Case of Logvynskyi: how the NABU’s investigation may be ruined by the Supreme Court
Former People’s Front MP Heorhiy Logvynskyi could have been involved in organizing a scheme in which Ukrainian citizens were robbed of more than 54 million hryvnias.
However, detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine were unable to issue a notice of suspicion to Logvinskyi, as he is the husband of a judge of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
The ECtHR explained to NABU that Logvinsky, as the judge’s closest relative, had lifelong immunity.
The ex-MP then decided to try to bury the case in the Supreme Court with the help of the ECtHR’s explanations.
The AntAC explains why Logvinskyi’s intentions seem absurd and have no chance of success.
Essence of the case
On January 22, 2020, detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine issue notices of suspicion to six people accused of seizing and legalizing more than 54.179 million UAH.
These are former First Deputy Minister of Justice Natalia Bernatska, former Government Commissioner for the European Court of Human Rights Borys Babin, director of the private company Felix Kozakov and three people close to former MP of the Narodnyi Front party Georgiy Logvynskyi, whom investigation considered the alleged organizer of the scheme.
They planned to announce suspicion to Logvynskyi as well, but they failed. The European Court of Human Rights became an obstacle, but we’ll tell more about it later.
According to investigation, in September 2013, the representative of Golden Mandarin Oil LLC prepared and sent to the European Court of Human Rights statement regarding recovery from the state budget of Ukraine more than 54 million UAH of unpaid debts from the semi-state company Kyivenerho for fuel oil storage.
The company stated that enforcement service bodies had allegedly not collected the debt since 2009. At the same time, detectives state that Golden Mandarin Oil did not send any appeal to the enforcement service regarding debt collection at all. But for some reason the company did not inform the ECtHR about this fact. Later Logvynskyi explained that the prosperous company was, in fact, ruined utterly. As in cases where the debtors are companies with 25 percent or more of state ownership, there is moratorium and therefore “it made no sense to initiate enforcement proceeding”.
Also, the company did not tell the European Court that six months before the appeal, they had lost the right to claim the debt, as they had ceded it to another private company, namely Issahar-Zevulun Export-Import. By the way, it is also associated with Logvynskyi.
The investigation believed that former Member of Parliament had reached agreement with the leadership of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine and the Government Commissioner for the European Court of Human Rights, with assistance of whom the declaration on friendly settlement of the dispute was prepared. This was evidenced by correspondence obtained by detectives in the framework of investigation, as well as testimony of some witnesses in the case. In February 2016, the Ministry of Justice probably unjustifiably transferred more than 54 million UAH to Golden Mandarin.
After announcement of suspicion to six subjects of the case, the High Anti-Corruption Court chose precautionary measures for most of them. In particular, former First Deputy Minister of Justice Nataliya Bernatska was assigned bail in the amount of 7 million UAH, and former assistant to the Member of Parliament Logvinskyi Mariya Shevkoplyas (Shvets) was sentenced in absentia, as she is hiding in Israel and is on the international wanted list.
In March 2020, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine asked the European Court of Human Rights to clarify whether Logvynskyi had immunity.
In this case, detectives were going to get permission to announce suspicion to former Member of Parliament. The fact is that wife of former Member of Parliament Ganna Yudkivska is the judge of the European Court of Human Rights, and the closest relatives of judges of this court are protected by lifelong immunity.
In July last year, the European Court refused the NABU’s appeal. Judges made the decision that detectives allegedly violated principles of impartial investigation and international law.
In response, the NABU stressed that although decision of the ECtHR makes it impossible to announce suspicion to Logvynskyi, but it concernes only former Member of Parliament, but not the other subjects of the case regarding whom the investigation is still ongoing.
The Supreme Court as lifebuoy
This was not enough for Logvynskyi. Under the guise of and manipulating by the decision of the ECtHR, he and his lawyers decided to bury the case with the help of the Supreme Court.
In August 2020, former Member of Parliament sent the appeal to the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court to reconsider court decisions under exceptional circumstances. He asked to cancel the number of court decisions and rulings, in particular regarding precautionary measures to three suspects in the case. Namely, it concerned bail in the amount of 7 million UAH to former Deputy Minister of Justice Nataliya Bernatska, bail in the amount of 630.000 UAH to her “trustee” Oleksandra Volodymyrska and detention in absentia of director of the private company Felix Kozakov.
However, none of these rulings was subject of consideration by the ECtHR, Logvynskyi himself was not subject of these cases in the High Anti-Corruption Court, and, therefore, has no right to file appeals regarding their reconsideration. It is also unclear how the cancellation of decisions of investigative judges regarding three suspects will allow Logvynskyi to restore his immunity.
There is also request to close all criminal proceedings that have ever been related to the case of Golden Mandarin.
Firstly, the Supreme Court has no power at all to close cases at this stage, as it contradicts the Criminal Procedure Code. Secondly, it is not clear why the violation of immunity of the ECtHR judge’s husband is the ground for declaring all evidence in the criminal proceeding against all suspects inadmissible. And how can the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court say anything about admissibility or inadmissibility of evidence in the case that is still at the stage of pre-trial investigation and there is no final court decision in it.
There may be another hidden purpose in the decision of the ECtHR and Logvynskyi’s appeal to the Supreme Court. The very fact of their existence is already being used by other suspects to reduce their precautionary measures.
Thus, in April 2021, the suspect Nataliya Bernatska along with her lawyer tried to use absence of suspicion to Logvynskyi and consideration of the case by the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court in order to change precautionary measure from multimillion bail to personal commitment. In particular, the defense referred to the ECtHR’s letters in the case “Bernatska against Ukraine”, which had allegedly recognized existence of substantiated accusations of the Government regarding violation of two articles of the Convention.
However, on April 20, 2021, the investigating judge of the High Anti-Corruption Court Kateryna Shyroka made it clear in her ruling that these letters were not any procedural decision of the ECtHR at all, and arguments of the defense in this regard were only the attempt to convince the investigating judge of alleged violations of human rights, which have not yet been identified. Moreover, the judge stated that the decision of the European Court of Human Rights did not concern in any way the criminal proceeding, and that the ECtHR had considered only the issue of deprivation of immunity.
Shyroka stressed that the admissibility of evidence in the case is not assessed by the European Court of Human Rights, as it is primarily the matter of national law and, as a rule, national courts must assess evidence submitted to them by participants of the process. At the same time, the judge stated that the European Court of Human Rights does not make any decisions on whether some evidence has been properly admitted as evidence. It only determines whether the consideration of the case was fair, including the method of gathering evidence.
Moreover, the investigating judge stated what decisions within the meaning of the Convention and the Law of Ukraine “On Enforcement of Judgments and Application of the Case Law of the European Court of Human Rights” are final. There is no decision as result of consideration of the issue of removing immunity from family member of the judge of the European Court of Human Rights among this list.
And if so, we can make the conclusion that the decision of the European Court of Human Rights regarding Logvynskyi is not “final decision in which Ukraine is the party”. In fact, this means that the ECtHR adopted it within the framework of its organizational powers and such decision cannot in any way be the ground for reconsideration of court decisions under exceptional circumstances.
The ruling also stated that Bernatska was at least involved in actions related to the execution of the ECtHR’s decision in the case of Golden Mandarin Oil LLC, and that adoption of such decision was due to deviations from the usual procedure. Moreover, one of suspects in the case, former Government Commissioner for the ECtHR Borys Babin, stated that she had exerted “administrative pressure” on him in this and other cases, and that such pressure later led to his dismissal.
It is obvious that Logvynskyi and his associates will not abandon their attempts to bury the NABU’s investigation with the help of other lawsuits.
Thus, the ECtHR is already considering three complaints against the state of Ukraine, which in one way or another concern the case of Golden Mandarin. These complaints were filed by Logvynskyi, Bernatska and five other persons, including the above-mentioned suspects Kozakov, Shevkoplyas and Volodymyrska. They complain about political persecution, and the ECtHR asks Ukraine, among other things, to clarify whether Logvynskyi’s case was intended to undermine the reputation of his wife Yudkivska, whether there was coordinated intimidation of Logvynskyi’s lawyers, and whether media campaign against Logvynskyi, which included statements of officials regarding his case, was staged.
The government has time until September 21 to provide its explanations. But the speed of the ECtHR’s communication indicates that the case has been given the highest priority.
While the lawsuits are ongoing, Logvinsky attends restaurants with another person involved in NABU cases – the head of the Kyiv District Administrative Court, Pavlo Vovk, who also appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.
Interestingly, Logwinskyi wife’s term at the European Court of Human Rights has expired two years ago, but she continues to exercise powers until her successor is elected. At the same time, a competition was launched to elect a new representative of Ukraine to the European Court of Human Rights, but this competition is being challenged in Vovk’s court. Is it a coincidence?