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Ukraine's president denies request to release Trump call records

Fiona Hill testifies in impeachment inquiry

The office of Ukraine's president has denied a request from a political rival to release its records of a July 25 call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and U.S. President Donald Trump – a call that in the United States is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

Ukrainian parliament member Oleksiy Honcharenko requested the release of records of the call. The office of Ukraine's president denied his request in a letter, citing legislation.

"This is to inform you that, according to Article 19 of the Ukrainian Constitution, officials of public and local authorities must act on the basis and within the authority, in the way provided for by law," reads a translation of the October letter.

"Ukrainian legislation does not provide for an order of release of phone conversations with foreign leaders and the release of their content to persons who were not participants of the relevant event," it says, without providing additional information.

CBS News has not confirmed what records Ukraine has of the call.

Testimony in the impeachment inquiry has indicated the Ukrainians didn't want a transcript of the call to be released in the United States either. "The United States gave the Ukrainians virtually no notice of the release, and they were livid," U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor said in a statement in October, referring to the September 25 release of the White House's partial transcript of the call.

A senior Ukrainian official previously told CBS News the White House sought the Ukrainian government's approval to publish its summary of the call but went ahead and released it before Ukraine responded.

"The transcript was released before President Zelensky agreed to it," said the Ukrainian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

That runs counter to a claim made by President Trump, who said in a tweet September 24 that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo received permission from the Ukraine government "to release the transcript of the telephone call I had with their President."

Ukraine's foreign minister said this week – amid impeachment hearings – that his country doesn't want to be involved in the political drama in the U.S. Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said the last thing Ukraine needs is to be involved in "problems at the other end of the world" while dealing with its war with Russia-backed separatists, The Associated Press reported.

Ukraine's president, however, has come up frequently in the impeachment hearings.

Zelensky is now scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time. They are expected to meet in Paris in two weeks for talks aimed at ending the longstanding Ukraine conflict.

Zelensky agreed to the talks as part of his campaign pledge to end the continuing fighting in a war with Russia that has left almost 14,000 Ukrainians dead, according to testimony from David Holmes, an aide to the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. The December talks also aim to restart the stalled "Minsk Agreements," a peace agreement that was first signed in 2014 but not implemented.

Erin Lyall and Sveta Kozlenko contributed reporting from London and Kiev.

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