Search carried out of leading law firm Magisters
On Thursday, 3 February the Prosecutor General’s Office carried out a 14-hour search of the Kyiv office of the law firm Magisters. According to the report issued by Magisters, documents were removed pertaining to the investigation into the case linked with the State-owned oil and gas company Naftohaz.
The report states that around 30 armed men and investigators burst into the Magisters offices in the centre of Kyiv. They kept the firm’s 50 lawyers and staff there for six hours. “One pregnant employee was urgently rushed to hospital by ambulance during the raid.”
The officers also demanded that a Kyiv Post journalist who happened to be present leave.
As reported, on 22 December 2010 Yevhen Korniychuk, lawyer and former First Deputy Minister of Justice in Yulia Tymoshenko’s Government, was arrested and remanded in custody. In a statement expressing concern over this, Serhiy Konkov, President of the Association of Lawyers of Ukraine, explained that Korniychuk was one of the partners in the leading law firm “Magister and Partners” (now Magisters) and that the charges related to contractual relations between the latter and Naftohaz.
Yevhen Korniychuk is also son-in-law of Vasyl Onopenko, Head of the Supreme Court and there have been suggestions that the criminal proceedings are intended to put pressure on Onopenko to stand down. They follow the radical reduction in the powers of the Supreme Court which have elicited concern from the Venice Commission.
In the last few days, a criminal investigation has been initiated against Onopenko’s other daughter and son-in-law, and on Friday 4 February, a search was carried out of Onopenko’s home.