Yuriy Buhlak, a member of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission (CEC), left the country for the United States ahead of Russia’s full-scale invasion and has not returned since, collecting his full-time salary while living abroad, an investigation by Radio Liberty’s Schemes project revealed on Aug. 10.
Despite the law stating that permanent residence outside Ukraine is a basis for losing powers within the CEC, Buhlak has not been dismissed from his position, and his request for resignation, submitted on August 11 – after the Schemes story broke – remains unaddressed.
Under Paragraph 4 of Article 30 of Ukraine’s law on the Central Election Commission, relocating to a permanent place of residence outside Ukraine is grounds for the premature termination of a CEC member’s powers. The commission’s chair, Oleh Didenko, is responsible for submitting this information to the president. However, Didenko has yet to initiate this process, citing the need for official confirmation by relevant authorities such as the State Migration Service and the State Border Guard Service.
In a statement to Schemes, Buhlak claimed that he had “personal circumstances” that led to his residence abroad and asserted that he had not violated Ukrainian law banning international travel for military aged men since he left before the invasion.
He did, however, submit his resignation the day after the Schemes story was published.
Buhlak has not responded to calls and inquiries from Schemes regarding his situation.
The Schemes investigation discovered that Buhlak departed Ukraine just 12 days before the full-scale Russian invasion and has remained in the United States since. Buhlak and his family are residing in Florida, near Miami, where he received over 1.5 million hryvnias ($41,000) in salary and other payments in 2022, including financial assistance from the state budget to address social and domestic issues. He has been on parental leave while maintaining his CEC position since the spring of 2023.
Further investigation revealed that Buhlak is a member of the Baraholka Miami Telegram group, and his wife is a member of the Zhivem v Miami, Govorim Po-russki group, where she posts photos from Hollywood, a town on the Atlantic Ocean coast in the Miami suburbs.
On Feb. 14, just two days after Buhlak’s departure from Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a call for all state representatives to return within 24 hours. Buhlak, however, seemed to have felt that this call did not apply to him, citing unique personal circumstances concerning his life, health, and family.
On Aug. 14, a draft resolution for the premature termination of Buhlak’s powers was registered in the Verkhovna Rada. The situation surrounding Buhlak’s continued presence within the CEC remains a subject of public and political discussion, and the resolution is expected to be a focal point in the coming days.
Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine