List of Former Ukrainian Top Officials Accused of Hiding

KIEV, Ukraine -- In the months following Ukraine's Orange Revolution, many former top officials were summoned for questioning over various abuses. Some of them failed to turn up for questioning, provoking accusations of hiding from prosecutors. In many cases, the reported reason for their failure to appear for questioning was that they were receiving medical treatment, often in Russia.

Viktor Yanukovych

This gave rise to suspicions that Russia is harbouring many Ukrainian politicians who backed Viktor Yanukovych, the defeated pro-Russian rival of Western-minded liberal Viktor Yushchenko in the 2004 presidential elections. Subsequently, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry asked Moscow to help track down several former top officials.

The list includes former chairman of the Ukrainian Central Electoral Commission Serhiy Kivalov, former Ukrainian Interior Minister Mykola Bilokon, former Sumy regional governor Volodymyr Shcherban and former Odessa mayor Ruslan Bodelan.

The following are details of charges facing some of Ukraine's most prominent former top officials, as well as their reported whereabouts.

Ihor Bakay

Ihor Bakay, the former head of the Ukrainian Directorate for State Affairs under former President Leonid Kuchma, is wanted on charges of abuse of power and involvement in crime. Bakay is widely accused of mismanaging state property as head of the presidential directorate.

He is reported to be currently resident in Moscow, where he had a meeting with Ukrainian Transport Minister Yevhen Chervonenko.

It has also been reported that Bakay applied for Russian citizenship and sought to give up his Ukrainian citizenship. The Russian immigration authorities, however, said that Bakay does not hold Russian citizenship.

Mykola Bilokon

Former Interior Minister Mykola Bilokon is wanted for questioning on suspicion of abuse of office, including financial abuses committed while building a dacha in Lviv Region. He has also been accused in the media of orchestrating a clampdown on human rights and media freedoms.

It was reported that Mykola Bilokon is currently a resident of Moscow, where he has frequent contacts with Russian businessman Maksim Kurochkin and Ihor Bakay. There have also been reports that Bilokon underwent medical treatment in Moscow, although it is not clear what he was treated for.

Ruslan Bodelan

Ruslan Bodelan, who was ousted as Odessa mayor in April 2005, is wanted in Ukraine on charges of abuse of power which caused losses of about 120,000 dollars. The case involves advertising space being sold to a private company at an artificially low price. In June, a court in Odessa sanctioned Bodelan's arrest.

Following the fiercely disputed presidential election in late 2004, Bodelan underwent a heart operation at the Russian Defence Ministry's Vishnevskiy hospital outside Moscow. Subsequently, he spent at least one month there undergoing a rehabilitation course, according to his press secretary. In late May, she said that his return to Odessa "was not on the agenda".

In April it was reported that Bodelan was undergoing in-patient treatment in Odessa, which was said to be the reason why he failed to turn up for questioning at Interior Ministry's directorate in Odessa Region.

Volodymyr Satsyuk

The former head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Volodymyr Satsyuk, is wanted on charges of abuse of office, forgery and causing material damage to the state in especially large amounts. He is also the owner of the dacha where Viktor Yushchenko dined immediately before being taken to hospital with poisoning which disfigured his face.

Former SBU head Ihor Smeshko told journalists on 9 June that Satsyuk had left Ukraine. In a recent newspaper interview, however, Satsyuk denied this, saying that he was still in Ukraine, where he is being treated in hospital for a heart condition. Events over the past few months have had a "negative effect" on his heart, Satsyuk said.

Current SBU head Oleksandr Turchynov said that "there is no information" that Satsyuk had fled Ukraine. Turchynov also said that Satsyuk has not been formally charged with involvement in Yushchenko's poisoning.

Volodymyr Shcherban

The former Sumy Region governor and a close ally of former President Leonid Kuchma, Volodymyr Shcherban, is wanted by Ukrainian prosecutors on charges of extortion, abuse of office and vote- rigging.

There have been reports that he is hiding in Russia or Turkey, and on 4 May, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry asked Russia for assistance in locating Shcherban and establishing his citizenship.

A Ukrainian progovernment daily also said that Shcherban may be in the USA, after being granted a US visa for "investing" 5m dollars in the American economy. Shcherban's son Artem has stayed behind and is busy selling off the family's stakes in numerous companies in Ukraine prior to joining his parents in Miami, the paper said.

Serhiy Kivalov

The former chairman of Ukraine's Central Electoral Commission, Serhiy Kivalov, was questioned over the alleged embezzlement of property at the Odessa law academy, which he heads. There have been no reports that Kivalov was put on a wanted list, or that he was charged with involvement in vote-rigging during the 2004 presidential election.

In a newspaper interview by phone in May, Kivalov said he was undergoing medical treatment for hypertension and therefore could not be questioned at the moment. Kivalov denied that he was hiding from investigators, but refused to disclose his whereabouts, saying he would turn up for questioning when he is well.

Kivalov reportedly stayed in Moscow in early 2005, but in an interview, he dismissed reports that he was seen while visiting a Moscow restaurant.

In a TV interview in May, Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko said Kivalov had returned from Russia and was questioned in Odessa. On 9 June, Kivalov was seen attending Russia Day festivities in Kiev.

Source: BBC Monitoring Service