- Ukrainian MP Andrej Derkač made public an audio recording, purporting to be between the two leaders on May 19.
- Allegedly, in exchange for firing Prosecutor General Victor Shokin, Ukraine would receive $1 billion loan guarantee.
- Poroshenko reiterated that the tapes were a fabrication, and described their release as a scheme by the Kremlin.
Ukrainian prosecutors will investigate leaked tapes allegedly featuring former President Petro Poroshenko and then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. The heavily-edited contents concern conditions for a $1 billion loan between the two former leaders. The tapes, which have yet to be authenticated, were released on May 19 by a pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker.
Ukrainian MP Andrej Derkač made public an audio recording, purporting to be between the two leaders, in which the possibility of dismissing then-Prosecutor General Victor Shokin is discussed. In return, the lawmaker claims that Biden promised Poroshenko $1 billion in loan guarantees. Shokin was eventually fired in March 2016.
At the time of the events, Shokin was investigating the activities of the oil and gas energy company Burisma, for which Hunter Biden, the son of the then-Vice President, and current Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the United States, worked. It should be noted that the article of the criminal procedure code on the basis of which the investigation must be launched is that relating to “interference with the activities of a public official.”
According to Derkač, all the tapes were sent to the Prosecutor General, accompanied by a complaint about the offense hypothesis to initiate the investigation. In a statement, however, Poroshenko reiterated that the tapes were a fabrication, and described their release as a scheme by the Kremlin geared at undermining bipartisan support of Ukraine in the United States.
The former Ukraine head of state described Joe Biden as a “friend and ally of Ukraine,” and criticized current President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for what he termed as eroding Western support for Ukraine to Moscow’s benefit.
Zelenskyy said in yesterday’s press conference that, based on the materials, the Prosecutor General’s Office will conduct an investigation into his predecessor with the hypothesis of a high treason crime. Poroshenko’s lawyer, Ilya Novikov, said on wednesday that there was no basis for a treason charge in the tapes. “The same negotiations with the same content have taken place over these last years, and the last year under President Zelenskiy is no exception,” he explained.
The Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament, lost confidence in Shokin, and went ahead to remove him from the leadership of the Prosecutor’s Office in on 29 March, 2016. The former prosecutor-general unsuccessfully attempted to appeal against the decision.
In the fall of 2019, the White House published a transcript of an alleged telephone conversation between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Zelenskyy, in which Trump allegedly asked the Ukrainian head of state for a thorough investigation to clarify the circumstances surrounding Shokin’s dismissal and Biden’s role.
The leaked phone call between Trump and Zelenskyy had been deemed sufficient by the U.S. Congress to initiate an impeachment procedure against Trump. Based on the said phone conversation, Trump was accused of holding back military aid to put pressure on President Zelenskyy to start an investigation into corruption against Biden and his son, Hunter.
This was the basis of an impeachment motion that was launched against the US president. The Senate, where Trump’s Republican Party has a majority, however, saved him. It eventually brought the impeachment process to a halt as it acquitted the US president of all the charges.