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Ex-Supreme Court chief found guilty of illegally accepting gift as he awaits ruling on other bribery charge

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 27, 2023 2:08 PM 2 min read
Vsevolod Kniaziev, the former head of the Supreme Court, has been charged with bribery. Critics argue that the Kniazev case shows the failure of judicial reform. (Supreme Court press service)
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Vsevolod Kniaziev, the former head of Ukraine's Supreme Court, was found guilty by a court in Kyiv of illegally accepting a gift after it was revealed he was renting an apartment in an elite neighborhood of Kyiv for Hr 1,000 ($26) a month, the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) reported on Dec. 27.

Kniaziev was charged with accepting a $2.7 million bribe in May 2023. He was dismissed from his position through a vote of no confidence.

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) announced in August that Ukrainian oligarch Kostyantyn Zhevago is suspected of having bribed Kniaziev and other Supreme Court judges in exchange for a decision in his favor.

As a result of the Dec. 27 court ruling, Kniaziev was found guilty of surpassing the monetary limit of gifts while holding the position of a judge. According to anti-corruption laws, offering property for below-market-rate value can constitute a gift.

According to the apartment rental app Bird, listings of similar size to the 133-square-meter apartment in Kyiv's upscale Pechersk neighborhood that Kniaziev rented cost around $2,000 per month.

As punishment, the court in Kyiv confiscated a gift of Hr 906,600 ($24,000) from Kniaziev and issued a fine of Hr 2,550 ($68).

Ukraine's High Anti-Corruption Court ordered on Dec. 21 that Kniaziev remain in custody on the bribery charges and lowered his bail from Hr 27 million ($716,000) to Hr 20 million ($530,000). His bail was originally set at Hr 107.3 million ($2.9 million) in May but has since been reduced several times.

As Ukrainian officials begin filing asset declarations, controversies surface
Editor’s Note: The original version of this text mistakenly said that Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk received $320,000 in wages from the state in 2022, with the actual figure being $32,000. Some of the electronic asset declarations recently filed by top officials have revealed huge earnings, valuable as…

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