Secret Record Revealed In Austrian Court
Yanukovich Pressured Into Union With Eu By Nuland Threat To Imprison Firtash
By John Helmer, Moscow
May 04, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - A Vienna, Austria, court has
ruled that Victoria Nuland (right), the US Assistant Secretary of State for
European and Eurasian Affairs, attempted to pressure the President of Ukraine,
Victor Yanukovich (left), into accepting Ukrainian association with the European
Union (EU) by threatening Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash with arrest,
extradition to the US, and imprisonment on allegations of bribery several years
ago in India.
The details were exposed for the first time in public in a
proceeding in the Landesgerichtsstrasse Regional Court last Thursday (April 30).
Austrian judge Christoph Bauer was presiding on the application by the US
Government for the extradition of Firtash. The transcript of the proceeding has
not yet been issued publicly, nor the official text of the judge’s ruling from
Judge Bauer rejected extradition, ruling there had been
improper political interference by the US Government in the Firtash case. This
is a violation, according to Bauer’s judgement, of Article 4, section 3 of the
US-Austria Extradition Treaty of 1998. “Extradition shall not be granted,” the
proviso declares, “if the executive authority of the Requested State determines
that the request was politically motivated.” Read the treaty in full
A New York Times reporter, David Herszenhorn (below, left),
tweeted during the proceedings against Firtash (right, centre), and then
published a report of what was translated for him from the German.
version: “Mr. Firtash’s lawyers asserted that an initial request by the
United States for his arrest, on Oct. 30, 2013, was directly tied to a trip to
Ukraine by an assistant secretary of state, Victoria Nuland, in which she sought
to prevent Mr. Yanukovych from backing out of a promise to sign sweeping
political and trade agreements with Europe. Ms. Nuland left Washington on the
day the arrest request was submitted to Austria. The request was rescinded four
days later, said a lawyer, Christian Hausmaninger, after Ms. Nuland came to
believe she had received assurances from Mr. Yanukovych that he would sign the
accords. From that point, nothing happened in the Indian bribery case, Mr.
Hausmaninger [defence lawyer for Firtash] said, until Feb. 26 — four days after
Mr. Yanukovych was ousted after months of street protests. The arrest request
was renewed then, and the Austrian authorities detained Mr. Firtash two weeks
later, the same day the new Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, was
visiting President Obama at the White House.”
A different record of what was said in court can be read in
Herszenhorn’s twitter feed for April 30; there were 87 separate
tweets. This record reveals that
Judge Bauer heard evidence that the US Government had shown political favour for
Yulia Tymoshenko to replace President Victor Yanukovich; intervened to block the
Firtash-supported candidacy of Vitaly Klitschko as Ukrainian president after
Yanukovich’s ouster on February 21, 2014; and sought reallocation of Firtash’s
assets in the gas and titanium sectors. For more on the US interest in Ukrainian
titanium, read this. For the file
on the US decision not to prosecute Tymoshenko for corruption, making and
receiving bribes, click this.
Herszenhorn hints that the Austrian government intervened
administratively to swing the outcome of the case against the US. “At least 4
lawyers arguing for #Firtash in Vienna court, more in gallery or not here. Only
1 Austria govt lawyer in support US extradition.”
The US State Department has yet to respond. “We are
disappointed with the court’s ruling” Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr
said in an e-mailed statement to US newspapers. On the telephone to a London
outlet on Friday, Carr
claimed the Justice Department has “filed an appeal”.
The time line for the US charges against Firtash was first
reported here. The allegations
claim bribery commenced in April 2006. Transactions identified in the published
indictment are dated between April 2006 and July 2010. The Chicago grand jury
investigation is dated January 2012. The official indictment, according to the
Austrian documents, was not dated until June 2013. The US request to the
Austrian government for the arrest of Firtash on the extradition warrant was
dated October 30, 2013, then withdrawn on November 4. It was re-issued on
February 27, 2014. The Austrian arrest took place on March 12.
US Government officials in charge of this process included Eric Holder (right),
who was US Attorney-General from February 3, 2009 until April 27, 2015; Hillary
Clinton, Secretary of State from January 21, 2009, until February 1, 2013; and
Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State from September 18, 2013. In that same
month, September 2013, there was a change of director at the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) – Robert Mueller was replaced on September 4, 2013, by James
The FBI Chicago office
conducted the investigation. At the start, the agent in charge in Chicago
was Robert Grant, who was in his position from 2004 until September 2012. Grant
was replaced by Cory Nelson on November 2, 2012, but he lasted only seven months
until July of 2013. His temporary substitute was Robert Shields until Robert
Holley took over on
November 12, 2013.
The US District Attorney in charge of the Firtash grand jury
was Patrick Fitzgerald (below, left), but he resigned in June of 2012. He was
then succeeded temporarily by a deputy until Zachary Fardon (right) took office
on October 23, 2013.
The State Department
Nuland’s visit to Kiev for November 3 and 4, 2013. According to the US Embassy
in Kiev, in a transcript of Nuland’s
November 4, Nuland had “a very good and very long meeting with the President.”
She claimed in addition: “The President made clear in that meeting that Ukraine
has made its choice and its choice is for Europe. The United States supports
Ukraine’s right to choose, and we are committed to supporting Ukraine as it
works to meet the remaining few requirements for an Association Agreement with
the European Union and the trade benefits that come with it. We also took the
opportunity tonight to congratulate Ukraine on all of the work it has already
done to meet the conditions that the European Union has set forth — literally
dozens of pieces of legislation. I delivered a letter this evening from
Secretary Kerry to the President.”
In the wake of the revelations in the Austrian court
proceeding a record of part of what Nuland and Yanukovich discussed has
surfaced. Tape-recordings of Nuland’s confidential remarks in Kiev have surfaced
in the past and can be read here.
The following content cannot be corroborated, and its accuracy should be treated
“NULAND: Mr President, we will have Firtash arrested unless
you agree to sign the [EU] Association Agreement.
YANUKOVICH: Okay, I’ll sign.
In the background, a telephone rings. Audible footsteps, mumbling, as
Yanukovich excuses himself to take the call. In his absence, Nuland whispers to
Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt.
NULAND: We got the guy by the [f…… b….], huh?
PYATT: Way to go, Toria!
(Separate telephone tape, in Russian)
YANUKOVICH: You’re off the hook, Dima. The АМЕРИКАНКА fell for it.
FIRTASH: МОЛОДЕЦ! Mr President.”
According to Herszenhorn’s twitter feed, “True or not #Firtash
lawyers have strung together fascinating narrative of his legal travails
rising/falling based on US State Dept goals.”
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