Head of Ukraine’s highest court says suspect in witness tampering case
KYIV (Reuters) – Ukrainian investigators have officially notified the head of Ukraine’s constitutional court that he is a suspect in a witness tampering case, the state investigation bureau said on Tuesday.
Ukrainian prosecutors said in December they were investigating Oleksandr Tupytskyi in connection with the alleged corruption of a witness that took place in 2018.
“I believe this criminal case is falsified and politically motivated, and the investigation is being conducted in violation of the principle of objectivity and impartiality,” Tupytskyi said in a statement.
“I am convinced that the aim of this case is an attempt to prevent me from exercising the power of judge and head of the constitutional court … as well as to block the activities of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s administration was stuck in a stalemate with the high court after overturning key anti-corruption legislation in October, hampering Ukraine’s chances of securing foreign aid loans.
Zelenskiy had initially sought to dissolve the tribunal, but Parliament reinstated anti-corruption legislation as an interim measure in December, paving the way for the resumption of loan negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.
Zelenskiy also signed a decree to temporarily suspend Tupytskyi, which the court ruled unconstitutional.
Tupytskyi’s office said in an earlier statement Tuesday that law enforcement prevented him from entering the court premises.
The court ruled in October against some anti-corruption laws, citing as excessive the punishment for false information on the declarations of assets of officials, and also struck down some powers of the main anti-corruption agency NAZK.
Ukraine’s uneven performance in economic reform and the fight against corruption has derailed a $ 5 billion program agreed last June with the IMF, at a time when its economy is in deep recession due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Writing by Matthias Williams; Edited by Gareth Jones and Peter Graff