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Ukraine Prosecutors Target Ex-Traffic Chief

In the past, Oleksandr Yershov (right) has said most of the family's property is in the name of his wife, Oksana's, meaning he owns very little on paper.
In the past, Oleksandr Yershov (right) has said most of the family's property is in the name of his wife, Oksana's, meaning he owns very little on paper.

Ukrainian prosecutors have announced a criminal investigation into the former head of the country's traffic police, who resigned under a cloud of suspicion in May, just one month into his tenure.

Disclosures in RFE/RL and other media of an undeclared home and other opulent property as well as lavish travel arrangements by Oleksandr Yershov or his immediate family members raised concerns that he was living beyond the means of a public employee.

In a letter to parliamentarian Serhiy Leshchenko, Prosecutor-General Yuriy Stolyarchuk said that Yershov is being investigated for "illicit enrichment" and could face up to six years in prison and be banned from certain public-sector jobs.

He could also face the confiscation of property, the letter says.

Yershov has maintained his innocence since delivering his resignation to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov on May 19.

He told RFE/RL that he had failed to declare a three-story house in the capital, Kyiv, because it has no official address.

"I was not in Kyiv, and my wife did not tell me whether this house is registered," he said. "What could I declare if there is no address?"

A Google Maps history indicates the house on Yershov's plot of land was built eight years ago. But he has never applied for an official address, according to an official at Solomyansky district administration in Kyiv in charge of property registration.

When asked, Yershov could not explain how he was billed for or paid utility services to the house without an official address.

The former policeman also said that four cars owned by his family members, a Toyota Land Cruiser, a Lexus RX 350, a Porsche Cayenne, and a Range Rover Sport, were either presents to his two daughters from their wealthy boyfriends or purchased with income from one of his daughter's businesses.

Yershov was appointed chief of the national traffic police in April, after having worked his way up through the regional ranks.

Interior Minister Avakov told Ukrainian website on May 28 that he regretted having to dismiss Yershov. "I lost a person I trusted at least a little bit in this system, a person who understands how it functions," Avakov was quoted as saying. "It was important to have such a staffer.

Yershov is also currently under investigation within the Interior Ministry in a probe that is supposed to be completed by the end of June.

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