On the second anniversary of when former Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych fled his country, Transparency International called on Ukrainian authorities to fully investigate the former president’s corruption-related crimes, to bring him to justice and to begin efforts to ensure the return of billions of euros of stolen assets.
The global anti-corruption group and its chapters in Ukraine, Russia and the United Kingdom also called on the European Union to maintain the current sanctions imposed on Yanukovych and his closest allies that are scheduled to run out in March.
The voting public in Transparency International’s recent global Unmask the Corrupt contest ranked Yanukovych’s case as one of the most symbolic cases of grand corruption.
“Since Yanukovych escaped to Russia, little has been done in Ukraine to investigate the serious and numerous allegations of grand corruption against him and his cronies,” said Andrei Marusov, Chairman of the Board of TI-Ukraine.
“Instead courts have released Yanukovych’s allies who were part of his criminal enterprise and they have unfrozen their bank accounts and assets, while the Ukrainian Interpol regional office deleted Yanukovych and members of his family from the wanted list.”
The Russian Federation has played a role in keeping Yanukovych free by failing to extradite him back to Ukraine. They cited the current political situation and said he cannot be returned to Ukraine because they have given him Russian citizenship.
However, the United Nations Convention against Corruption, signed and ratified by Russia in 2003, clearly lays out the obligation for all signatories to accept materials from law enforcement bodies of other countries. Following UNCAC, the Russian Federation should prosecute Yanukovych under the Russian legislation. That is why Transparency International calls on the Russian authorities to cooperate with the Ukrainian authorities and punish Yanukovych, regardless of his citizenship.
Transparency International also called on the EU to renew and strengthen current political and economic sanctions against Yanukovych’s old team. More specifically EU countries should not allow the disgraced politicians who were deeply involved in Yanukovych corrupt enterprise to cross their borders. Their businesses should not get EU contracts and in effect they should be boycotted.
Transparency International also supports the Ukrainian Media Guard campaign, which is asking advertisers (business, government, and private) to boycott media (Ukrainian media companies of Ukrainian Media Holding; TV-channels 112, and Tonis) belonging to business-partners of Yanukovych (Serhii Kurchenko, Vitalii Zakharchenko, Serhii Arbuzov).
“Since the departure of Mr. Yanukovych, the United Kingdom has been implicated in laundering the assets of a number of close associates who propped up his corrupt regime. The UK authorities need to be vigilant in the hunt for stolen assets and unexplained wealth, and this needs active support from their counterparts in Ukraine. At the same time, we need systemic reform in the UK, for example relating to property ownership and the UK’s Overseas Territories, to make sure this does not happen again. Prime Minister David Cameron has rightly stated that the UK should not be a safe haven for dirty cash and the coming International Anti-Corruption Summit, that the UK is hosting, is an opportunity to start this process. Two years have passed, but we should not allow Yanukovich and his cronies to get away with it. TI-UK supports the Ukrainian chapter of TI and calls on the UK authorities to act,” said Robert Barrington, Executive Director of Transparency International UK.
Transparency International Russia will also support TI Ukraine in revealing Yanukovych’s assets in Russia. “We suspect that his villa in the Mezhyhiriia village close to Kyiv is just the tip of the iceberg. We intend to find the remaining pieces of his enterprise in Russia and we will do everything possible to make sure that neither Moscow, nor the Rostov region serve as the refuge for former dictators like Yanukovych,” says Anton Pominov, General Director of TI Russia.
The case of Yanukovych must not be forgotten. Two years ago a hundred people were killed during the Maidan protest. In memory of these people, who fought for freedom and to clean Ukraine of its corruption clans, the crimes of the former president must be investigated and he must be brought to justice.
Iryna Rybakova (Ukraine)
T: +38 066 790 04 08; +38 093 906 78 74
Chris Sanders (Berlin)
T: +49 30 34 38 20 666