On February 10, G7 ambassadors made a statement regarding the fate of the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), Artem Sytnyk. “It is important,” diplomats noted, “that the election and dismissal of the leadership of anti-corruption bodies should take place in accordance with applicable law.”
This means the following: fire Sytnyk if you want but follow the legal procedure, in compliance with legal comme il faut. Western officials have withdrawn from the protection of the official - they are no longer interested in him. Moreover, the G7 is now led by the United States. So all the talks that Americans will cover Sytnyk are just talks.
But what happened to Sytnyk and what does the United States have to do with it?
A week ago, 170 MPs of the Verkhovna Rada, armed with pencils and pens, collected signatures for the resignation of the chairman of the NABU Artem Sytnyk. The formal basis for this intention is the decision of the Sarnivsky District Court, which found Sytnyk guilty of not having included information about his vacation in the hunting grounds in the Rivne region in the period 2017-2019 in the declaration. The court even sent Sytnyk to a fine of 140 USD. But this was not enough for the MPs, and they decided to initiate the resignation of the chairman of NABU.
Strana.ua writes that Sytnyk stopped at least five times in Sarny, and each time his wishlist contained expensive whims, including elite varieties of alcohol and the like. "The main fighter against corruption was out of breath so much that he managed to break up two ATVs of the Bagi BRP 1000 brand, the repair of which cost about 4,000 USD," the article says.
And strangers paid for all this luxury. Elite relaxation cost at least 4,000 USD each. But he “forgot” to indicate it in the declaration. By the way, now Sytnyk intends to appeal the decision of the Sarnivsky court. He promises even to get to the ECHR and there to demand a review of the administrative penalty.
"I helped Hillary"
About a year ago, in March 2019, MP Boryslav Rosenblatt, a defendant in the "amber case," released a recording in which a man with the voice of the director of NABU, Artem Sytnyk, tells how he helped US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.
Rosenblatt entrusted his exposure to Facebook. "I have irrefutable evidence that the director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau worked for one of the presidential candidates in the United States of America, disclosing the investigation materials and transmitting them to a foreign state in order to influence the election process in support of one of the presidential candidates," he said.
How did Sytnyk help Americans? According to Rosenblatt, by publishing the black books of the Party of Regions. Recall that the relevant documentation was found in Mezhyhirya residence after the ex-president Yanukovych escaped from there. The materials from which it followed that the Party of Regions members paid for public relations and consulting to Trump's lawyer Paul Manafort cast a shadow on both Manafort and Trump. So, to "highlight" this data was beneficial to the then-rival of Trump, the candidate for US presidency from the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton.
On the record, a man with the voice of Sytnyk says: "I helped Hillary." And he adds: “Hillary has just lost when I investigated black bookkeeping, we released the data of Manafort, who was imprisoned... Manafort was the head of Trump’s high headquarters,” Sytnyk tells his interlocutor.
"The role of Sytnik in supporting Hillary Clinton is obvious. He played the role of a reputation killer, and his behavior led to the deterioration of Ukrainian-American relations after the victory of Donald Trump in the election," says Ruslan Bortnyk, director of the Ukrainian Institute for Policy Analysis and Management.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that Trump will be re-elected for a second term. If Trump’s enemies stay in the Ukrainian government, it will not positively affect relations between the countries. And this, to a certain extent, frees up the hands of those representatives of the establishment, who until recently have hesitated. Now there is no doubt: representatives of the Democratic Party and Soros can be “cleaned up,” says Ruslan Bortnyk.
Ruslan Bortnyk tells that the current president cannot but strive to remove the protégé of the previous president from power. “Sytnyk was appointed even under Poroshenko, he has good contact with Poroshenko. Presidential Office is interested in appointing their own person to this position. But the struggle around the new figure will continue no less fierce,” Bortnyk assures.
Sytnyk is really known for his friendship with Poroshenko. The former head of state a couple of years ago even received him at night in his own residence, as the Scheme program found out. According to Sytnyk, the conversation between him and the president was about the creation of the Anti-Corruption Court, and there was no crime in these visits.
One way or another, but it is the name Poroshenko that causes Zelensky acute idiosyncrasy. And that means the name of Sytnyk as well. The environment of the director of NABU is too toxic for the current government, our experts are unanimous in this.
Not only Zelensky does not like Sytnyk. His unwritten curator Igor Kolomoisky also does not like him. After all, since November 2019, NABU has been dealing with the PrivatBank case (the former owners of which consider the nationalization of the financial institution illegal). And the sympathies of his head in this dispute are clearly not on the side of Igor Kolomoisky.
Now the "confrontation continues between the conditional group "AntiSoros" (which includes Privat group and Kvartal 95) and those people who are focused on external partners. Sytnyk and PM Honcharuk are just focused on external influence. The court decision on Sytnyk is a good reason to weaken this influence and dismiss Sytnyk. And the president’s team is interested in his dismissal,” says Ruslan Bortnyk.
Meanwhile, Sytnyk himself believes that he is unreasonably suspected of playing along with the oligarchy. He not only did not play into the hands of the powers that be but, on the contrary, fell victim to their intrigues. In particular, he is convinced that Interior Minister Arsen Avakov could put pressure on the judges of the court.
In this case, as you know, the NABU accused Avakov’s son Oleksandr and Deputy Minister Serhiy Chebotar of organizing a budget order bypassing the legal tender procedure. Subsequently, the case was closed by the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office. By the way, Sytnik also claims to it, believing that the head of the SAP, Nazar Kholodnytsky, has a biased attitude towards him.
Without going into the details of this battle as well, we agree with our experts that "there was and will be competition in law enforcement agencies. Moreover, NABU took the tidbit from the prosecutor's office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs," said Andrei Zolotariov, head of the Third Sector Center.
The National Bureau simply turned out to be an extremely inefficient structure. “When a new leadership arrives, some things will be put in a box, there was a lot of PR and little concrete work. Most likely, NABU will be reformatted,” Zolotariov says.
Political analyst Yevhen Bulavka also believes that with the dismissal of Sytnyk some of the affairs of NABU will be reviewed. But perhaps this was the goal of collecting signatures for his resignation. "If Sytnyk is fired now, many of the cases of NABU would be frozen," he says.
"The decisive factor is that Sytnyk has complicated relations with the Ukrainian authorities and with bodies such as the State Security Service, as well as with the judiciary," Director of the Institute for Global Strategies Vadym Karasiov said.
However, he adds, “it’s not so much about Sytnyk, but about the need to reduce the influence of NABU as a structure that was created under external influence. The rest of the law enforcement agencies are trying to bracket this effect. It’s like an implant that was screwed into the body, but not took root in it.”
Andrei Zolotariov does not doubt the dismissal of Sytnyk. “The environment around him is too toxic, and external partners too will begin to understand this. But whoever succeeds him will be a compromise between them and Bankova,” Zolotariov said.
However, the candidacy of a successor is still too early to discuss. The procedure for dismissing the chairman of NABU is not easy, Vadym Karasiov recalls. The last word here belongs not to the parliament and not to the president. First, an auditor should be elected and an audit of the activities of this structure. If you follow the procedure, the process will drag on for months. There is no doubt that during this time we will witness repeated throws of compromising evidence, accusations and mutual debunking of all persons involved in this game.