The Chief Military Prosecutor of Ukraine Anatoly Matios found himself in a predicament. If the Ukrainian journalist Sergey Ivanov is to be believed, then it is because of Matios that journalists received material over the phone from one of the participants of the loud corruption scandal. Others are sure that the Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov is responsible for it.
The resonant investigation of the “Bihus.Info“ project into the machinations in the Ukrainian defense industry, which by the way has caused an ever-intensifying scandal in Ukrainian society, could not have appeared if not for one case. They claim that the state-owned “Ukroboronprom” bought smuggled Russian spare parts through proxy firms. The journalist of the “Our Money” program Lesya Ivanova says at the beginning of the investigation:
In the autumn of 2018 we received an anonymous letter that connected hundreds of already-known-to-us facts into one stunning story of defense corruption. In this letter sent from a temporary email there was a link to an archive. The archive has the correspondence of persons involved in the swindle – names, dates, the sums of bribes, and kickbacks
After the publication of the results of this investigation on February 25th, a political crisis erupted in Ukraine. The Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council and partner of the current president of Ukraine Oleg Gladkovsky asked to be removed from his duties, and the leader of “Batkivshchyna”, Yuliya Tymoshenko, tried to initiate the impeachment of the president.
However, in the aspiration to punish Gladkovsky and his son, and also his accomplices, many didn’t ask themselves the question “who, in fact, leaked information about corruption in the defense sphere of Ukraine?”
It follows from the Facebook post of the Ukrainian journalist and editor-in-chief of the Odessa “Timer” website Yury Tkachev that he wasn’t too impressed with the work of his colleagues:
“The ‘investigation’ itself is a fail. The lads simply leaked audio, and they spliced this audio and spread it. The fact that the audio is almost certainly real doesn’t raise the prestige of the investigation. The audio, clearly, was recorded by intelligence agencies (and most likely several at the same time: the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Military Prosecutor’s Office, SBU, everyone for itself separately) or other participants of the scheme. And most likely — both at the same time. It is such a tradition with political Ukrainians — everyone records everything. Even not always knowing what will then happen with the recording. Perhaps it may become useful. Good managers.”
Tkachev thinks that the most interesting thing about this incident is not so much the corruption that has captured the defence industry – this problem penetrates all spheres of life of Ukrainian society and doesn’t surprise anybody, but who the source of information is:
In this story it is interesting who leaked the information a month before elections and a day before the meeting with Volker, and why. But nobody will be engaged in clarifying this for the subsequent publication
However, his colleague, the Ukrainian journalist Sergey Ivanov already has an answer to this question. He is also sure that the journalists received the lion’s share of material for the investigation from a security officer. And Ivanov even knows the name of this security officer:
“In November 2017 the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office investigated criminal proceedings about plundering in the ‘defence industry’. The enterprises that are mentioned in the material of ‘Bihus.info’, including ‘Optimumspecdetal’ of Vitaly Zhukov, the servant of the National Security and Defense Council Gladkovsky, are also mentioned in proceedings. During the searches at Zhukov’s place an unsecured smartphone was confiscated, and Matios’ subordinates found correspondence on it, fragments of which we saw yesterday.”
Then, according to Ivanov, the Chief Military Prosecutor of Ukraine Anatoly Matios also decided to use the obtained information intelligently.
“Instead of carrying out investigative actions, appointing audits of ‘Ukroboronprom‘ and at the enterprise suppliers, and declaring suspicions and detaining thieves, he instead sold information for very big money to the interested persons involved, hoping ‘nobody will ever see this flash drive’. For a certain time everything calmed down. But Matios wouldn’t be Matios if he didn’t try to squeeze out everything he could from these materials. Glancing back at Poroshenko’s sad approval rating, in November 2018 Matios went with compromising evidence to the candidate whose victory seemed to be inevitable for him, namely – to Yuliya Tymoshenko. She saw this as an opportunity to impeach Poroshenko, and therefore quickly promised Matios the position of Prosecutor-General and shelved the compromising evidence in order to use it for the right moment.”
Indeed, in November 2018 the poll published by KMIS, “Razumkov Center”, and the “Rating” sociological group demonstrated this: 20.7% of respondents said that they were ready to vote for Yuliya Tymoshenko, 11.4% chose the showman Vladimir Zelensky, and 10.3% said that they would vote for Petro Poroshenko. Thus, the approval rating of the leader of “Batkivshchyna” almost twofold exceeded that of the incumbent president.
As Ivanov claims, in order to hedge his bet Matios leaked the information to journalists too. His thinking is that then Tymoshenko definitely wouldn’t be able to make a deal with Poroshenko behind his back. And the Chief Military Prosecutor told his colleagues about the future appointment. By the way Ivanov in the past also worked in the Prosecutor’s Office, but not in the military.
Something didn’t quite go to plan though. On February 21st SBU employees suddenly arrived at almost 30 addresses at the same time, some of which belonged to the offices of “Batkivshchyna”. Tymoshenko’s party was accused of preparing the bribery of voters and the creation of special structures for this purpose – pyramids. This scandal killed the story about “webs” – a large-scale system of voter bribery in favour of the incumbent president at the expense of the state budget. Tymoshenko immediately lost many of the technologists of her electoral campaign and other experts fled, not wanting to comes under the radar of the Security Service.
At the same time Tymoshenko continued to nosedive in the electoral race. In February 2019 she wasn’t any more the favourite as she was just three months ago, but was still in the top 3: about 13% of voters were ready to vote for her, and for Poroshenko — about 18%, and for Zelensky – 26%. The time came to pull out a trump card from her sleeve.
However, the journalists who four days later, on February 25th, published the results of the investigation into corruption in the defence industry were one step ahead of her.
Of course, Matios wouldn’t at all want this investigation to be released now, at such moment that is inconvenient for him, but the “Bihus.info” team did everything that they had to do, for which they deserve a lot of respect. If to pay attention to Tkachev’s words and also to the latest events, it is possible to assume that the leaks could’ve also been organised by people from the Ministry of Internal Affairs headed by Arsen Avakov. This past weekend Avakov said in an interview to “Zerkalo Nedeli“ that even the president of Ukraine will not force him to give up the fight for the rule of law, or at least the junta’s definition of it:
I told the President in the eye: ‘I am not against you, but I will oppose fraud in the elections’. If someone wants to pay propagandists, then let them change the law at first
At the same time, he stressed that although he isn’t in a conflict with Poroshenko, he isn’t his colleague. In the same interview Avakov admitted his sympathy for the possible transformation of Ukraine into a parliamentary republic, which should happen when Tymoshenko or Zelensky come to power:
I always consistently supported the elimination of dualism vis-a-vis state functions. The president shouldn’t be engaged in everything — from energy to diplomacy. I consider that if Zelensky wins the election, the process of turning into a parliamentary republic will be accelerated. This also applies to Tymoshenko
Thus, the Interior Minister is someone for who Poroshenko’s defeat in elections is objectively profitable. Attention is drawn to the fact that after the investigation was released “National Corpus“, which is connected to Avakov, organised a big protest action. Before this “National Corpus” actually stayed away from political battles. Now its leader Andrey Biletsky made a rather unflattering statement concerning Poroshenko.
“It (the investigation) must be seen by everyone. Every Ukrainian who pays taxes that also go to the defense sector, every soldier who bought equipment using their own money, every volunteer who for years was running between the frontline and home, every grandmother who forked out money from her pitiful pension to support the army, every mother who lost their son in the war in the East. 22 f*cking years old! Judging by his (Poroshenko’s) mug, he is in good health. A 22-year-old died at the frontline in front of my eyes. But not these ones (the children of the authorities) – they were given a position in ‘Ukroboronprom’ by their fathers, and as deputies and in ministries. Why isn’t this carrion at the frontline? Why aren’t any of the children of the president’s team or Tymoshenko’s son-in-law there? Why isn’t the son of Poroshenko there?”
Thus, most likely, Poroshenko and his environment were set up by security officers. And they were either businessmen, greedy for money and power, or political opponents of the acting head of state.
By the way, in the afternoon of February 27th “National Corpus” and the spin-off project “National Druzhina” carried out this protest and made demands to the Prosecutor-General’s Office concerning the investigation of “Our Money”. A day earlier, near the estate of the son of Igor Gladkovsky, representatives of the organisation demanded to immediately detain the corrupt Gladkovskys.
The participants of the picket demanded to seize the accounts and property of all involved persons and the property of all enterprises that participate in this scheme. According to the investigation, the persons involved in this case earned at least 250 million hryvnia.
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