Deputy Head of the Presidential Office, who was suspected of corruption. However, his case was actually buried by the Shevchenkivskyi District Court of Kyiv with the assistance of the then Prosecutor General Venediktova.

During the Revolution of Dignity, Oleh Tatarov received the title of the Merited Lawyer of Ukraine from Viktor Yanukovych for “skillful organization of the work of internal affairs units to ensure the protection of rights and freedoms of citizens”. At the same time, Tatarov had an ambiguous position on the events of the Euromaidan.

In August 2020, Volodymyr Zelenskyy appointed Tatarov Deputy Head of the Presidential Office. In December, it became known that the National Anti-Corruption Bureau was investigating the case of Tatarov’s participation in a separate episode of fraud regarding apartments for the National Guard. Despite public pressure, Tatarov was not dismissed from the PO. Instead, his case was tried to be hushed up in various ways. Let’s find out who he is and how he has been slipping through the fingers of anti-corruption bodies for several years.

What’s the case?

Tatarov was suspected of involvement in fraud in the case of construction of housing for the National Guard, which was led by the company of Maksym Mykytas “UkrBud.” Namely, he was involved in an episode with the bribery of Kostiantyn Dubonos, expert of the Kyiv Scientific Research Forensic Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. According to the investigation, Tatarov had to give Dubonos a bribe in the form of a parking space in the Aristocrat residential estate worth UAH 250,000, and the latter had to forge documents that would hide losses of more than UAH 80 million.

This suspicion became known in early December 2020. However, almost immediately, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova secretly changed prosecutors who investigated this case. This was the first attempt to sabotage the case of Tatarov.

However, there were more. During the very December:

  • The Pecherskyi court decidedto transfer the case from the NABU to the SBI. The NABU appealed against it with the HACC Appeals Chamber.
  • The NABU, under the procedural guidance of the SAPO, did serveTatarov with charges.
  • The Prosecutor General’s Office transferredthe proceedings from the NABU to the SBU.
  • On the third attempt, the High Anti-Corruption Court did hold a hearing, butdid not choose an interim measure for Tatarov because it confirmed the statement of the prosecutor Andrii Hrytsan about the withdrawal of the motion. 

In January 2021, the High Anti-Corruption Court confirmed that the proceedings under the suspicion to the Deputy Head of the Presidential Office are the exclusive jurisdiction of the NABU and the SAPO, and should be returned to the National Bureau. However, the case was never returned. 

However, almost immediately, the Shevchenkivskyi District Court of Kyiv, by its decision, obliged prosecutors to close the case due to the expiration of the terms of the pre-trial investigation.

Learn more about how the case of Tatarov was buried from our timeline.

Thus, Tatarov was actually helped to avoid the NABU investigation, probably by the order from above — from Bankova. This interference, on the one hand, discredited the work of the entire anti-corruption system. On the other hand, it questioned the independence of anti-corruption bodies.

In December 2020, two protests were organized near the Presidential Office, during which the participants demanded the resignation of Tatarov and the purification of the PO from corrupt officials. 

And in the summer of 2021, 25,000 Ukrainians signed a petition in favor of Tatarov’s resignation. The President responded that he would not dismiss Tatarov because he was not obliged to do so by law. 

Merited Lawyer of Yanukovych

Since 1999, Oleh Tatarov has served in internal affairs bodies. In particular, since 2011, he was deputy Chief of the Main Investigation Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs

During the Revolution of Dignity, he fully justified the militia’s aggression against the protesters and called their beatings and abductions provocations. In those days, he was virtually the face of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. 

After Yanukovych fled, he was dismissed, but he was not lustrated. 

Advisor to the Head of the PO Mykhailo Podolyak claimed that Tatarov was just a clerk in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Zakharchenko and only voiced the position of the department. However, journalists of the Schemes program found that in the midst of the Maidan, Yanukovych awarded Tatarov with the title of “Merited Lawyer of Ukraine” at the personal request of Zakharchenko.

Devils’ Advocate

After joining the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Presidential Office, Tatarov worked as a lawyer, in particular of:

  • the former deputy head of the Yanukovych administration Andrii Portnov;
  • the pro-Russian MP of the Opposition Bloc Vadym Novynskyi;
  • the widow of Ivan Kuznetsov, who in May 2018 with his partner attacked Serhii Sternenko.

It was Tatarov who demanded that the SBU serve Sternenko with charges of “premeditated murder” and attempted murder.

SAPO competition and what Tatarov has to do with it

The delay in the competition to elect the head of the SAPO was often discussed in connection with Tatarov. Why? Oleh Tatarov has potential ties with several commission members who elected the head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. According to the “Schemes,” in 2012, Kateryna Koval, the chair of the commission, worked in the working group created by the then Minister of Justice Lavrynovych together with Tatarov, and Bohdan Romaniuk, member of the commission, was Tatarov’s academic advisor. 

The SAPO as an institution is quite sensitive to political influence because prosecutors conduct procedural management of the affairs of the political elite and high-ranking officials. Tatarov was among them at one time. It seems like a “strange” coincidence, but his case was investigated by a NABU detective Oleksandr Klymenko, who participated in the SAPO competition and eventually became the head of the SAPO. But his victory was not easy. 

Despite all the scandals and suspicions of corruption, Tatarov continues to work in the Presidential Office and oversees the law enforcement area. Why? Perhaps he possesses too valuable information or the authorities find his approaches to work and concentration of influence on several important bodies, such as the PGO, the SBU, the SBI, quite convenient.