Ukraine Seeks Extradition of Tymoshenko Ally from Italy

Published: 28 March 2012


Ukrainian prosecutors are asking Italy to extradite a leading opposition figure wanted at home for abuse of power charges.  Arsen Avakov, an ally of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, has been detained in Italy, Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office announced on Tuesday.

Avakov, governor of Ukraine’s eastern Kharkiv region from 2005 to 2012, was arrested in the Italian town of Frosinone on Monday, reports Reuters.

The extradition request is the latest example of Ukraine accusing members of the previous government, currently in opposition, of corruption and has not gone unnoticed by the European Union (EU), which has raised alarm about politically motivated arrests.

The EU has condemned the prison sentences of Yulia Tymoshenko and former interior minister Yuri Lutsenko as political.

Tymoshenko and Avakov’s party, Batkivshchyna, has petitioned Rome not to extradite Avakov, saying that he is the latest in a line of such accusations.

Tymoshenko, 51, was one of the leaders of Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution, which kept Yanukovich from power. She served two terms as prime minister until Yanukovich beat her in a close election in 2010.

After he assumed power, Ukrainian prosecutors brought corruption charges against Tymoshenko and her allies, sentencing her to 7 years in prison for “abuse of interest” in a 2009 gas deal with Russia.

Tymoshenko’s husband and her former economy minister Bohdan Danylyshin have both fled to the Czech Republic, where they have been granted asylum.