NABU opens criminal case over Venediktova’s ‘interference’ in Tatarov investigation
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) has begun criminal proceedings accusing Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova of interfering in a bribery case against President Volodymyr Zelensky’s deputy chief of staff, Oleh Tatarov.
Maksym Hryschuk, acting chairman of the Special Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office, announced the charges on a Dec. 25 broadcast by news outlet Hromadske.
The bureau maintains that Venediktova broke the law when she replaced the original prosecutors in Tatarov’s case, allegedly giving the suspect a reprieve from justice.
Venediktova, who is Zelensky’s protege, has also been accused of blocking numerous other cases, raising suspicions that she is protecting the president’s allies.
Venediktova could not immediately be reached for comment.
NABU has been investigating an alleged embezzlement scheme within a housing development program for Ukraine’s National Guard. A company called UkrBud, previously led by former lawmaker Maksym Mykytas, is in the crosshairs.
Investigators suspect that Tatarov, who worked for UkrBud as a lawyer, bribed forensic expert Kostyantyn Dubonos to get false evaluation results to help the company. Tatarov has denied these allegations.
Venediktova allegedly blocked the case against Tatarov by taking it away from its four prosecutors just as NABU detectives planned to arrest Tatarov on Dec. 1.
Instead, Venediktova appointed herself and Hryschuk to oversee the case. According to the bureau, this was done in secret.
The case was later given to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which civic watchdogs believe to be much more politically dependent than NABU. It is run by Zelensky’s friend Ivan Bakanov.
Previously, Venediktova said she had recused herself from the decision on transferring the case to the SBU and it was made by her deputy Oleksiy Symonenko.
According to Censor.net, on Dec. 1, Zelensky met with his office and decided to protect Tatarov from NABU.
On the same day, the NABU and anti-corruption prosecutors charged Mykytas with giving a bribe. He agreed to a plea bargain and testified against other suspects, which led to Tatarov’s entanglement in the investigation.
Mykytas testified that he gave bribes to forensic expert Dubonos, High Anti-Corruption Court judge Serhiy Moysak and National Guard head Yuriy Allerov.
Tatarov was appointed to the Zelensky administration in early August, despite the fact that he used to serve in the country’s Interior Ministry during the times of President Viktor Yanukovych. During the EuroMaidan Revolution of 2013-2014, which eventually ousted Yanukovych, Tatarov falsely accused protesters of attacking the riot police, which he claimed provoked the police and led to beatings.