Ukrainian lawmaker with ties to Giuliani arrested on treason charges

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KYIV – Ukrainian law enforcement officials on Tuesday jailed Oleksandr Dubinsky, a member of parliament who helped Rudy Giuliani four years ago in his failed efforts to dig up dirt on Joe Biden on behalf of the president. sitting at the time Donald Trump.

Dubinsky is charged with treason for allegedly working to help Russia in its war against Ukraine. His arrest backfires on efforts by Trump and his associates to gain political advantage by disparaging Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Trump, despite several legal charges, is the Republican favorite to challenge Biden in next year’s election.

Authorities from the Security Service of Ukraine, or SBU, and the State Investigation Bureau informed Dubinsky on Monday that a criminal case had been opened against him on charges of state treason, the agencies said in statements posted on a messaging platform. Telegram.

The agencies accused Dubinsky, another former member of parliament, Andriy Derkach, and former prosecutor Kostiantyn Kulych of belonging to a group controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, which had, allegedly, “conducted controversial intelligence activities for the Russian Federation.”

“The main task of this organization is [was] to destabilize the socio-political situation in Ukraine and discredit our state in the international arena,” the SBU statement said. “Perpetrators face up to 15 years by returning property .”

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In 2020 and 2021, the United States placed the three men under sanctions after accusing them of ties to Russian intelligence services and trying to interfere in the 2020 US presidential election.

Early Tuesday, a court in Kyiv ordered Dubinsky held for “at least 60 days” without bail, the State Investigation Bureau said.

The statements about the case did not name Dubinsky and only referred to the “current deputy of the people”. However, Dubinsky confirmed the allegations on his Telegram channel and insisted that he was innocent.

“I’m going to be detained until January 12, 2024 – so-called ‘New Year’ in a detention facility,'” Dubinsky said in a video posted on Telegram after the court’s decision.

Dubinsky’s group was allegedly created by GRU deputy chief Volodymyr Alekseyev and received about $10 million to carry out its activities, the SBU said in its statement. The agency said Dubinsky operated under the code name “Buratino” – the Soviet-era name for Pinocchio.

“As part of the pre-trial investigation, it was recorded that the suspect was spreading lies about the military and political leadership of our country,” the SBU said. One of the tasks was to ” spreading falsehoods about impeding high-ranking Ukrainian officials” in the 2020 US presidential elections.

In December 2019, while the House was drafting impeachment charges against Trump, Giuliani, then the president’s personal lawyer, met with Dubinsky and Derkach in Kyiv during they were working on a documentary on Ukrainian corruption.

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The documentary, which aired on the far-right One America News network, sought to counter the allegation that Trump abused the power of his office when he asked on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a phone call months earlier to “do us a favor” and launch a publication. investigation of Burisma, the gas company in Ukraine where Hunter Biden was on the board of directors.

Giuliani also hoped to gather material that would implicate Biden, who was then Trump’s main political rival, in corruption schemes linked to Burisma. However, that trip, and Giuliani’s subsequent efforts, failed to produce any credible evidence of Biden’s wrongdoing.

Dubinsky and Derkach had held a series of press conferences in Kyiv just before Giuliani’s visit, where they claimed to have exposed corruption in Burisma linked to the Bidens.

In September 2020, the Treasury Department announced sanctions on Derkach for running an “influence campaign” against Biden and said Derkach “was an active Russian agent for more than a decade.”

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In January 2021, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions against Dubinsky, Kulych and five others for being part of a “Russia-linked foreign influence network” with Derkach.

“Since at least 2019, Derkach and his associates have taken advantage of the US media, US-based social media platforms, and US influencers to spread false and baseless allegations that current and former officials the US engaged in corruption, money laundering, and illicit political influence in Ukraine,” the Treasury Department said at the time.

Serhiy Morgunov contributed to this report.

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