Verkhovna Rada Plans to Set Up Temporary Commission of Inquiry into ‘Wagner Group Fighters’ and ‘Medvedchuk-Surkov Tapes’

Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

The Servant of the People party initiated the creation of a temporary commission of inquiry (TCI) in the Verkhovna Rada to investigate the possible involvement of senior Ukrainian officials in the leak of information about the “Wagner Group fighters” and their extradition from Belarus to Russia. In addition, the lawmakers will consider the issue of so-called “Surkov-Medvedchuk tapes.”

“We set up a TCI not to deal exclusively with the issue of ‘Wagner Group fighters’ but the situation with them is on its agenda and should be considered primarily within this TCI. Its scope will be wider. Why it will be wilder? Because ‘Surkov-Medvedchuk tapes’ were published recently, causing a considerable public outcry. Therefore, the first two episodes that should be investigated within this TCI are the situation with the ‘Wagner Group fighters’ and the situation with these tapes,” Head of the Servant of the People parliamentary faction David Arakhamiya announced at a briefing after the party congress.

At the same time, the parliamentarian noted that he personally had opposed the creation of such a TCI because the issue of special services operations could not be considered in public.

As a reminder, on 29 July last year, 33 members of the private military company Wagner Group were detained near Minsk. The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine addressed the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Belarus with requests to extradite 28 people. The Ukrainian side stated that those people “took an active part in hostilities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as part of the ‘LPR’ and ‘DPR’ terrorist organisations.” However, Belarus handed over the detainees to the Russian Federation.

Ukrainian media later reported that the Security Service of Ukraine and the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine had been preparing an operation to detain the “Wagner Group fighters.” That information had been known to the Office of the President of Ukraine, where the information leaked from, after which the special services of Belarus simulated the detention of mercenaries and their return to Russia. However, this version was refuted by some Ukrainian government agencies.

Bellingcat is currently filming an investigation into an alleged failed special operation over detention of militants from the private military company Wagner Group in the summer of 2020.

On 25 February this year, the media published a recording of a conversation between two men whose voices resemble those of former Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov and Ukrainian MP Viktor Medvedchuk. The recording of discussion on the electricity supplies to the occupied Crimea in exchange for prisoners in Donbas was allegedly made in 2014. The Security Service of Ukraine said they were studying the published recordings.

Bohdan Marusyak

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