The Verkhovna Rada on Aug. 29 appointed Ruslan Riaboshapka the prosecutor general of Ukraine.
He replaces Yuriy Lutsenko, who served since May 2016. Lutsenko earned a controversial reputation due to lack of results in high-profile cases.
Riaboshapka had been a deputy chief of staff for President Volodymyr Zelensky since May.
Read also: Ruslan Riaboshapka on his challenges as prosecutor general
Riaboshapka was a top official at the National Agency for Preventing Corruption in 2016 to 2017. However, he quit in protest of ex-President Petro Poroshenko’s control over what was supposed to be an independent anti-corruption institution.
Riaboshapka said in 2017 that the agency had been completely discredited due to its failure to check the electronic asset declaration of a single official since the declaration system was launched in 2016. He called for re-launching the agency and appointing new leadership.
At the time, he was praised by anti-corruption activists for his reformist and outspoken position.
Riaboshapka is a long-time acquaintance of Zelensky’s Chief of Staff Andriy Bohdan, with whom they worked in the government of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych.
Riaboshapka was the head of the anti-corruption policy bureau in 2010 to 2011 and a deputy head of the legal department of ex-Prime Minister Mykola Azarov’s Cabinet in 2011 to 2013.
Riaboshapka was also an official at the Justice Ministry in 1998 to 2010 and an expert at Transparency International Ukraine in 2013 to 2014.
In recent weeks Riaboshapka was involved in some controversial moves by Zelensky’s administration.
On Aug. 7, Zelensky created a commission in charge of judicial reform and appointed to it numerous judges implicated in corruption scandals and the sabotage of reforms. Riaboshapka, who was appointed a co-chair of the commission, did not respond to requests for comment on the issue.
The commission’s composition was formed by Bohdan and approved by Zelensky. Several of its members are linked to Bohdan.
Another controversy involves a lack of clarity on Riaboshapka’s position on cases into the 2013-2014 EuroMaidan Revolution.
Rioboshapka told Channel 24 on Aug. 6 that he needed to examine the EuroMaidan cases to understand their prospects.He said, however, that “many of the old cases may be “lost.”
“Sometimes we’ve got to be honest and say the truth: (in some cases) we can’t achieve the results expected by society, and we shouldn’t keep lying and make society believe in some hopes,” Riaboshapka added.
Investigators and lawyers warn that investigations into the 2013-2014 EuroMaidan Revolution, including the murder of more than 100 protesters, may collapse.
A recent restructuring of the EuroMaidan investigation units sidelined investigators and prosecutors trusted by civil society, while officials accused by investigators of blocking EuroMaidan cases, including Deputy Prosecutor General Serhiy Kiz and his proteges, were put in charge of the investigations. Kiz did not respond to a request for comment.
Kiz was promoted to deputy prosecutor general in July. Ukrainian journalists from the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s investigative project Schemes reported, citing their sources, that Kiz was promoted due to backing from Bohdan. Vitaly Tytych, a lawyer for EuroMaidan protesters, also told the Kyiv Post that Kiz was a Bohdan protégé.
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