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Ukraine’s Supreme Court Chief Kniazev Detained on $3 Million Bribery

Ukrainian judiciary, Supreme Court Chief, Vsevolod Kniazev, has been arrested on bribery charges.



Ukraine’s Supreme Court Chief Kniazev Detained on $3 Million Bribery

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In a shocking development that has rocked the very foundations of the Ukrainian judiciary, Supreme Court Chief, Vsevolod Kniazev, has been arrested on bribery charges. Reports suggest that Kniazev may have been accepting bribes as large as $3 million, casting a dark shadow over the country’s fight against corruption.

Vsevolod Kniazev, photo from the Judicial and Legal Newspaper -
Vsevolod Kniazev, photo from the Judicial and Legal Newspaper – 

The Arrest of Vsevolod Kniazev

Details of the Arrest

On May 15, news broke that Ukraine’s Supreme Court Chief, Vsevolod Kniazev, had been detained on suspicion of accepting bribes. The news was reported by several Ukrainian outlets, including Ukrainska Pravda and The investigation was led by Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAP). The authorities allege that Kniazev received illicit benefits amounting to nearly $3 million.

The Ongoing Investigations

NABU is currently conducting further searches involving 18 additional Supreme Court judges. It is suspected that Kniazev received the bribe from parties acting on behalf of oligarch Kostiantyn Zhevago. As investigations continue, more individuals may be apprehended.

Kostiantyn Zhevago’s Involvement

ZN.UA’s sources within NABU indicate that Zhevago, a well-known oligarch, may be linked to the bribery. The sources suggest that the bribe was intended to influence the decision-making process within the Supreme Court, pointing to a clear corruption scheme.

Tycoon Zhevaho Denies Bribery Allegations

Case Background: Poltava Mining and Processing Plant

The case seems to revolve around the legitimacy of the acquisition of a share package of the Poltava Mining and Processing Plant by the company Ferrexpo in 2002, co-owned by Kostiantyn Zhevaho.

Zhevaho’s Defence

Zhevaho has strongly refuted these allegations, denying any involvement in bribing Ukrainian Supreme Court judges. His press service dismissed any link between this case and the Supreme Court’s ruling on 19 April 2023, which overturned the invalidation of the 2002 agreement on the sale and purchase of shares in Ferrexpo’s Poltava Mining and Processing Plant.

Briefing Revelations

The Back-Office: A Criminal Group

In a briefing conducted on 16 May, NABU and SAP revealed that a criminal group, termed a “back-office”, was created. This

group involved judges and Supreme Court leaders and used a law firm to conceal its activities. The alleged bribe in the case was divided into two tranches. This criminal organization is suspected of influencing not just the Supreme Court’s decision in the case at hand, but also most of Ukraine’s courts.

Implications of the Scandal

The allegations cast a dark shadow over the Ukrainian judiciary, with the potential to impact numerous cases. NABU and SAP confirmed that they are checking information about the group’s influence on other cases. The suspects’ actions fall under articles 368 and 369 of the Criminal Code, covering the acceptance and provision of illicit benefits to an official.

Supreme Court Judges’ Reactions

Vote of No Confidence

In the wake of the scandal, the Supreme Court judges released a statement, hinting at an impending vote of no confidence against Kniazev. The judges described the situation as a “black day in the court’s history”, and promised to initiate a vote for a motion of no confidence in the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Statement of the Supreme Court Judges

The Supreme Court judges expressed shock at the events and emphasized the need for a full, objective investigation to establish the truth. They affirmed that there must be a fair punishment for any corruption crime. The statement was supported by 142 votes, with no opposition.

Kniazev’s Background and Previous Scandals

Kniaziev, who will turn 44 on May 25, has been the head of the Supreme Court since December 1, 2021. His tenure was part of a judicial reform introduced by President Petro Poroshenko that changed the procedure for appointing judges to the Supreme Court. However, his tenure was not without controversy. In the past few years, the Supreme Court has been embroiled in several scandals that have undermined its credibility and independence.

The Supreme Court’s credibility was further damaged when it was revealed that some judges had received land plots from a former minister of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. Further, some judges were accused of ruling to return Yanukovych’s confiscated assets to his associates. In 2021, allegations emerged that some judges of the Supreme Court had accepted bribes to rule in favor of pro-Russian politicians.


  1. Who is Vsevolod Kniazev? Vsevolod Kniazev is the Chief Justice of Ukraine’s Supreme Court. He was arrested on suspicion of accepting a $3 million bribe.
  2. What is the role of Kostiantyn Zhevago in this case? Kostiantyn Zhevago is a Ukrainian oligarch who is suspected of being linked to the bribery. However, he has denied these allegations.
  3. What is the “back-office”? The “back-office” is a criminal group alleged to involve judges and Supreme Court leaders. This group is suspected of influencing court decisions through bribery.
  4. What will happen to Kniazev now? If the Supreme Court declares a vote of no confidence in Kniazev, he will lose his position as the Chief Justice but will retain his judgeship.
  5. What were the previous scandals involving the Supreme Court? The Supreme Court has been involved in several scandals, including judges receiving land plots from a former minister of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, rulings to return Yanukovych’s confiscated assets to his associates, and allegations of judges accepting bribe

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