Source: Ukrayinski Novyny

The Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine has stopped criminal prosecution of Vadym Novynskyi, an MP and a leader of the Opposition Bloc Party, which was initiated as part of the so-called "Church case".

This was reported by Novynskyi's lawyer Oleg Tatarov.

An investigator from the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine dismissed the case by the relevant resolution of 26 July 2019. Thus, the Prosecutor's Office complied with the requirements of an order issued by Pecherskyi District Court of Kyiv on 25 June 2019, by which the PGO was ordered to complete the pre-trial investigation within a month’s term and to execute one of the procedural actions as stipulated by article 283 of the Criminal Procedural Code of Ukraine: either to close the case or to bring the indictment to court, the lawyer said.

Tatarov recalled that more than 5 years had passed since the initiation of the mentioned case by the PGO, and two and a half years – since the time when Novynskyi was stripped of his parliamentary immunity at the behest of Yuriy Lutsenko.

"All the while, Mr Novynskyi was in a status of a witness. Nobody served him an official notice of suspicion, although in fact, based on the PGO's procedural documents, the investigation considered him as a suspect in the commission of a certain crime. This is a gross violation of fundamental civil rights and freedoms, as well as violation of the presumption of innocence principle. This approach indicates that the pre-trial investigation itself was formalistic and pursued a completely different goal – i.e. manipulating public opinion for political purposes," Tatarov said.

The lawyer emphasized that during the consideration of the motion addressed to the PGO, the court did not find any facts at all that would confirm Novynskyi’s involvement in the commission of any criminal offense.

It is to be recalled that in November 2016, the Verkhovna Rada, contrary to the decision of the Regulatory Committee, gave its consent to the PGO for removal of immunity and prosecution of Vadym Novynskyi, a member of the Opposition Bloc faction. The PGO suspected the MP of being an alleged accomplice in the execution of a criminal plan of ex-president Viktor Yanukovych to remove the Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) from his post. According to investigators, Novynskyi was allegedly involved in illegally depriving of liberty Oleksandr Drabynko, the secretary of the Church Primate, who had been involved in the high-profile case of the abduction of nuns. In the course of this case's investigation, Drabynko personally asked to provide him with bodyguards from the state, fearing revenge from other persons involved in the crime, against whom he gave incriminating evidence.

Vadym Novynskyi himself called the aforementioned PGO's stance, as well as the case itself, "an example of the persecution against the authorities' political opponents." In addition, the politician did not rule it out that the case had an economic motive, indicating that in parallel the PGO had been putting pressure on the companies where he was the beneficiary.

At the same time, RBC-Ukraine news agency made its own investigation, according to which Oleksandr Drabynko acted as an “ideal witness” for the PGO against Novynskyi, because Drabynko himself was involved in a high-profile case about the abduction of the abbess and her lay sister (cell attendant) by businessman Sergey Bout.

According to the information provided to RBC-Ukraine by ex-deputy prosecutor of Kyiv Maksym Lenko, who was investigating this case, Drabynko actually admitted his complicity in the crime. After all, it was at his invitation that the nuns arrived in the territory of Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, from where they were later abducted by Bout's henchmen. The latter was subsequently arrested, and Drabynko escaped arrest due to the fact that His Beatitude Volodymyr appealed to the government offices and personally to Yanukovych.