Servant of the People MP arrested by anti-graft court on bribery charges
Photo: Andriy Odarchenko / Facebook

On Wednesday, the High Anti-Corruption Court chose a preventive measure for Ukrainian MP Andriy Odarchenko of the ruling Servant of the People party in the form of detention with an alternative bail of 15 million hryvnias ($416,234).

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The term of arrest is up to and including January 20.

Odarchenko was charged with trying to bribe Mustafa Nayyem, the head of the State Agency for Restoration and Infrastructure Development, with bitcoins in exchange for assistance in obtaining money from the Fund for the Elimination of the Consequences of Armed Aggression to repair the buildings of the State Biotechnology University, where the lawmaker continues to hold the position of rector (the contract has been suspended).

The prosecutor's office asked to take the MP into custody because he could allegedly escape, which, according to the prosecution, was evidenced by his behavior on the first day of the war. At the time, he traveled to western-most Zakarpattya Oblast, despite the oath "to defend the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine with all his actions."

"When we voted for martial law, he [Stefanchuk] said: whoever leaves Kyiv is a traitor. I think: hey, you go [away]! I immediately got out, got in [the car], drove down the left road. We left for Transcarpathia. I don't know the [head of the regional state administration] Mykyta yet. I take this badge, I come to him, and he already has a bunch of MPs. I laugh, I say: what are you doing here?" the prosecutor read Odarchenko's words, recorded as part of secret investigative actions.

According to the investigation, Odarchenko offered $50,000 worth of bitcoins to Nayyem, but he managed to transfer "10K" or $10,000. This allegedly happened in early September after a meeting at the Hilton hotel restaurant.

The legislator denies that he transferred the money.

"Indeed, I communicated with Mustafa Nayyem many times on various topics, but I did not voice any offers of undue benefit. There was only communication regarding assistance, allocation of funds to the State Biotechnology University," claimed Odarchenko.

During the court session, it became known that Odarchenko traveled outside of Ukraine seven times during martial law, and his family lived in Thailand from March 2022 to July 2023.

"Thailand is cheaper than Poland, Germany or Spain. Everything costs a little there: rent and school. I came to them, helped [with money]. My wife worked as a notary before the start of full-scale aggression, I had small savings," the parliamentarian told the court.

Currently his family is in Uzhhorod, where the MP himself "plans to settle", according to information from prosecutors.

The prosecutor's office also claims that in conversations with Nayyem, the lawmaker de facto normalized the aggression of the Russian Federation.

"Why does Number One want elections now? Because they will be forced to negotiate, and that's right – why do we need these Donetsk, Luhansk. Crimea? The hell with them. Obviously, it's a shame. [But] we need to negotiate," the prosecutor quoted Odarchenko as saying.

He said this in August 2023, not in the first days of the war. The prosecutor's office believes that such words may indicate the MP's propensity for collaborationism or other crimes against the national security of Ukraine.

On November 21, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office reported three high-profile corruption charges. First, the detectives exposed an MP from the Servant of the People for trying to bribe Mustafa Nayyem, then the same charges were pressed against an MP from the For Future group in another case.

The third charges concern a developer's attempt to bribe the minister of infrastructure with apartments.