The Prosecutor General’s office launched a criminal investigation against Petro Poroshenko, the former president of Ukraine, Poroshenko’s lawyer Igor Golovan said, in a statement.
Golovan claimed that, at the same time, a twin case was opened that involves U.S President Joe Biden. The Kyiv Post wasn’t able to verify that claim. The Prosecutor General’s Office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Both investigations were allegedly launched based on a complaint by Andriy Derkach, a pro-Russian lawmaker whom the U.S. government has identified as a Russian agent.
According to Golovan’s Jan. 26 announcement on the Poroshenko-owned Channel 5 TV network, both Poroshenko and Biden face charges for suspected meddling in the money laundering investigation of Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that employed Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
According to Poroshenko’s lawyer, the new cases “concern the alleged interference of Poroshenko and Biden into the activities of former Prosecutor General (Viktor) Shokin.”
Based on Golovan’s description, the cases appear to fall in the lines of a long-running yet debunked conspiracy theory about then-Vice President Biden allegedly demanding that Shokin was fired because of an investigation of the company that employed his son. The theory has been pursued by President Donald Trump and his followers.
According to Golovan, if found guilty, Poroshenko is facing a fine, a year of community service, or three months in detention.
The conspiracy theory about Biden’s interference in the work of Ukrainian authorities to save his son from prosecution has been debunked.
It was based on the fact that Biden admitted to having demanded that Poroshenko fired Shokin, then-prosecutor general, in March 2016.
Shokin is a highly controversial former official who served as prosecutor general for a little more than a year. He was fired in March 2016 for showing little, if any success in fighting corruption. Ukrainian lawmakers and anti-graft activists advocated for Shokin’s dismissal for months before Biden stepped in.
Despite the claims, there are no signs that Shokin was ever interested in investigating Burisma, the company that employed Biden’s son and belonged to a fugitive ex-ecology minister Mykola Zlochevsky. Shokin was known to sabotage important cases and block law enforcement reform after months of pressure from civil society and international partners.
After being fired, Shokin laid low. He reappeared in the news in 2019, when he began assisting former U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in digging up dirt on Biden in Ukraine.
Shokin claimed it was Biden, the White House’s point man on Ukraine at the time, who forced the firing to protect Burisma and Hunter Biden from a corruption probe.
Burisma has been under investigation since 2014, when the EuroMaidan revolution ousted former president Viktor Yanukovych, revealing evidence of major corruption at the company.
The investigation focuses on Zlochevsky allegedly using his authority as ecology minister to enrich himself and give Burisma valuable state contracts from 2010 to 2014.
Hunter Biden served on Burisma’s board of directors from 2014 to 2019, getting $50,000 per month. He got the job when his father was the vice president.
When he was hired, Zlochevsky already fled Ukraine and the company was in trouble.
Zlochesky has been the target of multiple investigations, including over an alleged $6 million bribe he offered to close the criminal cases against him. Investigations of his alleged money laundering, illegal enrichment and fraud are ongoing.
If Biden is indeed facing investigation in Ukraine, it wouldn’t be the first time. In February 2020, Shokin asked a court to force the State Investigations Bureau to open two investigations against Biden upon his complaints, which they at first refused to do. The agency opened the cases following court orders based upon Shokin’s petitions.
This time, the new investigations were started on a complaint by Derkach, also someone like Shokin with a shady reputation.
In January, the U.S. Treasury identified Derkach as a “Russian agent.” He has been under American sanctions since September for acting in Russia’s interests and attempting to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential elections.
Like Shokin, Derkach passed unsubstantiated claims about Biden and Ukraine’s alleged collusion with Democrats to Giuliani, who led Trump’s campaign to discredit Biden.
Derkach went to Pechersk District Court of Kyiv to force the Prosecutor General’s Office to open two probes, one into Poroshenko and another one into Biden for allegedly interfering in Shokin’s work, according to Golovan.
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