Andrey Telizhenko, as well as Dmitry Kovalchuk, Anton Symonenko and Pyotr Zhuravl. Also subject to restrictions were companies that own the Internet sites Era-Media, Only News, Nabuleaks and Begemot Media, which, according to the US authorities, ultimately belong to the "Russian agent" Derkach.

Andriy Derkach still claims to hold compromising evidence about the top leadership of the American Democratic Party including audio tapes recording two dozen telephone conversations between Vice President Biden and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. These allegedly include Biden giving direct instructions to dismiss Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. It is a matter of fact on the record that Viktor Shokin was subsequently dismissed, and replaced by Yuri Lutsenko.

This weird saga continues to generate accusations and counter-claims, giving the spin doctors plenty of exercise for their skills. But their efforts only have the effect of fudging the basic truth thereby clouding rational analysis. There are many questions and conspiracy theories about Russian involvement but investigation of the evidence and exposure of the facts remain inadequate. If there is Russian foul play involved, then it should be exposed.

The public deserves to know about it, and to be told the facts. But it is unhelpful to feed the people on a diet of innuendo, vague accusations and imprecise allegations that do not clarify understanding of what has really happened.

Image (Viktor Shokin): By An authorised Youtube stream of the STRC Ukrainian television and radio broadcasting «UTR - TV channel» - PULSE NEWS 10 February 2015 at 5:30/20:39 (Creative Commons Attribution), CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/...

Image. (Andriy Derkach): By Petro Zhuravel - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/...

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Phillipe Jeune

Phillipe Jeune

Phillipe Jeune is a Paris-based freelance journalist, and an occasional contributor to EU Today. He has a background in intelligence gathering, and he specialises in business and political matters, with a particular interest in Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas.

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