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Declaration of Zelensky staffer charged with bribery reveals huge earnings

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 11, 2023 11:32 PM 3 min read
Oleh Tatarov at the National Security Forum in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 13, 2021. (Volodymyr Tarasov/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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Editor's note: The previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Tatarov's partner Tetiana earned "over 10 times more income than him by renting out property in Slovakia." In fact, she is renting property in Slovakia from another person, not renting it out to someone, and her income is not linked to the Slovak property.

The 2022 asset declaration of Oleh Tatarov, a deputy head of Ukraine's Presidential Office, shows that his partner earned over 10 times more income than him and is renting property in Slovakia, Ukrainska Pravda reported on Dec. 11.

Tatarov is the most controversial official at President Volodymyr Zelensky's administration. He has been charged with bribery but the corruption case against him has been obstructed and destroyed by law enforcement agencies and courts.

Despite the controversies, Zelensky has refused to suspend or fire Tatarov.

The asset declaration states that, while Tatarov received a salary of Hr 500,000 ($13,500) from the state in 2022, his partner Tetiana earned Hr 7 million ($189,600) from "business activities."

The asset declaration also shows that Tatarov has more than 320,000 euros ($345,000) in bank savings accounts, $400,000 in cash, Hr 5.4 million in cash ($146,000), and Hr 5.1 million ($138,000) in "other unknown assets."

Ukrainian investigative outlet Bihus.Info reported in March that Tatarov and his partner may have officially divorced to preserve their assets.

The system of compulsory asset declarations was originally instituted as part of the country's fight against corruption following the 2014 EuroMaidan Revolution. The system was suspended at the start of Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Zelensky signed a law in October to resume asset declarations for officials and immediately make them publicly accessible.

Tatarov has become the symbol of Zelensky's tolerance for corruption in his inner circle.

An investigation by Ukrainska Pravda on Nov. 29 revealed that Tatarov rents a 600-square-meter villa outside Kyiv from a person allegedly linked to pro-Russian ex-President Viktor Yanukovych.

Tatarov was charged by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) in 2020 with giving an Hr 250,000 ($10,000) bribe to a forensic expert on behalf of ex-lawmaker Maksym Mykytas.

The case has been obstructed and effectively destroyed by ex-Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, a Zelensky protege; the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), and Ukraine’s corrupt judiciary.

In 2020, then Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko used a court ruling as a pretext to transfer the Tatarov case from the independent NABU to the presidentially controlled Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). The NABU believes the transfer of the Tatarov case to be unlawful since it is entirely within the bureau’s jurisdiction.

Then Symonenko replaced the group of prosecutors in the Tatarov case in what appeared to be another effort to sabotage it.

Prosecutors reporting to Symonenko refused to arrest Tatarov in 2020 and claimed that the legal grounds for the charges were not sufficient. The NABU denied this, saying that there was enough evidence to charge him.

Another effort to block the case happened in 2021, when a court refused to extend the Tatarov investigation. Prosecutors subordinate to Symonenko effectively buried it by missing the deadline for sending it to trial.

There is evidence that Symonenko had contact with Tatarov during the investigation despite a conflict of interest. In 2021, Symonenko attended a birthday party held by Tatarov, according to an investigation by Ukrainska Pravda.

Tatarov also served Yanukovych as a top police official and was appointed by Zelensky in violation of the lustration law, which bans major Yanukovych-era officials from holding state jobs. Tatarov has also been investigated for persecuting protesters during the pro-Western EuroMaidan Revolution and publicly lashed out at them while defending the police who beat them.

Investigative Stories From Ukraine: Zelensky’s deputy chief of staff lives in a villa owned by people tied to Yanukovych
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