Avakov returns to Ukraine
Arsen Avakov, former Kharkiv Regional Governor, ally of imprisoned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko and one of the two main contenders in the Kharkiv’s last Mayor elections, has returned to Ukraine to take his oath on Wednesday at the swearing –in of the new Verkhovna Rada. Mr Avakov was 24th on the Batkivshchyna Party’s candidate list at the 28 October elections.
Glavnoye reports that a court in Kharkiv on 3 December allowed the appeal by Avakov’s lawyer and revoked the arrest order against Avakov on the grounds that he has deputy immunity.
It remains to be seen whether attempts to prosecute him on charges similar to those against Tymoshenko and Lutsenko will continue
It is still possible for a parliamentary majority to agree Avakov’s arrest, so there remains an element of risk in his return.
As reported, the opposition politician had a criminal case initiated against him in January 2012. The charges are the same “abuse of power” as in the trials of Tymoshenko and Lutsenko. He is accused of involvement in illegal privatization of 55 hectares of public land. Both the opposition and human rights groups have expressed concern over the criminal proceedings, calling them politically motvated.
Mr Avakov was put on the Interpol wanted listed soon after the case was initiated, and was arrested in Naples in March this year. He was however released from custody pending a decision on extradition. Unlike some other opposition figures, Avakov refused to ask for political asylum with it assumed that this was because he planned to stand for election in Ukraine.