Ukraine to review legal cases amid Trump claims over Bidens

Ukraine to review legal cases amid Trump claims over Bidens

General prosecutor distances audit from US president’s call for investigation into Biden ties

Ukraine’s highest prosecutor has said he is holding a broad review of investigations closed under his predecessors, including more than a dozen linked to the Ukrainian energy company where Joe Biden’s son served on the board of directors.

The general prosecutor, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, said the review was part of Ukraine’s reform process as investigative powers are handed over to another government agency by the middle of next month.

At a press conference on Friday, Ryaboshapka said he had no evidence of any wrongdoing by Hunter Biden and had not been contacted by Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who has spearheaded an informal investigation into the Biden family for the US president.

Trump has demanded the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, open an investigation into Hunter Biden for his work in Ukraine, and into his father for urging the country to fire the then general prosecutor, Viktor Shokin.

Asked whether he would investigate the pair, Ryaboshapka said he was holding an “audit of all cases”, a docket numbering in the thousands, which could include about 15 relating to the energy company Burisma.

In a follow-up statement, Ryaboshapka said his office was reviewing “high-profile proceedings concerning senior officials” under the former president Viktor Yanukovych, including cases tied to Burisma’s owner, Mykola Zlochevsky.

The statement stressed “no procedural decisions” had been made against Zlochevsky or “any persons related”.

The decision is not a full accession to Trump’s demands, as the earlier Burisma cases under review do not directly involve Hunter Biden or his father’s political influence.

Ryaboshapka’s remarks on Friday appeared to be part of Ukraine’s continued strategy of resisting the Trump administration’s demands for a full investigation, while avoiding antagonising the US president. Ukraine, where a revolution took place in 2014, relies heavily on the US and Europe for financial support for reforms and military aid.

Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate his potential opponent in the 2020 elections has led to an impeachment inquiry in Washington.

Shokin was widely regarded as corrupt, and there is no evidence Biden sought to have him fired for investigating Burisma.

Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board of directors of Burisma, with a reported monthly salary of $50,000 (£41,000), has been the subject of an investigation by Giuliani. The former New York mayor has collected evidence from several former Ukrainian prosecutors to try to discredit Biden before the elections.

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