He stands for a "new Ukraine" - a country that is not always mentioned in the context of corruption, says Volodymyr Selenskyj. The President, in office since May, struggles for months to tell a positive story of his Ukraine, a story of the future. For this narrative, he also tried at his meeting with US President Donald Trump to be heard on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. But of course that was doomed in the face of the all-drowning news of Trump's Ukraine affair.
The US president is now facing impeachment for appearing to urge Selenskyj and his advisers to investigate what is currently Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's most promising presidential candidate. The focus is on a telephone call on 25 July (read the published protocol here).
Ukraine has become a hot topic in US politics, while Selenskyj is caught up in events dating back years. Allegedly, Biden has abused his position as Vice President to protect his son Hunter, active on the Supervisory Board of a Ukrainian gas company, from investigations by the Kiev judiciary.
What about the allegations? The overview from Kiev perspective:
1. What roles did Joe and Hunter Biden play in Ukraine?
Valentyn Ogirenko / REUTERS
US Vice President Biden in Kiev (2015): anti-corruption efforts
Joe Biden served as Vice President under President Barack Obama in charge of Ukraine policy. Kiev, he said 12 to 13 times. In December 2015, he appeared in parliament and urged MEPs to step up their fight against corruption. He also promised new US aid.
Hunter Biden, lawyer and son of the democratic politician, was appointed in mid-2014 as a member of the supervisory board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma. Ownership in the Ukrainian energy sector, however, is a result of felt and corruption. The Biden son got $ 50,000 a month over a year for making his name for the company (read the background) at a time when Burkhina owner Mykola Slotschewskij was already investigating, a backer of the ousted pro-Russian ex-president Viktor Yanukovych.
As the Minister of the Environment, Slotzhevsky was also responsible for the authority issuing licenses for the development of oil and gas fields. His own fim complex got a lot of it - so many that in 2014 the Attorney General opened several criminal cases against the millionaire. Slotschewskij left the Ukraine in the meantime.
2. Did Joe Biden call for Prosecutor General Schokin to be fired?
Mikhail Palinchak / Presidential Press Service / AFP
Viktor Shokin: 2016 dismissed Attorney-General of Ukraine
Joe Biden boasted in 2018 at an event in Washington (See the video clip here) to see to it that Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin had to leave. If Shokin was not fired within six hours, the US would cut a billion dollars in loan guarantees, he said in Ukraine, Biden said, adding, "Well, son of a bitch, he got fired!" All this should have happened according to media reports in December 2015. Only in February 2016, however, the then President Petro Poroshenko spoke for the first time about the possible dismissal of Schokins.
Biden was not the only one who demanded Schokin's dismissal: The International Monetary Fund and Western donors urged Poroshenko to re-occupy the office, fearing that financial aid could seep into the swamp of corruption. Schokin was released in April 2016.
3. Is there any evidence of Trump's claim that Biden wanted to protect his son from the Ukrainian judiciary?
Mikhail Palinchak / Presidential Press Service / AP
Rudy Giuliani with ex-president Poroshenko (2017): Trump's lawyer and strip-puller
No, there is not, says Daria Kaleniuk, head of the Anti-Corruption Action Center (AntAC) in Kiev. Since 2014, she has been following the proceedings surrounding the gas group Burisma. "Joe Biden did not demand Schokin's dismissal because he wanted to protect his son, but the Attorney General just did not want to investigate and let fall as procedures in the case of Burisma," said the activist the SPIEGEL.
According to Kaleniuk, Shokin even sabotaged corruption investigations at Burisma. Among other things, two months before Hunter Biden became a member of Burisma's Supervisory Board, the Attorney General had ignored a request from the British authorities, which at the time was investigating the Burmese owner Slotschewskij on suspicion of money laundering.
According to Schokin, it was in the Prosecutor General's Office "as in the supermarket". "You could pay bribes for opening and closing procedures," says Kaleniuk. In fact, the trials against Slotschewskij were already postponed in 2014. "Slotschewskij abused his power as a minister - a clear case of corruption," said Kaleniuk.
While Hunter Biden's work on the Burisma Supervisory Board between 2014 and 2019, the anti-corruption campaigner sees no breaches of the law. It was never investigated against him in Ukraine. "But it was ethically wrong that he took over the post," says Kaleniuk.
4. How does Trump come to terms with his claims?
Sergei Supinsky / AFP
Ex-Attorney General Lutsenko: Met three times with Giuliani
In a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Selensky on July 25, Trump speaks of a former Attorney General who was "very good." "He was fired, and that's really unfair," the US president continued. Did Trump mean that to Victor Schokin, who is now complaining about his suspension?
The whistleblower's complaint, presumably a CIA agent who started the affair surrounding Trump's behavior towards the Ukrainian leadership (read the background), rather indicates that Trump was Yuriy Lutsenko. The successor of Schokin is now no longer in office. After Selenskyj's election victory, he tried in vain to keep his post - probably by influencing Washington.
It was Luzenko who provided Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani with information from the Ukraine. The former Attorney General is also said to have sent a letter to Washington to draw attention to the allegedly dubious activity of Hunter Biden for Burisma.
It is Giuliani who pulls the strings for Trump in this affair and wanted to travel several times to the Ukraine. He was next to Biden also for the circumstances, as the black money payments of the party of former President Yanukovych to Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort from 2016 were known. Lutsenko met three times with Giuliani. The former Attorney General says today about Hunter Biden: "From the perspective of Ukrainian legislation, he has not done anything wrong."