January 20, 2020\
Ukraine finally has announced an investigation, but it has nothing to do with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden or his son Hunter. Rather, the small eastern European nation has opened a criminal investigation into allies of President Donald Trump, following reports that they had U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch under surveillance while she was stationed in Kyiv, the Ukrainian government said on January 16.
According to a report by The New York Times, “The move was a remarkable departure from past practice for the new government of President Volodymyr Zelensky, which has tried hard to avoid any hint of partisanship in its dealings with Washington.”
The current situation has heightened those sensitivities, with Ukraine caught in the middle of the conflict between Democrats and Republicans over the impeachment of Trump for his pressure campaign on Ukraine.
But the recent release of documents in Washington has prompted a change of course, the Times notes. On Tuesday, just before the president’s impeachment trial in the Senate was scheduled to begin, House Democrats published text messages to and from Lev Parnas —who managed the president’s campaign of coercion on the ground in Ukraine for Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer. The texts pointed directly to the surveillance of Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch.
The Internal Affairs Ministry of Ukraine said in a statement released last Thursday that “the published messages contain facts of possible violations of Ukrainian law and of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, which protect the rights of diplomats on the territory of another state.”
“Our goal is to investigate whether there were any violations of Ukrainian and international laws,” the ministry said in the statement. “Or maybe it was just bravado and fake conversation between two U.S. citizens.”
However, Ukrainian law and international obligations to protect the rights of diplomats serving on its territory forced the country to respond, the statement said. It called on the F.B.I. to provide all available “information and materials” related to people “who may be involved in a possible criminal offense.”
Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s interior minister, said the United States should take part in the investigation.
Research contact: @nytimes