The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine has served a notice of suspicion to Andriy Sadovyi, the mayor of Lviv and leader of the Samopomich party.

Prosecutors announced they suspected Sadovyi of abuse of power in a Facebook post published on Nov. 21.

While he didn’t directly deny the accusations, Sadovyi said he was preparing his defense in a video he published on his Facebook page on Nov. 21.

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The mayor is one of several Lviv City Council officials who received notices of suspicion in the same case on the same charges.

Sadovyi is also one of a handful of former and current officials facing criminal investigations at the moment. Among the others are ex-President Petro Poroshenko, former lawmaker and Poroshenko ally Oleksandr Hranovsky, former People’s Front lawmaker Serhiy Pashynsky, Radical Party leader Oleh Lyashko, developer Maksym Mykytas, and businessman Kostyantyn Zhevago.

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The case involving Sadovyi investigates the Lviv authorities’ decision to involve an investor in building an industrial park in 2015. According to the mayor, CTP, a Czech industrial developer that builds high-tech business parks in Central and Eastern Europe, paid the city authorities Hr 54 million ($2.2 million) for a plot of land in Lviv Oblast.

Sadovyi says that CTP was supposed to build a park that would provide 3,000 jobs. However, the developer didn’t get to work on the project, as ever since they reached a deal with Lviv, it has been prosecuted, Sadovyi says.

The prosecutors say that over 60 villagers appealed to them for help amid the alleged violations in the deal in 2015.

In a Nov. 21 statement published on its Facebook page, the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office says that the 23-hectare plot doesn’t belong to Lviv and couldn’t have been sold by city authorities. Rather, the land belongs to Riasne-Ruske, a village of about 2,400 people located outside of Lviv, the prosecutors say.

In 2016, Evilia Smokorovska, the head of the Riasne-Ruske Village Council, told local media that Lviv didn’t have the authority to sell the plot. She said that the land was a disputed territory that was supposed to be used for private farming.

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According to the Lviv City Council’s website, a year later, the city and the village authorities agreed to set new borders between their settlements. However, no news about the actual agreement appeared.

According to the prosecutors, the plot was sold at a lower cost than it should have been and without an auction, causing Hr 93.5 million ($3.86 million) in monetary damages to the villagers and the state.

If found guilty, Sadovyi and other suspects in the case face from three to six years in prison.

Sadovyi has been Lviv’s mayor since 2006. In the 2019 presidential race, Sadovyi withdrew his candidacy and endorsed Anatoliy Grytsenko, the leader of the Civic Position party.

Sadovyi’s Samopomich party won 32 seats in the Ukrainian parliament in the 2014 election. However, in the 2019 parliamentary election, Samopomich didn’t pass the 5 percent threshold required to enter the parliament.

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