Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 197

Amid mounting accusations of corruption while in office, the former Ukrainian premier and current leader of the Hromada faction in parliament, Pavlo Lazarenko, has fired back at the authorities in the newspapers controlled by his political allies. In an October 24 interview with parliament newspaper, “Holos Ukrainy,” Lazarenko claimed that he knows about plans of his assassination. “After allegations concerning my involvement in some contract murders, the authorities can easily attribute the murder, organized by themselves, to the criminal world allegedly taking revenge on me,” he said. Lazarenko also accused the Prosecutor General’s Office of a “dirty play” to discredit him as a potential presidential candidate. The former premier also enigmatically hinted that he might publicize what he knows about “big money” on accounts which certain high officials hold in Boston and Brunei.

On October 23 an abridged version of the same interview was published by “Kievskie vedomosti,” a popular tabloid, which had a week before been driven out of its premises on the pretext of incorrect registration of the leasing agreement (Holos Ukrainy, October 24; Kievskie vedomosti, October 23). During the campaign, Brodsky promised to return money to the depositors of his bank Dendi, for whose bankruptcy he blamed the ill will of authorities. So far he has failed to fulfill that promise.

In the same interview Lazarenko refuted rumors about a rift within Hromada involving policy differences between him and the head of Hromada’s “shadow cabinet,” Yulia Tymoshenko. Following her two recent meetings behind closed doors with President Kuchma and the recent penalty on the United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU) corporation, co-owned by her family (see the Monitor, October 21), Tymoshenko has put the idea of Kuchma’s impeachment, never openly supported by Lazarenko, on the backburner. She said that this idea “has waned” (Segodnya, October 24). In the past the cautious Lazarenko abstained from directly counterattacking the current authorities to defend his “clan’s” clout, apparently preferring his closest ally Tymoshenko to pull chestnuts out of the fire. Now, with the UESU on the verge of collapsing and the presidential elections nearing, it may be the time for Lazarenko to begin an open political fight–with targeted hints and compromising information to start with. –OV