Written by Lucas Leiroz, research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
Last year, the Hunter Biden case generated enormous controversy in American society and around the world, becoming then-President Donald Trump’s main argument against his opponent, Joe Biden. The corrupt activities of the American businessman on Ukrainian soil caused indignation, but the case was quickly “forgotten” by Western media agencies after the inauguration of the current president. In fact, some aspects of the incident remain unclear and may reveal important and controversial points in US-Ukrainian current bilateral relations.
Currently, accusations against the Biden family of involvement in corruption networks in Ukraine are being described as a “conspiracy theory” in the entire West. However, the facts known so far show that there is indeed something being “hidden” about the Hunter Biden case. There are sufficient reasons to believe that at least some of the accusations have concrete evidence of their veracity. To understand this, we must remember some facts that have been ignored. The first is that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky himself tried to investigate the allegations made against Hunter Biden.
Zelensky attempted to investigate Joe Biden’s son based on a testimony from the Verkhovna Rada Deputy Andriy Derkach, whose audio archives contain records of the current US president – then vice president during the Obama Administration – offering former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko a billion dollars sum to dismiss the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Viktor Shokin.
Andriy Derkach is a respected politician in Ukraine with several years of professional experience. He has been for years interested in investigating the corruption schemes of Burisma Holdings, the company Hunter worked for. After reviewing the evidence, Derkach concluded that Joe Biden had indeed been involved in a plot to protect his son. The lawmaker publicly released the material that contained the alleged conversation between Biden and Poroshenko, where both were negotiating Shokin’s removal. Material was also released recording conversations by then US Secretary of State John Kerry with President Poroshenko in which the Washington official demanded Shokin to be replaced. For this reason, Derkach was later accused of being a Russian spy and of trying to influence the results of the 2020 US elections, having suffered several personal sanctions from Washington as a result.
On several occasions, Shokin claimed to have interrupted the investigation due to strong pressure he received, both from Washington and from the Ukrainian government itself. The former prosecutor also accuses Joe Biden of ordering attacks on his life. The US president himself admits to exercising pressure against Shokin, as well as the EU, the World Bank, and the IMF, but all parties interested at the end of his work deny that such interest has any relation to the investigations in the Burisma case and claim that Shokin needed to be fired for being incompetent in fighting corruption in Kiev, which seems to be an incoherent justification.
Furthermore, Hunter Biden admitted to having been partly involved in corruption schemes when revealing in his autobiography details about the large amounts of money he received during his work at Burisma. In the book “Beautiful Things”, the son of the American president talks about his dramatic experiences with addiction to alcohol and illicit drugs during the time he worked at Burisma and confesses that he would not work again in a Ukrainian company because the money he received ruined his life and career. As if his confessions were not enough, documents scattered by the Republican Party reveal that Hunter was receiving an exorbitantly high monthly salary of 50,000 dollars, although he had no experience in the oil and gas sector, which is extremely suspicious and reinforces the possibility of corruption.
In fact, all these and many other facts and details are well known to the current Ukrainian president, who initiated an in-depth investigation into Burisma in 2019 at a request of Donald Trump, who aimed to delegitimize Biden by pointing out his involvement in corruption schemes abroad. Trump also acted corruptly, promising greater military support for Kiev in exchange for the investigation, but the data is clear: Hunter Biden was involved in corruption schemes that resulted in a large accumulation of money on his part – and his father and other officials of the Obama Administration exercised influence to end the investigations about the case. Zelensky knows this and this could be an advantage in his hands when negotiating with Washington.
Zelensky will meet with Biden on August 31. Certainly, both presidents will discuss many topics of mutual interest, such as security on the Russian border and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. And the Ukrainian leader will use his information in order to secure his interests and demand a more active stance from Washington in favor of Kiev. Biden has recently acted more realistically in his foreign policy, and this certainly did not please the Ukrainians. The American president eased his aggressive stance towards Russia and gave Germany carte blanche to proceed with Nord Stream 2. Zelensky will call for change and there will be an interesting round of negotiations. But despite everything, Biden is more likely to try to make to Zelensky something similar to that he made to Poroshenko, offering economic benefits in exchange for a total deletion of the Hunter-Burisma files.
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