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Monday, February 6, 2023

Zelensky’s MP expelled from party after video showed him try to bribe police

by Anna MyroniukFebruary 2, 2022 3:34 pm
Oleksandr Trukhin, a lawmaker for the ruling Servant of the People faction, attends a parliament session on June 14, 2020. (UNIAN )

Oleksandr Trukhin, a lawmaker from the governing President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People faction, was kicked out of the party after a journalistic investigation exposed his attempts to bribe police officers at a car crash site.

The party announced the decision to expel Trukhin on Feb. 2, a day after the Ukrainska Pravda’s investigation was published. Now the party will also consider expelling Trukhin from the party's parliament faction, that including 242 members of parliament. However, even if he is expelled, Trukhin won't lose his seat in parliament.

The car accident that involved Trukhin occurred on Aug. 23 in Kyiv Oblast. Six people were injured, including Luciano Lucci, a football referee and chairman of the Ukraine Football Association’s Committee of Referees.

The car Trukhin was in has caused the accident. According to the video published by Ukrainska Pravda, witnesses at the scene said that Trukhin was behind the wheel. The lawmaker has consistently denied it, saying that another person was driving the car, while he was napping in the back seat. However, the video shows Trukhin reaching to the driver's seat to get his glasses after the crash.

Trukhin’s involvement in the crash sparked outrage, with the public demanding a proper investigation. However, the case has seen little progress and no strong reaction from the Servant of the People leadership for over five months.

The police body camera video, published by Ukrainska Pravda, shows that Trukhin refused to take a drug test at the scene. Serhiy Petryk, the officer whose body camera video was released, said that Trukhin showed signs of alcohol intoxication.

Trukhin was filmed as he tried to escape the crash scene multiple times.

He also said he would settle things personally with Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky. The ministry dismissed the claim as false in an official statement published on Feb. 2. 

When the police officers present at the scene refused to let Trukhin go, the lawmaker shifted to trying to bribe them. He offered 150,000 in unspecified currency that he claimed he had in his car. According to Petryk, the lawmaker also said he would settle things with each participant of the accident.

Back in August, over 30 media outlets took down the news about Trukhin's involvement in the crash soon after publishing them, while others reported that they were offered bribes to delete their articles about Trukhin. The lawmaker denied trying to whitewash his reputation.

The car crash has been investigated by the State Investigation Bureau, a law enforcement body that probes officials, judges and law enforcers.

Reacting to Ukrainska Pravda's report, the agency said that it didn’t have access to the body camera video released by journalists.

“The video will be legally requested, investigated and the actions recorded will be assessed from the legal point of view,” the agency’s statement reads.

The bureau also said that Petryk was interrogated, but "he did not provide them with the information he gave to journalists."

Following the release of the video, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said she ordered the opening of a separate criminal probe to investigate other alleged wrongdoings aside from the car accident. The National Anti-Corruption Bureau will oversee the case.

The Servant of the People leaders came out with statements condemning Trukhin’s actions.

David Arakhamia, head of the presidential faction in parliament, said he and his colleagues were ashamed of Trukhin's behavior.

Zelensky said he supports the party’s decision to expel Trukhin and expects a “similar reaction” from law enforcement.

Anna Myroniuk
Anna Myroniuk
Head of investigations

Anna Myroniuk is the head of investigations at the Kyiv Independent. Anna has run investigative projects on human rights, healthcare and illicit trade. She investigated presidents and oligarchs. She has written for New York Times, Washington Post, Coda Story and OCCRP. Anna holds a Masters in Investigative Journalism from the City University of London. She is a Chevening Scholar, a finalist of the 2020 Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award, an honoree of the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe Media & Marketing list, the runner-up in the investigative reporting category of the 2022 European Press Prize, and the finalist of the 2022 National Investigative Journalism Award of Ukraine.

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