Law enforcement officers searched Uzhhorod city council offices as part of an investigation into suspected vacations by city council officials during wartime, Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) confirmed on Nov. 1.
Media reports emerged earlier in the day that the office of Uzhhorod Mayor Bohdan Andriiv was being searched in connection to cases of illegal border crossings by local deputies and civil servants.
Officials have been banned from leaving the country since January 2023. The ban applies for the duration of the war, and travel is allowed in case of official business or medical care, among other exceptions.
Investigators believe that Uzhhorod city council officials forged documents about business trips in order to travel outside Ukraine on vacation.
The suspects are thought to have made fake invitations from foreign organizations as proof that the trip abroad was for official purposes.
These letters were not registered in the city council's electronic records system "in order to mask criminal activity," the SBU said.
The crime of illegally crossing the state border can be punished with up to nine years in prison.
Andriiv was elected to the city council of Zakarpattia Oblast's regional center in 2010 for the pro-Russian Party of Regions.
He later ran unsuccessfully for a parliamentary seat in 2019 for the Opposition Bloc, another pro-Russian party formed largely by former members of the Party of Regions.
Andriiv was elected Uzhhorod's mayor with the support of the Revival party in 2015 and was later re-elected in 2020.
A similar investigation is ongoing after independent lawmaker Oleksandr Dubinsky was declared a suspect in August of falsifying official documents in a case related to his travel abroad.
The authorities believe Dubinsky traveled under the pretext of accompanying his father for medical treatment outside of Ukraine. However, Dubinsky's father went abroad without him and returned to Ukraine before the lawmaker.
He was elected as an MP for President Volodymyr Zelensky's Servant of the People party, but was expelled in 2021 for "violating the statute and disobeying the party's governing bodies."