The matter has arisen from a convergence of unusual circumstances. Obviously, no Ukrainian official in their right mind would ever dare to challenge, at least openly, a US official, let alone an American ambassador.
Under Ukrainian law, the president appoints, with parliament's approval, the prosecutor general of Ukraine, and thus in effect controls the agency. To balance the influence of Prosecutor-General Viktor Shokin (allegedly also a godfather of one of the president’s children), Poroshenko invited a team of prosecutors from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, through his old friend and former president of Georgia Michael Saakashvili; these he had embedded within the agency.
The team’s leader, David Sakvarelidze, got the position of the deputy prosecutor general of Ukraine, and then quickly came into conflict with Shokin’s team. It is notable that Sakvarelidze’s sponsor Saakashvili is wanted in his home country on various criminal charges, but Ukraine refuses to extradite him. In time accusations flew, press conferences were held, and now the two groups are openly accusing each other of corruption.
Now, this looks like overkill. Leaving aside its practicalities, there is little doubt that the initiative was but a figure of speech thrown around for dramatic effect, and will quickly be retracted.
Ambassador Pyatt thus should have no fear of anything, much less of being interrogated by Ukrainian law enforcement. But the story raises a larger question. It seems reasonably beyond dispute that the US and other foreign governments have transferred, through the US embassy in Ukraine, funds directly to the prosecutor’s office.
Yet such actions are by themselves a violation of Ukrainian law. Ukraine has legislation in place that expressly prohibits similar conduct as a form of corruption. Article 54 of the law of Ukraine “On the Prevention of Corruption” expressly prohibits receipt by Ukrainian government agencies of money or property from individuals or organizations except where expressly permitted by Ukraine's international treaties.
In any event, the matter will likely be swept under the rug for now. Yet if the regime changes, there may be consequences, especially for the Ukrainian officials involved in the receipt of the funds, let alone their alleged embezzlement.