On March 20, 2019, Prosecutor General Lutsenko in an interview for American The Hill voiced some loud and groundless accusations regarding the director of newly-established anticorruption investigative agency NABU Artem Sytnyk and the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Please, see the rebuttal and explanations below.
Though back in May 2018 the Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko himself publicly boasted that he assisted Mueller’s probe, in March 2019, Lutsenko changed his mind and decided that Sytnyk intervened in the 2016 U.S. elections in support of Democrats. Lutsenko announced that Prosecutor General’s Office triggered a criminal proceeding into the issue.
He builds up his allegations against Sytnyk on very dubious grounds:
– the administrative court decision in a lawsuit by Boryslav Rozenblat, Member of Parliament (who is a suspect in NABU criminal investigation) against NABU director and an MP. This decision is doubtful as the court:
- went beyond its competence to make decisions on public-law disputes only;
- went beyond the territorial jurisdiction and did not comply with the condition that the court can make the decision upon an appeal of a person whose rights were violated;
- failed to explain a cause-effect relationship and how the court could assess the intervention in the elections of other state without sending a single legal request there.
Moreover, the ruling is not enacted, as the appeals trial recently started in the case.
– audiotape, which Lutsenko received from that same MP Rozenblat. It cannot be used as evidence in the criminal case as according to Ukrainian legislation, a recording could be considered as proof only if it was wiretapped by the law enforcement agency in compliance with the Criminal Procedure Code. This recording is low quality and of unclear origin.
Nevertheless, lack of legal proofs of Sytnyk’s alleged crime did not prevent Lutsenko from going on air on American TV channel with this sensational accusation.
Lutsenko builds up his accusations against the Ambassador on no less notorious grounds.
He stated that during their first meeting, Madam Ambassador gave him a “no prosecute” list. According to Lutsenko, the conversation with her regarded the criminal proceeding into alleged embezzlement of U.S. technical assistance of 4 million USD. However, as a proof of Yovanovitch’s ‘guilt’, the journalists who interviewed Lutsenko, published a letter of April 2016, signed on behalf of her predecessor, the then U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt.
The criminal case Lutsenko referred to was opened by the PGO on March 16, 2016 during the times of Lutsenko’s predecessor Viktor Shokin. In May 2016, Lutsenko was appointed to the office of the Prosecutor General, personally stated that the criminal case was ‘stupid’ and closed it on May 30, 2016.
In late August, 2016, Ambassador Yovanovitch arrived in Ukraine and handed her credential letters to the President. Therefore, Lutsenko’s statement cannot be true as his first conversation with Madam Ambassador could have happened not earlier than three months after the criminal case had already been closed for good.
Please, kindly see more detailed rebuttal of Lutsenko’s accusations in the table below: