The return of a blacker than normal sheep? Lazarenko

The clock is ticking towards the release from a US jail of one of Ukraine’s most corrupt, if not the most corrupt, political leaders since independence.

Ex-Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko is due to be released from a US jail on 12 January 2012 after being convicted of laundering $200 million gathered through his patronage whilst in government.

Ukraine has had him on the wanted list since 1999 for his nefarious monetary issues as well as involvement in several high profile murders and attempted murders.

The question is really what will the US do with him when his time is served?

He is linked to a company called Capital Investment Group registered in the US that owns almost $100 million of real estate in Ukraine,  and the family home is deemed to be a ranch in California.  As far as I tell ascertain, he does not hold US citizenship.

On a slight tangent, Mr Lazarenko is a native of Dnipropetrovsk, home of Yulia Tymoshenko.  As the convictions in the US relate to nefarious monetary acts funded by gas deals that were then under the monopoly of United Energy Systems of Ukraine run by Yulia Tymoshenko, any possible return to Ukraine may well cause a severe headache for Ms Tymoshenko who is currently being investigated for several misuse of office issues.

It has already been stated by Russia that UES whilst under the control of Ms Tymoshenko still owes a debt of $405 million.  Ms Tymoshenko has eventually acknowledged there is a debt but disputes the amount, having previously denied for many years there was any debt at all.

None of this, it has to be said, has anything to do with the current investigations.  The return of Lazarenko if deported from the US however could lead to yet further investigations into Ms Tymoshenko and nefarious gas dealings.  Not really what she needs right now one has to suspect.

It is difficult to see how the once fairly powerful Dnipropetrovsk patronage system would be able to help these two once leading lights from Dnipropetrovsk now the Donetsk patronage have assumed control of Ukraine.

Interestingly, Ukraine’s most unpopular ex-President, Viktor Yushenko, recently visited Lazarenko whilst in the US.  One can only imagine the shenanigans discussed in that conversation.  Who was he speaking for and what was said?

Meanwhile, the PGOs office in Ukraine has clearly stated that should Lazarenko return to Ukraine he will be investigated for all the original matters from 1999.  Should the US deport him to Ukraine that sends a clear political message that the US considers Ukraine to have a far less persecutory judicial system than it currently orates the cases against Ms Tymoshenko over which they “have concerns over selective justice”.  It is more than likely his return will add additional charges against Tymoshenko considering the US court evidence used to convict him and the source of the money he laundered to be found guilty.

Undoubtedly he would wish to do a deal to have the US convictions seen as time served for any resultant Ukrainian convictions in the case of the gas issues and then face the evidence of murder and attempted murder on their own individual merits which may not stand up so easily to scrutiny when it comes to direct evidence.

In effect he may become a star-witness/co-accused against Tymoshenko and her deeds when running UES with nothing to lose but everything to gain.

It could all get rather sticky in January 2012 should the US deport him.  It could be just as sticky if they don’t, after all the Americans found him guilty, so how can they deny the Ukrainian population the same opportunity.