Mykhaylo Potebenko, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, has issued a statement warning Hromada leader and former Premier Pavlo Lazarenko that he has indisputable proofs of Lazarenko’s crimes. Potebenko also accuses Mykola Ahafonov, a member of parliament closely associated with Lazarenko, of embezzling US$20 million (for the Ahafonov case, see the Monitor, September 28). Such was Potebenko’s response to recent newspaper interviews in which Ahafonov and Lazarenko accused the Prosecutor General’s Office of political partiality (see, for example, the Monitor, October 26). Potebenko also warned Lazarenko against manipulating public opinion. He called on the parliament to come up with legislation to eliminate the deputy immunity altogether (Ukrainian television, October 28).
Potebenko earlier pledged that he would ensure a thorough and definitive investigation of Lazarenko’s misdeeds. Lazarenko, who was the Ukrainian premier in 1996-1997 and the deputy premier for fuel and energy in 1995-1996, is widely seen both at home and abroad as a corrupt “godfather” who came to parliament to escape responsibility for economic crimes. Potebenko’s latest statement, however, seems to contradict ethic norms–specifically the legal principle of presumption of innocence. He openly accuses Lazarenko and Ahafonov of crimes not yet corroborated by investigation. –OV
RUSSIAN AND BELARUSAN INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES POOL EFFORTS.