With the onset of spring and the beginning of preparations for the U.S. pre-election race, the Capitolium plays “Ukrainian card.” U.S. ex-Vice President Joseph Biden is at the epicenter of this scandal, the most likely main Donald Trump’s opponent in the upcoming 2020 elections.
One of the pillars of the Democratic Party and the “curator” of Kyiv during the times of the Barack Obama administration, the media is charged with a direct intervention into Ukrainian politics, as well as possible corruption. Allegedly, "Uncle Joe" was convicted of blatantly lobbying the interests of the business of ex-minister of ecology Mykola Zlochevsky. And he had some interest in this – soon after Euromaidan the son of Biden was included in the board of directors of the " Zlochevsky’s Burisma company, as well as former President of Poland Alexander Kwasniewski, and Devon Archer (a close friend of the stepson of the former US Secretary of State John Kerry). Their work was generously paid.
Biden Jr. denies all claims, calling them insinuations of his father’s opponents, which appeared “for transparently political purposes.” But supporters of the opposite interpretation insist: “Uncle Joe” from the height of his powers really blackmailed official Kyiv by non-lending, if the criminal prosecution of Zlochevsky in Ukraine is not stopped.
American journalists are unraveling this story today. Numerous materials on this subject quote the statements of prosecutor Konstantyn Kulik and the head of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Yuriy Lutsenko, they report on the reincarnation of criminal complaints against Zlochevsky. But nevertheless, the main trump card against Biden is in the hands of former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Ex-vice-president of the United States publicly called the “son of a bitch” and boasted that he had managed to achieve the dismissal of this official.
Shokin asserts that his disgrace with an influential representative of the Democratic Party was precisely caused by the activity of the Prosecutor General’s office in the investigation of the “Zlochevsky case.” It was this story that became the watershed of his work as prosecutor general, but even after several years, the media still actively exaggerate the issue.
Briefly about Shokin: he was a member of the investigation teams for cotton and fish affairs in the late Soviet Union, he investigated the stories of a pedophile teacher from a boarding school for mentally retarded children, and the “Kovalev gang.” During Ukraine’s independence, Shokin oversaw the case of the White Brotherhood and set up an investigation team that managed to get out and detain the murderers of journalist Georgiy Gongadze.
After Euromaidan, Shokin was appointed first as deputy and then as prosecutor general (he has spent a year in office). Speaking before his dismissal from office, President Petro Poroshenko declared that Viktor Shokin was able to implement those innovations that his predecessors hadn’t decided for decades. In particular, he reduced the staff of the supervisory authority by a quarter, initiated the creation of bodies of prosecutorial self-government and the General Inspectorate, gave the green light to the launch of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAP).
For three years after his resignation, the ex-head of the Prosecutor General’s Office gave only a couple of comments to Ukrainian journalists.
Our conversation began with the publication of the New York Times about Ukrainehate and Biden.
After reviewing it, the former Prosecutor General said that he was ready to sue and demand a refutation from Zlochevsky’s lawyers. According to the NYT material, they were credited with a phrase that Shokin allegedly demanded a bribe from the owner of "Burisma" for closing the case. However, the Ukrainian lawyers of the ex-minister argue that they never made such statements to the media, and there was no extortion by the prosecutor general. For some reason, they called Kulik Deputy Prosecutor General, although he had never been to this office...
How do you like the situation that Ukrainian authorities, the prosecutor general, accused of illegal enrichment, comment on the “Zlochevsky case” and corruption in the highest echelons to the top American edition?
It is hard for me to say why he is the one who comments. Probably, he wants to... From what I know, his statements are not completely objective. He and Yura (Yuriy Lutsenko - ed.) pretend that they did everything (regarding the resumption of criminal proceedings against Zlochevsky, - ed.) And this is their merit. I am sure that Lutsenko and Kulik are now acting as one. But what struck me: according to the New York Times, Kostyantyn was somehow connected with me, although I spoke to him about five years ago. I have no interaction at all or common interests with him.
Who initiated your comeback to the Prosecutor General’s Office and how did this happen after the events of Euromaidan?
Everything is very simple here. In the summer of 2014, Yarema (then head of the Prosecutor General’s Office Vitaly Yarema, - Ed.), called and asked me to drive up to him and talk. I did not know then what it was about. And he said that there is such an opinion – to appoint me as deputy.
You did not ask yourself why Poroshenko remembered about you; you were retired at that time, so why did he insist on your return to the Prosecutor General’s Office?
Maybe someone advised him...
After all, there were some rumors that you and Poroshenko were godfathers...
I do not know where it came from, but we have no family ties. I understand that it became a meme, but this is complete nonsense. I have never baptized his children, he didn’t baptize mine as well. I repeatedly told Poroshenko: “You see, everyone thinks that I am your relative. And although we know that this is not true, everything can look like you are firing your crony unreasonably. What will your friends and colleagues think if you fire your crony? There will be a negative attitude towards you.” It happened so, ultimately. But there was no cronyism in reality.
How did it happen that the president first asked you to come back and then begged you to leave his post?
When I was appointed attorney general, everything was fine. I came on February 10, 2015: during all this time there have never been conflicts between the law enforcers. Nobody complained, there were no fights, I found points of contact with everyone. Yes, there were a lot of different situations, but someone like Artem Sytnyk (Artem Sytnyk, National Anti-Corruption Head, - ed.) never was rude with me. He stood at my reception and tried hard to meet with me. We had, among other things, support from the Americans – I wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and on his instructions, Victoria Nuland answered me, we repeatedly met with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt.
Your predecessor, Yarema, later said that he was forced to appoint David Sakvarelidze as his deputy, but he refused to do it ... Who initiated the appearance of the "Georgian deputy" in the Prosecutor General’s Office?
Then Khatia Dekanoidze, Eka Zguladze, Mikhail Saakashvili, David Sakvarelidze came to Ukraine. They explained to everyone that this is a reform team. But I knew nothing about most of them.
That is, the Presidential Administration stated fact that Sakvarelidze should become your deputy?
Not exactly. A start was a kind of familiarization. Having greeted David at one of the working meetings, Pyatt said to me: "Well, this man is very respected by the American people." Well, I answered and asked, and what did he do for the USA? After all, they all escaped from their countries... Pyatt became mad, he was offended by this...
That is, Sakvarelidze was imposed by the Americans? So he dealt with their interests here, right?
Partly so, but he did not serve America’s interests, but Biden’s personal interests (I clearly share these things). Specifically, Biden stood behind it all. Then Biden landed here such managers who were personally obliged to him and were on his pay and allowance. Everyone knew about it.
Do you think that the "diamond prosecutors" (“diamond prosecutors,” troves of diamonds, cash and other valuables were found in the homes of two of Shokin’s subordinates, suggesting that they had been taking bribes, - ed.) case was used for blackmailing you so that you would step back from Zlochevsky?
No, I would never have gone on such a deal. Sakvarelidze and Trepak simply covered these judges, and used them in their “Biden needs.”
So why then you were fired?
Biden took it very seriously. He promised Poroshenko that he would bring damaging information against me. He arrived in December 2015, spoke at the Verkhovna Rada, said nothing about it, and left. I then got ready and went to Bankova (where President’s Administration is located, - ed.). The conversation was like: "Well, did Biden bring some damaging information?" - "Viktor, he did not bring anything against you." You know that if the Vice-President of the United States had evidence of my corruption, he would probably use all this for his own purposes.
But this did not really help.
Yes, there were regular ultimatums and discussions about me. I finally crossed the threshold on February 2, 2016, when we went to the courts with requests to re-impose arrests on the Burisma property. I suppose that then the president received another call from Biden, blackmail by non-allotment of credit... Poroshenko surrendered then.