Ukrainian Interior minister Avakov faces criminal probe

Ukrainian Interior minister Avakov faces criminal probe

Ukraine’s chief prosecutor Yuri Lutsenko said a criminal investigation was launched against Interior Minister Arsen Avakov after the Prosecutor General's Office received a letter from the Anti-Corruption Action Center.

"I receive over a dozen letters from people, including the Center’s head Vitaliy Shabunin, whose letter was the premise for an inquiry into – you won’t believe it – Interior Minister Avakov, because everyone is equal," the chief prosecutor said, without disclosing the cause of the probe.

Political expert Alexei Poltorakov, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that this statement of the chief prosecutor is one of the manifestations of the political struggle in the inner circle of the President Petro Poroshenko. "Avakov, just like Lutsenko, enjoys a certain level level of trust of the president. Moreover, on the eve of possible early parliamentary elections the president is ‘flirting’ with the People's Front; one of its key leaders is Avakov," he pointed out.

"Lutsenko's statement is a lightweight PR of the chief prosecutor itself, which shows that supposedly there are no untouchables in Ukraine. On the other hand, we have intradepartmental squabbles, which due to the reforms in the Prosecutor's Office, the Interior Ministry and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau go beyond their sphere of influence, and therefore functionaries periodically try to enter someone else's territory," Alexey Poltorakov stressed.

According to the expert, it is possible that Avakov can respond to Lutsenko in suit. "It is nothing more than an exchange of political statements. Avakov is quite able to announce that the police or the Ministry itself have opened a criminal case against Lutsenko. In addition, the opening of the proceedings does not mean that the case will be send to a court; and if it is sent, no one will call neither Avakov, nor Lutsenko, nor anyone else from the president's circle a defendant," he concluded.

Previously, Ukrainian media reported that a criminal case was opened against the Anti-Corruption Center. The Pechersk District Court of Kiev authorized the prosecutor's office to conduct a seizure of the center's documents. The case was filed in connection to a missing US grant for reform of the prosecutor's office.

The chief prosecutor has promised that the case against the center will be closed. Shabunin in response said that he would like to see a relevant document. He added that, in his opinion, prosecutors who have opened proceedings against the center should be punished.

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