The former lawyer of Ukraine's fugitive president Viktor Yanukovych, Oleksandr Babikov, has become the deputy director of the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). This is evidenced by the relevant information published on the SBI website.
Since November 20, the SBI are responsible for investigating the crimes committed during the 2013-2014 Euromaidan Revolution that saw 97 Ukrainians die. Berkut police officers, under the leadership of Yanukovych's government, are considered responsible for the killings of the demonstrators who were shot and tortured to death.
Earlier, on the afternoon of January 20, the management section of the website listed only the temporary acting director of the Bureau – Irina Venediktova.
However, in a video message, Venediktova said that the selection committee had completed its work, candidates for the positions of deputies had been screened and orders for their appointment had been signed.
She did not call out names, but on the evening of January 20, Babikov, who became the first deputy director of SBI, and Oleksandr Sokolov, another deputy head, appeared on the webpage.
David Arakhamia, the head of the presidential Servant of the People party, said that he is "strongly against" Babikov's appointment. However, he added, this is his personal stance.
"I did not know about this, that's why our faction doesn't have a [public] stance," Arakhamia said during the "Svoboda slova" program on ICTV channel. "[Our MPs] are driving around the districts now, and we haven't had a factional meeting yet. We will definitely issue our faction's stance."
The public organization "Families of Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred" opposed the appointment of Babikov because of a conflict of interest.
At the same time, in her address, Venediktova assured that there would be no conflict of interest, and criticism of Babikov's appointment was “manipulation”.
"As for the manipulations that ‘deputy head of the SBI, Yanukovych's lawyer will be investigating the Maidan case’, I have repeatedly stressed and reiterated so that the community is assured of impartiality: the ‘Maidan case’ unit is subordinated exclusively to the director of the SBI, whose duties are currently performed by me. All the measures envisaged by the law aimed at avoiding conflict of interest have been taken,” she said.
Earlier, the Golos faction urged the MPs to react to the plans to appoint Yanukovych's lawyer as deputy head of the SBI.
The Ukrainian Parliament finally approved a law to restart the SBI and unblocked the investigation into Maidan cases on December 3, 2019.
Separately, MPs voted for amendment #318 to the SBI bill, which allows investigators investigating the Maidan case to move from the Prosecutor General's Office to the SBI without competitive examination. 334 MPs voted in favor.
All the crimes committed during the Revolution of Dignity are conditionally combined into one big “Maidan case”, which comprises 89 criminal proceedings. Murder of 97 people (84 protesters and 13 law enforcers) are being investigated among other events.