The group of Ukrainians who flung byzantine and self-serving allegations about corruption in the Biden family were hit on Monday with treason charges over the effort.
The Security Service of Ukraine, the successor agency to the old Soviet-era KGB, said that it was charging several people with counts of treason and involvement in a criminal organization for allegedly taking millions of dollars from Russian intelligence services to spread propaganda aimed at discrediting Kyiv’s relationship with the U.S. during the 2020 election. That propaganda played a role in Trump’s first impeachment, as Rudy Giuliani in 2019 sought to smear the Bidens by dragging them into the muck of Ukrainian corruption scandals.
Giuliani traveled to Kyiv during that effort, meeting with Ukrainian MPs Andriy Derkach and Oleksandr Dubinsky and praising the information he received from them. Now, Ukrainian authorities allege that Derkach, Dubinsky, and another key figure were literally bought and paid for by the Russian government as they were feeding Giuliani with allegations — and that the accusations they were hawking were the product of a $10 million propaganda network created by Russian military intelligence.
The treason charges are a shocking if not surprising milestone in the lengths that Trump and those around him in the GOP went late into his term to manufacture dirt on the Bidens and prod Kyiv into cooperating. Trump was impeached over the effort, which involved him withholding military aid to Kyiv as part of an effort to coerce the country into launching investigations and manufacturing dirt on the Bidens.
The Ukrainian treason charges identify at least some of the information which Giuliani received as the product of a Russian military intelligence effort. They also define the damage that the scandal wrought as being aimed at undermining U.S. support for Ukraine.
Ukrainian security services named the people in a Ukrainian-language press release and accompanying video. They are the two Ukrainian members of parliament, Derkach and Dubinsky, and a prosecutor named Kostyantyn Kulyk. The group received more than $10 million from the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, Ukrainian authorities said.
Ukrainian authorities laid out a division of labor for the three in the statement announcing the charges over what it described as “information-sabotage activities.”
The two members of Ukraine’s parliament, Dubinsky and Derkach, are singled out in the security agency’s statement as having held a number of press conferences in November 2019. The two spun a bizarre conspiracy theory at the conferences alleging that multinational investment funds based in the U.S. were in cahoots with the Democratic party to launder money through and out of Ukraine.
Giuliani met with the two in Kyiv the next month, and said later that he planned to provide Trump with a 20-page report on what he had learned.
At the same time, Ukrainian authorities said, Kulyk allegedly used his position as a prosecutor to substantiate allegations spread by others in the network. The statement didn’t specify any instances.
Kulyk reportedly developed a seven-page, English-language “dossier” on Hunter Biden while in office in 2018. Kulyk then shopped it around, complaining to right-wing scribe John Solomon in April 2019 that U.S. prosecutors were not interested in the information.
That dossier included debunked accusations which later entranced Trump and Giuliani, including that Biden, as vice president, tried to thwart an investigation into his son by pushing for the country’s top prosecutor to be fired, and that the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was opposed to Trump.
The ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was fired in May 2019.
The Ukrainian charges follow previous allegations from the U.S. Treasury Department that the three men were working to aid the Russian government.
The U.S. Treasury called Derkach an “active Russian agent” in September 2020. Ukrainian security services said earlier this year that Derkach had created a group of private security companies in Ukraine which aimed to assist Russian forces upon their arrival in February 2022, had the invasion gone according to plan. The Treasury Department also sanctioned Kulyk and Dubinsky in January 2021 for allegedly being part of a “Russia-linked foreign influence network.”