Kiev uses Interpol in Italy to go after dissident politician of Ukraine Salvation Committee.
The Genoa court of appeals in Italy is to decide on the extradition of Igor Markov, a former Ukrainian parliamentarian and leader of Rodina Party. This week Markov has been arrested by the Italian police, who was acting on an Interpol tip in San Remo.
In Ukraine, the former MP is accused of disorderly conduct and bodily harm during events that took place in Odessa in 2007.
Official record states that Markov is suspected of orchestrating an assault on a protest in Odessa against the installation of a monument to Catherine the Great, Russian Empress and founder of the city. Some reports claim that he struck one of the protesters cutting his lip open. The opening of the monument was initiated by Igor Markov and the protesters were ultra-nationalists from the west of Ukraine, as told to RT by Sergey Zavorotny, Markov’s colleague in Ukraine Salvation Committee, headed by Ukrainian ex-premier Nikolay Azarov. [See two articles below on the recent formation of the Ukraine Salvation Committee.]
“The leaders of neo-Nazi Svoboda party decided to impede on the ceremony with provocations. There was a battle between them and Markov’s party members from Rodina. He broke the lip of a Svoboda MP Kirilenko,” said Zavorotny.
The eight year old criminal case has since been opened and closed twice by the Ukrainian court in 2010 and 2014 without any convictions. The date of the launch of the latest inquiry is uncertain but what’s clear is that it took Interpol almost no time to detain Markov in Italy using all of its surveillance and apprehension resources. The former MP was unaware he was under an international arrest warrant, as he’s been freely travelling abroad all this time, according to Sergey Zavorotny.
“He travelled to Turkey during the May holidays in Russia and had no problem, there was no evidence that he was on the wanted list, if there was, I’m sure the Turkish authorities would arrest him immediately,” Zavorotny added.
So what were the circumstances of the newest pursuit that resulted in a swift arrest?
Igor Markov has been a controversial figure in Ukraine’s recent political history, that for simplicity’s sake can be divided into two periods – pre- and post-Maidan uprising, or as some might say, before and after the coup d’état in Kiev. He’s managed to get in and out of favor with both governments, that of ousted president Viktor Yanukovich and the current government of Petro Poroshenko.
The former member of the Ukrainian parliament has always been clear on his stance for Ukraine’s future that he’s always seen in strong economic partnership with Russia and other countries of the Customs Union. During the time of his arrest in October of 2013, Markov was appalled by President Yanukovich’s toying with the idea of signing a questionable association agreement with the European Union, which he saw as opposed to his vision of where Ukraine’s geopolitical interests should lie.
The government, in turn, slapped him with a prospect of spending the next seven years in prison for a crime that involved a cut lip.
Markov remained in custody until February of 2014, a four month period that saw major changes in Ukraine. Kiev’s Independence Square, or Maidan Nezalezhnosti, was swarming with people demanding change for the country and the general sense of euphoria made such change seem possible. At that moment, hardly anyone could picture scores of burned corpses in the Trade Unions building in Odessa or the start of the civil war in the east.
Igor Markov was released from jail around the same time as Yulia Timoshenko, former prime minister, who was convicted on corruption charges during Victor Yanukovich presidency. Both were deemed political prisoners of the former regime. Timoshenko even telephoned Markov to congratulate him on the release from prison, Sergey Zavorotniy told RT.
“She personally greeted his liberation and later sent a message saying that he’s one of the first victims of Yanukovich’s regime,” he said.
Their paths, however, haven’t crossed after that.
Ukraine’s new government returned the MP status to Igor Markov that same month but he turned out to be a thorn in their side. Despite the fact that he was against the policy of uncertainty of the ousted president, Markov remained true to his belief in Ukraine’s common economic future with the countries of the Customs Union headed by Russia.
It didn’t take long for the new rulers in Kiev to figure out that Markov was a threat that should be dealt with. The former parliamentarian became a frequent guest in Russia’s political talk shows and joined the ex-premier of Ukraine Nikolay Azarov as a member of the so called Ukraine Salvation Committee, based in Russia.
“Joining the Ukraine Salvation Committee is the reason behind his arrest. He became a threat to the so called government in Kiev. It’s unbelievable that a street fight that took place in 2007 has now mobilized a crime fighting machine like Interpol and Italian law authorities in particular,” Azarov told Rossiya 1 TV channel.
Igor Markov is now on Ukraine Interior Ministry’s wanted list for that very same crime that was allegedly committed in 2007. Official charge falls under Part 4, of Article 296 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (disorderly conduct and bodily injury) that carriers a 3 to 7 year prison sentence.
The Italian appeals court in Genoa will now be looking at the extradition documents provided by Ukrainian interior ministry and will later decide whether to hand over Igor Markov to the Ukrainian authorities according to Italian media in San Remo and Genoa.
“Extradition to Ukraine could mean death for Igor Markov and we are trying to get the public attention in Italy right now. It’s unfortunate that the Italian authorities and Interpol went ahead with this arrest and took part in a provocation without looking into the case,” concluded Nikolay Azarov.
Two articles on the formation of the National Salvation Committee:
Ukraine’s ex-PM sets up ‘Ukraine Salvation Committee’
MOSCOW–Ukraine’s former prime minister, in exile in Moscow, has announced the creation of a ‘Ukraine salvation committee’ and pushed for early presidential and parliamentary elections.
Mykola Azarov fled Ukraine after ex-president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in February 2014 following months of protests. He said Monday that the committee aims to “take responsibility for the situation in the country.”
The committee will not include Yanukovych. Azarov has criticized Yanukovych for losing control over the country. Azarov ally Igor Markov said the ex-president should be prosecuted for his actions.
Azarov said the committee will back ex-lawmaker Vladimir Oleinik as a presidential candidate if early elections are held. There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian officials.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Kremlin had nothing to do with Azarov’s move.
2. Former Ukrainian lawmaker says Kiev pushed away Crimea and Donbas
MOSCOW- Verkovna Rada former deputy Vladimir Oleinik, who has been named a candidate for president of Ukraine by the newly-formed Ukraine Salvation Committee, said Monday that current authorities are to blame for losing Crimea.
“Unfortunately, we lost Crimea because of criminal authorities that ignited ethnic strife and pushed away Crimea and Ukraine’s south-east by staging a coup,” Oleinik told a press conference in Moscow.
“When Crimea saw that there is war at the doorstep, it left Ukraine. You don’t remember how [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko came before the referendum, how Crimeans pushed him out from the peninsula,” Oleinik said promising that he will make everything possible so that “Crimeans feel comfortable in Ukraine, and Ukrainians – in Crimea.” He also called on Kiev to “remove restrictions on water and electricity.”
Crimea’s reunification with Russia
Crimea, where most residents are ethnic Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014. In mid-March last year, Crimea re-joined Russia following a referendum. More than 82% of the electorate took part in the vote. Over 96% backed splitting from Ukraine and spoke in favor of reuniting with Russia. Results of the referendum were celebrated by many Crimeans but the vote was widely criticized by Western leaders and at the United Nations.
In the Soviet Union, Crimea was part of Russia until 1954, when Communist Party head Nikita Khrushchev transferred the Crimean region, along with Sevastopol, to Ukraine’s jurisdiction for purposes of logistics.
Direct negotiations between Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk necessary
Oleinik, who is nominated for president of Ukraine by the Ukraine Salvation Committee, also noted that the problem in Donbas cannot be solved without direct negotiations between Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk.
“If you ask me how I would have acted right after inauguration – I would have immediately signed a decree on returning forces to places of their permanent deployment. I would have gone to Donetsk and Lu?ansk, where people are suffering, and asked for forgiveness on my knees from all Ukrainian mothers,” Oleinik told a press conference in Moscow. “Direct negotiations between Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk are necessary,” he said adding that “it is necessary to make any kind of compromise” for peace.
“For instance, one language and two countries is bad, while two languages and one country is good. And talking about federalization, it is not that bad, it’s just a system of government,” Oleinik noted.
He called on Ukrainian citizens not to participate in the military operation in Donbas. “Don’t let your children go to war!” he stressed. Oleinik said that Ukraine’s military recruiting offices “have turned into terrorist organizations” that take to the army all those who disagree with the current authorities. “Conscripts are running away in Ukraine today,” he reminded.
Vladimir Oleinik is a Ukrainian politician, well-known famous lawyer, Verkhovna Rada deputy of 5th, 6th and 7th convocations. He was born in 1957 in Ukraine’s Cherkassy Region.
In 2006, he was elected to the parliament from Yulya Tymoshenko’s Bloc. Since March 2010, he had been member of the Party of Regions and served as deputy chairman of Rada’a committee on industrial and regulatory policy and entrepreneurship.
In December 2014, Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s Office charged Oleinik with organizing illegal voting in the parliament for ’16 January, 2014 laws’, a package of measures toughening penalties for various offenses. He was put on Ukraine’s wanted list.
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