The unfolding scandal in the United States that has led to the Democratic Party announcing impeachment investigations against the current U.S. president centers on a key conversation between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. And while some Ukrainian citizens believe that Ukrainian domestic politics will be more or less unaffected by the scandal, that isn’t exactly the case.
On a recent airing of the Sunday Show, former MP and journalist Sergii Leshchenko revealed that his career has already been affected by the scandal – even before it went public. Leshchenko’s name has been mentioned as a core figure in the unfolding scandal, as the U.S. President’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has accused Leshchenko of interfering in U.S. politics by revealing a ledger kept by fugitive ex-President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, a ledger which Giuliani says is fraudulent – despite copious evidence proving otherwise.
This ledger detailed a number of payments made by Yanukovych under-the-table – and one of the names uncovered within was a senior Republican political operative, Paul Manafort, whom Yanukovych retained in order to clean up his image. Paul Manafort is now serving a 7 and a half year sentence in U.S. federal prison, on charges that include conspiracy to defraud the United States. Manafort also served as Donald Trump’s campaign manager during the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections, albeit only for four-and-a-half months – resigning on the same day that Leshchenko revealed the ledger.
However, Leshchenko denies the allegations made by Rudy Giuliani, who has a history of spreading false and misleading claims.
“Mr. Giuliani constructed a conspiracy. This conspiracy is backed by evidence, or just events, fabricated here in Ukraine by Ukrainain officials or people who are not credible sources,” stated Leshchenko, adding that another one of Giuliani’s claims – that a Ukrainian court had found Leshchenko and the director of the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) Artem Sytnyk, guilty of interfering in the 2016 U.S. election.
But, as Leshchenko pointed out, “When Mr. Giuliani talks about the involvement or interference of Ukrainian government, politics...to American elections, he means the decision of the court here in Kyiv, which does not exist anymore, which was cancelled totally and finally in July of this year...This decision of the court was specifically fabricated to put some additional arguments [supporting] this conspiracy.”
But for Leshchenko, the fallout from the scandal and Giuliani’s conspiracies haven’t ended there: He’s faced real career consequences for exposing the Yanukovych black ledger – especially when he was part of the Zelenskyy campaign team during the Ukrainian presidential elections in 2019.
“...When the [U.S.] Deputy Secretary of State came to Kyiv, I was also at this meeting, so it was okay with the American government to meet with me as a part of the Zelenskyy team...In May of this year, when Mr. Giuliani made his incredibly, I believe, unprecedented statement...that I’m an enemy of Trump, and I’m an enemy of the U.S. because I interfered in the presidential elections, which is not true...of course after this statement, it was quite an unusual problem for the president-elect...we sat down with the team and our common opinion was that since we had this statement...it can be almost impossible to keep good relations with the American government if I keep some position with the [Zelenskyy] administration,” said Leshchenko, adding that if necessary, he’s ready to testify to the U.S. Congress about his side of the story.
And as for the allegations that Zelenskyy agreed to order the new Prosecutor-General Rouslan Riaboshapka to investigate Burisma, the energy firm where Hunter Biden, son of current U.S. Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden, served as a board member, Leshchenko says that “[Zelenskyy] was just trying to change the narrative of Trump,” adding that “Riaboshapka didn’t want to be prosecutor-general...To know the situation you have to know Rouslan Riaboshapka. He was a person who ‘voluntarily’ left the Anti-corruption agency...because he is not a person who accepts pressure.”
/Interview by Nataliya Gumenyuk
/By Romeo Kokriatski