June 10, 2020 / 12:59 PM / a month ago

Ukraine investigators probe former president in intelligence case

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine’s state investigation bureau said on Wednesday it suspected Petro Poroshenko of issuing an illegal decree in 2018 related to his dealings with the foreign intelligence service.

Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian former President and leader of European Solidarity political party, addresses journalists outside the Prosecutor General's Office in Kiev, Ukraine June 10, 2020. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Poroshenko, who became a lawmaker after losing the presidential election last year, said the case related to the appointment of a deputy head of the foreign intelligence service and described the accusation as politically motivated.

The bureau said the former president was suspected of “issuing a clearly criminal order” when “he persuaded an official ... to exceed his authority and official powers”, without giving further details about the incident.

“The issue of determining a pre-trial detention for the suspect is currently being resolved,” the bureau said in its statement.

Ukrainian law enforcement bodies are investigating more than 10 different cases in which they suspect Poroshenko is involved.

The former president denies all the accusations, saying they are part of a political campaign against him.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a comic actor and political newcomer who beat Poroshenko in the 2019 race, promised during last year’s election campaign to pursue criminal investigations against top officials in the previous administration.

“What is happening now has nothing to do with the rule of law, democracy or crime investigation. These are double standards, prosecution of the opposition and accusations against the leader of the opposition,” Poroshenko wrote on Facebook.

He said he had the right to make leadership appointments to the foreign intelligence service.

Prosecutor General Iryna Venedyktova said the authorities were “acting under the criminal code” in making the accusations.

The bureau said last month it was investigating the shipment to Ukraine of 43 paintings by famous artists and which were in Poroshenko’s collection.

Poroshenko, who has been repeatedly summoned for questioning as a witness, said the paintings were imported by him legally and that he had personally paid all taxes and customs duties.

Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Edmund Blair

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