Making his presence known online, Mykola Chaus now has reemerged in person – in the village of Mazurivka near Vinnytsya. His predictable re-discovery came somewhat later when expected. It is still unclear what were initial designs of the people behind the story were but the ‘second coming’ of Chaus has thrown their plans into disarray. Out of all the law enforcement agencies dragged into the situation, the local Mazurivka policemen can be the least concerned about the fallout – they probably didn’t blink when the SBU came down to their office to get hold of Mykola Chaus.
The question arises- what the SBU has to do with all this? Mykola Chaus committed no crimes that would necessitate interference of Ukraine’s Security Service. The fugitive judge case was hardly a national security threat for the state of Ukraine. The article 332-2 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code makes it a criminal offence to cross the border illegally but it is hardly applicable in Chaus case as the offence would either assume damage was inflicted to the national interests or the offence was committed by a person barred entry of Ukraine.
The SBU earlier sought to open a probe into Chaus kidnapping after he was illegally taken into the country from Moldova. It will come as no surprise if they will revive the case, and this time on the claims Chaus faked his own kidnapping to get back into Ukraine – from Chisinau to Mazurivka. Regardless of which law-enforcement agency claims investigative jurisdiction over Chaus case, the SBU is still able to to use any Criminal Code article where they have authority to investigate, file it in State Register of Criminal Investigations and keep Mykola Chaus case under their own control.
National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) claimed authority over Mykola Chaus investigation in 2016 –back then, they made a viral video of the money stashed in jars the corrupt judge buried in his garden. After the fugitive judge got kidnapped, and with some many major actors involved in this game, the NABU agents got side-lined. It comes as no surprise that their knee-jerk reaction was to stage a chase after the SBU group that literally stole rediscovered Chaus from under their noses. After all, NABU still has reasonable grounds to reclaim the judge case to pick it up where they left it off and, unlike other agencies, it does not need any backdated investigations to justify unlawful imprisonment.
This action-packed story soon got a comic twist after the president’s advisor Mykhailo Podolyak weighted in on the incident and publicly sided with the SBU claiming ‘Chaus case is their prerogative’ brushing allegations the president’s office ivolvement. Failing to enlarge on his law expertise, Podolyak though made it clear that Zelensky’s administration wants to keep control over Chaus case given the SBU is at beck and call of the president.
While hinting at Poroshenko’s involvement in Chaus story, Zelensky’s advisor intentionally left out very important facts – and the facts are stubborn things – investigation identified the individuals who helped Chaus to escape to Moldova and later tried to lure him back to Ukraine, and, surprisingly, it is not Poroshenko’s ‘associates’ but one of Zelensky’s top officials.
Such evidence can be a true reason behind the ugly situation with two law-enforcing agencies locking horns over the corrupt official and staging chases in full disregard to the law.
Moldova’s president Maya Sandu has not reacted to ‘rediscovery’ of Mykola Chaus in Ukraine. Eariler official statements from Chisinau confirmed Ukraine’s intelligence was involved in abduction of the judge and said there were ‘questions to be answered’.
Friday’s chase and stand-off between Ukrainian law-enforcement agencies dispelled all doubts. The conflict that played out in full public view hardly made any sense. Mykola Chaus is no infiltrator but just a corrupt official, and the intelligence agency would not need to interfere, though it could only add up if it exposed someone powerful.
What comes next? Mykola Chaus will make some sort of a public appearance. It’s anyone’s guess what kind of ‘stories’ he will tell. What is clear the SBU will not ‘loosen’ their grip over his case otherwise it has no promise of any gains. It is obvious Ukraine’s Security Service will have to agree to some concessions – Mykola Chause has a right to retain a lawyer. Sooner or later, there will be a pre-trial hearing in his case. No doubt, NABU investigators will push on with their investigation on Chaus, and it will surely put the two teams at odds yet again.
Amid this wrangling, a new international scandal is looming large for Ukraine as the government and intelligence agencies are set to face mounting questions from official Chisinau following the news about mysterious recovery of the kidnapped judge in the village near Vinnytsya and his action-packed trip to Kyiv SBU office.