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Kyiv court reinstates judge with Russian citizenship to Supreme Court

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 10, 2024 1:34 PM 2 min read
Bohdan Lvov, reinstated as the head of the commercial chamber of Ukraine's Supreme Court by the Kyiv District Administrative Court. (Supreme Court/website)
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Editor's note: This article was updated after the Supreme Court appealed against the Kyiv District Administrative Court's decision to reinstate Bohdan Lvov.

The Kyiv District Administrative Court ruled on Jan. 10 in favor of Bohdan Lvov, a former head of the commercial chamber of Ukraine's Supreme Court, reinstating him to his old position, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) investigative project Schemes reported.

Schemes' investigation from September 2022 uncovered that Lvov possesses a Russian passport, a report later confirmed by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). Despite the judge's denial, the Supreme Court dismissed Lvov in response to the findings.

The Kyiv court reportedly decided that the Supreme Court must pay Lvov's salary for the period of his "forced abstention."

The Supreme Court would appeal the decision, its press service said. The decision comes into effect only after the end of the appeal proceedings.

According to the media investigation that sparked the scandal, Lvov received a Russian passport in the late 1990s while already serving as a judge.

He had obtained the document based on a military service certificate, which he had received following a graduation from a Soviet Defense Ministry's institute in 1989, Schemes wrote.

Lvov is said to have renewed his passport in 2012 and did not renounce Russian citizenship even after the start of Moscow's aggression in 2014 nor following the outbreak of the full-scale war in 2022.

Ukraine's law does not recognize double citizenship, and a Russian passport in the hands of a public official is a particular cause for concern.

Lvov denied having a Russian passport and claimed that his removal was motivated by "parties interested in economic disputes" under the consideration of the Supreme Court's commercial chamber.

The judge subsequently filed a lawsuit against the Supreme Court, demanding reinstatement and full salary for the period of his unemployment.

When the information became public, a petition was filed asking President Volodymyr Zelensky to deprive Lvov of his Ukrainian citizenship.

While Zelensky instructed authorities to investigate grounds for taking away Lvov's Ukrainian passport, the migration service announced in December 2023 that it is no longer considering the matter, providing no explanation.

Ukraine has long struggled with cases of corruption and other violations in its justice system. Reforms of the judiciary are one of the key steps Kyiv has to undertake on its path toward EU membership.

In one of the most high-profile recent cases of corruption in the Ukrainian justice system, Vsevolod Kniaziev, the former head of Ukraine's Supreme Court, was charged with accepting a $1.8 million bribe in exchange for the court's decision favoring Ukrainian oligarch Kostiantyn Zhivago.

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