Former top Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin says he was pushed out under pressure from US Vice President Joe Biden, after he seized the assets of the oligarch behind Burisma, the gas company that employed Biden’s son.
President Donald Trump’s efforts to investigate Biden’s role in getting Shokin fired served as a pretext for his impeachment in the House of Representatives back in December. However, after Trump was acquitted by the Senate, the US media forgot about Burisma — and Ukraine.
French investigative journalist Olivier Berruyer, founder of popular anti-corruption and economics blog Les Crises, did not. In the fourth installment of his documentary series ‘UkraineGate: Inconvenient facts,’ Shokin reveals why and how he was ousted and what role the US has played in Ukraine.
Shokin tells Berruyer that Biden and the US government had approved his appointment as prosecutor-general — as, indeed, they did all major appointments in Ukraine since the 2014 Maidan upheaval — and worked with him well until he started getting too close to Burisma. He rejected reports that described his probe as “dormant.”
“Biden was acting on behalf of his own interests, and those of his family, and not in the interest of the American people,” Shokin said, adding that Barack Obama’s VP “believed that Ukraine was his private property, his fiefdom and that he could do whatever he wanted here.”
Within a few days of Shokin seizing the assets of Mykola Zlochevsky, the oligarch owner of Burisma, President Petro Poroshenko summoned him and told him to back off.
“Don’t you understand what Biden wants from you? Why are you getting into this Burisma stuff again?” Shokin quoted Poroshenko as saying. Within a few weeks, he was replaced by someone Biden called “more solid” – Yuriy Lutsenko, who had no training in law, and whom Shokin describes as a traitor to Ukraine.
The previous installment of Berruyer’s documentary featured testimonies from Ukrainians who argued that Poroshenko was directly involved in corruption, and that Hunter Biden’s job at Burisma was a de facto bribe intended for his father.
Hunter Biden was hired “solely to pressure Ukrainian authorities into stopping the criminal investigations into Burisma,” former Deputy Prosecutor-General Renat Kuzmin told Berruyer.
These investigations had raised the possibility that Biden’s compensation was in effect a bribe being channeled to his father, who handled the Ukraine policy for the Obama administration.
When VP Biden demanded the firing of head prosecutor Viktor Shokin – as he later boasted on camera – Poroshenko was happy to oblige, even if he had to bribe some members of the Rada to make it happen, interviewees have revealed.
A leading anti-corruption activist openly accused the former president of keeping the office of prosecutor-general under personal political control. One former deputy prosecutor said that Poroshenko treated the office as “an escort service,” in his pursuit of money and power.
A former employee of the prosecutor-general’s office described Poroshenko as “the most corrupt president in our history, as of now.”
Former MP Oleksandr Onyschenko testified that Burisma’s owner Mykola Zlochevsky used him in late 2015 to relay a $50 million bribe offer to Poroshenko to make the investigations go away – and that the president agreed. The former parliamentarian and close associate of Poroshenko has since turned whistleblower, admitting to taking bribes himself in exchange for votes, such as the one to remove Shokin.
Poroshenko lost his re-election bid in 2019 to comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, and is currently reported to be facing multiple criminal investigations for corruption.
“Unfortunately, Ukraine is corrupt to the core,” said former Deputy Prosecutor Kuzmin, pointing the finger of blame at the US government’s involvement with Poroshenko’s administration.
Header: FILE PHOTO: (L) Hunter Biden and Joe Biden. © REUTERS/Andy Wong/Pool (R) Petro Poroshenko and Joe Biden © REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko