After we wrote in our article on October 26th of this year about Ukrainian corruption, titled “Corruption problem in Ukraine cuts far deeper than many know,” we received a response from the Chief Military Prosecutor of Ukraine, Anatoly Matios. In the lengthy document, of which there was obviously a lot of time spent, he refuted the allegations against him in the Ukrainian press — that he was an instrument of the Yanukovych regime, that his wife has been banking funds stolen through his corrupt practices in office, that he refused to investigate the death of the American volunteer Mark Paslavsky, and that the prosecution of tax official Stanislav Denisyuk was a cover for a $2 million extortion attempt from Denisyuk’s family.
One of the main questions regarding Matios is how he was able to avoid the lustration process for former Yanukovych officials. Matios is alleged to have been the deputy head of the control department of the Yanukovych administration and supervised the entire law enforcement unit, including tax authorities. He is alleged to have been skimming profits for decades for himself and other through fraudulent VAT kickbacks.
In refuting the allegations against him regarding lustration, Matios states that he was in a “freelance” position under Yanukovych while still maintaining his military reserve status, so therefore not subject to lustration. He also declares that in July 2016, the Department of Lustration of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine conducted a complete investigation of his status and there were no violations found. As many in the news business would say, we report, you decide.
Matios also presented evidence and manifestations of the guilt of Denisyuk. He did not respond to the allegations from Denisyuk’s family that an extortion attempt had been made for $2 million to release their father from prison. As we wrote before, we met with the family recently in Kyiv and found their accusations credible. There was also no response from Matios to the allegations that Yevheniy Bambizov had been employed by the Military Prosecutor’s Office to secure bribes from the other 23 detainees in the famous “helicopter case.” Matios is accused of providing cover for Bambizov and bringing him under his protection in the Military Prosecutor’s office due to their work together in the famous “tax schemes” during the Yanukovych regime prior to 2014. Denisyuk’s family maintains he had information on the corruption in the tax service which was the reason for their father’s arrest.
The intricate nature of the political scene in Ukraine, and the depth of the systemic corruption, make it impossible to discern the real nature of what is happening on the ground. One thing is for sure, the loud accusations of corruption against the General Prosecutor’s Office are sure to taint any actions taken by this office. In other words, how can you effectively conduct prosecutions of corrupt officials if your office is seen as corrupt in itself?
This is a question for the Ukrainian people to decide in their battle to pull the Soviet corrupt legacy out by the roots and continue to move toward the European Union.
Originally posted at The Washington Times