The Mayor of Odesa should step down from his position due to the “huge number of corruption claims” hanging over him, a Ukrainian lawmaker has told Kyiv Post, after yet another court case to investigate him was forced to postpone as he was away on a business trip.
Gennadiy Trukhanov was elected mayor of the coastal city in 2014 and has been under investigation since 2017 for alleged embezzlement.
The case has been under consideration by the High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC) for almost two years while the mayor and his team continue to rule the city.
Speaking exclusively to Kyiv Post, Honcharenko, a member of the European Solidarity Party, said: “I think the sooner the Trukhanov era ends in Odesa, the better, because he and his team are facing a huge number of corruption claims.”
Honcharenko, who was born in Odesa, added: “There are many claims about Trukhanov’s honesty. It is time to show the results of all these investigations.”
The mayor’s problems with law enforcement agencies began in 2017, when the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) launched an investigation into Trukhanov, who was accused of organizing a city council vote to buy the old Krayan factory administrative building for Hr 185 million ($7.04 million) in September 2016, when it had at the beginning of the year been bought by another firm for only Hr 4 million ($152,000).
He was detained in 2018, then acquitted of the charges the following year.
However, in February 2021 the HACC’s appeal chamber overturned the acquittal and the case has been languishing in the courts ever since.
Lawmaker Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, the deputy head of the anti-corruption policy committee, told Kyiv Post that some 35 court meetings have been scheduled to discuss cases against Trukhanov over the past two years but none have been able to commence for various reasons.
“On March 14, the court meeting was disrupted again due to the absence of some lawyers and the defendants, he said. “Trukhanov had gone on a business trip to Japan and asked to postpone the hearing.”
Yurchyshyn said that the court had already tried to address the absences, imposing fines and appealing to disciplinary authorities, but to no avail. As a result, the judges will determine the validity of the reasons for the absence of the defendants and their lawyers at the next meeting, scheduled for April 4 when the next hearing is due to take place.
In 2021 Trukhanov faced new charges of allocating land for construction at inflated prices involving alleged kickbacks and money laundering from 2016 to 2019 worth a total of nearly $25 million.
In addition to suspicions of criminal activity, the Odesa mayor’s “pro-Ukrainian position is doubtful,” Honcharenko noted, highlighting information about Trukhanov holding a Russian passport, a copy of which surfaced in the Panama Papers release in 2018.
Despite years of denials, his Russian citizenship was confirmed at Odesa’s Malinovsky Court a year later.
Honcharenko also pointed out that the city authorities “sabotaged the removal of the monument of Russian Empress Catherine from the Odesa central square, and Trukhanov himself inaugurated the monument to Russian general Alexander Suvorov, which has now been demolished.”
In October last year President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to the Security Service of Ukraine and the Interior Ministry to review Trukhanov’s alleged pro-Russian statements.
Zelensky was responding to a petition regarding the actions and statements of the Odesa mayor, which has collected the signatures of more than 25,000 Ukrainians.
After Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Trukhanov acknowledged his view of Russia had changed drastically, saying: “My perception has changed, unfortunately. I did not expect that the Russian people would hate us, Ukrainian people, so much.
“It's shocking to me.”
Kyiv Post contacted the Odesa mayor’s office with a request for comment, but did not receive a response.
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