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"The process of the century" and the removal of the red card from Yanukovych
On Thursday, May 4, a trial began in absentia over former Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych. A day before it became known that Interpol had removed the red card from the ex-president, as well as his eldest son Olexander, than questioned the legitimacy, but not the legality of this process. According to the Ukrainian legislation, an absentee conviction of a person is possible if he was on the international wanted list at the time of commencement of the relevant investigation.
In response to a request from JHA LLP's lawyers, Interpol said that there was no so-called "red card" in its database regarding the ex-president.
"For today, Viktor Yanukovych is not subject to red notification by Interpol or a special request for arrest, and his data are not available in Interpol's database," the document says.
In addition, Interpol decided to remove from its database information about Olexander Yanukovych, who had not previously been wanted, but the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine sent inquiries to Interpol.
In January 2017, in an interview with one of the media, the head of the Interpol bureau, Vasyliy Nevolya, suggested that the agency would refuse to seek Yanukovych in connection with the Maidan case, since it has a political overtones. Prior to this, the EU lifted sanctions against some of the colleagues of the former ex-president. And sanctions against Yanukovych were partially lifted too. Our sources in law enforcement bodies confirm that in today's Yanukovych case, there is more politics than materials about corruption offenses.
"That's why Interpol withdrew the red card and, accordingly, canceled the search for former president Yanukovych. The case is considered politically motivated. The prosecutor's office did not provide the relevant arguments for three years," explain our interlocutors.
However, the prosecutor's office pretends that nothing serious has happened: "Withdrawal from Yanukovych's search will not affect the process."
Attorney General Yuriy Lutsenko went further and hinted that the removal of the red card from Yanukovych is the intrigues of the new leadership of Interpol.
"We will convince the Pechersk court to take a decision in accordance with the requirements of the new leadership of Interpol," Lutsenko wrote on his page in one of the social networks.
Of course, even if Yanukovych would have been wanted by the Interpol line, it would be extremely problematic to transfer him to Ukraine, in view of the fact that Russia has already refused the relevant requests of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies. Now the chances for this have decreased. And the goal of such a power does not set itself.
Interpol has lost interest in Onishchenko, Stavytsky, and Klyuev
After the red card was removed from Yanukovych father and son, the red card was also withdrawn from ex-Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Eduard Stavytsky. Ukrainian law enforcement officers suspected him of organizing a scheme of illegal transfer of Mezhyhirya's residence to Yanukovych. However, back in May 2006, People's Deputy Serhiy Leshchenko said that the authorities were dragging out the process of investigating the case against the ex-minister, who is currently a citizen of Israel. On August 26, Solomyansky District Court of Kyiv made a decision about the inactivity of Prosecution General regarding the investigation of the case against Stavytsky. Although the ex-minister himself declared his readiness to testify.
In 2017, the ex-minister was removed from the international search, and given that Stavytsky is now an Israeli citizen, the chances of his return to Ukraine are poor.
A similar situation is with the former NSDC secretary Andriy Klyuev. As we noted above, the EU has already lifted some of the sanctions against Viktor Yanukovych's associate, since there was not enough evidence of corruption offenses, and the decision on sanctions was taken on the basis of the list, presented to the Ukrainian authorities. It is not surprising that the accounts of the Klyuev company in Austria were unblocked.
But the refusal to search for Onischenko is a slap in the face of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Recall that the case for the "gas oligarch" is considered by the NABU, accusing him of causing 2 billion hryvnia damage. At the same time, the well-known “tapes of Onishchenko” added some political connotations to the case. Head of Special Anti-corruption Prosecution Artem Sytnyk states about the "frenzied pace" of the investigation of Onishchenko's case, but taking into account the removal of the red card, they are still vague. Although an agreement had been reached with five persons in the Onishchenko case, the court has dismissed the two defendants. And given the refusal of Interpol to announce him to the international search, it is impossible to being an absentee conviction.