Ukrainian security authorities and prosecutors have formally indicted a pro-Russian politician for high treason in absentia, following a three-month long investigation; he now faces up to 15 years in prison, if convicted, but escaped to Russia last year.
Oleh Voloshyn, a former member of Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, is accused by the Prosecutor General of assisting Russia’s top military and political leadership and conducting “large-scale subversive activities against Ukraine,” based on evidence gathered by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).
On May 1, SBU’s website posted that “Voloshyn deliberately tried to manipulate the public opinion of Ukrainian citizens for the benefit of the aggressor state” and “publicly disseminated the Kremlin’s narratives.”
Voloshyn was a member of the banned Opposition Platform – For Life (OPZH) party, that has its roots in the Party of Regions founded by the former Ukrainian President and corrupt autocrat, Viktor Yanukovych. OPZH had its political activities suspended in March 2022, by a decree of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council. A court then banned it in June 2022 and ordered the confiscation of its assets.
In addition to his term as a parliamentarian from 2019 to February 2022, when he was suspended, Voloshyn, 42, has been a Russian- Ukrainian journalist, a political commentator on pro-Russian Ukrainian TV channels and a former government official including under Yanukovych, who was ousted by the Maidan revolution in 2014.
He was also a presidential attaché in the former Embassy of Ukraine in Moscow, Russia and, allegedly, a former business partner of the notorious international fixer and Yanukovych "bag-man," Paul Manafort.
In 2018, Manafort pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiracy to defraud the US Government and witness tampering, serving time in a Federal prison until being pardoned by President Donald Trump in December 2020.
Former President Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives in Manhattan Supreme Court on June 27, 2019 to face charges on mortgage fraud charges.TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP
In January 2022, Voloshyn was sanctioned by the US Government. A statement released by the Department of Treasury, at the time, said that Voloshyn was part of an initiative whereby: "Russia has directed its intelligence to recruit current and former Ukrainian government officials to prepare to take over the government of Ukraine and to control Ukraine’s critical infrastructure with an occupying Russian force.”
The leader of Voloshyn’s OPZH political party, Victor Medvedchuk, was also implicated.
The Putin ally, whose daughter has the Russian dictator as her godfather, was arrested and charged by Ukrainian authorities in April 2022 with high treason. Medvedchuk was exchanged for Ukrainian POWs in September 2022, including 200 fighters from the Azov Regiment who had been captured at the Azovstal plant during the battle for Mariupol.
In relation to Voloshyn, the SBU stated that, he had attempted to discredit Ukraine in the international arena with numerous social media posts and TV appearances. He also publicly justified the creation and the activities of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.
On the eve of the full-scale invasion, the suspect left Ukraine for Russia, according to the SBU.
Prosecutors will request a special court trial in order to bring the offender to justice for crimes against Ukraine.
In addition to the accusations of treason, the SBU stated that Voloshyn had caused intentional bodily harm to a citizen.
Voloshyn is facing up to 15 years in prison.
Based on evidence collected, an indictment has been sent to court charging Voloshyn under two Articles of the Criminal Code of Ukraine:
· 111.1 (high treason), and;
· 125.1 (infliction of intentional light bodily harm).
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