The victory in the parliamentary elections 2012 planned by Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions needs to be substantial and convincing. It cannot be complete if the number that loyal Central Election Commission and local commissions write will not be acknowledged by the United States, European Union, Russia and international community. However, after the infamous conviction of opposition leaders the acknowledgement by the West is next to impossible. The foreign countries consider the imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko the main violation.
On 31 August Tymoshenko case acquired a new and unexpected witness that offsets all accusation system of the Attorney General's Office (AGO). Regions deputy Yurii Boldyrev has made a stunning announcement at his press-conference in Kiev:
"I will testify that I did not hear Tymoshenko's name from Shcherban. He told me: "They have already decided everything" meaning that they will kill him. I asked him "who they?". "Lazarenko", he answered".
"Shcherban thought that the murder of Ahat Bragin (one of the influential criminals in Donetsk region) was ordered by Lazarenko and that he will be next. Scherban told me about it in the Fall of 1995 and in the Fall of 1996 he was murdered, but I did not hear Tymoshenko's name in this context", said Boldyrev about his conversation with Shcherban.
This evidence radically change the witness testimonies in this case. As it was reported previously, the main charge against Tymoshenko named by First Deputy Attorney General Renat Kuzmin is the contract for the assassination of Donetsk businessman Yevhen Shcherban 16 years ago. There were only two pieces of evidence in the case: the word of two witnesses - Shcherban's son Artem and Lazarenko's business partner Petro Kyrychenko. They were not witnesses of the assassination contracting - they were allegedly told about it. Ruslan Scherban supposedly heard about it from his father. However, Kuzmin's arguments are shattered by a representative of the ruling party and a friend of Yevhen Shcherban. And he can also prove his close relationship with the murdered businessman. Thus, the fragile web of prosecution carefully woven by Renat Kuzmin is being ripped apart by the Party of Regions itself.
First Deputy Attorney General Renat Kuzmin has undertaken a personal responsibility before the President. He guaranteed that, first of all, he will have enough will to imprison Yulia. Secondly, the evidence of her grave crimes collected by him will be undisputable for the West.
"The case of Shcherban assassination executors was investigated and sent to court, and we have a verdict. The case about the contractor was severed and it was investigated by the personnel of the Attorney General's HQ which established the people involved in organizing and financing of the assassination. We are planning to charge Yulia Tymoshenko with the conspiracy in this case", said Kuzmin in August, 2012.
Renat has strict terms - the exposure of Tymoshenko has to happen before the end of October, before the elections. And what are his perspectives? The bets for Kuzmin are extremely high. He now has practically unlimited power of resolving matters in AGO and personal access to President Yanukovych. The failure to prove the accusations in Shcherban assassination case will mean a personal fiasco for Kuzmin. It means that the evidence will remain doubtful for public opinion in Ukraine as well as abroad. It means that the obligations of Kuzmin to find dead-on incriminating evidence against Tymoshenko will remain empty words.
And just think about the resources put to the task! Operational Investigations Group on Tymoshenko headed by Kuzmin will make history as the most numerous unit created in Ukraine for investigating one single case. It includes several hundred people from various departments and agencies. Our sources allow us to understand the direction Kuzmin is moving now and whether he can perform undertaken obligations to the President Yanukovych.
Kuzmin told the public about the accusations and what they will be based on a year ago: "In the American criminal cases of Lazarenko you can find some interesting information. A witness questioned by the prosecution said that the assassin has received the money for the murder of Shcherban from the account of Lazarenko and Tymoshenko. The witness refers to a conversation with the contractor who said: "Yulia will pay" meaning that she will pay for the assassination… These material are in the United States… As well as the witnesses who provided this testimony to the American prosecutors.
The witness Kuzmin is talking about is Petro Kyrychenko, a business partner of the former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko. This man directly managed financial operation and transfers of the ORPHIN S.A. Company. This is the company that accumulated shares of profits from numerous businesses for Lazarenko and sent the funds to where he decided. And some funds went to the account of the 'Sailor' - criminal kingpin Olexandr Milchenko who in accordance with the verdict of the Lugansk Appellate Court organized the assassination of businessman and politician Yevhen Shcherban. It should be noted that the evidence against the Sailor himself was thin. Since Milchenko was dead by that time the court ruled on the basis of the witness testimony who allegedly heard it from another witness. Both witnesses have died. One of them - right in the Donetsk Pre-Trial Detention Center cell.
Thus, to obtain evidence of Tymoshenko's involvement in contracting the assassination the investigation has to: a) acquire a witness testimony of Kyrychenko; b) confirm the fact of payment by demonstrating the transfer of funds from Tymoshenko's company to Milchenko.
Kuzmin mentioned the key role of Kyrychenko in August 2011. But how to obtain the testimony? Kyrychenko being a witness in Lazarenko case resides in the US where he received asylum and citizenship. Will he risk his comfortable status to become a 'hero' of another criminal case?
The answer is obvious - no. But Kyrychenko has not severed connections with Ukraine and he can be pulled by these strings. There is a substantial amount of arrested property left here. In August 2011 the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU - successor of the KGB) conducted an operation to flush him out back to his native land. Through various channels they spread information that the attachment from Kyrychenko's apartments in Kiev was removed. They are excluded from the burdening base. Real estate agents suddenly show interest for then in the midst of the crisis and market collapse. They offer tempting prices for them. It is interesting that one of the potential buyers was a wife of Volodymyr Pylypenko, a deputy, and a colleague of Renat Kuzmin…
On September 4, Kyrychenko's wife Isabella came to Kiev. She was supposed to meet a broker to sign the deal and receive the money. It was a trap. The apartments were not released. The US citizen was detained by SBU on the trumped up charges that she wanted to sell an arrested apartment and placed her in their Detention Center.
Mission accomplished. Petro Kyrychenko made contact. He was told about very simple conditions - testimony in exchange for his wife. The deal was concluded. On November 2011 there was a series of questionings by phone.
The protocols were obtained by the Ukrainian Pravda. The desire to free his wife made Kyrychenko very talkative and he suddenly remembered such details of Tymoshenko's involvement that he could not remember in his days of questionings in three years in the US.
In the court hearings of Lazarenko case Kyrychenko accused his friend and business partner in everything but after the arrest of his wife he started talking only about Tymoshenko.
"I transferred the money to Milchenko at Lazarenko's instructions due to the fact that when EESU (Tymoshenko's corporation) entered Donetsk gas market Tymoshenko had some problems and she needed help of the criminal boss. When she got the gas contracts she went into Donetsk region and somebody took something away from her. And obviously she had problems, there was a threat to her life and she needed a criminal protection."
"The sum of 3 million dollars was transferred to Milchenko's account in Antigua. (…) There were problems because Lazarenko did not give the go-ahead to transfer these funds. Milchenko called me several times. I understand that Lazarenko had the money but for some reason did not pay. I think he was waiting for Tymoshenko would pay the money that was supposed to be paid separately to Milchenko. I told him that Milchenko is calling all the time, that he is worried. Lazarenko said to tell him not to worry, Yulia will pay", told Kyrychenko to the Attorney General's Office.
The witness testimony is completely negated by the transfers of ORPHIN S.A. Company. The first payment to the criminal boss was made before Somolli Enterprises Ltd tied to Tymoshenko even started to transfer any funds to Kyrychenko's accounts.
The Ukrainian Pravda notes that after that Kyrychenko said that in the end of 1997 when the 'Sailor' died his wife called Kyrychenko. She informed him that Kushnir will take Milchenko's place in protecting Lazarenko and Tymoshenko.
"He told me how he can help. He said that he has a crew and Tymoshenko has nothing to worry about. He can solve any problems she might have", Kyrychenko recalled about his conversation with Kushnir. Somebody reading this may think that Shcherban's assassination was this 'problem solving'. But that would be wrong since the conversation took place not before but a year after the Donetsk airport shooting (if the conversation took place at all).
Moreover, there is one more thing that is unclear in Kyrychenko's testimony. If the 'Sailor' and Kushnir protected Tymoshenko in Donetsk oblast then why did Lazarenko paid for it? And why in such terms? Milchenko received the money in the last months of Lazarenko's power.
Isabella Kyrychenko was set free and she left for the States. But, it looks like Kyrychenko's testimony was not exhaustive for the investigation. Or to be correct, for the results expected by Kuzmin. The fact that Kuzmin is worried about lack of evidence and testimonies against Tymoshenko is proven by s secret trip of Kuzmin and his three colleagues to the US in July, 2012.
According to Censor.NET sources, the trip was made in secret. Ukrainian delegation tried to hush up their purpose to the American authorities and the trip was made using old non-diplomatic visas. In San Francisco Kuzmin met with Kyrychenko and offered him a deal - more detailed testimony against Tymoshenko supposedly in exchange for … release from attachment of all Kyrychenko's real estate in Ukraine and its unobstructed sale.
According to the Ministry of Justice Register of Burdening, Kyrychenko's real estate in Kiev consists of 4 apartments in prestigious neighborhoods totaling 755 sq m (2,500 sq feet) and estimate cost of 3-5 million US dollars.
Judging by Kuzmin's statements, Kyrychenko could not refuse. According to our sources, Petro Kyrychenko agreed to personally take part in the process against Tymoshenko.
The AGO counts for this agreement to be the key element in legitimization of charges against Tymoshenko in the eyes of the West. Everyone understands that the testimony of Ruslan Shcherban regarding his father's assassination at Tymoshenko's orders cannot serve as reliable evidence.
On the other Kyrychenko's participation will allow Kuzmin to support Shcherban's words by a status witness. The official exposer of Lazarenko, US resident whose participation in Lazarenko's operations was established by the US court. And that will do even more good if Shcherban's and Kyrychenko's testimonies will confirm and complete each other in details.
However, all the weakness of these testimonies was refuted by the Party of Regions itself in the person of Boldyrev!
The position of the US authorities also creates unpredictable consequences for the Attorney General's Office. Kyrychenko received his Green Card in accordance with his deal with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The US authorities did not give him permission for unsanctioned contacts with foreign investigation bodies. After the meeting with Kyrychenko, the Ukrainian Ministry of External Affairs received a note of protest from the US State Department as to the inadmissibility of conducting operational investigative actions in its territory without agreeing them with official authorities. In reply the Ukrainian diplomats have said that Kuzmin was in the US with a private visit "inspecting the consulate offices" in California.
So Kyrychenko's testimony will have to become the main evidence against Tymoshenko. But will he be able to provide it if the US authorities consider his behavior a breach of the deal with the American justice?
As in the ties of famous Vyshynskiy processes the crown of all evidence in Tymoshenko case has to be witness testimonies. The thing is that payment schemes between Lazarenko and Milchenko cannot be a proof.
Firstly, Kyrychenko's testimony obtained under pressure, with the use of intimidation cannot be a convincing evidence.
Secondly, Kyrychenko's attempts to show Tymoshenko as the main organizer of the corrupt duo Lazarenko-Kyrychenko looks absurd. It contradicts Kyrychenko's testimony in the American court. Lazarenko was sentenced owing to his testimony that he was the head of the criminal organization extorting money from businessmen and then laundering them in offshore accounts.
Thirdly, the documents can be procured for only one thing - that it was Kyrychenko who paid Milchenko and his wife Snitko.
Fourth, the source of funds that came into Kyrychenko's accounts and were later transferred to Milchenko is impossible to determine. There are confirmed contradictions in time and terms of the fund transfers.
Fifth, there is no information in the case that the funds transferred to Milchenko's accounts came from Tymoshenko's companies, primarily Somolli Enterprises Ltd.
Six, there is information in the case that allows the fact that the funds were transferred to Milchenko at Lazarenko's instructions but the investigation did not manage to procure reliable proof for this.
Seven, the analysis of materials regarding the transfer of funds by various companies to the accounts of companies controlled by Kyrychenko shows that some of these companies were not off-shore and has a good reputation in the West. The money into Kyrychenko's accounts came from commercial agreements and it is impossible to prove the connection between the movement of these funds and criminal activities, particularly the assassination of Shcherban.
And number eight. The statement of the Regions deputy Yurii Boldyrev do not allow for the case to be based solely on testimonies of Ruslan Scherban and Kyrychenko. The image campaign of Kuzmin and a promo tour in EU countries presenting Tymoshenko case are all falling apart like a card castle. It is a word against a word. Will the accusations by Kyrychenko and Shcherban pulled by Kuzmin be convincing for Ukrainian and world public opinions? And without any documents these words are worthless. As is Kuzmin's promise to prove Tymoshenko's involvement in Shcherban assassination.
But the election failure of Kuzmin's accusations will not be simply the most scandalous. First Deputy of the Attorney General will reveal the modus operandi of the Ukrainian authorities to the whole world. Instead of ambitious attempt to remove Yanukovych's #1 opponent, Renat Kuzmin is preparing a shame that will be hard to wash off.
A tell-tale indicator of how the West reacts to this case is the position of the European Union. Commenting on the Kuzmin's trips to Europe and advertising the "crimes" of Tymoshenko, the EU ambassador José Manuel Pinto Teixeira said: "I personally do not think that these initiatives will have a significant influence. Those who are truly interested in relations with Ukraine keep watch on the events in your country. That is why their (Kuzmin and Co) initiatives cannot mislead anyone".