19 March 2020
According to Slidstvo.info, a Ukrainian investigative Journalism outlet Andriy Smyrnov, the deputy chief of staff to Volodymyr Zelensky, is now under investigation for his involvement in the escape of a judge, who had been caught taking a bribe, from the country in 2016. The judge Mykola Chaus was caught accepting US$150,000 but he managed to flee to neighboring Moldova before he could be arrested. In the leaked documents received by Slidstvo.Info Smyrnov’s name appears as one of many people who may have helped Chaus to escape from Ukraine.
According to the materials leaked to Slidstvo.Info, employees of Poroshenko’s presidential bodyguard service helped transport Chaus. Oleksandr Hranovsky, then a lawmaker from Poroshenko’s party is also implicated in helping Chaus. Hranovsky left Ukraine after his term in parliament. His immunity from prosecution ended in 2019.
Smyrnov was also at the centre of another scandal in 2019. In August 2019, Roman Ratushny, an activist fighting allegedly illegal construction in the Protasiv Yar neighbourhood in Kyiv, met with Smyrnov, who was then a lawyer for Korban and Oleg Levin, who were developing the project. Smyrnov tried to persuade Ratushny not to oppose the project, and Ratushny interpreted some of his statements as threats and later published an audio recording of the conversation. In 2019, Ratushny initiated a criminal case into Smyrnov’s alleged threats, but then-Prosecutor General Ruslan Riaboshapka’s office refused to open it. Then, Ratushny received a court order that forced prosecutors to open a case, but it was quickly closed. Kyivpost reported.