Trump’s conspiracy theories thrive in Ukraine, where a young democracy battles corruption and distrust

We talked with two dozen leaders and investigators in Ukraine. They all agree the claims against Joe and Hunter Biden are baseless. Yet they persist.

VODIANE, Ukraine – In a muddy field 5,000 miles from Washington, D.C., are a set of gas wells that extend several thousand feet underground.

The wells are owned by Burisma, a Ukrainian company registered in Cyprus – a company no one outside the energy industry would have known a month ago.

Now this place is ground zero for a central claim – one with no credible evidence – in a scandal that has engulfed the Trump administration in an impeachment inquiry: that former Vice President Joe Biden forced the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor in order to protect his son Hunter Biden, who served on Burisma’s board.

Burisma’s gas fields are ringed by light woodlands and an assortment of post-Soviet tropes: crumbling factories and farm buildings, babushkas clutching bags of food as they ride bicycles, bored security officials in military fatigues who always seem to require permission to do anything – from a boss who can never be found.

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Over the course of about a week in Ukraine, the message from two dozen government officials and anti-corruption investigators quickly became clear: The allegations against the Bidens are entirely lacking in evidence.

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Perhaps one of the most incongruous aspects of Trump’s allegations is that he seems to believe that Ukraine, one of the poorest countries in Europe, which has been fighting a costly war with Russian-backed separatists for the past five years 1, is conspiring with Democratic rivals in order to force him from office.

There is a problem with this theory: There are few, if any, trustworthy voices in Ukraine to back it up. Nor is there any credible evidence. Even Trump’s staff have repeatedly warned him that the claims are baseless.

Article URL : https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/world/2019/10/10/trumps-biden-ukraine-natural-gas-conspiracy-theory-false-but-alive/3851728002/

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