Suspected Kidnappers May Have Ties To Ukrainian Intelligence

A group suspected of kidnapping a fugitive Ukrainian ex-judge from Chisinau, Moldova, may have ties to Ukrainian intelligence and law enforcement, according to an investigation published by Slidstvo.info and RISE Moldova.

Mykola ChausFormer Judge Mykola Chaus was abducted while hiding in Moldova for over four years after the NABU exposed him for allegedly accepting a US$150,000 bribe for favorable rulings, which was discovered buried in his garden. (Photo: NABU, Ukraine)Former Judge Mykola Chaus was abducted while hiding in Moldova for over four years after the NABU exposed him for allegedly accepting a US$150,000 bribe for favorable rulings, which was discovered buried in his garden. His lawyer said Chaus was awaiting decisions on two separate court cases in Moldova - an appeal to gain asylum and a ruling on Ukraine's request to extradite the ex-judge.

Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, told his Moldovan counterpart over the phone that “Ukraine is not involved” in the kidnapping and offered to set up a joint task force to probe the incident.

But Slidstvo and RISE journalists obtained from sources in law enforcement the passport information of 10 Ukraininans allegedly involved in the kidnapping and checked this information against video surveillance at the border. Two men entered Moldova on foot on March 24, possibly using fake passports, and left the same way on April 3, after the ex-judge’s abduction.

Reporters identified four of the 10 men and linked them to Ukraininan intelligence and law enforcement: Yuri Kovalenko, Andriy Kutsenko, Mykhailo Bulega and Oleksandr Kosteniuk.

Kovalenko, Kutsenko, and Bulega admitted later to being in Moldova, but remained tight lipped about the kidnapping. Kosteniuk denied that he was involved in the abduction.

Moldovan authorities reportedly detained one of the kidnappers.