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Ukraine Investigators Summon Former Chief Of Presidential Office Over Interview

Andriy Bohdan, the former head of Ukraine's presidential office (file photo)
Andriy Bohdan, the former head of Ukraine's presidential office (file photo)

KYIV -- Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigations (DBR) has summoned the former chief of the presidential administration, Andriy Bohdan, for questioning after a controversial interview he gave to journalist Dmytro Hordon where he spoke about the sensitive issue of Crimea.

"On September 9, in his interview to a media outlet, the former chief of the presidential office, Andriy Bohdan, made public information about the alleged existence of agreements with Russian officials about the status of [the Russia-annexed Ukrainian peninsula of] Crimea, air communication with Russia, the exchange of prisoners, and a number of other agreements that are not supported by [Ukraine's] laws and regulations, and by other orders of the Supreme Commander of Ukraine’s Armed Forces," the DBR said in a statement, adding that Bohdan had been summoned for questioning "due to the social significance of the issues raised."

In the interview with Hordon, issued on September 9, Bohdanm who was relieved of his duties in February, said that Ukraine had not implemented promises given to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the normalization of ties between the two countries, made allegations about individuals who can influence Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and suggested possible ways to fix what he called "mistakes" made by Zelenskiy since he took office last year.

Ukrainian-Russian relations have been tense since 2014, the year when Moscow illegally annexed Crimea and threw its support behind pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine's east, where some 13,200 people have been killed in the ongoing conflict.

Bohdan wrote on Facebook on September 9 that he had left Ukraine for Romania after receiving threats following the interview.

Bohdan's appointment to the post of the chief of the presidential office in May last year, after Zelenskiy won a presidential election, sparked controversy as he used to be a lawyer for the powerful tycoon Ihor Kolomoyskiy, who returned to Kyiv days ahead of Zelenskiy's inauguration after two years of self-imposed exile in Geneva and Tel Aviv.

Kolomoyskiy had left Ukraine to avoid criminal charges. Under the previous president, Petro Poroshenko, the government had nationalized PrivatBank, which Kolomoyskiy once co-owned, and accused him of stealing $5.5 billion at a time when the war-torn country was being propped up by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United States, and the European Union.

Some speculated at the time that Kolomoyskiy returned to influence Zelenskiy’s policies via Bohdan.

Kolomoyskiy's 1+1 television channel aired Zelenskiy's comedy shows when he was an actor and supported his presidential bid with what some saw as favorable wall-to-wall coverage during the campaign.

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