The National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) has put on the list of wanted persons seven defendants in the case of the alleged power seizure conspiracy by the leadership of the Kyiv District Administrative Court (OASK) who the agency believes grabbed control of the High Qualification Commission of Judges.
That's according to the NABU press service.
"NABU is pursuing suspects who acted as part of a criminal organization headed by OASK chairman, aiming to seize state power by establishing control over the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine (VKKSU), the High Council of Justice (VRP), as well as creating artificial obstacles in their work," the statement says.
The anti-graft agency elaborated the names of those put on wanted list: Pavlo Vovk, Volodymyr Keleberda, Ihor Kachur, Mykola Sirosh, Ihor Pohribnichenko, Oleksiy Ohurtsov, and Serhiy Ostapets.
Judge Vovk, OASK probe – background
On July 26, 2019, records of wiretapped communications were published on NABU's website, pointing to the unlawful interference of judges of Kyiv's District Administrative Court in the work of the High Qualification Commission of Judges. It included creating obstacles to the qualification assessment of judges of the said court for compliance with the position held. During the vetting, it is not only the level of professional skills that is checked, but also the origin of the judges' assets and their involvement in corruption scandals.
On the same day, NABU raided the court's premises. Serhiy Horbatiuk of the Prosecutor General's Office (PGO) said that the unlawful influence of the District Administrative Court of Kyiv was recorded on decision-making by the Constitutional Court, the High Qualification Commission of Judges, the High Council of Justice, as well as the impact on Ukraine's ministries, departments, and the State Bureau of Investigation.
On August 2, 2019, the PGO filed charges against Chair Pavlo Vovk, judges Yevhen Ablov and Ihor Pohribnychenko, as well as a judge of the Suvorov district court of Odesa, Ivan Shepitko, all of whom appear in the NABU wiretaps.
In November, the then Prosecutor General Ruslan Riaboshapka said the investigation targeting Vovk had been completed and the case had been forwarded to court.
However, the High Council of Justice dismissed the prosecutor general's motion to deprive Vovk of the functions of administering justice in connection with the ongoing criminal proceeding targeting him.
On January 21, 2020, Vovk was re-elected as Chairman of the District Administrative Court of Kyiv.
On July 17, 2020, searches were held at the OASK premises in Kyiv, as well as in the State Judicial Administration.
Later, NABU detectives pressed charges against OASK chief Pavlo Vovk, his deputy Yevhen Ablov, five judges, and head of the State Judicial Administration Zenoviy Kholodniuk.
NABU went on to report that charge papers were being drafted targeting another four individuals involved.
According to the Special Anti-corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAPO), the investigation targets a 12-strong criminal organization, led by the OASK chairman, who aimed to seize state power by establishing control over the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine, the High Council of Justice, and by creating artificial obstacles in their work.
SAPO claims that this criminal organization issued wrongful rulings serving the interests of its members, as well as in the interests of the political and business elite.
Later, Vovk and Kholodniuk claimed they had not received the charge papers.