General Kholodnytskyi – Go Away
On July 26, the Qualification and Disciplinary Commission of Prosecutors will consider the case of bringing Nazar Kholodnytskyi, the Head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, to disciplinary liability.
Approval by the Commission of the decision on “imposibility of staying in the office” of Kholodnytskyi would actually mean his dismissal from the post of SAPO prosecutor. Nevertheless, this decision he can appeal in court. And while the court will consider the case, he will keep managing the SAPO.
Kholodnytskyi could go down in Ukraine’s history not only as the first Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, but the Prosecutor who changed its course. Instead, he chose a usual ‘prosecutor’s path’ and one month after the appointment, at the age of 30 Kholodnytskyi received General rank upon the proposal of former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.
One and a half year after Kholodnytskyi’s appointment as the Head of the SAPO he became the Vice President of Football Federation of Ukraine, whose honorary president is Grygoriy Surkis. At that very time his prosecutors together with NABU detectives were investigating the criminal proceeding against Surkis brothers.
Also, NABU recently opened a criminal proceeding regarding the construction scheme of football fields. Not only current President of the Football Federation Andriy Pavelko is involved, but also the Federation itself, Vice President of which Kholodnytskyi is.
Besides, quite recently it turned out that Kholodnytskyi’s family has almost half a hectare of land located in expensive Kyiv suburb. Most part of it was received free of charge in Kyiv-Svyatoshyn district during the time when Kholodnytskyi worked as prosecutor in the same district. Kholodnytskyi did not even deny this fact, and said that his sister, who has been living in Italy for 20 years, applied and state just gave her land in elite suburbs of Kyiv, where her brother worked as prosecutor.
Public life of Nazar Kholodnytskyi is also impressive. The Head of new anti-corruption agency loves public photos with subjects of cases that are investigated by his prosecutors. Last year on the published video Kholodnytskyi was captured on vacation with MP Georgiy Logvynskyi (Narodnyi Front), who is the subject of NABU case regarding embezzlement and withdrawal abroad of more than 50 million UAH. Subsequently, during the undercover investigative actions, it turned out that Kholodnytskyi guaranteed security to Logvynskyi in investigation conducted by NABU and SAPO.
A few months ago, he was noticed in Lviv with one of Dubnevych brothers, who are involved in several cases investigated by NABU and SAPO.
Nevertheless, the reason why the Commission of Prosecutors will consider complaints against Kholodnytskyi is different. He is accused of ‘dumping’ cases, leaking secret information about searches, and even more – giving clear instructions of what to do to avoid punishment to subjects of criminal cases, that are led by his prosecutors.
It became public when NABU released tape recordings from the office of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor. The wiretapping device installed in Kholodnytskyi’s aquarium by NABU detectives gave the opportunity to record a lot of conversations that explain the behavior and decisions of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor regarding many criminal proceedings.
Unfortunately, Kholodnytskyi quickly found the device in his office and many questions about other criminal proceedings obstructed by SAPO remained unanswered. That’s why we decided to describe TOP cases dumped by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office led by Kholodnytskyi.
The case of backpacks regarding Avakov’s son
In July 2017, the SAPO closed the proceeding in the “case of backpacks” regarding two subjects – the son of the Minister of Internal Affairs Oleksandr Avakov and the former Deputy Minister Serhii Chebotar due to the absence of “direct sufficient evidence”.
The proceeding was closed in a very strange manner, after the investigation had been completed 3 months before and case materials were handed over to the defense side for review. Three months after the completion of investigation the prosecutor personally, secretly from NABU detectives, renewed the investigation. He conducted obscure interrogations and ostensibly found out that TOP subjects – the son and the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs did not commit these crimes. The seller of backpacks is guilty.
It happened after 2 years of investigation, 33 searches, 170 interrogations of witnesses, 46 examinations and 80 document slots.
This caused great resonance in the media, because recently Nazar Kholodnytskyi stated that there was enough evidence in the case against Avakov’s son, and one month before that the case was prepared for transferring to the court. Why is it closed now? Because they thought that everything could be solved in the court.
After the adoption of the law on the anti-corruption court, where they inserted a provision that the appeal of already opened cases in courts to be considered in ordinary courts, but not in the anti-corruption – the son of the Minister of Internal Affairs could sleep calmly.
But they were not lucky here because the IMF interfered. The scandalous adoption had to be cancelled and the case of the Minister’s son would have gone to the new court not only in the appeal but also in the first instance. Therefore, they started plan B – insolently close the case and say that there is not enough evidence.
When activists and journalists came to the action in front of the SAPO regarding the case of Avakov’s son – the Minister of Internal Affairs did his best to protect Kholodnytskyi. They used paid elderly women and criminal thugs known as titushki, police who stood aside while titushki were attacking activists.
The case of the Head of Central Election Commission Okhendovskyi
The case against the Head of Central Election Commission Mykhailo Okhendovskyi is the ‘guidance-book’ on how public prosecutors in Ukraine quietly obstruct criminal proceedings by using available legal instruments.
The case regarding Okhendovskyi was the first case of the “Black Ledger of the Party of Regions”. The examination confirmed signature authenticity of the Head of Central Election Commission in the “Spreadsheets of the Party of Regions”. NABU suspects him in receiving more than 160,000 USD from the Party of Regions for overseas travels in order to persuade Western partners in democratic and transparent elections in Ukraine.
The SAPO helped the Head of CEC to prevent the case from forwarding it to the court as soon as possible.
When detectives were ready to transfer the case to court, the SAPO has got the desire to prove that Okhendovskyi indeed travelled abroad and indeed spent money received from the Party of Regions. Indeed – the SAPO demanded the confirmation that the Head of Central Election Commission spent money that he received from the Party of Regions abroad. NABU detectives were forced to write requests to law enforcement agencies of Germany, Belgium, Poland, France and other countries to confirm that Okhendovskyi actually came there and spent money there.
Getting responses to international requests take at least six months. This gives the grounds to pause the investigation before their receipt, and this was done by the SAPO. That’s why, two years before elections Kholodnytskyi suspended the investigation of the case, although earlier he reported his readiness to forward it to the court.
Okhendovskyi’s attorneys used this and went to court that decided to either close the case or forward it to court. It cannot lie at the prosecutor’s office for 2 years. Nevertheless, Kholodnytskyi is not complying the court decision for three months in a row, and the case still remains in the SAPO – nobody is going to transfer it to court.
The case of Ulana Suprun
Video how Acting Minister of Health Ulana Suprun was offered the bribe in the form of apartment in Vyshneve (Kyiv region) was broadcasted on all TV channels. The case is obvious – Suprun was offered to install expensive equipment into the local hospital, and for this she would receive new apartment in a new building.
It seems like a noble case – however on the video published by the NABU Mayor of Vyshneve Ilya Dikov tells how he will make profit on state equipment: “… we take 50 percent there, roughly speaking, and write 100 UAH a day. Social sectors, that is, veterans, poor people, people with low income, and all the others who come there, and there are 10 coupons a day… “
It seems to be very obvious, but suddenly the SAPO begins to slow down the case. As it turned out later Nazar Kholodnytskyi once worked with Ilya Dikov in the law enforcement system at Kyiv-Svyatoshyn district. Later he investigated his case as prosecutor, when Dikov, using his ties, tried to terrify with the criminal case his debtor. There were no grounds for criminal charges at all.
Also, on tape recordings of the SAPO Head in his office, it is heard that Kholodnytskyi rudely interferes into the investigation, providing the subject of the case instructions for the testimony and requires prosecutors to return the request regarding the search from the court. Again it turns out that the subject, who was instructed by Khododnytskyi, is not a stranger to him, but his friend and deputy director of the construction company Akvareli. Kholodnytskyi lives in one of the houses built by this construction company.
After all released by the NABU videos and tape recordings, the Head of SAPO Nazar Kholodnytskyi publicly reported that he did not see any grounds for announcing suspicion in this case, which means that the case will be closed despite all collected evidence.
The case of the Head of National Land Forces Academy Tkachuk
Journalists-investigators found undeclared elite houses and Lexus of the Head of National Land Forces Academy Tkachuk. Of course, the property was registered on Tkachuk’s mother-in-law, 88-year-old pensioner and not included to the declaration. Detectives began investigating these facts of false statements in the declaration and illicit enrichment.
But instead of figuring out the origin of money and property that retired mother-in-law could not obviously afford, and who died last year, SAPO prosecutors simply closed the case.
The reason for the closure was lack of information about the origin of funds. Prosecutors of the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office accepted the word of Tkachuk and his family members who said that mother-in-law had earned everything herself. And since she died, she cannot prove it by herself.
Moreover, prosecutors came to the conclusion that Tkachuk does not use elite house, where he lives with his family, as of December 31, 2015 he was not seen in it. Do you know why? He was on vacation!
In fact, the prosecutors of newly established after Maydan SAPO opened Pandora’s box by making this decision. Since now any top official who lives in undeclared building may go on vacation for a New Year and thereby avoid criminal responsibility, as he does not live in this house.
The case of Kolomoyskyi’s UIA
During 3 years the International Airlines of Ukraine, controlled by Ihor Kolomoyskyi, included state fee to the ticket price, which the UIA had to pay to special state fund. However, as detectives found out, the company transferred passengers’ money directly to the income. In just 2 years the company earned additional 150 million UAH. People paid the fee from their funds for tickets, which UIA directors decided to simply assign.
Imagine that you buy products in the supermarket, pay tax that is included in the check, and then the company does not transfer it to state, but assigns it. Moreover, it explains that this tax is illegal and it should not be collected from citizens but as it has already been collected, then it cannot be returned to everyone who has already paid it.
The same situation is regarding the UIA. After investigation the NABU prepared 3 suspicions airline’s management, but Kholodnytskyi blocked their approval, explaining that it is necessary to wait for final court decisions regarding the dispute of the UIA and state. The only thing that Kholodnytskyi ignores is that litigation only regards who was robbed: state or passengers, but does not refute the fact of ‘theft’.
The case of former Head of NAPC Nataliya Korchak
The scandalous former Head of the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption, which was supposed to check the officials’ declaration, did not declare herself the car and the parking space in the capital of Ukraine. NABU detectives started this case thanks to journalists’ materials and collected almost all evidence to inform Korchak of suspicion.
The SAPO Head Nazar Kholodnytskyi interferred to the prosecutor’s activity regarding this case and instructed him not to agree the NABU to conduct final investigative actions in this case. This became known also thanks to published materials of wiretapping from Kholodnytskyi’s office. Later, the SAPO officially refused to declare suspicion to Nataliya Korchak, arguing that the case was underdeveloped.
Fish rots from its head
These obvious facts allow not only to dismiss Nazar Kholodnytskyi, but also to investigate criminal proceedings against him for abuse of office and disclosure of investigation materials.
Most documents in TOP-cases were signed by different prosecutors, but anybody acquainted with the system of work in the SAPO, knows that nothing happens without Kholodnytskyi’s approval. The tapes from aquarium, which documented him instructing prosecutors regarding procedural actions, prove that. Also, he exploits the SAPO seal, which gives Kholodnytskyi the powers to personally control prosecutors’ activities.
Bonuses is another tool of pressure on the subordinates. SAPO prosecutor’s salary is equal to 35,000 UAH, according to the law. But in their declarations you could see that hardly many of them earn less than million per year. Bonuses totalling to 2-3 salaries help a lot to manage subordinates. Moreover, SAPO head has authority to cancel a decree by SAPO prosecutor, on, e.g. closing a criminal case. Nevertheless, Kholodnytskyi is not doing this even in TOP-cases.
The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor has many influential supporters who are interested in having the controlled prosecutor. That’s why the majority of MP’s applauded to him during his speech at the parliamentary rostrum in Verkhovna Rada. That’s why close companion of the Minister of Internal Affairs Ilya Kiva came to protect him with the army of criminal thugs known as titushki. After events of July 17 near SAPO building, when activists, who were outraged because of closing the case against the son of the Minister of Internal Affairs, were attacked by titushki, were poured over with green antiseptic and thrown cakes. Kholodnytskyi’s partners became obvious to everybody.
The question is whether the SAPO will function without its Head Nazar Kholodnytskyi and whether the institution will survive itself? Who will be the successor and what will change if many decisions are signed not by Kholodnytskyi but by prosecutors?
You can get some answers to this by listening carefully to tape recordings from Kholodnytskyi’s office, which make it clear who gives instructions to prosecutors to commit unlawful actions and to slow down the investigation.
It is obvious that some SAPO prosecutors do their job in good faith and do their best to catch the big fish. The example of Prosecutor Perov, who leads Martynenko’s case, and who is tried to be dismissed for “slamming the door in the courtroom” is a vivid proof of it.
But as we see – fish rots from the head, and prosecutors quietly agree to follow orders of SAPO Head Nazar Kholodnytskyi. In case of his dismissal, his first deputy and ‘cyborg’ Maksym Hryschuk will fulfill his duties.
The worst thing that can happen after this is manual distribution of cases between prosecutors by Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Yuriy Lutsenko. However, judging by the fact that now these prosecutors are forced to dump cases, not to conduct searches and to slow down the investigation – the distribution is the least evil that can affect the new institution.
Thus, General Kholodnytskyi – go away.