May 20, 2020

Ukraines president welcomes criminal probe against former opponent
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, has welcomed a criminal investigation against his predecessor whom he beat in last year’s election. Mr Zelenskiy’s comments refer to a leaked phone call which shows then-President Petro Poroshenko and then-U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden discussing the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor in exchange for U.S. support for an IMF loan in 2015. The heavily edited recording was published on Tuesday by Andriy Derkach, an Ukrainian member of parliament known for a friendly relationship with Rudy Giuliani, a personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump in a throwback to last year’s Ukraine scandal that led to impeachment proceedings against Mr Trump. A day after Ukrainian prosecutors launched a formal inquiry into suspected treason by Mr Poroshenko, President Zelenskiy said on Wednesday that it was up to law enforcement agencies to investigate those allegations while voicing support for the probe. “I think (Poroshenko and his allies) were running in the country in such a way that they have a lot of adventures and verdicts ahead of them,” he told a news conference marking his first year in office. Mr Zelenskiy, a popular comedian without any political background, during last year’s election campaign repeatedly accused Mr Poroshenko of corruption and abuse of power, citing recurrent media reports that document possible conflicts of interests and other misdemeanours. Mr Poroshenko has denied those allegations. President Zelenskiy’s declared willingness to go after his former opponent has evoked uncomfortable comparisons to Viktor Yanukovych, a former Ukrainian president who oversaw an investigation that landed his arch-rival Yulia Tymoshenko in jail. The impeachment inquiry against President Trump was triggered by last summer’s phone call with Mr Zelenskiy in which Mr Trump asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate Democratic candidate Biden and his son’s work for a Ukrainian Oil company in exchange for U.S. MILITARY aid. Mr Zelenskiy has denied that Mr Trump pressured him to look into the allegations that Mr Biden got then-Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin fired because he planned to investigate Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine. Mr Shokin, who served as Ukraine’s Prosecutor General in 2015-2016, was widely accused of failing to pursue any major anti-corruption investigation, which left Ukraine’s international donors deeply frustrated. Foreign officials as well as Ukraine’s respected anti-corruption activists openly urged for the dismissal of Mr Shokin who never had an active investigation in Hunter Biden’s work.
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