Saturday, 29 January 2011

Interview: Exiled Ukrainian Minister Says West Can’t Let Ukraine Become Isolated

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Earlier this month, the Czech Republic gave political asylum to a former Ukrainian minister wanted at home on charges of abuse of office.
One of many top officials from the previous, pro-Western government to have come under investigation since the election of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych last year, Bohdan Danylyshyn says the accusations are part of a drive to stifle opposition in Ukraine. He sat down with RFE/RL's Gregory Feifer in Prague.

RFE/RL: Can you explain the charges the Ukrainian government has made against you?

Bohdan Danylyshyn: I've been accused of approving government purchases involving the Defense Ministry and the Boryspil international airport through a single agent. The years 2008 and 2009, during the global financial crisis, were difficult ones for Ukraine. I was doing everything I could to reduce the number of deals through that one broker.

In 2007 [before I took office], deals worth 133 billion hryvnia ($16.5 billion), or 52 percent of all government procurements, were made through him. In the first quarter of 2008, it was 61 billion hryvnia, or more than 77 percent of all deals.

When the Economy Ministry began dealing with the issue [after I took office], the amount dropped to 21 percent in 2008, and around 30 percent in 2009. In those years, especially in 2008, I had conflicts with the former managers of the agency overseeing tenders, especially members of the Regions and Communist parties from the former government led by Yanukovych.

I want to stress that there wasn't a single criminal case launched into activities during the period 2007 to 2008 [when President Viktor Yanukovych was prime minister]. We don’t even have documents showing spending from that time because they’ve disappeared and law enforcers aren’t even interested in them. It shows Ukraine has a system of selective justice.

In any case, the Economy Ministry could only approve procedures and issue permission letters. It didn’t make final decisions about deals. That was taken by other ministries or executive agencies -- in my case, the Defense Ministry.

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