Ukraine launches criminal investigation into alleged threats against former US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch

Ukrainian officials announced on Thursday that a criminal investigation would be launched into the alleged threats against former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchAmerica's diplomats deserve our respect House panel says key witness isn't cooperating in probe into Yovanovitch surveillance President Trump's assault on checks and balances: Five acts in four weeks MORE.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Twitter that Kyiv's policy is not to "interfere in the domestic affairs" of the U.S., but new evidence suggests Ukrainian or international law may have been broken, according to a translation from ABC News.

"However, the published records contain the fact of possible violation of the legislation of Ukraine and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which protects the rights of a diplomat in the territory of another country," it added.

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The ministry said it was determining whether alleged surveillance of Yovanovitch violated Ukrainian or international laws "or was it just bravado and fake in an informal conversation between two U.S. citizens."

The announcement comes days after communications involving Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump: Tough times but progress being made Giuliani touts experimental coronavirus treatment in private conversations with Trump Trump team picks fight with Twitter, TV networks over political speech MORE’s associate Lev Parnas were released to the public revealing the extent of a campaign to remove Yovanovitch from her position as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

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The communications included messages between Parnas and Republican congressional candidate Robert Hyde that suggested that the ambassador’s movements were being tracked. Hyde wrote “they will let me know when she’s on the move.” Hyde’s messages also detail Yovanovitch's locations and security levels.

The candidate, now running for Rep. Jahana HayesJahana HayesLawmakers with first-hand experience using food stamps call on Trump not to cut program FBI visits congressional candidate Robert Hyde's home, business Ukraine launches criminal investigation into alleged threats against former US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch MORE’s (D) seat in Connecticut, also said at the time that he couldn’t believe the president “hasn’t fired this bitch.”

Hyde has denied that he was spying, saying he was joking with Parnas.

The evidence also showed messages between Parnas and Giuliani, with the president's personal lawyer saying Trump had “fired her again” the day before Yovanovitch was called back to the U.S. from Ukraine. Parnas responded: “I pray it happens this time I’ll call you tomorrow my brother.”

Parnas, who was indicted in October on campaign finance charges, has pleaded not guilty in the case and is reportedly looking for ways to work with the prosecutors who are examining Giuliani's interactions in Ukraine.

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Parnas claimed in an interview Wednesday night that the efforts to remove Yovanovitch were done with the purpose of getting her out of the way so Trump representatives could push for a Ukrainian investigation into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSteyer endorses Biden for president Sanders 2020 press secretary: Democratic leadership interested in 'corporate status quo' or 'they're planning to replace Joe' Biden joins calls to release racial breakdowns of coronavirus cases, deaths MORE, a leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, and his son.

He also told MSNBC that he no longer believes the allegations against Yovanovitch.

In reaction to the published messages, Yovanovitch called for an investigation. Her lawyer, Lawrence Robbins, said “the notion that American citizens and others were monitoring Ambassador Yovanovitch’s movements for unknown purposes is disturbing.”

Yovanovitch testified about the president’s and Giuliani’s efforts to remove her from office during the House impeachment inquiry.

The House impeached the president on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after an investigation was launched into the White House’s relationship with Ukraine. The inquiry began after a whistleblower report detailed a phone call in which Trump asked the Ukrainian president to look into Biden and his son, who sat on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.

Updated at 12:48 p.m.