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US Embassy warns Ukraine about its justice system as arrest of Poroshenko being mulled

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (Michał Józefaciuk/Wikimedia)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv has expressed concerns about Ukraine’s justice system at a time when the State Bureau of Investigations (DBR) and the Prosecutor-General’s Office are considering arresting former President Petro Poroshenko amid a spate of investigations involving him.

In a statement posted on Facebook on June 18, the embassy wrote in a thinly veiled message that didn’t mention Poroshenko by name that all “citizens in a democracy deserve to be treated equally and fairly under the law.”

“The justice system should not be used for the purpose of settling political scores,” the statement said.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General’s Office and the DBR have said that Poroshenko was officially informed that he is a suspect in one of more than 20 cases implicating his possible involvement, adding that they are seeking Poroshenko’s pretrial arrest.

However, on June 18, prosecutors said at the hearing on possible pretrial restrictions for Poroshenko at the Pechera District Court that they were not seeking the pretrial arrest of the former president, but other restrictions instead.

The hearing was then adjourned until July 1.

The U.S. Embassy post comes a day after Donald Tusk, the president of the European People’s Party (EPP), expressed his party’s concerns over probes launched against Poroshenko after he lost a 2019 presidential election to the current Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

“The EPP is very concerned by political cases against former President Poroshenko. The charges should not resemble politically motivated persecution, nor be politically motivated against select political opponents,” Tusk wrote on Twitter on June 17.

Last week, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine issued a statement saying that any political motivation in the activities of law enforcement agencies and the initiation of criminal cases, in particular, against the former president is inexcusable.

A billionaire confectioner, Poroshenko currently serves as a member of parliament.

His party ran on a pro-European, anti-Russian ticket in July 2019 parliamentary elections, winning 25 seats.