By Polina Ivanova and Ilya Zhegulev
KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine plans to fire the prosecutor who led the investigations at the company where Joe Biden's son served on the board, a central figure in the activity at the center of impeachment proceedings against US President Donald Trump, a source said. to Reuters.
Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani acknowledged that he had met the prosecutor, Kostiantyn Kulyk, to discuss charges against the Bidens.
The decision to dismiss someone who played a major role in Giuliani's efforts to uncover damaging Bidens information comes as Ukraine tries to avoid being dragged into a partisan struggle in Washington.
Trump's Democratic opponents have initiated impeachment proceedings, arguing that Trump has abused his power by urging Ukraine to investigate the Bidens to injure the former vice president, who would challenge him in the 2020 elections.
The source said a decision was made to dismiss Kulyk for failing to attend an examination that all prosecution staff were ordered to pass to keep their jobs while cleaning the prosecution service.
Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka has already laid off more than 400 prosecutors, or about a third of all staff.
Some prosecutors have told Reuters that many of those dismissed have refused to take the test in protest against what they consider a purge aimed at cementing political control of new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's service.
Zelenskiy said the review is essential because the office is widely suspicious of Ukrainians and was seen as a political tool for well-connected punishments of their enemies.
Trump discussed the Bidens investigation during a July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy. Trump's Democratic opponents have initiated impeachment proceedings, arguing that Trump has abused the power to pressure Ukraine to injure a political enemy. Trump calls the witch hunt investigation and denies wrongdoing.
Reuters was unable to contact Kulyk for comment. He was not present at a home address where Reuters had spoken to him in the past.
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Kulyk did not attend the mandatory exam, which was imposed last month, the source said.
He also did not provide an official justification for missing, as other prosecutors did, and will eventually be fired, the source said. His resignation will take place on December 31, if not earlier.
Earlier this year, Kulyk compiled a seven-page dossier on Hunter Biden's business activities in Ukraine, two sources told Reuters.
Reuters could not independently verify the existence of such a lawsuit, but Kulyk detailed his investigations into Trump and Giuliani's areas of interest in an interview with a pro-Trump columnist for The Hill newspaper in April.
Kulyk was responsible for formally investigating a criminal case related to the founder of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Biden's son was on the company's board in 2014-2019.
In a recent interview, Giuliani told Reuters he met Kulyk in Paris. He said at this meeting that Kulyk echoed allegations that in 2016 Biden attempted to then-Ukraine's chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, fired to prevent him from investigating Burisma. Biden accused Giuliani of selling "false and unmasked conspiracy theories" for repeating these allegations.
"(Kulyk) was another slightly lower-level prosecutor who told me the same thing: that there was collusion and Biden had fired the prosecutor to kill the case on his son and Burisma," Giuliani told Reuters.
Giuliani did not respond to a request for comment on the decision to dismiss Kulyk. A spokesman for Joe Biden declined to comment.
Kulyk told Reuters in October that he was investigating Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky about two years ago.
Reuters could not independently verify the extent of Kulyk's involvement, but a source close to the energy company saw an increase in Kulyk's activity relative to Burisma after Giuliani's interest in the company and the Bidens were passed on to Kulyk's then superior. , Lutsenko.
In late January, Kulyk sent Zlochevsky to the first of several subpoenas for interrogation, according to documents seen by Reuters.
Zlochevsky did not comment on Ryaboshapka's call or announcement in October that his office was reviewing a series of investigations linked to Zlochevsky.
In April, Kulyk gave an interview to columnist John Solomon in The Hill newspaper in Washington. In that article, Kulyk said he and other prosecutors were investigating allegations about Shokin's dismissal.
Kulyk told The Hill that Ukrainian authorities tried unsuccessfully to pass on evidence about this and other probes to US authorities before seeking other people, including Giuliani, to present their findings.
(Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Karen Freifeld in Washington and Maria Tsvetkova in Kiev; written by Matthias Williams and Polina Ivanova; editing by Peter Graff)