A Ukrainian parliamentarian is asking Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko to prove allegations he recently made that Marie Yovanovitch, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, gave him a list of people who should not be prosecuted — a claim quickly rejected by the United States.
“The statement of Ukraine’s prosecutor-general does not correspond to reality and is meant to weaken the reputation of Ambassador Yovanovitch,” the State Department said.
Lutsenko, who says he rejected the demand, made the comments in a Washington television interview that aired Wednesday, just days after Yovanovitch criticized Ukraine’s efforts to fight corruption ahead of the presidential election March 31.
She called for the firing of Ukraine’s special anticorruption prosecutor, who has been accused of helping suspects avoid corruption charges.
Challengers in the upcoming presidential contest have sought to paint incumbent Petro Poroshenko as failing to combat corruption and abuses of power since taking office in mid-2014.
On Thursday, Ukrainian Pravda reported that parliamentarian Mustafa Nayem announced that he would like to know whether Lutsenko or the government have taken any action regarding the “list of untouchables,” and why, if the list does exist, Lutsenko failed to make it public until now.
Lutsenko, a former crime reporter and one-time ally of Poroshenko, is largely credited with issuing calls on social media that sparked the 2014 Euromaidan protests that toppled pro-Russian former president Viktor Yanukovich. Since joining parliament as a member of Poroshenko’s party, he has since defected, throwing his support behind a pro-democracy third-party candidate.
Poroshenko, who is campaigning on an anticorruption platform in which he has vowed to stand up to foreign influence of any kind, named Lutsenko prosecutor general in 2016, despite that fact that he had no legal training.
“If this is true, and Yuriy Lutsenko does not deceive us, then the above-mentioned actions of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine fall within the scope of Article 343 of the Criminal Code,” in terms of interference with the activities of a law enforcement officer, Nayem said.
This story originated in VOA’s Ukrainian Service. Some information for this report was provided by AP.