In July 2019, the NABU detectives together with the Department of Special Investigations of the PGO conducted loud searches in premises of District Administrative Court of Kyiv (DACK). Later, the NABU director Artem Sytnyk and the head of the PGO department Serhiy Gorbatyuk held briefing
, where reasons for the search were announced. According
to the investigation, the head of DACK Pavlo Vovk and some judges tried to avoid the qualification assessment by creating artificial obstacles in activities of the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ) and appointing loyal members to the Commission. Audio recordings released by law enforcement officers show that Vovk used the court's decision to promote his own interests.
On August 2, 2019, the PGO handed over suspicion
to DACK judges, namely, Pavlo Vovk, Igor Pogribnichenko, Yevhen Ablov, as well as judges of Suvorovskyi District Court of Odesa Ivan Shepitko, and initiated their suspension by the High Council of Justice (except for Ablov, who had been suspended at that time).
The suspension of judge from administering justice is temporary measure with maximum term of 2 months. The purpose of suspension is to prevent the judge from using his power to continue making the crime. The decision on suspension is made by the HCJ on the ground of motivated appeal of the prosecutor.
As crimes of which the PGO suspects Vovk, Pogribnichenko and Shepitko are directly related to the adoption of court decisions, the PGO reasonably asked the HCJ to temporarily suspend him from position of the judge. However, on August 20, 2019, the HCJ refused to suspend
all three judges.
The information recorded on the NABU tape recordings is not only the ground for criminal responsibility. There is enough of it to dismiss subjects of tape recordings within disciplinary cases.
Representatives of several NGOs filed complaints to the HCJ against Pavlo Vovk. They were considered by member of the HCJ Viktor Hryshchuk. At the end of December 2019, he issued the decision to return all complaints without the consideration. That means that member of the HCJ did not see in Vovk's actions recorded on the NABU tape recordings grounds at least to initiate the disciplinary proceeding.
Serhiy Kozyakov and Stanislav Shchotka, former head and member of the HQCJ, also filed separate complaints against judges' actions. Kozyakov sent the complaint against the judge Pogribnichenko. He is the author of famous phrase
on the NABU tape recordings that after the HQCJ had confirmed his integrity, much of what was previously unacceptable to him became absolutely acceptable. It was he who made the apparently arbitrary decision by which he, in fact, terminated Kozyakov's powers.
On March 20, 2020, the First Disciplinary Chamber of the HCJ refused
to open the proceeding against Pogribnichenko regarding the complaint of Serhiy Kozyakov. The whole motivation consists of one sentence, namely, "arguments of complaints are about the disagreement with the court decision".
On April 15, 2020, the Third Disciplinary Chamber refused
to open proceeding regarding the complaint of Stanislav Shchotka against KDAC judge Kachur. It was he who obliged Serhiy Kozyakov to appoint Serhiy Ostapets as the new member of the HQCJ to the position of Shchotka which had been agreed with Pavlo Vovk. The motivation for refusal was similar. The speaker in the case was Shvetsova L.A..
Another complaint regarding actions of Kachur I. while making decisions regarding "Vovk's scheme" is being considered by member of the HCJ Krasnoshchokova N.S..
Thus, the HCJ not only suspended or dismissed judges involved to making arbitrary decisions, but, in fact, legalized Pavlo Vovk's influence on other judges and the most obvious criminal scheme of seizing control over the HQCJ.