Open mouth, insert foot – Ukraine’s General Prosecutor

November 24, 2011

One wonders how long Ukraine’s General Prosecutor, Rinat Kuzmin, will remain in post.  He will not be removed by external influence by the EU over the process of Ms Tymoshenko’s court case.  After all, he was not the judge that was in charge of the process.

He is also responsible for the investigation into ex-President Kushma and the murder of  Gongadze.

So why is his position less secure to day than it was last week?

Well, whilst in Brussels two days ago, he was asked by the press why President Yanukovych was not under investigation relating to his mansion, currently being turned into a palace, whilst declaring an income of $150,000 per year.

To be fair, all Ukrainian politicians lie on their tax returns of course.  Ms Tymoshenko declared $30,000, no car, no property and yet wears Luis Vitton, has property in London and is driven around in a top of the range Mercedes.

Anyway in response to how the President is turning his mansion into a palace on such a small income, he replied, “”To you as a journalist who is interested in this topic, I would recommend to present an official information request, with accompanying documents, and to transmit it to the prosecutor’s office. We will examine your request and provide written answers.”

When further asked about another obviously nefarious deal relating to an oil rig for which the Ukrainian government recently paid $150 million more than current market value, he replied, “I would like to repeat, if the investigative department receives your information about the rig we are ready to examine it … Don’t be shy. Send a request.

Now when faced with such questions in Brussels rather than Ukraine, you would expect that the western press will certainly take him up on that challenge, even if the Ukrainian press don’t.  I expect the Ukrainian press will take up the challenge though, particularly after being invited to do so by the Prosecutor General.

One has to ask why there has been no investigation into the oil rig deal as even President Yanukovych asked for an investigation at the time by the Presidential Administration (rather than the Prosecutor General).  It maybe there is good reason why the rig was bought at such a huge figure over and above market value.  There probably isn’t though and somebody or somebodies within the current government received large backhanders out of the deal one way or another.

Anyway, having invited the international and Ukrainian media to submit the appropriate requests to investigate both the President and the oil rig deal, one has to anticipate the solid ground Mr Kuzmin walked upon until his statements on the 22nd November, may now no longer be as solid.

Step forward the international investigative journalists and do what you often do so well.

Let’s see how Ukraine’s Prosecutor General reacts when inundated with investigative requests over his President and one of the most powerful Ministries in Ukraine (Energy).  One can only assume that the Prosecutor General will come to regret such statements in Brussels.

A case of mouth open and foot firmly planted?

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