27 Feb 2020 15:57

Ukrainian detectives open case into possible pressure put on former prosecutor general Shokin by Biden

KYIV. Feb 27 (Interfax) - Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigation has registered a criminal case opened into possible pressure put on Ukraine's former prosecutor general Viktor Shokin by former U.S. vice president Joe Biden.

"The State Bureau of Investigation has added information about a criminal offence committed to the Unified Register of Pre-Trial Investigations," Shokin's lawyer Oleksandr Teleshetsky said at a press conference at the Interfax press center in Kyiv on Thursday.

The investigation was opened in response to a motion filed by Shokin. The State Bureau of Investigation was court ordered to register the case.

In his motion, Shokin spoke of pressure put on him by Biden, Teleshetsky said.

"The reason for the pressure was the investigation being conducted by the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine into grave crimes of international corruption linked with the activities of former Ecology Minister of Ukraine Mykola Zlochevsky and top managers at the Burisma company," he said.

Shokin's motion was filed with the State Bureau of Investigation back on January 28, 2020, but information about the criminal offence was added to the Unified Register of Pre-Trial Investigations only on February 24 after the country ordered the bureau to register the case, Teleshetsky said.

The case was opened on the charge of interfering in the work of an official of a law enforcement agency, he said.

Even though Shokin included Biden's name in the motion, which prompted the opening of the case, the investigation itself mentions only a "U.S. citizen," without giving any names, Teleshetsky said.

The State Bureau of Investigation is also handling criminal cases opened in response to Shokin's motion on charges of disclosing pretrial probe secrets to employees of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, he said.

"Bearing in mind the fact that a possible suspect in all three of these criminal offences could be Joseph Biden, as a person who, in our opinion, is involved in these events, we deem it necessary to merge all the cases into one, in order to ensure an effective investigation and set up a competent investigative group, as well as a group of experienced prosecutors who can ensure the investigation within a reasonable period of time," Teleshetsky said.

It is also advisable to invite the U.S. to take part in the investigation, he said, adding that he would forward the relevant request to the Prosecutor General's Office.

"We'll definitely do this. This is one of the priorities in this criminal investigation, because this case can't be investigated without involving mechanisms of international legal cooperation," Teleshetsky said.

"Judging by remarks Biden allowed himself to make in public, Viktor Mykolayovych Shokin has sufficient grounds to believe that it was him [Biden] who masterminded and, to a certain extent, perpetrated those criminal offences to which Shokin alerted the law enforcement agencies of Ukraine," he said.

Greek law enforcement agencies, in turn, are investigating Shokin's mercury poisoning in 2019, Teleshetsky said, adding that Shokin himself links this incident to Biden.

"The results of this investigation are not yet available today. We don't have sufficient grounds to assert...file motions and requests with the law enforcement agencies of Greece before they establish the objective truth in all circumstances... Possibly, they will appear tomorrow or the day after tomorrow," he said. In a number of interviews, U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudolph Giuliani has claimed that the former vice president interfered in Ukrainian politics and was involved in incidents of corruption. For instance, Giuliani alleges that former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Shokin was dismissed at Biden's request, allegedly for investigating Burisma's connections with his son Hunter Biden.

Shokin said in late January 2020, that he had survived mercury poisoning in Greece five months before, after which he had to undergo lengthy medical treatment.