KYIV -- Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General Ruslan Ryaboshapka says the prosecutor who led investigations into a local natural-gas company where Joe Biden’s son served on the board will be fired.
Former U.S. Vice President Biden and his son Hunter have been central figures in the impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump.
Ryaboshapka told Current Time on November 13 that Kostyantyn Kulyk will be fired because he had failed to take a professional exam that the Prosecutor-General’s Office has required as part of an effort to remake the law enforcement body.
"According to the current law, we have no other choice but to say goodbye" to Kulyk, the deputy head of the office’s Department of International Legal Cooperation, Ryaboshapka said.
Kulyk had sought to recover billions of dollars' worth of assets that former President Viktor Yanukovych and his inner circle, including Mykola Zlochevskiy, allegedly stole from the state.
Zlochevskiy is the owner of the Burisma Group, the nation’s largest privately-owned natural gas producer.
Burisma received many of its gas exploration and production licenses when Zlochevskiy headed the Ministry of Ecology in Yanukovych’s government.
Hunter Biden joined Burisma's board in April 2014 after Yanukovych and Zlochevskiy had fled the country. The state launched an investigation into the company that year.
Joe Biden was overseeing Ukraine policy during the administration of then-President Barack Obama. Trump has accused him of pressuring officials in Kyiv to fire a former prosecutor-general to halt investigations into Burisma.
George Kent, the top Ukraine official at the State Department, dismissed Trump’s claim during his impeachment testimony on November 13.
Ryaboshapka said there were 13 to 14 cases opened on Zlochevskiy and at least "one big case on Burisma."
When asked if Hunter Biden features in any ongoing cases into Zlochevskiy or Burisma, Ryaboshapka said he doesn't know because there are thousands of files to sift through, adding that the prosecutor's office is conducting an audit of the cases.
When pressed again in what form theoretically could Hunter Biden feature in the cases, Ryaboshapka said: "In any [form] an investigating prosecutor's imagination allows."
He insisted there has been no pressure exerted on him regarding the investigation of Burisma’s activities, adding that many months are needed to fully investigate the case.
"I do not feel any pressure either from our president or foreign political figures. In general, I am free to do everything that I think is proper and corresponds with the law, but not anything that somebody else wants," the prosecutor-general said.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer who has been investigating the Bidens, has acknowledged meeting Kulyk and his former superior, then-Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, to discuss corruption allegations against the former vice president.
Kulyk in 2018 compiled a seven-page, English-language dossier on the Bidens that accused Hunter Biden of corruption. He circulated the document, which also accused U.S. diplomats of covering up for crimes allegedly committed by the Bidens.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch suggested Kulyk's dossier, or its key points, had reached the upper echelons of the U.S. government and that she was abruptly recalled from Kyiv based on "unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives."
Kulyk was transferred from the Military Prosecutor's Office to his current role during a corruption trial in which he was accused of illegal enrichment for leading a lavish lifestyle.
The trial never reached a conclusion because the Supreme Court abolished the illegal enrichment law at the time.
The House of Representatives' inquiry, which could lead to Trump's impeachment, is looking at whether Trump sought to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open an investigation into White House contender Joe Biden and his son by withholding military aid to the country.
Ryaboshapka said that U.S. law enforcement bodies could do their own investigation because they “have no less information than we have.”
"In principle, if they wished, they could conduct the very same investigation [into Burisma and Hunter Biden], and in no lower quality than we are conducting."