Ukraine’s Interior Ministry announced Thursday that it was opening a criminal probe into allegations of illegal surveillance of former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch by associates of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The news comes after the House released documents turned over by businessman Lev Parnas, who is under indictment for campaign-finance charges and allegedly helped Giuliani in the lawyer’s efforts to dig up dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden in Ukraine. The documents include texts between Parnas and Robert Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate and Trump donor, in which Hyde discussed Yovanovitch’s whereabouts.
“Ukraine’s position is to not interfere in the domestic affairs of the United States,” an Interior Ministry official said in a statement. “However, the published records contain the fact of a possible violation of the legislation of Ukraine and the Vienna Convention…Ukraine cannot ignore such illegal activities on its territory.”
Hyde wrote in several text messages about the ambassador’s location.
“She’s under heavy protection outside Kiev,” read one message; “it’s confirmed, we have a person inside,” read another, possibly referring to the U.S. embassy.
“Needless to say, the notion that American citizens and others were monitoring Ambassador Yovanovitch’s movements for unknown purposes is disturbing,” Yovanovitch’s attorney Lawrence S. Robbins said in a statement to the New York Post regarding the documents. “We trust that the appropriate authorities will conduct an investigation to determine what happened.”
Yovanovitch testified during House impeachment hearings that Parnas and Igor Fruman, led by Giuliani, conducted a smear campaign designed to oust her from her post. President Trump fired Yovanovitch in May 2019 after reports from Giuliani that the ambassador was hindering efforts to investigate the Bidens.
The Senate will soon begin conducting the impeachment trial against President Trump. Democrats allege that the president withheld military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to announce an investigation into the Bidens.