News Politics, 02/11/2017

Kharkiv in the Thick of ‘Backpack Scandal’

On October 31, Oleksandr Avakov, son of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov, was detained under criminal proceedings, launched in 2015, concerning the violations in purchasing backpacks for the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Two more people were arrested and declared suspects within the investigation carried out by the detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine. One of the suspects is Serhiy Chebotar, the former Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs.

“According to the investigation,  in 2015, these people were involved in the purchase of backpacks for the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine at a price significantly exceeding the market price. According to the pre-trial investigation, the goods were not delivered on time and they did not meet the requirements of the customer. The state lost over UAH 14 million ($522,000) as a result,” the Bureau reported.

On November 1, the district court released Oleksandr Avakov out of prison wearing a compulsory electronic control tracking device.

Avakov's son

However, the searches carried out in Avakov’s flat on Myronosytska Street on October 31 , led to a real transport collapse in the city center. Police surrounded the building’s perimeter in the morning and blocked the street for about 10 hours with the official announcement that “the area had an explosive device planted.” The blockade caused a huge traffic jam and made many Kharkivites indignant. People expressed their bad feelings followed with photos on social networks.

Kharkivites did not believe the “bomb warning” and were particularly outraged by the fact of using the National police for “protecting the minister’s son” and abuse of power by the Minister.

Head of the Ministry Arsen Avakov, denied the involvement of his family into the backpack purchase fraud and called the investigation of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine “political actions”. As for blocking the street for about 10 hours on October 31, the minister commented to “Kharkiv Observer”: “This is a usual procedure to respond to the information about buildings being mined.”

Text: Olena Sokolynska

Photo: Ihor Chernyak