The case against Anticorruption Action Center is a revenge on civil society for criticizing Office of Prosecutor General – Vitaliy Shabunin

Kyiv, March 30, 2016. “Anticorruption Action Center has not taken a cent from the U.S. government for reforming of the Prosecutor’s Office,” said Head of Board of the Anticorruption Action Center Vitaliy Shabunin speaking at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. He explained that the U.S. financial assistance consisted of two parts. First one is the money directed to support the actual reforming of the Prosecutor’s Office, another part is the money to support the setup of the new law enforcement agencies: the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), specialized Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office etc. Shabunin emphasized that the Anticorruption Action Center has recently started using the money from the second pool of financial assistance directing it to training of the NABU detectives with the use of best international and Ukrainian experts. A part of the money was also spent on training of candidates to posts at the NABU and at the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office.

Shabunin is convinced that in such a way the Office of the Prosecutor General is trying to exercise pressure on the Anticorruption Action Center. The reason for that is the criticism towards the Prosecutor General and his two deputies – Yuriy Sevruk and Yuriy Stolyarchuk. “Over the past two years we have been publicly speaking on how this team gave up the key criminal probes against [the former president] Yanukovych and his allies. It is banal revenge,” said the activist reminding that Yuriy Stolyarchuk bears responsibility over failing the probe against Ukrainian businessman Yuriy Ivanyushchenko (Yenakiyevsky) – considered to be Yanukovych’s “wallet”. Not a single new person has come to managerial positions at local prosecutor’s offices because of Yuriy Sevruk. “In this case I see no difference between the Office of the Prosecutor General under Yanukovych headed by Pshonka and the Office of the Prosecutor General under Poroshenko headed by Shokin, Sevruk and Stolyarchuk,” emphasized Shabunin.

Lawyer of the Anticorruption Action Center Olena Shcherban says the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine has no claims to the NGO over the use of money provided by the U.S. government. She also noted that the probe itself is composed in a questionable way. There is no descrption of activities by the Anticorruption Action Center on embezzlement, legislation allegedly violated is not mentioned, no reference to any sort of proof is provided. “In the court decision it is stated that the Office of the Prosecutor General has not received the money from the U.S. government for reforming of Ukraine’s criminal justice. But according to our legislation it was never supposed to receive it,” explained Shcherban. She said that the Anticorruption Action Center has prepared the claim on a crime against the Prosecutor’s Office staff who were dealing with this criminal probe.

Daryna Kalenyuk, executive director of the Anticorruption Action Center, does not rule out that apart from access to financial documents of the organization the Office of the Prosecutor General may be also conducting unofficial investigative actions: be intercepting calls, follow the staff of the Anticorruption Action Center. She is convinced that the international partners now see that the Office of the Prosecutor General does not only punish unwanted inside the system but is also attacking the civic sector representatives who criticize it.

Roman Maselko, lawyer of Automaidan and of the Advocates Council stated that the lawyers of these organizations step into the court process and support the Anticorruption Action Center. He compared this case to the one against the Automaidan activists in Yanukovych times.

According to Vitaliy Shabunin, the President may well announce an open competition to the post of the Prosecutor General. As the Constitution foresees that the President suggests a candidate to the Parliament, however it is up to the President how this candidate is chosen.