The Interior Minister of Ukraine, Arsen Avakov, has spoken out in support of former Ukrainian MP Tetiana Chornovol after the latter was accused of murder.
"There are no untriable people in the country and nor there should be. Everyone, both heroes and prosecutors, must respond to charges. But what is happening in relation to Tania is nonsensical and shameful," the minister wrote on his Facebook page.
Avakov went on to praise Chornovol: from her participation in the 2013-2014 Euromaidan protests against the ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych to her refusing a free flat from the state after her husband died in the Donbas war.
"I am ashamed of the fact that we all allowed such an act against Chornovol as today," Avakov wrote in his April 11 post.
Hours before the minister's Facebook post, investigators from the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) served Chornovol with charges of killing a man. The SBI stated that Chornovol, on February 18, 2014, was managing the activities of a group of persons and directly participated in the arson of a building in the center of Kyiv, where the office of the Party of Regions headed by Yanukovych was located. The fire led to the death of a 65-year-old employee of the office, Volodymyr Zakharov.
Chornovol, who is also a former investigative journalist, denies the charges calling them "an attempt to rewrite the Euromaidan history."
“Did I set fire to the Party of Regions office? Yes... Was I involved in the murder? No, my hands are not blood-stained,” the former lawmaker insisted.
"These are political repressions. This case [was initiated in retaliation] for the Maidan," Chornovol said.
On April 11, Ukraine's National Agency for Preventing Corruption (NAPC) established that the fact that Yanukovych’s ex-lawyer, Oleksandr Babikov, serves as the first deputy head of the SBI is a conflict of interests.
Since November 20, the SBI are responsible for investigating the crimes committed during the 2013-2014 Euromaidan Revolution that saw 97 Ukrainians die.
Avakov, in his post, also drew to the fact that Babikov previously worked for Yanukovych.
"Mr. Bibikov (sic - ed.), I also was on the Maidan on February 18, 2014. I am just like Tania – come over to me, I'm waiting. Just try. Or, better even, get lost from your service, or go back to Yanukovych," the minister wrote. "Don't interfere with the president's work in restoring the country. It's not easy as it is!"
Avakov has a dubious reputation among Ukraine's activists, civil organizations, and civil society.
Chornovol, if proven guilty, faces imprisonment of 10 to 15 years or life imprisonment.
/By Maria Romanenko