funny thing happened to former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, returning to Ukraine by car from a dull interparliamentary committee meeting in Brussels. Crossing the border from France into Switzerland, he was arrested by Swiss police and taken to Geneva for interrogation. Worse, according to the press, Swiss authorities froze his accounts in Swiss banks. That is no small matter. A former Ukrainian prosecutor told the Swiss press that Lazarenko’s foreign bank accounts total about US$1.7 billion, equivalent to about 2 percent of Ukraine’s GDP. Lazarenko was traveling at the time on a Panamanian passport. His arrest may be related to the recent capture elsewhere in Europe of Sergei Mikhailov, a Moscow gang leader to whom he has been linked.
As a member of parliament, Lazarenko enjoys immunity from prosecution in Ukraine. At the time of his arrest, Lazarenko was considered a strong contender for the presidency in the elections scheduled for December, 1999.