More disclosures from the off-the-book ledgers of fugitive ex-President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions show investigators have plenty to work on.
The entries reveal the vast extent to which the Yanukovych administration abused power by buying off nationalist groups, judges, election commissions and media.
The Kyiv Post reviewed copies of parts of Party of Regions’ ledgers that were given to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine by Viktor Trepak, an ex-deputy head of the Security Service of Ukraine.
Many of the people named in the ledgers, including Paul Manafort – a former Yanukovych adviser and former campaign chairman for U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump — deny receiving cash payments. He was earmarked for $12.7 million in the documents.
The Kyiv Post found two previously unpublished entries apparently referring to Manafort in addition to the 22 entries that had been published before. Vitaly Kalyuzhny, an ex-lawmaker from the Party of Regions, received a $27,820 payment and a $12,690 payment for “expenses on entry for Manaf. Payment” on April 8, 2010.
The Kyiv Post, however, just saw small fragments of a vast alleged bribery operation that included some $2 billion in payouts from 2007-2012.
Here are some of the findings shown to the Kyiv Post:
Judges of the Constitutional Court received $6 million from the Party of Regions when the court on April 6, 2010 issued a ruling according to which lawmakers could switch from opposition parties to the Party of Regions, a source who has seen the ledgers told the Kyiv Post. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.
There are also three entries on a $500,000 payment, an $800,000 one and a $120,000 one allocated for “K.S.” on April 8, 2010, the date when the Constitutional Court ruling was officially published, though it is not clear whether K.S. stands for “Constitutional Court” (“Konstitutsionny Sud” in Russian).
The judges’ presence in the ledgers was also confirmed by Trepak in May.
Taras Chornovil, an ex-lawmaker from the Party of Regions, told the Kyiv Post that the party also likely bribed the Constitutional Court in September 2010 when it increased the president’s constitutional powers.
The Constitutional Court judges are currently being investigated by the Prosecutor General’s Office for their alleged role in Yanukovych’s usurpation of power. The court did not reply to a request for comment.
A “Y.A. Dyukov” got $150,000 on Nov. 10, 2009 for “Rybakov, courts” – an apparent reference to lawmaker Ihor Rybakov, according to the ledgers seen by the Kyiv Post.
The ledgers also show the Party of Regions’ regular spending on rallies. The party has been accused of routinely paying protesters to participate in demonstrations.
The documents expose the Party of Regions’ efforts to buy the loyalty of election commissions.
An “S.M. Kuzyonny” got $280 on Nov. 10, 2009 for a shredder to destroy documents at the Central Election Commission and $247 for “document destruction” on July 10, 2012, the ledgers seen by the Kyiv Post show.
The leak shows that Kalyuzhny was given $45,000 for the Central Election Commission on April 27, 2011 and another $45,000 for the commission on May 26, 2011. According to ledgers published by the Ukrainska Pravda newspaper in May, the Party of Regions also allocated $2.93 million for the Central Election Commission in 2012.
Mykhailo Okhendovsky, who is currently the chairman of the Central Election Commission, received $1,525 for a business trip. He has denied the accusations.
A “P.O. Hutsal” got $4,200 on Dec. 14, 2009 for the International Observers project – apparently for election observers loyal to the Party of Regions.
The payments lend credence to speculation that Yanukovych used nationalist groups to attack and discredit his opponents.
A “D.A. Shentsev” got $30,000 on July 11, 2009 for a “congress and conference” of the UNA-UNSO nationalist group. UNA-UNSO’s leader Konstyantyn Vinnytsky said he could not comment because the party had other leaders then.
Ledgers published by Ukrainska Pravda on Aug. 19 also show that Kalyuzhny received $200,000 for election commission members representing the Svoboda nationalist party on Nov. 4, 2010. Svoboda has denied the accusations.
Meanwhile, ledgers leaked by Ukrainska Pravda in May show that members of ex-President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party and ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkyvshchyna Party were also allegedly paid by the Party of Regions. They have denied involvement.
According to the ledgers seen by the Kyiv Post, V.N. Slaba got $250,470 for then-Our Ukraine lawmaker Yuriy Kostenko on Dec. 14, 2009.
Another way Yanukovych’s regime consolidated its power was by buying the loyalty of mass media.
Valid Arfush, head of EuroNews in the Commonwealth of Independent States, received $10,000 on Sept. 17, 2009 for an article about Yanukovych and a $9,530 refund on Oct. 25, 2009 for a “visit by a French delegate,” according to the documents seen by the Kyiv Post. Arfush did not reply to a request for comment.
Prime Minister Mykola Azarov’s former spokesman Serhiy Zavorotny was given $5,000 on Sept. 20, 2010 for “an article in Ukr. Pr” – an apparent reference to the Ukrainska Pravda online newspaper, the leak shows. Zavorotny told the Kyiv Post he could neither deny nor confirm the authenticity of the ledgers.
Television journalist Larry King also appeared on the list, with a note marking that he took $225,000 in October 2011, according to the ledgers published by Ukrainska Pravda on Aug. 19. The payment was made ahead of King’s flattering interview with Azarov.
The anti-corruption bureau has confirmed the authenticity of the Larry King entry, while King’s broadcasters Ora TV and RT America, a Kremlin propaganda outlet, did not reply to a request for comment.
Yanukovych also strengthened his power by financing non-profit organizations that claimed to be independent. Ina Kirsch, head of the European Center for a Modern Ukraine, got $36,792 from the Party of Regions on July 11, 2012, according to last week’s leak. Kirsch did not reply to a request for comment.
The Associated Press reported on Aug. 17 that Manafort and Rick Gates, another Trump aide, had helped to channel $2.2 million from the European Center for a Modern Ukraine to U.S. lobbying firms.
Meanwhile, Kirsch appeared in Ukraina television channel footage of clashes on Institutska Street in Kyiv on Feb. 20, 2014, when dozens of EuroMaidan protesters were killed.
Another group mentioned in the documents is prominent Party of Regions apparatchiks.
Ex-Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara received $39,328 on April 29, 2011 for business trips to the U.S. and China, according to the ledgers seen by the Kyiv Post. He did not reply to a request for comment.
Oleg Rafalsky, a deputy chief of staff under Yanukovych, got $20,438 on Oct. 14, 2009 to pay wages to party officials, while Kalyuzhny received $500,000 on April 8, 2010 for lawmaker Inna Bohoslovska, the documents show. Rafalsky and Bohoslovska could not be reached for comment. Oligarch Konstyantyn Grigorishin is also mentioned in the ledgers seen by the Kyiv Post. In an entry whose meaning is not entirely clear, Kalyuzhny got $10,000 for “expenses on admission dated Nov. 2, 2009 Grigorishin K.I.” on Nov. 9, 2009. Grigorishin’s spokeswoman said she could not comment.