KYIV – It’s been more than a year since former President Viktor Yanukovych fled Ukraine, and no one from his entourage has been arrested by the Ukrainian government, let alone prosecuted, for the murders during the Euro-Maidan protest. Never mind the billions alleged to have been pilfered in corruption schemes.
[Former Finance Minister Yurii Kobolov was arrested by Spanish police but has yet to be extradited to Ukraine. The government has seized his property in Ukraine.]
The latest Yanukovych insider to elude arrest was Serhii Kliuyev, who is widely believed to have fled the country within days after Ukraine’s Parliament voted on June 3 to strip him of his political immunity. By June 10, he was declared missing by Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to the internal affairs minister, who confirmed a week later in Parliament that he fled to Russia through the occupied territories of Donbas.
The government’s failure to make arrests of key Yanukovych officials has infuriated critics, who believe that top state officials could have reached deals enabling their avoidance of detention and prosecution for their alleged crimes.
“I think that I’m not alone in suspecting that a non-aggression pact, a ring of protection exists between the current and past leadership of the country,” said Yegor Sobolyev, a national deputy with the Samopomich (Self-Reliance) party and chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Preventing and Countering Corruption.
The Kliuyev brothers – Serhii, 45, and Andrii, 50 – have long been political insiders, having earned their wealth in the chaotic 1990s by scooping up dozens of metallurgical, manufacturing and energy companies in their native Donbas. Their combined wealth was estimated at $323 million by the focus.ua news site in its annual survey published in April 2014 (though it was reported at more than twice that amount in previous years).
His younger brother, Serhii, worked hard to avoid the same fate, but to no avail. In the days leading up to the fateful vote in the Verkhovna Rada, he was struggling to convince members of the parliamentary Rules Committee that the criminal charges that were being brought by the Procurator General’s Office were baseless and politically motivated.
That would have derailed the vote on his immunity.
At the committee’s May 28 meeting, Serhii Kliuyev’s American and Austrian lawyers presented findings of the Freeh Group, a firm launched by former FBI Director Louis Freeh and hired by Mr. Kliuyev.
The former FBI investigators determined that there was insufficient evidence to charge Mr. Kliuyev with a crime. Yet Mr. Kliuyev’s critics in Parliament said it was the firm’s investigators who didn’t have enough evidence and background in Ukrainian politics to reach their findings.
The parliamentary committee meeting had heated exchanges, reported the theinsider.ua news site, including more accusations of national deputies taking bribes.
Just two weeks earlier, National Deputy Oleh Liashko had claimed in the Rada that Mr. Kliuyev had offered him $50 million to ensure that his parliamentary faction would refrain from voting to strip him of a deputy’s political immunity.
Among those believed to have been bought off by Mr. Kliuyev, as reported by theinsider.ua, was the Rules Committee’s acting chair, Pavlo Pynzenyk of the People’s Front party, who resisted repeated efforts to make stripping Mr. Kliuyev’s immunity possible.
More on the Ukranian oligarchs (including the Kliuyev brothers)