Foreign Ministry Strives to Get Ally of Tymoshenko Back to Ukraine
The procedure is continuing for the extradition from Italy of the former Head of Kharkiv Regional State Administration and the leader of the Kharkiv regional branch of the Batkivschyna Party, Arsen Avakov, despite his release from custody, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has reported.
"The question of Avakov's extradition was not considered during a court hearing on April 10, 2012. The issue concerned a change or the cancellation of the measure of restraint for him in the form of detention, which is reflected in the court ruling. Avakov's release from custody in Italy does not stop the process of extradition at the request of the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine, which is continuing in this country," the ministry’s press service said in a statement, in response to "the increased interest of the public, journalists and politicians in Avakov's extradition."
The ministry added that in terms of its content, extradition is the procedure of the forced return of a person to another state for criminal prosecution, and that the consideration of an extradition request could last for up to two months.
"Before the Italian side takes a decision on the request of the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine for Avakov's extradition, he remains on the international wanted list of Interpol's member countries, despite his release from custody in Italy. In addition, Avakov could be detained again if he crosses an EU border," the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Arsen Avakov told about his detention in Frosinone (Italy) in a top security prison.
"Before the court sitting they placed me in prison and I stayed there. As it appeared later, it happened to be a top security prison, one of two or three on the territory of Italy. But I did not notice this [top security]. Restriction of freedom exerts most pressure on a person in an Italian prison. You are deprived of freedom, closed in the cell, you may sit there and read books, watch TV, walk, have meals – it's great, to be short. But you cannot go away," Avakov said during a Web conference on April 17.
According to Avakov, the main problem he faced in the Italian prison was the lack of people that speak Russian and Ukrainian.
"Once they brought a man, who, as prisoners and officers thought, spoke Ukrainian. He came up to me and said, 'Lukashenko, hurrah!' And that was all he knew. But this really impressed all of his colleagues and he was very happy," Avakov said.
According to him, his cell was meant for two people. Unlike the cells where people sentenced to long terms are imprisoned, where "there are carpets, frying pans and they can make coffee," his cell was empty.
"Everyone realized that I was imprisoned not for a long time," Avakov said.
At first an engineer and later "a young man" were his cell mates.
"We talked as far as it was possible. We pointed with fingers into the sky, the TV, newspapers, at least we tried to communicate. Later my wife passed me a phrasebook and it became easier," Avakov said.
He failed to say what for his cell mates were imprisoned.
"When they asked me, I could not answer why I was imprisoned," Avakov said with a smile.
On Tuesday, March 27, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office said that it was preparing a package of documents for Avakov's extradition to Ukraine. In this regard, the leadership of the Batkivschyna Party sent letters to the Interpol secretary general and the Italian government with a request to take into account "the obvious political motivation" behind Avakov's criminal prosecution, and to release him.
On March 29, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office said that the judicial authorities in Italy had decided to place Avakov in custody for 40 days.
On January 31, charges were brought against Avakov under Part 3, Article 365 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.