Ukraine's fallen leader Viktor Yanukovych 'paid bribes of $2 billion' - or $1.4 million for every day he was president
Maxim Tucker, Kiev
Ukraine’s former president paid bribes worth at least $2 billion (£1.4 billion) during his four years in office – amounting to almost $1.4 million for every day he was in power – according to evidence handed to investigators.
Viktor Yanukovych, who was toppled during Ukraine’s revolution in 2014, appears to have kept a detailed record of backhanders distributed while he was in government.
A logbook has emerged listing the bribes paid to former and serving Ukrainian officials. In particular, election commissioners were handsomely rewarded in return for guaranteeing victory for Mr Yanukovych’s Party of Regions in the parliamentary election of 2012.
“We know that it’s real because of the minutiae of the detail - that so many of the small details corroborate with events or activities that took place under Yanukovych,” said Serhiy Leshchenko, the Ukrainian investigative journalist turned MP who published the logbook.
The government’s Anti-Corruption Bureau confirmed that it had received the logbook. The bribes disbursed by Mr Yanukovych ranged from individual payments of millions of dollars to a wristwatch worth $67,000 (£45,000).
When Mr Yanukovych, a close ally of the Kremlin, fled into exile in Russia at the climax of the revolution in February 2014, he left behind a luxury mansion whose spacious grounds contained a mock Spanish galleon and a private zoo. He also abandoned thousands of documents detailing the corruption of his government.
Whether Ukraine’s leaders have become any less corrupt since his enforced departure is open to question. The post-revolutionary government asked Viktor Trepak, a senior official in the state security service, to investigate financial crimes committed by the Yanukovych regime.
After a year he complained of obstruction from the Prosecutor General’s office. In April he was sacked by Petro Poroshenko, the newly elected president, who directly oversees the Prosecutor General and once served as economy minister under Mr Yanukovych.
“Undoubtedly much has changed significantly since the revolution, but much has remained unchanged - the principles of forming government institutions, decision-making and staffing issues remain the same,” said Mr Trepak, according to Mirror of the Week, a Ukrainian magazine
Two years after Mr Yanukovych’s downfall, not a single criminal case against him or any of his officials has been brought to court. European diplomats have expressed frustration at Ukraine’s failure to provide evidence to support EU travel bans and asset freezes imposed on Mr Yanukovych’s cronies.
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