Ukraine's Convicted Ex-PM Stripped Of Local Legislative Authority

KIEV, Ukraine -- A district court in eastern Ukraine has stripped a former prime minister and a local lawmaker of legislative authority, a Ukrainian Internet edition said Tuesday.

Pavlo Lazarenko, 53, served as prime minister under President Leonid Kuchma from 1996 to 1997. He was arrested in the U.S. in 1999, and was sentenced to nine years in prison and a fine of $10 million Saturday.

Lazarenko was elected to a local legislature in Dnepropetrovsk in March 2006.

Ukrainskaya Pravda said a lawsuit against the former prime minister, filed by Borys Filatov, a human rights activist in Dnepropetrovsk, was accepted and his legislative authority withdrawn.

During Ukraine's 1999 presidential election campaign, Lazarenko, who was wanted on corruption and embezzlement charges at home, sought political asylum in the U.S., claiming he had faced three assassination attempts. Instead, the U.S. authorities issued a warrant for his arrest.

Lazarenko denied all charges. The 9-year sentence is half of the maximum sought by prosecutors but five years more than his lawyers asked for.

Defense attorneys said that the prosecution was politically motivated and that they would appeal the sentence.

Source: RIA Novosti


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