President Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed his American counterpart Donald Trump’s request that he investigate the U.S. president’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Foreign countries should not be calling the shots for Ukraine, Zelensky said in the Sept. 30 comment.

“We can’t be commanded to do anything. We are an independent country,” Zelensky told journalists, according to Reuters. “We are open, we are ready to investigate (but) it has nothing to do with me. Our independent law enforcement agencies are ready to investigate any case in which the law was broken.”

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On Sept. 26, the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee released a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump had pressured Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, over his work in Ukraine during a phone conversation on July 25. The elder Biden is currently the Democratic Party presidential candidate most likely to face off against Trump in the 2020 election.

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Zelensky also said that the Ukrainian government is unlikely to publish its version of the transcript of the July 25 phone call with Trump.

 

“Prior to the presidency I was never a diplomat, but I think I have had many such conversations in my life and will have many more,” Zelensky said. “There are certain nuances and things which I think it would be incorrect, even, to publish.”

On Sept. 25, the White House released a memorandum reconstructing the phone conversation between Trump and Zelensky. The memo revealed that Trump wanted Zelensky to “look into” the case of Hunter Biden.

Zelensky and Trump denied the accusations of pressure.

Ukrainian ex-Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has been accused of trying to curry favor with Trump by commenting on the Bidens’ activities in Ukraine.

In April, Lutsenko hinted that the Prosecutor General’s Office was investigating Hunter Biden, who used to be a member of the board of directors of Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma. The company is controlled by ex-President Viktor Yanukovych’s Ecology Minister Mykola Zlochevsky, who is under investigation in several criminal cases and has been charged with laundering $36 million.

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Later, Lutsenko backtracked, claiming that prosecutors did not suspect Biden or his son of any wrongdoing.

However, top prosecutor Kostyantyn Kulik told the Kyiv Post in May that the Prosecutor General’s Office had been investigating Joe Biden. A memo allegedly leaked from the Prosecutor General’s Office by ex-lawmaker Sergii Leshchenko shows that prosecutors accused Joe Biden of receiving “an unlawful benefit” from Burisma Group. Biden and his son deny the accusations of wrongdoing.

According to the whistleblower complaint, Trump also pressured Zelensky to uncover alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In 2018, the Kyiv Administrative District Court concluded that Leshchenko and Artem Sytnyk, head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, had illegally interfered in Ukraine’s foreign policy when they revealed that the surname and signature of Paul Manafort, then a campaign manager for Trump, had been found in the so-called “black ledger” of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions — effectively implicating him in receiving off the books payments for his services.

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The strange ruling was later canceled by another Ukrainian court in July.

Leshchenko has argued that the December 2018 court ruling against him was unlawful and part of an attempt by ex-President Petro Poroshenko and his protégé Lutsenko to curry favor with Trump.

Manafort would later be sentenced to 7.5 years in prison in the United States for tax and bank fraud, amongst other charges.

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