Outspoken member of parliament Ihor Mosiychuk of the populist Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko saw his political career collapse on Sept. 17 when the Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin showed parliament a video of the lawmaker allegedly negotiating bribes of tens of thousands of dollars and hryvnias.
Mosiychuk was promptly stripped of his parliamentary immunity and later arrested in the Verkhovna Rada, outside the session hall.
Commenting on the incriminating video, Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Groysman said “this is a disgrace to the parliament,” and said the dignity of the institution had to be protected “if we have a black sheep in the flock.”
Groysman then proceeded to have a vote on withdrawing Mosiychuk’s immunity from prosecution included on parliament’s agenda. The Radical Party faction voted for the decision, believing Mosiychuk would get a chance to rebuff the accusations of bribery, party leader Oleh Lyashko later explained.
But Mosiychuk wasn’t given the floor.
Press subtitles button on the video's setting.
Instead 262 lawmakers, mostly from the government coalition parties, voted to give the green light to Mosiychuk’s arrest as requested by the general prosecutor. A simple majority of 226 in the 450-seat parliament is required for a decision to be approved.
Mosiychuk denied the accusations, claiming that the video had been manipulated and assembled from shots taken out of context. He also rejected the video’s claim that bribes were passed to him as marked bank notes would have been used in a special operation against him, and no marked notes were found on his person. “They couldn’t get me for anything, so they made this up,” Mosiychuk said, accusing the president’s camp of framing him.
The video was indeed composed of several shots, but they appeared genuine and painted an incriminating picture of Mosiychuk demanding money in return for lobbying for business-related issues. “We can protect you from the police … but not from the prosecutors,” Mosiychuk said at one point in the video.
Lyashko seemed shell-shocked after the video was shown and the vote to strip Mosiychuk of his immunity vote was passed. “I was shocked, I was shocked, when I saw the video … If there is a fair court, then let it work,” he said, adding that if Mosiychuk had violated the law, he should face the consequences. He went on to apologize to his voters.
Lyashko subsequently regained his composure. He first accused Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of staging the scandal as revenge for Lyashko’s party leaving the governing coalition. Analysts previously suggested that the Radical Party had left the coalition because criminal cases were mounting against several of the faction’s lawmakers, including Lyashko. Claiming that the government was persecuting the opposition would be a good defense strategy, analysts said.
After the vote, a unit of the Alfa special police force in full camouflage uniforms and masks entered parliament to arrest Mosiychuk. Lyashko tried to stall them, arguing that police weren’t allowed to enter parliament.
“This is lawlessness! This is becoming a dictatorship! Even (ex-President Viktor) Yanukovych didn’t arrest people in parliament,” Lyashko argued, but in vain.
After Mosiychuk’s arrest, Lyashko turned up the volume. He accused Poroshenko of attempting to offer him bribes and government positions in return for assistance in getting persons linked to the president appointed to state positions.
Lyashko also said that Poroshenko had defended the interests of gas oligarch Dmytro Firtash, against the interests of the country.
“I told Poroshenko yesterday that he was corrupt,” Lyashko said.
Critics like the EuroMaidan Revolution activist and lawmaker Volodymyr Parasyuk said that even if Mosiychuk was guilty, the democratic procedures had been violated when he was stripped of immunity.
Moreover, many high-profile affiliates of Yanukovych, accused of looting the country were walking free. When one of them, Andriy Klyuyev, indeed had his immunity taken away in June he was given the floor in the parliament for a replica. Furthermore he wasn’t immediately arrested. In contrast to Mosiychuk that gave Klyuyev a chance to escape.
Accused of having neo-Nazi sympathies, Mosiychuk was previously in detention for more than two years for attempting to blow up a statue of Vladimir Lenin in the Kyiv suburb of Boryspil. He was released in February 2014 after Yanukovych’s regime tumbled.