Viktor Medvedchuk's article in the Russian newspaper Izvestiya and his return to the public eye have once again made topical the issue of the high treason case against the former leader of the [pro-Moscow] Opposition Platform – for Life party.
This criminal case must definitely end up in court and lead to a just verdict. It is a matter of principle, of legal and political justice. The fact that he was stripped of Ukrainian citizenship is in no way an obstacle.
There is, however, a question that I have heard from different people: what threats does the Medvedchuk case pose to [Ukraine's fifth president] Petro Poroshenko and could the contents of interrogation affect him, taking into consideration the fact that the cases of both were closely linked?
Journalists and opponents of Poroshenko even used the term "Medvedchuk-Poroshenko case". Last spring, when Medvedchuk was reported to have been arrested in Ukraine and interrogated, many wondered whether the pro-Russian politician had squealed on the fifth president.
The answer is only known to the top brass in law-enforcement and investigators and, certainly, Ukraine's top leadership, with the case materials being held under wraps for two likely reasons:
- this kind of information should not be disclosed until the case is actually heard in court;
- while the country remains in a state of war, disclosure is capable of creating excessive and harmful political tension and renewing the old confrontation between Poroshenko's supporters and President Zelensky's team.
We do not know whether Medvedchuk has testified or revealed any evidence against Poroshenko, nor do we see any signs in public that the latter's case is still being investigated, though the books have hardly likely been closed on it. Most probably, the investigation continues, though without much haste or publicity.
Besides, by way of cynical political logic, why race against time? At present, the team at the helm doesn’t need a new round of political and legal fighting against Poroshenko.
The country is at war with Russia, so both the authorities and the opposition must concentrate at fighting this one and only enemy, and that is the main reason against internal political wrangling.
President Zelensky's high political authority and popularity should also be taken into account. Today, neither Poroshenko nor any other opposition figurehead offers a serious political challenge to him. That is also why there is no need to reanimate the Poroshenko case in the context of the Medvedchuk case, at least as long as the war is ongoing.
But what are the prospects for this case? The answer depends on future political circumstances and on what evidence Medvedchuk gave (if he did) against Poroshenko.
If Medvedchuk did confirm his cooperation with Poroshenko in buying coal from pro-Russian mercenaries in Ukraine’s Donbas region and/or other deals in which both are incriminated, and if it is corroborated by other evidence, then Poroshenko is at serious legal and moral-political risk.
Of course, his lawyers and political team will deny all charges and call on everyone not to believe the traitor, so Medvedchuk's possible evidence against Poroshenko may not be sufficient.
But even confirmed facts of regular political contacts between Medvedchuk and Poroshenko would be enough to smear the latter's political reputation as the leader of the European Solidarity party, and such risks might well emerge when a court hears the Medvedchuk case.
If Medvedchuk did not give any weighty evidence against Poroshenko, then investigators will have to search for additional evidence. Whether the court will deem it sufficient is an open question.
The further course of action in the Poroshenko case will also depend on the country’s political situation as this case, like all other criminal cases against top figures, was branded with political context from the very start.
The Poroshenko case might be reopened after the war, but the outcome will depend on new political circumstances. If Poroshenko sheds his political weight during and/or after the war (which is very likely) and the political confrontation between his team and Zelensky's team is not renewed, then there will be no need to hype up this case.
But if the Poroshenko camp launches an active political campaign against Zelensky or his team, then all the compromising evidence against Poroshenko, including that contained in the Medvedchuk case files, will most certainly be used and he will most likely face court. Such is the cynical logic of political wars in Ukraine and elsewhere.
Even if Medvedchuk did give some evidence against Poroshenko, it is very difficult to make any forecasts about the Poroshenko case due to the changeable nature of Ukrainian politics and the peculiarities of the Ukrainian law-enforcement and judicial systems.
Anything can happen. Like many other people, I take accusations of high treason against the fifth president with a good deal of doubt.
Let the professional legal experts delve into the legal nuances. As to Poroshenko's alleged business-political interactions with Medvedchuk, let me quote Talleyrand's famous phrase "It is worse than a crime, it is a mistake", and predict that Poroshenko has yet to bear the political and moral costs of his mistake.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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