Ukraine`s recently appointed Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko looks set to destroy an investigative body which has finally made progress on investigating crimes linked with Euromaidan, and the families of Maidan victims and lawyers representing them are outraged, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group wrote.
Lutsenko announced the reorganization of the Department of Special Investigations headed by Serhiy Horbatyuk, who will
remain head of department, though losing a considerable part of responsibilities and staff. At the same time, a new department is to be created, tasked with investigating all alleged crimes committed by former President Viktor Yanukovych and his entourage, KHPG reports.
That, the Prosecutor General`s Press Secretary has said, includes investigating usurpation of power, embezzlement, plundering, etc. of state property and episodes connected with economic crimes.
The choice of head of this new department is, at very least, startling, the report by Halia Konash says. Yuriy Stolyarchuk was long considered to be a close ally of the former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, and to be involved in the blocking of reform of the prosecutor`s office. He has also been publicly accused by Horbatyuk of major obstruction and pressure on the investigation into crimes against Euromaidan activists.
The Advocates Advisory Council has been extremely critical of the pressure brought to bear by the Prosecutor General`s Office and high-ranking politicians to bring charges before all evidence has been gathered, with this meaning a high risk that the cases will collapse later and not result in probably warranted convictions.
They, like Horbatyuk, believe that the changes announced by Lutsenko on Oct 24 can only impede progress on investigating high-profile crimes.
The aims cited on the Prosecutor General`s website sound laudable. Questions must, however, be asked when an investigative body widely trusted by Maidan lawyers and civic groups is facing effective dissolution. Belief in the admirable objectives is also not increased when the new body is to be headed by a person who has on numerous occasions been accused, seemingly with some justification, of blocking reform.