Sunday, November 27, 2022

Supreme Court fails to dismiss deputy chairman with Russian passport

by Oleg SukhovOctober 3, 2022 11:43 pm

Supreme Court fails to dismiss deputy chairman with Russian passportSupreme Court's Deputy Chairman Bohdan Lvov attends the court's hearing in Kyiv on Oct. 22, 2021. (UNIAN)

The commercial chamber of Ukraine's Supreme Court on Oct. 3 failed to gather enough votes to fire the chamber's Chairman Bohdan Lvov. Days prior, Ukraine's Security Service confirmed that Lvov is a Russian citizen, which he continues to deny.

Under Ukrainian law, foreign citizens are banned from holding government jobs. 

Despite this, only 21 judges out of 43 voted in favor of firing Lvov, who is also the Supreme Court's deputy chairman.

"The Supreme Court's commercial chamber decided its fate by destroying its own reputation," the Anti-Corruption Action Center, a civic watchdog, wrote on Telegram. 

Since Russia launched its war against Ukraine in 2014, there have been concerns that many officials may be loyal to the aggressor state, with cases of high-ranking officeholders having dual citizenship appearing regularly.

Citizenship scandal 

Lvov received Russian citizenship in 1999 when he was already working as a judge in Ukraine, according to documents published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Schemes investigation project.

In 2012, Lvov received a new Russian passport when he turned 45. At the same time, Lvov went to Moscow, Schemes reported, citing official data on people crossing the Russian border.

He got a Russian taxpayer identification number in 2010, according to the site of Russia's Federal Tax Service, Schemes reported.

According to Schemes, Russia's real estate register shows that Lvov's wife and mother-in-law co-own an apartment in Moscow. His wife is also a citizen of Russia.

Lvov used to co-own the Moscow apartment too, but transferred his share to his wife and mother-in-law in 2012 using his Russian passport for the transaction, according to Russia's real estate register.

Schemes reported that Lvov did not cease to be a Russian citizen when Russia annexed Crimea and started its war against Ukraine in 2014. He didn't do so in 2022 as well.

Corruption scandals

The Public Integrity Council, the judiciary's civil watchdog, concluded in 2017 that Lvov did not meet ethics and integrity standards and did not have the right to run for a Supreme Court job. 

The judicial authorities ignored the Public Integrity Council's conclusion.

Lvov was also under investigation in a graft case against Pavlo Grechkivsky, a former member of the High Council of Justice, Ukraine's main judicial governing body. 

According to the investigators, Lvov helped Grechkivsky to extort $500,000 for favorable court rulings. Both of them denied the accusations.

However, in 2018, Grechkivsky was acquitted by court.

Roman Maselko, a member of the High Council of Justice and a former anti-corruption activist, argued that, despite the solid evidence of Grechkivsky's guilt, the prosecutors had intentionally sabotaged the case by committing procedural violations and failing to catch Grechkivsky red-handed with the bribe.

Lvov is also under investigation in the case in which ex-High Commercial Court Chairman Viktor Tatkov and his deputy Artur Yemelyanov have been charged with organizing the issuance of unlawful rulings. 

Tatkov and Yemelyanov are accused of having run one of the largest corruption and corporate raiding schemes under ex-President Viktor Yanukovych.

The High Commercial Court's judges, including Lvov, voted to get rid of the automatic distribution system for court cases by assigning a single judge to a specific specialization. According to the Public Integrity Council, this allowed Tatkov and Yemelyanov to handpick judges for cases they wanted to profit from. 

Vitaly Tytych, a former head of the Public Integrity Council, believes that this makes Lvov and other High Commercial Court judges accomplices in the Tatkov-Yemelyanov case.

Russian passports

Lvov isn't the first Ukrainian top official to be caught having a Russian passport.

Serhiy Semochko, who was a deputy head of Ukraine's Foreign Intelligence Service from 2018 until 2019, concealed the Russian citizenships of his family members.

Journalists found that Semochko's wife and adopted children had acquired Russian passports in occupied Crimea. The Security Service confirmed his family's Russian passports.

Another former Russian passport holder is Odesa Mayor Hennady Trukhanov, who had long denied having Russian citizenship. 

According to Ukrainian prosecutors, Trukhanov's Russian passport was annulled in 2017.

Oleg Sukhov
Oleg Sukhov
Political reporter

Oleg Sukhov is a political reporter at the Kyiv Independent. He is a former editor and reporter at the Moscow Times. He has a master's degree in history from the Moscow State University. He moved to Ukraine in 2014 due to the crackdown on independent media in Russia and covered war, corruption, reforms and law enforcement for the Kyiv Post.

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