Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Ukrainian police and prosecutors have accused two politicians and a former prosecutor of treason, alleging that they collaborated with a Russian intelligence agency to assist Rudolph W. Giuliani’s efforts several years ago in linking the Biden family to corruption in Ukraine.

The accused individuals include Kostyantyn Kulyk, a former Ukrainian deputy prosecutor general who authored a memo in 2019 recommending Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son, due to his role on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Also implicated are current Ukrainian Parliament member Oleksandr Dubinsky and former member Andriy Derkach, who publicly supported an investigation into Hunter Biden and promoted a false theory about Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 US election.

The three have been indicted on charges of treason and involvement in a criminal organization, which are related to actions from 2019 prior to the American presidential election. However, it is not specified if or when the activity ceased.

Leading up to the 2020 US election, Mr. Giuliani and later former President Donald J. Trump encouraged Ukrainian officials to pursue the allegations against Hunter Biden, which included a phone call from Mr. Trump to President Volodymyr Zelensky urging an investigation into the Bidens while the Trump administration was withholding military aid for the Ukrainian Army.

Critics argue that the pressure to investigate the Bidens was politically motivated to harm Joe Biden’s prospects against Mr. Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani denied any impropriety in their dealings with Ukrainian officials and stated that military aid to Ukraine was withheld over concerns about corruption within the Ukrainian government.

The events led to Mr. Trump’s first impeachment in the House of Representatives, although he was later acquitted in the Senate.

Ukrainian media has suggested that the indictments have a political component for Mr. Zelensky – that they were meant to signal to Mr. Biden, as his administration lobbies for military assistance to Ukraine from Congress, that Kyiv will root out accused Russian agents, including those who had made accusations against his family.

In statements released on Monday, Ukrainian police and the country’s domestic intelligence agency alleged that all three men were part of a spy network established within the Ukrainian government and managed by Russia’s military intelligence agency, the G.R.U.

According to the intelligence agency, the Russians paid members of the group $10 million. An aide to Mr. Derkach, Ihor Kolesnikov, was previously detained and convicted on treason charges.

Two members of the group, Mr. Derkach and Mr. Kulyk, fled Ukraine after Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022. Mr. Dubinsky was remanded to pretrial detention in a Ukrainian jail on Tuesday.

Mr. Dubinsky, in a statement posted on the social networking site Telegram, claimed that the prosecutors had “not presented one fact” to support the accusations, and that the charges were retribution for criticizing Mr. Zelensky’s government in his role as a member of Parliament.

Mr. Dubinsky was expelled from Mr. Zelensky’s political party, Servant of the People, in 2021 after the United States sanctioned him for meddling in the American political process.

The Ukrainian intelligence agency’s statement said that Mr. Kulyk had used his position in the prosecutor general’s office to promote investigations that worked “in favor of the Kremlin,” without specifying any cases.

In late 2018, Mr. Kulyk compiled a seven-page dossier asserting that Ukrainian prosecutors had evidence that “may attest to the commission of corrupt actions aimed at personal unlawful enrichment by former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden.”

The dossier suggested that Mr. Biden, when he had served as vice president, had tried to quash a corruption investigation into the natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, where his son served on the board. Former colleagues of Mr. Kulyk at the prosecutor’s office confirmed he had written the document, which helped set in motion an effort by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Mr. Giuliani, and other supporters to press for an investigation in Ukraine.

In a phone call with Mr. Zelensky that became central to the impeachment case, Mr. Trump had asked the Ukrainian president to investigate supposed conflicts of interest by Mr. Biden when he was vice president, according to White House notes of the call. Mr. Trump denied he had linked military aid to Ukraine to the investigation of the Biden family.

Allegations of corruption and ties to Russia had trailed Mr. Kulyk for years in the Ukrainian media and among anti-corruption watchdog groups before he compiled the dossier.

In 2016, he was indicted in Ukraine on charges of illegal enrichment for owning apartments and cars that seemed beyond the means of his modest official salary. One car, a Toyota Land Cruiser, had been bought by the father of a military commander fighting on the Russian side in the war in eastern Ukraine.

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