Pressure is mounting on Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAP) head Nazar Kholodnitsky to resign amid the release of declassified tapings of compromising conversations held in Kholodnitsky’s office.
Artem Sytnyk. Photo credit: UNIAN
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) today released snippets from five conversations that its head Artem Sytnyk says can be used as evidence of Kholodnitsky’s alleged interference with criminal cases against a number of officials. They include People's Front deputy Georgiy Logvinsky, UkrLandFarming owner Oleg Bakhmatyuk, Odessa Mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov and National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption ex-head Natalia Korchak.
One of the conversations takes place with Oleksandr Bogachev –assistant advisor to Radical Party leader Oleg Lyashko. According to the investigation, he tried to bribe acting Health Minister Ulana Suprun.
According to the NABU, Vyshnevy Mayor Ilya Dikov may be implicated in extorting an apartment from the company "Aquarelle Development Holding”, which Bogachev supposedly then offered to Suprun.
On March 1, Kholodnitsky allegedly met with his deputy director Sergey Kaftey and warned him about possible searches, as well as details of the criminal case, supposedly inciting him to knowingly give a false testimony.
In another conversation, Kholodnitsky allegedly tells Logvinsky, who is involved in three cases – including one where he is accused of appropriating property for 40 million hryvnia from the founders of Belvedere Ukraine – when detectives will conduct investigative actions.
Kholodnistsky is also accused of asking Senior Prosecutor Sergei Kozachin when the proceedings against Logvinsky are expected to end and indicated that the cases should be either postponed indefinitely or closed.
The conversations were recorded over a period of a month, with a bug that was attached to an aquarium in Kholodnitsky’s office. His office discovered the device, which was placed there by NABU, last month.
Sytnyk accuses his colleage of disclosing materials related to a number of criminal cases and obstructing the work of NABU.
Kholodnistsky meanwhile denied that there were any violations in his actions, saying he would would respond to allegations during the investigation.
NABU and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office traditionally work together.
Earlier, on March 29 the Prosecutor General’s Office with NABU lodged complaints to the Qualification Disciplinary Commission of Prosecutors about alleged disciplinary offenses committed by Kholodnitsky. The submission, signed by Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko and Sytnyk, calls for the removal of Kholodnitsky from his position as SAP head.
Lutsenko and Sytnyk are seeking to prosecute Kholodnitsky on grounds including disclosure of secrets protected the law, gross violation of prosecutors ethics and improper performance of official duties.
Nataliya Korchak Photo credit: UNIAN
The Prosecutor General's Office launched its investigation against Kholodnitsky six months ago amid a quarrel between NABU and SAP heads over a case against Korchak.
Kholodnitsky, who was questioned in the Verkhovna Rada today, said the entire investigation was launched in an effort to discredit him, following his calls for a further investigation into deputy Serhiy Leshchenko’s $350,000 apartment in the centre of Kyiv.
Kholodnitsky was appointed as the Head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office in November 2015.
Last month, prior to publication of NABU’s case against Kholodnitsky, Ukrainian media reported that, according to sources, the SAP head was planning to resign before Easter as a result of ongoing health problems.