The U.S. presidential race is gaining tension. Only a couple of weeks left before the election will take place. The Ukrainian issue dominates the U.S. political agenda, as Donald Trump put the Ukrainian scandal at the heart of his campaign. During the heated debate on 29 September 2020, Trump attacked Biden for his alleged involvement in political corruption in Ukraine.
Trump retweeted the audio recording of the conversation, which purportedly took place in 2016 between Biden and the then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The excerpt centers on the ouster of Ukraine’s chief prosecutor, who had previously investigated the Ukrainian energy company Burisma where Biden’s son, Hunter, held a board seat in 2014-2019.
The ‘Biden tapes’ were leaked by the Ukrainian politicians, a routine story for the Ukrainian tradition of political struggle. The former prosecutor Kostiantyn Kulyk, who investigated the Burisma case, advanced the claims that, while serving as the U.S. Vice President, Biden influenced Ukraine’s domestic policy for personal gain. Having compiled a 7-page dossier on Hunter Biden, he accused Joe Biden of receiving payments of millions from Burisma via his son.
However, no evidence to support the charge against the Bidens appeared. The Ukrainian authorities confirmed that “from the perspective of Ukrainian legislation, [the Bidens] did not violate anything”. Thus, the Biden case, now actively promoted by Kostiantyn Kulyk, seems to have no legal grounds, rather it is designed to spark a massive public outcry to affect the U.S. presidential election outcome.
U.S. intelligence officials alarmed about a threat to the U.S. national security, warning that foreign actors “continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift U.S. policies, increase discord in the United States, and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process”. The Director of National Counterintelligence and Security Center William Evanina stated that pro-Russia Ukrainian political actors were attempting to meddle in the U.S. electoral process by spreading false narratives and claims about corruption to undermine former Vice President Joe Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party. The U.S. Treasury Department even imposed sanctions against one of the Ukrainian politicians, as they put it, “an active Russian agent, maintaining close connections with the Russian Intelligence Services”. Such a decision represents the official recognition of foreign election interference and, hence, a threat to the U.S. national security.
Interestingly, Kostiantyn Kulyk has already a track record of meddling in the presidential election: he dramatically manipulated the outcome of the Ukrainian 2019 presidential election by building politically motivated criminal cases. He is also known for being himself numerously charged with corruption allegations and for having ties to Russian Intelligence Services. Depicted as morally bankrupt, Kulyk was labeled a pet prosecutor of the notorious Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky who has long been facing a criminal probe by the U.S. prosecution for money laundering. Fired from prosecution authorities with disgrace in late 2019, Kulyk is trying to regain his name now. He numerously tried to return to law enforcement bodies, but failed.
Presently, nominated by the pro-Russia political party Nash Krai (Our land), Kulyk is running for municipal election to become a member of regional city council.
Surprisingly, although Kostiantyn Kulyk is actively attempting to meddle in the U.S. presidential election, he has inexplicably evaded the relevant accusation by the U.S. authorities, so far. However, it is reasonable to assume that Kostiantyn Kulyk might become another Ukrainian to be designated complicit in foreign interference in the U.S. electoral process. One could anticipate that Kostiantyn Kulyk be shortly included in sanction list.