Serhiy Leshchenko

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Serhiy Leshchenko
Сергій Лещенко
Сергій Лещенко у Чернігові у 2017 06 (cropped).jpg
Member of Parliament
for Petro Poroshenko Bloc
In office
27 November 2014[1] – 24 July 2019
Personal details
Born (1980-08-30) August 30, 1980 (age 39)
Kyiv, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Political partyDemocratic Alliance
Other political
affiliations
Petro Poroshenko Bloc (until August 2016)
Alma materTaras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
Leland Stanford Junior University
Occupationpublicist; journalist of Ukrayinska Pravda

Serhiy Leshchenko (Ukrainian: Сергій Анатолійович Лещенко) is a Ukrainian journalist, politician and public figure, Member of Parliament (8th Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada). A member of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Corruption Prevention and Counteraction. From 2002 until 2014 Serhiy was working as  a Deputy Editor-in-Chief and as a special correspondent for Ukrayinska Pravda online newspaper.[2]

Member of the Supervisory Board of the Ukrainian Railways.[3]

Biography[edit]

In 2003 Leschenko graduated the Institute of Journalism at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. His career in journalism began in 2000 after the probation at the news program Reporter on the Novyi Kanal channel chaired by Andriy Shevchenko. In September 2000 he became a correspondent of the online version of Ukrayinska Pravda. He continued working at the regional news department of “Novyi Kanal” until Spring 2001 while working for Ukrayinska Pravda. In March 2001 he quit working for Novyi Kanal. In 2002 he became deputy editor-in-chief of the Ukrayinska Pravda. Leschenko is famous for his investigative journalism on corruption in Ukrainian politics. In 2010 he joined the movement “Stop Tsenzuri!” (“Stop Censorship!”) aimed for the protection of free speech, prevention of censorship and obstruction of journalism in Ukraine.

In 2012 Leschenko joined a civil movement “Chesno” aiming for transparency and accountability of government officials. In 2012 was studying in the United Kingdom as a part of the scholarship program of John Smith Fellowship. In 2013-2014 undertook an internship at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington D.C. through the Reagan–Fascell Democracy Fellowship. In 2013 he took part in the Draper Hills Summer Fellowship at Stanford University in the United States.

In 2014 Leschenko was elected a people's deputy to the 8th Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada with the party Petro Poroshenko Bloc “Solidarity”. He chaired a subcommittee on International Partnership and Anticorruption Law Implementation as part of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Corruption Prevention and Counteraction.

From 2015 to 2016, Leschenko was lecturing journalism at the Ukrainian Catholic University (Lviv)[4] and delivering a course of lectures on anticorruption at National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

In June 2013 Leschenko published a documentary book the “American saga of Pavlo Lazarenko” based on the US law enforcement agencies’ investigation materials.[5] After the Euromaidan Leschenko wrote another book the “Mezhyhirya Syndrome. Diagnoses of Viktor Yanukovych Ruling”, which was published in September 2014.[6]

Since 2017, Leschenko has his video blogs live on channel “24”, where he talks about the current political situation in Ukraine, opens up his political activity and presents the agenda of the modern reformists.[7] Since September 2018, on the same "24", Leschenko presents the political talk show "What was this" with journalist Yevgeniya Motorevska.[7]

Parliamentary activities[edit]

On 27 November 2014, Serhiy Leschenko became a people's deputy of the 8th Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada. He was elected as a member of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc (No 19). In the Ukrainian parliament, he became a member of the Committee on preventing and combating corruption.[8] Leschenko became a member of the Interfactional union "Eurooptimists".[9]

In 2015 Leschenko became a co-author of the bill “The changes to be made to certain legislation acts of Ukraine about preventing and counteracting corruption”. The bill foresees a decrease in the risks of political corruption due to complex changes to Ukrainian legislation in the sphere of political parties and pre-election agitation direct financing that increases parties’ financial dependency. The bill was a part of the “visa free package” laws, necessary for the liberalization of visa free regime for Ukraine.[10][11]

On 26 November 2015, Leschenko presented the documents that he believed had justified the criminal case in Switzerland on bribery and money laundering. The case was begun against then people's deputy from the “People's Front” party Mykola Martynenko. Due to the data provided, Mykola Martynenko was placed under investigation.[12]

In fall 2017 together with other people's deputies and civil society representatives, Leschenko held an agitation campaign in support of “Vseukrayinskyi zbir” initiative, which had its focus on “a large political reform”. The main points of the reform were a creation of an anticorruption court, abolition of deputies’ immunity, a switch to a proportional representation election system with open lists. Serhiy advocates for putting a limit on pre-electoral agitation campaigns on television, which will increase the candidates’ ability to compete.

In 2017 Leschenko publicly revealed that Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko had not been receiving members of the public as was required by legislation.[13][14] This caused the Prosecutor General to start receiving members of the public.

After election to the Verkhovna Rada, Leschenko gradually began to criticize the Petro Poroshenko Bloc (PPB) more and more and stopped voting in sync with it.[15] According to deputy head of the PPB faction Oleksiy Honcharenko, by February 2019 Leschenko had not attended PPB faction meetings for several years.[15] On 28 February 2019, Leschenko voluntarily left the Petro Poroshenko Bloc “Solidarity” faction.[15]

In April 2019 Leschenko advised the newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's transition team.[16] But he has since been distanced by the administration and Zelensky himself.[16]

On 29 May 2019 Leschenko stated he wanted to take part in the July 2019 Ukrainian parliamentary election for the party Servant of the People but this party stated on 7 June 2019 that no incumbent MPs would be on its party list for the 2019 parliamentary election.[17] Instead Leschenko tried to win back his seat in the 220th electoral district in Kiev.[18] But Leschenko failed to do this, taking third place with 11.98% (7,775 votes). Instead, Servant of the People candidate Hanna Bondar won the district with 37%.[19]

The real estate scandal[edit]

On 6 September 2016, a group of deputies of the Verkhovna Rada appealed to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) with a request to check the purchase of Serhiy Leschenko of an apartment of 192 m² in a new building on Ivan Franko Street in the center of Kiev.[20] At that time, the cost of the apartment was UAH 12.864 million (USD 480 thousand).[21] Other sources say that the apartment is worth UAH 7.5 million.[22] According to Leshchenko, half of the amount was borrowed from the chief editor of the Ukrayinska Pravda Olena Prytula, in the form of an interest-free cash loan for 10 years, the rest was personal funds of Leschenko and his girlfriend, famous Ukrainian DJ Anastasiya Topolska.[23] This apartment purchase has caused a great public outcry. Criticism has undergone both the fact of luxury purchasing, as well as sources of financing.[20]

On 19 September 2016, NABU reported an administrative violation with signs of corruption in the Leschenko case: Pritula's loan could be qualified as a gift, and its receipt contradicts the Ukrainian anti-corruption legislation (restriction on the receipt of gifts by deputies). In addition, USD 77 thousand were spent from the deposits of Serhiy Leschenko's mother, which wasn't stated in the deputy's declaration as his own funds.[24]

On 15 February 2017, Pechersky District Court of Kiev closed an administrative case, not finding corpus delicti in Leschenko's actions.[25] Judge Volodymyr Karabanʹ, who made the court decision, together with his family members, was repeatedly involved in scandals.[26][27][28]

Fight at the Verkhovna Rada[edit]

On 9 February 2017, people's deputy from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc Ivan Melnychuk started a verbal dispute with Serhiy Leschenko in the session hall of the Verkhovna Rada. The dispute started over a Facebook post written by Leschenko, wherein he claimed deputies from PPB faction were purposely deteriorating the anticorruption committee meetings so that they could accuse the committee of being a failure later. Ivan Melnychuk used physical force and damaged Leschenko's suit.[29][30][31]

Case of Paul Manafort[edit]

In August 2016, Serhiy Leshchenko announced that the Party of Regions, shortly before Viktor Yanukovych’s election as the President of Ukraine, paid to the American political consultant Paul Manafort for his services.[32] According to Leshchenko, the expenses of Ukraine related to his activities exceeded $ 12 million.[33] In February 2017, correspondence between allegedly Leshchenko and Paul Manafort's daughter Jess appeared on the Internet. This correspondence, posted by anonymous hackers in English with grammatical errors, was perceived by one Russian media outlet as blackmail.[34]

Manafort confirmed the authenticity of the texts hacked from his daughter’s phone. He added that he had received similar texts to his own phone number from the same address appearing to be affiliated with Leshchenko. He also said he did not respond directly to those letters, but resend them to his lawyer. Manafort refused to show these messages to journalists.[35]

In March 2017, Leshchenko surrendered to the NABU documents[a] that, presumably, could prove Manafort’s involvement in offshore schemes.[37][38][39] These documents showed a $750,000 payment for the supply of 501 computers to a company David Manafort, from a Belize-registered offshore company, through a bank in Kyrgyzstan. Leshchenko urged to begin an investigation of this situation both in Ukraine and in the USA.[37][39] In March 2019, Manafort "was convicted on eight criminal counts including bank fraud, tax fraud and failing to file a foreign bank account report." Together with the court sentence of 2018, the total sentence of Manafort was 7.5 years.[40]

At the beginning of Donald Trump's presidency, Manafort demanded that the White House and Donald Trump actively pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate and discredit Leshchenko because Leshchenko had published information highly critical of Manafort's political consulting work in Ukraine.[41][42] Manafort provided information to Rudy Giuliani to smear Leshchenko and entered into a joint legal defense agreement between Manafort's attorneys and Trump's attorneys.[41] Manafort and Giuliani also discussed how to deal with Marie Yovanovitch.[41]

On 10 May 2019, 107th Mayor of New York City and attorney to US President Donald Trump, Rudolf Giuliani, announced that he had hoped to meet in Kiev with Ukrainian president-elect, Volodymyr Zelensky. They planned to discuss foreign countries interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as the involvement of Hunter Biden (son of 47th vice president of the United States Joe Biden) at Burisma, a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky. However, the next day Giuliani canceled his trip. Giuliani said that there are enemies of the US President in the election headquarters of Zelensky. “I’m not going to go because I think I’m walking into a group of people that are enemies of the president, in some cases, enemies of the United States. And in one case already convicted person who has found to be involved in assisting of the Democrats in the 2016 elections... Gentleman by the name of Leschenko who supplied a Blackbook,” said Giuliani in an interview with Fox News.[43][44][45][46] At around this time the Zelensky administration (whom Leshchenko had been advising) started to distance itself from Leshchenko reportedly because of concerns about being seen as too close to him while he was attracting criticism from Giuliani.[16]

Leshchenko said that the Prosecutor General, Yuriy Lutsenko, was to blame for the scandalous situation, he rejected the accusation of forging "black bookkeeping" materials.[47][48] In response, Lutsenko said that “Leshchenko, often on a not-free-of-charge basis from the US Embassy in Ukraine kicked up a row this scandal, trying to help one of the presidential candidates in 2016” and he called Leshchenko a "political skunk".[49][50][51]

Fight on television[edit]

After being live on the “Newsone” channel Ihor Mosiychuk accused Leschenko of discrediting Oleh Lyashko, who was leading one if the parliaments’ parities. The quarrel outgrew into a fight. (In the 2019 Ukrainian parliamentary election Lyashko lost his parliamentary seat.[52])

Books[edit]

  • Leshchenko, S. Американська сага Павла Лазаренка (American saga of Pavlo Lazarenko). 2013
  • Leshchenko, S. Межигірський синдром (Mezhyhiria Syndrome). 2014 ISBN 966-2665-45-5

Awards[edit]

2004 – runner up of the “Best journalist investigation - 2004” (partners’ project of the institute of media, French Embassy in Ukraine and the Mohyla School of Journalism).

2006 - winner of the Oleksandr Kryvenko award.

2006 - winner in nomination “ Person of the year in printed media area” as a part of the national program “Person of the Year”.

2006 - “Person of the year” in the “Leaders of Ukrainian Internet”contest, organized by the internet.us magazine.  

2011- eastern partnership journalist award from the fundacija reporterow organization for the article-investigation “Offshore roof for Yanukovych and Kliuev”.

2013 - Gerd Bucerius Free Press for Eastern Europe Award.

2013 - 55 place in the “Korrespondent” magazine list of 100 most influential people of Ukraine.

2014 - one of a “100 heroes of information”, first released by the “Reporters Without Borders” organization  

2014 - one of a TOP-100 bloggers of Ukraine according to “Fakty” ICTV.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Another source gave the records to Viktor M. Trepak, who was the former deputy director of the domestic intelligence agency of Ukraine, the S.B.U, who then passed it to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau[36]

References[edit]

  1. ^ CEC registers 357 newly elected deputies of 422 Archived 2014-11-26 at the Wayback Machine, National Radio Company of Ukraine (25 November 2014)
    Parliament to form leadership and coalition on November 27, UNIAN (26 November 2014)
  2. ^ Serhiy Leshchenko rsf.org
  3. ^ "Про зміни у складі наглядової ради акціонерного товариства "Українська залізниця"". Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (in Ukrainian). December 18, 2019. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  4. ^ "Сергій Лещенко став викладачем Школи журналістики УКУ" (in Ukrainian). UCU Journalism School. 16 February 2015. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  5. ^ Лещенко: Во время одного из допросов Лазаренко заснул прямо на полу зала заседаний американского суда (in Russian). Gordonua.com. 16 May 2018. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  6. ^ Сергей Лещенко: на пути от «комфортной» журналистики к парламентскому «диггерству» (in Russian). facenews.ua. 6 October 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  7. ^ a b (in Ukrainian) Occupation of the TV: Why do politicians become TV presenter, Ukrayinska Pravda (12 February 2019)
  8. ^ Состав комитетов Рады: Савченко будет работать на нацбезопасность, а Чепинога - на экологию. Ukrayinska Pravda (in Russian). 4 December 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  9. ^ Denys Rafalskiy (16 February 2019). «Мы же не шнурки какие-то». Как еврооптимисты создают сразу несколько проектов под парламентские выборы (in Russian). Strana.ua. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  10. ^ Iryna Stelʹmakh (9 October 2015). "80 копійок на місяць з кожного – українці співфінансуватимуть політичні партії" (in Ukrainian). Radio Liberty. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  11. ^ Рада ввела финансирование партий из госбюджета (обновлено) (in Russian). Livyy bereh. 8 October 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  12. ^ Лещенко требует от Шокина инициировать снятие неприкосновенности с Мартыненко (in Russian). Dzerkalo Tyzhnia. 26 November 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  13. ^ Лещенко: Луценко снова не пришел на личный прием граждан. Вчера он неожиданно оформил отпуск (in Russian). Gordonua.com. 27 October 2017. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  14. ^ Луценко поставил себя выше закона, плюнув в лицо обществу - нардеп от БПП (in Russian). RIA Novosti Ukraine. 25 November 2017. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  15. ^ a b c (in Ukrainian) Leshchenko, Naim and Zalishchuk leave the BPP. Why now and what's next?, BBC Ukrainian (28 February 2019)
    Three MPs intend to leave BPP parliamentary faction, Ukrinform (28 February 2019)
  16. ^ a b c "Biden probe was condition for Trump-Zelenskiy phone call: Ukrainian adviser". ABC News. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  17. ^ (in Ukrainian) https://m.glavcom.ua/country/society/leshchenka-ne-vzyali-u-spisok-partiji-sluga-narodu-600253.html
  18. ^ (in Ukrainian) https://m.glavcom.ua/kyiv/publications/mamahohotala-kogo-sluga-narodu-vidpraviv-na-mazhoritarku-u-kijevi-ta-oblasti-604497.html
  19. ^ https://nv.ua/ukr/ukraine/politics/leshchenko-prograv-na-mazhoritarnomu-okruzi-u-kiyevi-kandidatci-vid-partiji-sluga-narodu-novini-ukrajini-50033707.html
  20. ^ a b Новая квартира Лещенко: карма, травля и #позор (in Russian). BBC. 7 September 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  21. ^ Лещенко купил огромную квартиру в элитном новострое в Киеве (in Russian). Strana.ua. 6 September 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  22. ^ Лещенко купил огромную квартиру в центре Киева (in Russian). Korrespondent.net. 6 September 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  23. ^ Zoya Mylovanova, Dmytro Boyko, Vasylʹ Yurmanovich (14 September 2016). Квартира Лещенко: юридический анализ громкого скандала (in Russian). Liga.net. Retrieved 24 May 2019.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  24. ^ Квартира Лещенко: НАБУ нашло признаки коррупции (in Russian). BBC. 19 September 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  25. ^ Суд закрыл «квартирное дело» Лещенко. Ukrayinska Pravda (in Russian). 15 February 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  26. ^ Судейская династия Карабань владеет огромной квартирой в центре Киева и принимает дорогие подарки (in Russian). Kievvlast. 21 January 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  27. ^ Журналист Гнап: Судья Карабань не позволил арестовать счета жены судьи Емельянова в Лихтенштейне с 13 млн франков (in Russian). Gordonua.com. 18 March 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  28. ^ У династії київських суддів виявили елітні хороми і «подарунки» на мільйони доларів (in Ukrainian). Obozrevatel. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  29. ^ В Раде подрались депутаты Лещенко и Мельничук (in Russian). Dzerkalo Tyzhnia. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  30. ^ Лещенко и Мельничук подрались в Раде, у первого - порванный пиджак (фото, видео) (in Russian). UNIAN. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  31. ^ В Раде подрались Лещенко и Мельничук (видео) (in Russian). 1+1/TSN. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  32. ^ "НАБУ опубликовало фрагменты "черной бухгалтерии" регионалов, в которых упоминается фамилия Манафорта: Политконсультант из США Пол Манафорт, ныне возглавляющий избирательную кампанию Дональда Трампа, с 2007 по 2012 год 22 раза упоминался в "расходной книге" Партии регионов" [NABU has published fragments of "black accounting" of the regions, which mentions the name of Manafort: US political consultant Paul Manafort, who now heads Donald Trump's election campaign, has been mentioned 22 times in the Party of Regions' "spending book" from 2007 to 2012.]. Gordonua (in Ukrainian). 18 August 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  33. ^ "Лещенко сообщил, что деньги для Манафорта из "чёрной бухгалтерии" Партии регионов получал экс-нардеп Калюжный" (in Russian). gordonua.com. 19 August 2016. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  34. ^ "В сеть слили переписку Лещенко с дочерью Манафорта" (in Russian). Korrespondent.net. 21 February 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  35. ^ "Manafort faced blackmail attempt, hacks suggest". Politico. 23 February 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  36. ^ Kramer, Andrew E.; McIntire, Mike; Meier, Barry (August 14, 2016). "Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump's Campaign Chief". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 16, 2016. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  37. ^ a b "Trump's ex aide Paul Manafort 'hid' $750,000 payment". BBC. 22 March 2017. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  38. ^ "Лещенко передал НАБУ документы по Манафорту" (in Russian). BBC. 22 March 2017. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  39. ^ a b "Лещенко узнал, как Янукович оплачивал услуги Манафорта". Ukrayinska Pravda (in Russian). 21 March 2017. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  40. ^ Kevin Breuninger (13 March 2019). "Paul Manafort gets additional 43 months in second Mueller sentence after ex-Trump campaign boss says he's 'sorry'". CNBC. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  41. ^ a b c Waas, Muray (25 September 2019). "Trump, Giuliani, and Manafort: The Ukraine Scheme". The New York Review of Books. Archived from the original on 14 October 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  42. ^ Waas, Murray (8 October 2019). "Ukraine Continued: How a Crucial Witness Escaped". The New York Review of Books. Archived from the original on 9 October 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  43. ^ Kenneth P. Vogel (11 May 2019). "Rudy Giuliani Cancels His Trip to Ukraine, Blaming Democrats' 'Spin'". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  44. ^ Aaron Blake (11 May 2019). "After backlash, Giuliani cancels Ukraine trip meant to 'meddle' in investigations to help Trump". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  45. ^ Samantha Vinograd (11 May 2019). "Giuliani sets a low bar with his Ukraine trip". CNN. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  46. ^ Paul Steinhauser (13 May 2019). "Biden calls Giuliani's now-canceled Ukraine trip 'inappropriate'". Fox News. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  47. ^ Khrystyna Berdynsʹkykh (18 May 2019). "Почти Украинагейт. Как Луценко и Джулиани вовлекли Киев в американский политический скандал" (in Russian). NV.ua. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  48. ^ "Личный адвокат Трампа назвал среди врагов президента США украинского нардепа Лещенко" (in Russian). Interfax-Ukraine. 11 May 2019. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  49. ^ "Луценко назвал Лещенко "политическим скунсом" и заявил, что ему, вероятно, вручат подозрение" (in Russian). Gordonua.com. 14 May 2019. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  50. ^ "За что Луценко обозвал Лещенко "политическим скунсом"?" (in Russian). 2000.ua. 14 May 2019. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  51. ^ "Луценко назвав Лещенка "політичним скунсом", якому світить підозра за розкриття даних" (in Ukrainian). ZIK TV. 14 May 2019. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  52. ^ https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/voters-reject-many-controversial-candidates-at-parliamentary-election.html

External links[edit]