The case of Ukraine’s ex-president Viktor Yanukovych is unprecedented. It has no analogs at least for three reasons:
- For the first time, the court of Ukraine considers the proceedings against the former president, the leader who was elected by the Ukrainian people.
Ukraine’s history does not know any cases when crimes were attributed to the first persons of the state. We might recall the case of the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze and the talk about the possible involvement of Ukraine’s second president, Leonid Kuchma. But none of the former heads was on the dock.
- For the first time, the ex-president of the country is charged with such a serious crime;
Yanukovych is charged under Part 1 of Art. 111; Part 5 of Art. 27, part 3 of Art. 110; Part 5 of Art. 27, and Part 2 of Art. 437. That is treason, complicity in deliberate acts committed to change the borders of the territory and state border of Ukraine, as well as complicity in conducting of an aggressive war.
The maximum sanctions for it are imprisonment for a term of 15 years.
- For the first time, an absentee trial in the case of a serious criminal offense is underway.
Previously, absentee proceedings (without the presence of the defendants in court) were practiced exclusively in civil cases, but after the annexation of Crimea and the beginning of Donbas military conflict, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a special law, which provides for absentee investigation of cases and absentee proceedings.
The trial of Yanukovych was joined by the former and current top state officials.
In particular, the court sessions were interrogated: current president Petro Poroshenko, speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Andriy Parubiy, National Security and Defense Council head Oleksandr Turchynov, interior minister Arsen Avakov, former prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, etc.
In addition, the court heard to the testimony of Navy commander Ihor Voronchenko, former head of the Security Service Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, former defense minister Ihor Tenyukh, etc.
More than a hundred people were questioned. The state prosecution asked to hear 80 witnesses in the case; Yanukovych’s defense wanted to hear the testimony of 35 witnesses.
At the moment, the case file contains 50 volumes.
The trial itself has lasted for about 1.5 years, starting in May 2017, and was full of mutual accusations of the parties.
During the whole consideration process, the interests of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych in the court were represented by a total of 12 lawyers; he has received at least 70 court summons, but he never spoke at the meeting.
In one of the statements, broadcasted by Russian TV channels, the ex-president explained that he was refusing to participate in the trial because its results were “predetermined.”
According to Yanukovych, the case against him is fabricated and is purely political. In other words, he does not admit his guilt.
“This is not a court, but a total profanation. Special laws on absentee condemnation were passed under Poroshenko’s pressure to conduct my conviction. This is a direct violation of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In addition, I was refused to take part in a videoconference trial,” he said on July 5, 2017.
After that, Yanukovych has made several more such statements and added that he was participating in the trial through the media, because he was deprived of another right.
At the same time, the most significant thing that he has ever told reporters on the case was that in 2014, he has twice actually appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and asked for a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine.
Important: until recently, it was expected that Yanukovych would at least present his last word, but this also did not happen.
According to his lawyers, the ex-president was in a hospital where there was no technical possibility to arrange a videoconference. In addition, doctors did not allow him to do this.
Obolon District Court of Kyiv found ex-president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych not guilty of complicity to Russia in the attack against Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. According to the sentence, the court found Yanukovych guilty of committing the crimes such as state treason, complicity, planning, preparation, unleashing and holding of aggressive war. While the accusation of the attack against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, which led to severe consequences, was recognized as unproven.
“The accusation cannot be based on the assumptions,” the verdict says.
The court decided that the accusation did not prove Yanukovych's direct intent to change Ukrainian borders, aiming for the violation of the country's sovereignty. The court noted that the prosecution did not provide enough evidence that Yanukovych was aware of the fact that his actions would lead to the occupation of Crimea.
“The court was not provided with the credible evidence that Yanukovych directly acted with the aim to change the territorial borders of Ukraine,” the verdict states.
The court decided that the ex-president was not informed about the goals of his accomplices, the Russian authorities, on further annexation of Crimea.
Thus, the court did not find Yanukovych guilty of the infliction of the harm in the sum of about $36 billion as a result of Russia's annexation of Crimea. The court found Yanukovych guilty of addressing the Russian President Putin and asking him to deploy troops in Ukraine.