Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has appointed Oleh Tatarov as deputy head of the Presidential Office on Aug. 5.
As a police official in 2014, Tatarov tried to justify violence against protesters of the EuroMaidan Revolution, the popular uprising that ousted corrupt President Viktor Yanukovych.
In Zelensky’s office, Tatarov will now be responsible for Ukraine’s law enforcement policy, supervising the Prosecutor General’s Office, the State Bureau of Investigations and the Interior Ministry, which includes the police, the national guard and border guard.
“Oleh Tatarov’s tasks will include the formation of national policy in the field of law enforcement, expert and analytical support for the operation of the Office of the President of Ukraine, ensuring national security guarantees in the areas of law enforcement, combating corruption and protecting human rights,” the President’s Office said.
The Kyiv Post reached out to the Presidential Office for Tatarov’s comment, but did not get a response at press time.
Tatarov has a doctor of law degree and is a professor and an honored lawyer of Ukraine. He speaks fluent English. The Presidential Office also emphasized Tatarov’s many years of work in the Interior Ministry before he became a lawyer in 2014.
But there are also some scandalous details in Tatarov’s professional career.
At the time of EuroMaidan, Tatarov had worked in the system of the Interior Ministry since 1999. In January 2014, as deputy chief of the main investigation department, Tatarov lied about the events that led to the beating of AutoMaidan protesters by the Berkut riot police. AutoMaidan was a group of EuroMaidan protesters who rallied in cars.
The video of Tatarov’s false statement is available online. Tatarov said that the AutoMaidan protesters were “following four buses of Berkut” and “tried to cause them bodily harm.” A court later ruled that this was not how the events unfolded and that the protesters were innocent.
“He lied then for a reason, to legitimize the crimes – brutal beatings, torture, destruction of protesters’ cars during the special operation, which was planned and carried out by ‘law enforcement’ and titushkas (hired thugs),” AutoMaidan’s Facebook page said in April, when it was first reported that the President’s Office was considering Tatarov’s candidacy.
Yevhenia Zakrevska, a lawyer for the EuroMaidan protesters, shared a similar statement in April. After Tatarov was appointed, Zakrevska published an ironic comment online.
“Appointed after all. Exactly for his professional background… To supervise law enforcement. How common,” Zakrevska wrote on Facebook.
Roman Maselko, a board member of AutoMaidan, said that Tatarov’s appointment is “spitting at everyone who cares about the values of Maidan.”
As a lawyer who played a key role in the Public Integrity Council during the reform of the Supreme Court, Maselko also revealed some details about Tatarov’s career as a lawyer. Tatarov started his law practice after the EuroMaidan Revolution led to police reform and bans on Yanukovych-era officials from holding public office again.
Maselko says that Tatarov has worked as a lawyer for Andriy Portnov, a former lawmaker and deputy head of Yanukovych’s presidential administration, Vadym Novynskyi, a Russian-born Ukrainian oligarch and former lawmaker with Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, and the family of Mykola Azarov, former prime minister under Yanukovych.
Tatarov turned up in one recent case against Portnov, who was accused of threatening a prosecutor, Maselko says. According to that prosecutor’s report, Tatarov and Portnov aggressively promised to imprison him. The prosecutor also said that the case was being conducted by an investigator in the State Bureau of Investigations connected to Tatarov.
“So you can imagine what kind of tasks Tatarov [as the president’s deputy chief of staff] has from his former clients and how he will use his power,” Maselko wrote on Facebook.
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