“The first hints that Giuliani was up to something in Ukraine came to Yovanovitch in November and December of 2018, when she heard that Giuliani was meeting with Yuriy Lutsenko, then the top prosecutor in the country.
Yovanovitch later testified that she learned from embassy staff that “basically there had been a number of meetings between Mr. Lutsenko and Mayor Giuliani, and that they were looking, I should say that Mr. Lutsenko was looking, to hurt me in the U.S.”
By around February, Yovanovitch said, a senior Ukraine official named Arsen Avakov told her he “was very concerned, and told me I really needed to watch my back.”
The official flagged for Yovanovitch that Giuliani, along with his now-indicted middleman Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were meeting with Lutsenko and “were interested in having a different ambassador at post,” according to her testimony.
She thought it was “exceedingly strange,” and testified that, while she understood that the men had business interests in Ukraine, nobody at the embassy had met Parnas and Fruman. Avakov told Yovanivith [sic] that Giuliani reached out to him in early 2019, according to her testimony.
Avakov thought Giuliani’s outreach was “dangerous,” Yovanovitch said, because Ukraine has had bipartisan support in America and to “start kind of getting into U.S. politics, into U.S. domestic politics, was a dangerous place for Ukraine to be.” (Read more: TalkingPointsMemo, 11/04/2019) (Archive) (Yovanovitch Transcript)
The Nation writes in December 2016:
“In Ukraine today, power is split between Kiev and heavily armed ultranationalist battalions, which have a long record of not only clashing with Kiev but also defying the will of the EU and Washington.
The ultranationalists’ influence via a policy of veto-through-violence is best exemplified by their continued derailment of the Minsk Accords, the agreement for settling the conflict in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. Minsk is also the key to lifting the anti-Russian sanctions that are hurting European economies and fomenting resentment in countries like France and Italy. It’s no surprise that Paris, Berlin, and the UN have repeatedly stressed that Minsk remains the only solution to the Ukraine conflict. For Ukraine’s far right, however, the accords—which require Kiev to grant Donbass special status, including the right to use the Russian language—are anathema. Accordingly, whenever the West nudges Ukraine to fulfill its Minsk obligations, the far right steps in, often with violence.
In addition to stymieing the Ukraine peace process and resolution of EU-Russia sanctions, the far right has flouted the rule of law, fostered instability, and undermined basic democratic institutions within Ukraine. Gangs tied to the Azov, Aidar, Right Sector, and Tornado battalions have had gun battles with police, intimidated court proceedings, overturned local elections, torched media buildings, attacked undesirable Soviet monuments, violently threatened journalists, and overtly spoken of overthrowing the government.
It is difficult to imagine any stable administration tolerating three years of such brazen challenges to its monopoly over the use of force, yet nearly all of the far right’s actions have gone unpunished.
(…) One reason behind Kiev’s inability and unwillingness to rein in the battalions is because they remain the fiercest, most battle-hardened units in the armed forces; it’s hard to send in the National Guard to restore order when the National Guard itself consists of ultranationalist formations. An equally disturbing reason is that Ukraine’s far right enjoys the support of two extraordinarily powerful politicians: Parliament Speaker Andriy Parubiy and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.
Both men played a critical role in harnessing neo-Nazi street muscle during the winter 2013–14 Maidan uprising that resulted in the ouster of corrupt, albeit democratically elected, president Viktor Yanukovych. Parubiy’s ties with the far right go back decades: He co-founded and led the Social-National Party of Ukraine, which used neo-Nazi symbols and whose name, according to Der Spiegel, is an intentional reference to the Nazi Party.
Avakov, in turn, developed Maidan’s “self-defense” formations into heavily equipped paramilitary units that fought in Donbass as well as brutally suppressed any hint of secession in Russian-speaking cities that had not yet fallen to the rebels. In the process, these units amassed a horrific record of rape, torture, kidnapping, murder, and possible war crimes, as attested by numerousAmnesty International and United Nations reports.
After becoming interior minister, Avakov has promoted figures such— as a veteran of the neo-Nazi group Patriot of Ukraine and the Azov Battalion who recently became acting chief over Ukraine’s National Police. The National Police—which was funded, equipped, and trained by Washington—was once held up as a shining example of Washington’s guiding Ukraine toward democracy. The fact that it’s now run by a man with neo-Nazi ties is a particularly ironic example of unintended consequences.” (Read more: The Nation, 12/05/2016) (Archive)
Considering Avakov’s violent history, why was the US Ambassador to Ukraine placating his fear of Giuliani, as well as meeting with him to discuss providing security for Ukraine’s upcoming election?
In a series of tweets by @UkraineLiberty, Yovanovitch’s relationship with Arsen Avakov is further highlighted via her testimony against Trump: