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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Media: Controversial top prosecutor submits his resignation after scandal over foreign trip.

by The Kyiv Independent news deskJanuary 24, 2023 2:05 am

Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko, who has been involved in corruption and other scandals, has submitted his resignation, online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda reported, citing law enforcement sources. 

Symonenko went for a vacation to Spain in December-January using a Mercedes car owned by Lviv-based businessman Grigory Kozlovsky, according to an investigation by online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda.  

The investigation triggered a major scandal, and the National Security and Defense Council on Jan. 23 banned state officials from leaving Ukraine, except for business trips. 

Symonenko has been accused of blocking corruption cases and persecuting opposition politicians to curry favor with incumbent authorities. 

He has also helped destroy a corruption case against President Volodymyr Zelensky’s deputy chief of staff Oleh Tatarov.

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. 

In 2020, 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. 

Several Ukrainian media have reported recently that Tatarov was about to resign. However, the reports on Tatarov's impending resignation have not been confirmed so far. 

Tatarov has become the symbol of Zelensky's tolerance of corruption in his inner circle. The president has repeatedly refused to fire or suspend Tatarov. 

The Kyiv Independent news desk
The Kyiv Independent news desk

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