The odious previous Ukrainian prosecutor Kostiantyn H. Kulyk did not become one of the most noteworthy figures in Ukraine, or in the world, until the case of American president Donald Trump’s impeachment became a discussed possibility.
According to Trump’s lawyer Rudolf Giuliani, Kostiantyn Kulyk has become a pivotal figure when it comes to correspondences that involve gathering information against Joe Biden, Trump’s opponent in the US 2020 elections, as well as Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
In aiding these correspondences, Kulyk has been at the core of notable American political scandals, and has thus garnered a significant amount of media presence in recent years specifically in order to gain power. This is particularly the case when considering Kulyk’s participation in the disclosure of the “Derkach tapes” on May 19, 2020. These tapes, created in 2015-2016, are recorded conversations between US Vice President Joe Biden and Former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko which discuss the appointment of a new prime minister following the dismissal of Prosecutor Viktor Shokin. Also discussed are the prospects of receiving financial assistance from the United States and an additional $1 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The publication of these recordings has allowed Trump supporters to muddy the name of this potential Democratic candidate before the upcoming 2020 election.
Kulyk’s involvement in the reveal of this tape is cause for serious concerns about his return to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General Office, particularly because it would be significantly beneficial for Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky.
In addition to these tapes, Kulyk, along with Andriy Derkach, a supporting figure for the pro-Russian parliamentary group, published extra recordings of a conversation between former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and Biden on Monday, June 22, 2020. These recordings were released during a press conference during which Dekach stated a $50 million bribe had been offered for closing the case against Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company of which Biden’s son Hunter was an active board member. Kulyk and Derkach argue that these recordings provided new information regarding international corruption and the threat of foreign governance in Ukraine.
Kulyk and Derkach’s involvement with Trump’s supporters presents clear evidence that the Trump administration is utilizing Ukraine as an instrument in dirty political games that aim solely at incriminating Biden— even at the price of disclosing state secrets.
According to the former United States Ambassador of Ukraine, John Herbst, there are dangerous “groups of influence” that could gain influence with the publication of records such as the Derkach tapes. Thus, the release of these records threatens to hamper any US efforts to complete state reforms that could eradicate corruption in Ukraine. Due to this, Kulyk specifically utilizes US tension between Biden and Trump not to the benefit of Ukraine, but rather with hopes of gathering publicity for his own benefit.
Kulik’s constant meddling in US politics in order to support his own needs is proof that the institutional weakness of the Ukrainian Judicial system has led to a shameful sacrificing of Ukrainian state wellbeing in order to feed individual political interests and greed. This is also evident of the fact that the law enforcement reform in Ukraine has significant progress to make before becoming viable. After all, Kulyk is the only Ukrainian prosecutor who has gained global notoriety and may additionally benefit from a new position at the Prosecutor Office, solely due to his treasonous partnership with Trump.
But who is he really, this man who has gained global prominence at such a rapid pace? Tracing Kulyk’s background reveals a breadcrumb trail of incriminating evidence which reveals the individual benefits he has received through his involvement in international corruption.
After becoming the military prosecutor of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (ATO), Kulyk became a defendant in a December 2015 case of illegal enrichment and public procurement fraud. Kulyk’s official income level at this time significantly reveals that he was unable to afford either luxury real estate in Kyiv or an expensive car, let alone the assets he held, at least 2.866 million, which were issued to his significant other, Iryna Nimets.
According to ATO, even though Kulyk managed to earn more than 1.67 million UAH while serving in the Prosecutor General Office from the years 2011 to 2015, this income was inadequate to support Kulyk’s lifestyle. As a result, Kulyk’s expenses exceeded his income by 2.6 million UAH and amounted to about 3.4 million hryvnias. When this case was disclosed, Kulyk was transferred to the position of Deputy Head of the Department of International Legal Cooperation and Head of the Department of Procedural Guidance in Criminal Proceedings of the Prosecutor General Office. It was in this position that Kulyk turned to the case of Burisma and Biden in efforts to support himself.
Significantly, Kulyk has been the first official in Ukraine to be accused of unjust enrichment but not prosecuted. This is due to the fact that, in February 2019, the Constitutional Court issued an article of Criminal Code that declared penalties of illegal profits unconstitutional, forcing the ATO to subsequently close 65 cases of illicit enrichment, including the case against Kostiantyn Kulyk.
In addition to his scandalous involvement in the case of Burisma to line his own pockets, Kulyk’s close friendship with the leader of public organization Oplot, collaborationist Yevhen Zhylin, is also subject to question. Kulyk’s family actively used Zhylin’s assets in Ukraine while he was in Moscow. Most notably, Kulyk’s significant other Iryna Nimets, bought a car from Yevhen Zhylin’s father, a man suspected of kidnapping and assaulting other individuals. The proof of this friendship calls into question the extent of Kulyk’s nationalism and how this relationship affects Kulyk’s decisions on Ukrainian-Russian relations at the time of the Russian Federation’s greatest aggressions towards Ukrainian citizens.
Kostiantyn Kulyk’s principles are also considerably questionable considering the fluctuating and inconsistent way that he alters his political ideals in order to suit any advantageous opportunity. On the eve of Zelensky’s election as President of Ukraine, Kulyk made clear efforts to please this odious oligarch and his active business colleague Igor Kolomoisky in order to remain a prosecutor. For instance, on the eve of the second round of the presidential election, Kulyk appeared on a TV channel owned by Kolomoisky in order to express suspicion in interfering with an investigation of the “Kurchenko case” by people close to former President Poroshenko: Lozhkin, Filatov and Gontareva. According to Poroshenko, Kulyk paid visits to Kolomoisky’s entourage in Israel as well as Kolomoisky’s lawyer in Vienna before making this public broadcast.
It is clear that Kulyk is receiving individual benefits as compensation for his allegiance. After all, it was only recently in the fall of 2019 that Kulyk’s name appeared in the Ukrainian media in connection with a Bihus.info journalistic investigation concerning the illegal construction of an entire housing complex in Kyiv known as the “Diplomat Hall”, a space accessible only to Kulyk and his wife. Official permits were never acquired for this construction.
Luckily, that same fall, public protests called for Kulyk’s dismissal. This caused the Deputies of Ukraine and the public organization “Stop Corruption” to file a collective request for the dismissal of Kostiantyn Kulyk on October 30, 2019, a request that was signed by at least 60 Ukrainian parliament deputies.
On November 1st, this petition was released on a website run by the President of Ukraine, and reads as follows:
“The public expresses deep concerns about the situation regarding the reform of the prosecutor’s office of Ukraine.
Thus, employees of the Prosecutor General Office of Ukraine, in particular Kostiantyn Kulyk, in the framework of re-certification on October 23 and 24, 2019, were tested for knowledge of current legislation in Ukraine.
According to the results of the exam, out of more than 1,000 prosecutors, 29% did not pass or did not appear for the exam. It should be noted that the list of persons who did not pass the exam included prosecutor Kostiantyn Kulyk, which is confirmed by official information posted on the website of the Prosecutor General Office of Ukraine.
At the same time, we learned that Mr. Kulyk, despite the unsatisfactory result of professional testing, continues to hold office and perform his duties in the renewed Prosecutor General Office of Ukraine. This is an example of double standards and disrespect for all prosecutors…
…As it was publicly announced and promised to Ukrainians by the President of Ukraine and General Ukrainian Prosecutor to reform the prosecutor’s office, taking into account the above, we demand fairness and compliance with current legislation, public promises, and guarantees… We demand the dismissal of a prosecutor who did not pass the exam, the legal image of Ukraine—
As a result of this petition, the General Ukrainian Prosecutor, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, announced on November 14, 2019 that Kostiantyn Kulyk would be fired from the prosecutor’s office. On November 27th of the same year, Kulyk was dismissed from this position.
Nevertheless, Kulyk’s allies are determined to return him to the Judicial system in a position as Head or Deputy Head of the Department of Procedural Management in criminal proceedings. According to some Ukrainian media sources, Chief Prosecutor Irina Venediktova, a figure who has continually refused to reinstate Kulyk, has been repeatedly “visited” by mediators of this odious previous Ukrainian prosecutor. Attempts such as this will not only continue, but may continue with increasing pressure. This begs the question: is the Ukrainian Judicial system hardened enough to withstand the influences of Kulyk’s followers?
It is also important to question: will Ukraine cease to be an instrument of political games, or will Ukrainian affairs solely be a cause for media sensations? The answer here is clear—
as long as people like Kulyk have access to power and influence, Ukraine will remain a toy in the hands of international political scandals and corrupt leaders. Thus, figures like Kulyk must be stopped, else they will continue to threaten the wellbeing of Ukrainian citizens through the way they gather support from the US solely to acquire global attention—and subsequently, power— for themselves.