Clashes Outside Hearing of Arrested Ukrainian Mayor
15 February, 2018

Far-right paramilitary members have clashed with police outside a Kyiv courthouse today as a judge released Odesa Mayor Hennady Trukhanov from detention pending trial.

Trukhanov was detained at Kyiv’s Boryspil airport on corruption charges, after returning to Ukraine on February 14. The mayor stands accused of embezzling state funds during the purchase of old factory buildings near the Odesa city center for 180 million hryvnia ($6.7 million). Just six months prior to the purchase, the buildings’ cost was estimated at around 11 million hryvnia (almost $410,000.)

Photo credit: HROMADSKE/Igor Burdyga

The hearing on Trukhanov’s case took place today at 10 a.m. at the Solomyanskyi Court in central Kyiv, where the mayor was taken following his detention.

Around 3 p.m., clashes erupted between police officers and members of the far right National Corps, National Druzhyna, and C14 organizations. Organization members told Hromadske that they came to protest against a group of titushki — a Ukrainian word used to describe hired thugs — who were allowed inside the building during the hearing and who, according to far-rightists, were hired by Trukhanov.

Photo credit: HROMADSKE/Sviatoslav Shevchenko

Some of these men, who were dressed in black and wore balaclavas, confirmed to Hromadske that they had come to support the mayor.

According to representatives of the Red Cross, four people were injured during the clashes, including one police officer. Police detained around 30 individuals.

Photo credit: HROMADSKE/Sviatoslav Shevchenko

Ultimately, Trukhanov was released on sponsor’s word without bail after Dmytro Holubov, an MP from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, vouched for him.

Oleksandr Lysak, Trukhanov’s lawyer, told Hromadske that the Odesa mayor is now on his way home and will resume his duties tomorrow.

Photo credit: HROMADSKE/Sviatoslav Shevchenko

“He’s on his way to Odesa. There will be a session tomorrow and he’s back to work,” he said.

Trukhankov departed Odesa on December 26, when he embarked on his official 22-day vacation. However, the mayor repeatedly extended the vacation, until he had spent 50 days off work. Many believed his prolonged absence was an attempt to evade arrest.

Photo credit: HROMADSKE/Sviatoslav Shevchenko

Speaking to the journalists in the courtroom, Trukhanov fiercely denied the charges against him.

“I don’t know which country the accusers live in… I would like to invite the accusers to Odesa for a business trip or for a weekend trip to see the conditions in which municipality workers work,” he said, justifying the purchase of the factory buildings.

Trukhanov also claimed that much of his 50-day absence from the office was due to business trips. He said that he attended the World Economic Forum in Davos and visited Switzerland and Czechia. And he would have been holding a meeting with the Czech deputy Minister of Economy had he not received the notice of suspicion, Trukhanov said.

/By Maria Romanenko