Ukraine's Ex-Chief Prosecutor Says Burisma Probe Ended 'Out Of Fear Of US' - Reports

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 03rd October, 2019) Viktor Shokin, Ukraine's ex-prosecutor general who leaped into the spotlight amid a scandal around US ex-Vice President Joe Biden's links to Ukrainian energy company Burisma, said that had he had been told by Washington to abandon the investigation into the firm and was forced to stop the probe "out of fear of the United States," media have reported.

The scandal around Burisma is linked to the recent phone call between US President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. An intelligence whistleblower claimed that the White House had attempted to restrict access to the transcript of the call and described it as a bid by Trump to solicit a foreign power's interference in the 2020 US presidential election by pressing Zelenskyy to probe Biden, who is Trump's Democratic rival in the race, and his son Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine. The White House subsequently released the transcript that showed that Trump had asked Zelenskyy to resume the probe into Burisma, which was ended after Shokin was dismissed in 2016. The scandal sparked an impeachment case against Trump.

Fox news reported late on Wednesday, citing a copy of Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani's notes taken during his interview with Shokin on January 23, that the details of their conversation had been shared by a source informed about an urgent briefing by US State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, which took place in the congress on Wednesday.

"Mr. Shokin attempted to continue the investigations but on or around June or July of 2015, the U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt told him that the investigation has to be handled with white gloves, which according to Mr. Shokin, that implied do nothing," the notes read, as cited by Fox News.

The outlet recalled that Biden had publicly said when he was a vice president in the administration of former President Barack Obama, he forced Ukraine's leadership to fire Shokin, who then led an investigation into Burisma. Notably, Hunter Biden was a board member at the firm. However, Biden's team said the former vice-president's calls for the prosecutor general's dismissal were connected to Shokin's corrupt practices.

According to the notes, cited by Fox News, Shokin had sent requests for information on Biden's son to Washington but received nothing in response.

"It is believed that Hunter Biden receives a salary, commission plus one million Dollars. There were no documents or information on Hunter Biden, and Mr. Shokin stated he was warned to stop by Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt," the notes read.

Moreover, former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had allegedly asked Shokin to refrain from probing Burisma since it was not in Biden's interest. The request was allegedly tied to Biden's warnings that he would not authorize $1 billion in aid to Ukraine otherwise.

In or around April 2016, Poroshenko reportedly told Shokin that he had to be fired because Biden had decided to withhold the aid. Notably, Biden has previously confirmed that before his tenure as the vice president ended, he demanded that Shokin be fired or $1 billion in US loan guarantees would be withheld.

Fox News added that Shokin has also said in the interview that former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, had denied him US visa, explaining her moves by her alleged closeness to Biden.