The State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) has summoned the fifth president of Ukraine and the leader of the European Solidarity parliamentary faction, Petro Poroshenko, for questioning in two cases on May 29.
"In connection with the failure to appear on May 26, 2020, Petro Poroshenko has repeatedly been summoned under Article 133 and Article 135 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine to the State Bureau of Investigation for questioning as a witness at 11:00 Kyiv time on May 29 in criminal case No. 42020000000000307. It probes into the circumstances of the transfer of 43 famous paintings across the customs border of Ukraine in circumvention of customs control," the SBI press service said.
In addition, the SBI noted, Poroshenko is to be questioned later on the same day, May 29, at 12:00 Kyiv time as a witness in criminal case No. 62020000000000456 on the fact of the possible illegal use of special technical equipment to obtain information that could cause substantial harm to state interests. It concerns Poroshenko's phone talks with the then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
"Poroshenko must be present at 15 Symona Petliury Street in Kyiv, room 510. Attendance is compulsory," the SBI said.
As UNIAN reported earlier, Ukrainian MP Andriy Derkach on May 19, 2020, released recordings of alleged negotiations between the then President Petro Poroshenko and the then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. In the course of these conversations, Poroshenko was allegedly required to ensure the dismissal of Viktor Shokin from the post of prosecutor general.
Earlier, Shokin, who served as prosecutor general in 2015-2016, claimed that he had been forced to write a letter of resignation over an investigation against Burisma officials. He suggested that Burisma Holdings Limited had U.S. support. In 2014, the son of the then U.S. vice president, Hunter Biden, became a member of the board of directors at Burisma.
It became known on May 22 that Poroshenko had urgently been summoned to the SBI for questioning as a witness on May 26 in a criminal proceeding probing into the transfer of 43 paintings across the customs border of Ukraine in circumvention of customs control. Poroshenko failed to appear for interrogation was he was present at Kyiv's Ivan Honchar Museum to open an exhibition of those paintings.
On the afternoon of May 26, SBI investigators arrived at the museum to conduct urgent investigative actions and search the museum's premises "in order to preserve the assets [paintings]." They did not present any search warrant.
The director of the museum, Petro Honchar, said that the SBI agents had broken the entrance door of the premises and had not let him get into the building. He also added that Poroshenko had not commissioned the museum's administration to relocate the paintings that were on exhibit.
The SBI officers conducted an inventory of the paintings from Poroshenko's collection and seized the originals of the related customs declarations.