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Demonstrators protest Shokin’s firing of anti-corruption prosecutors

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About 150 protesters demonstrated on March 25 against distrusted and discredited Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

They protested against Shokin’s decision to fire subordinates of reformist Deputy Prosecutor General Davit Sakvarelidze working on corruption cases against prosecutors.

The most high-profile case is that against top prosecutors Oleksandr Korniyets and Volodymyr Shapakin, popularly known as the “diamond prosecutors” due to the diamonds found in Korniyets’ house. Korniyets, an ex-deputy chief prosecutor of Kyiv Oblast, and Shapakin, an ex-deputy head of the investigative department at the Prosecutor General’s Office, were arrested last year and then released on bail.

Sakvarelidze has told the Kyiv Post that Shokin and his first deputy Yury Sevruk had been sabotaging efforts to prosecute Korniyets and Shapakin and cleanse the prosecutor’s office of corrupt and incompetent officials. Shokin and Sevruk deny the accusations.

Sakvarelidze and other opponents of Shokin say that Korniyets and Shapakin are protégés of Shokin and Sevruk.

Critics say Shokin could even be involved in the alleged corruption schemes of the “diamond prosecutors.” Sakvarelidze said on March 24 that a copy of Shokin’s passport and his land registration documents had been found in Korniyets’ house.

The demonstrators called for re-instating Sakvarelidze’s prosecutors, firing Shokin and choosing a new prosecutor general in an open and transparent process. They also demanded preventing the appointment of old prosecutorial cadres and Shokin loyalists like his deputies Yury Sevruk and Yury Stolyarchuk, as well as proteges of President Petro Poroshenko.

Posters carried by the protesters read “Diamonds are Shokin’s best friends,” “Shokin wants to join (ex-Prosecutor General Viktor) Pshonka? We’ll show him the way to Rostov!” and “Do (top prosecutors) think they are immortal?”

Sakvarelidze spoke at the rally and joined the protesters’ demands.

In
another move that triggered civil society’s indignation, the
Prosecutor General’s Office has started an investigation against the
Anti-Corruption Action Center and has received permission from a
court to search its premises, Vitaly Shabunin, head of the center’s
executive board, wrote on Facebook on March 25.

See related story here.

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