Ukrainians Fight for Their Freedom, while Oligarchs Who Have Robbed the Country Are Hiding from Justice in Europe — Czech media

The head of Ukraine’s Supreme Court, Vsevolod Kniaziev, was detained while receiving a $2.7 million bribe. The National Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine believe that Ukrainian oligarch Konstantin Zhevago, who continues to hide from Ukrainian justice in France, was involved in the bribe.

The Czech edition Aktuální zprávy writes about this:

“The oligarch Konstyantyn Zhevago, suspected of embezzlement, whose extradition is sought by Ukraine, does not live at the address provided by the French justice authorities, in violation of the obligations of the court”, Ukrainian media report, citing a source in law enforcement agencies. The court of the French city of Chambéry has ordered him to live in Courchevel, not to leave mainland France and check in at the police station three times a week. According to the source, “Zhevago checks in at the police station, but does not live at the address provided by the justice authorities of the French Republic”.

Aktuální zprávy notes that while Ukrainians are fighting for their freedom, the oligarchs who have robbed the country are hiding from justice in Europe.

“More than a year the story of the criminal prosecution of Konstyantyn Zhevago has been going on, but his winter trip to Courchevel changed everything. In Ukraine, a number of criminal cases have been initiated against the oligarch. The most high-profile is the case of fraud with the deposits of the Finance and Credit Bank. Nasterno, an offshore company associated with Zhevago, took loans from foreign banks until 2014. Finance and Credit Bank was guarantor for the loan, with its funds at the creditor banks’ accounts. The offshore company did not return the funds, and foreign creditors wrote off $113 million pledge from the accounts of the Finance and Credit Bank. As a result, the bank was declared insolvent. The oligarch also appears in other criminal cases, in particular, on the fact of tax evasion at mining and processing plants,” the Czech media reported.

The publication recalls that in September 2019, Konstyantyn Zhevago was handed over a suspicion in absentia in the case of embezzlement of funds from the Finance and Credit Bank. In July 2021, Interpol put him on the international wanted list. In December 2022, at the request of the Ukrainian side, Zhevago was detained at the ski resort of Courchevel. The court of the French city of Chambéry ruled on the extradition arrest of a Ukrainian oligarch. Then the hearing was postponed from January 5 to January 19, and the businessman was freed on €1 million bail and under judicial supervision. Subsequently, everything was postponed to February 2, and then to March 16.

“On March 30, the court rejected the request of the Ukrainian side for extradition, but did not withdraw the charges. The refusal was caused by a concern for the safety of a citizen of Ukraine, since “the requesting state, being at war in an uncertain situation, is unable to maintain a court guaranteeing fundamental freedoms.” Zhevago is trying to present the decision as a victory, but the courts continue to work in Ukraine, and extradition is a matter of time,” Aktuální zprávy specifies.

According to journalists of the Czech media, Zhevago’s extradition with subsequent trial has no alternative. This will be a successful case of the struggle of Ukrainians against corruption and remnants of the past.

“The decision of the French court in favor of Ukraine will be a powerful signal for everyone who supports the oligarchs. Kyiv has repeatedly demonstrated a desire to reduce oligarchs’ influence in the country, which, in particular, confirms the case with Kniaziev,” the publication states.