July 14, 2024

Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are allegedly searching the premises of Ukrainian MP Oleksandr Dubinskyi in connection to a case of a “criminal organization to discredit the image of Ukraine on the international stage,” Ukrainska Pravda reported on Nov. 13, citing unnamed law enforcement sources.

The searches allegedly relate to a press conference that Dubinskyi held with Andrii Derkach in 2019, a then MP whose position and Ukrainian citizenship were stripped in January 2023 for treason and his involvement with pro-Russian parties.

Derkach faced treason charges on the grounds that he received funds from a Russian intelligence agency to create private security firms that Russia planned to use for capturing Ukraine. Dubinskyi testified against his former partner in the treason case.

At the 2019 press conference, Dubinskyi and Derkach pushed conspiracy theories that involved Hunter Biden, the son of U.S. President Joe Biden, who sat on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, as well as Mykola Zlochevskyi, the company’s founder and a former minister under former president Viktor Yanukovych.

Read also: Opinion: Are Ukraine’s anti-corruption efforts at a standstill?

They repeated the claims elsewhere as well. The allegations that either President Biden or his son were involved in unlawful actions associated with Burisma have been widely debunked.

Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said at the time that the charges were “not credible” and that Dubinskyi and Derkach were “professional disinformers.”

The conspiracies then went viral in the U.S. in the leadup to the 2020 presidential election, fueled in part by a wider campaign among political opponents of Biden who sought to use his son’s activities in Ukraine against him.

Derkach and Dubinskyi were later sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2021 for their work with Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer of former President Donald Trump, to undermine Biden’s presidential campaign.

The U.S. Treasury said that Derkach was “acting as an agent of the Russian intelligence services” and, along with Dubinskyi and three other former Ukrainian officials, worked together on a scheme that “coordinated dissemination and promotion of fraudulent and unsubstantiated allegations involving a U.S. political candidate (Biden).”

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The conspiracy theories involving Biden and his son were the center of the political scandal that resulted in Trump’s first impeachment charge, in which he allegedly threatened President Volodymyr Zelensky in July 2019 that he would cut off aid to Ukraine unless Zelensky initiated an investigation into Biden and his son.

Despite the political scandals and subsequent sanctions from the U.S., Dubinskyi remained in office. He is currently an independent MP, having been removed from President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People party in 2021 for “violating the statute and disobeying the party’s governing bodies.”

Dubinskyi has also been under investigation by Ukrainian authorities on more than one charge since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) reported on Aug. 3 that Dubinskyi had allegedly forged documents to travel to Spain in violation of Ukraine’s martial law that forbids men aged 18-60 from leaving the country.

The SBU reported another investigation into Dubinskyi on Nov. 3, this time alleging that he had helped his civil partner’s brother leave Ukraine illegally.

Dubinskyi claimed that the charges against him were politically motivated.

The SBU and the Ukrainian State Bureau of Investigation, the bodies allegedly carrying out searches at Dubinskyi’s premises, have not made an official statement at the time of this publication.

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