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Detective who investigated Tatarov's alleged corruption removed from NABU contest.
A detective who investigated a corruption case against Oleh Tatarov, a notorious presidential deputy chief of staff, has been removed from the contest for the job of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine's (NABU) chief, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Schemes project reported on Feb. 8.
Tatarov, who was charged with bribery in 2020, is believed to influence most law enforcement bodies and is interested in appointing a loyal head of the NABU, according to anti-corruption activists.
The selection panel removed the detective, Ruslan Habriyelyan, because he allegedly does not meet the criterion of 5-year management experience.
Habriyelyan argued that he had 5-year management experience since he carried out management functions when he was a prosecutor in southern Ukraine and asked the panel to send a request to his former place of work. The selection panel refused to do so.
Habriyelyan ranked second out of 22 candidates during the selection process, according to his score.
During Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Habrilyelyan joined the Ukrainian army as a volunteer.
The appointment of an independent NABU chief who is free from political influence has been one of the key requirements of Ukraine’s Western partners. It is also a key condition for Ukraine's accession to the EU.
Tatarov, who was investigated by Habriyelyan, has become the symbol of President Volodymyr Zelensky's tolerance for corruption in his inner circle. The president has consistently refused to fire or suspend Tatarov.
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.
Tatarov was charged by the NABU in 2020 with giving an Hr 250,000 ($10,000) bribe to a forensic expert on behalf of ex-lawmaker Maksym Mykytas.
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 online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda.
Tatarov also served pro-Kremlin ex-President Viktor 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.