|5th Prime Minister of Ukraine|
28 May 1996 – 2 July 1997
|Preceded by||Yevhen Marchuk|
|Succeeded by||Valeriy Pustovoitenko|
September 1995 – May 1996
|Prime Minister||Yevhen Marchuk|
|Preceded by||Viktor Pynzenyk|
|Succeeded by||Vasyl Durdynets|
|Governor of Dnipropetrovsk Region|
March 1992 – June 1994
23 January 1953 |
Karpivka, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukrainian SSR
|Political party||Hromada (formerly)|
Pavlo Ivanovych Lazarenko (Ukrainian: Павло Іванович Лазаренко, born on 23 January 1953) is a former Ukrainian politician and former Prime Minister who, in August 2006, was convicted and sentenced to prison in the United States for money laundering, wire fraud and extortion. According to the official count by United Nations, approximately $200,000,000 was looted by Lazarenko during 1996–1997 from the government of Ukraine.
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Under President Leonid Kravchuk, Lazarenko served as the presidential representative in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast from 1992 till 1995. Although Lazarenko sided with incumbent Kravchuk in the 1994 elections, he managed to establish close ties with the election winner, Leonid Kuchma. President Kuchma initially reappointed Lazarenko as the head of the state administration (governor) of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast and, later, promoted him to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
Lazarenko was appointed Prime Minister of Ukraine by President Kuchma on 28 May 1996. The appointment was never considered by the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) because at that time the right to unilaterally appoint the Prime Minister was vested with the President under a provisional constitutional agreement.
While in charge of the Cabinet, Lazarenko reportedly exercised control over many lucrative business projects and charged 50 percent of profits for his patronage. At that time, he maintained a close business relationship with Yulia Tymoshenko, then the CEO of Yedyni Energosystemy Ukrayiny (United Energy Systems of Ukraine), a monopoly that imported Russian natural gas.
Lazarenko was involved in a prolonged and bitter struggle for economic domination with the emerging "Donetsk clan" (an industrial group based in Donetsk). Some Ukrainian media indirectly accused Shcherban, the leader of the Liberal Party of Ukraine, of the 1996 assassination attempt on Lazarenko. Conversely, others speculated that Shcherban's murder was a tit-for-tat order by the Prime Minister.
He may have also plotted against Oleksandr Volkov, a close associate of President Kuchma. Reportedly, Volkov became aware of the planned assassination and made a phone call to Lazarenko threatening appropriate revenge.
By mid-1997, Lazarenko had fallen out of favor with Kuchma, who suspected him of making plans to run for presidency in 1999. Kuchma later regretted Lazarenko's appointment as "my gravest mistake".
Lazarenko, who had no previous record of serious illness, was unexpectedly hospitalized in late June 1997. It is speculated that he spent the two weeks of the leave for his supposed sickness in vain attempts to mend fences with Kuchma. Technically, under the Ukrainian labor code law, a hospitalized individual may not be terminated from his position. However, when his dismissal became imminent, Lazarenko resigned on 2 July 1997, on his own initiative. Thus far, he remains the only Ukrainian Prime Minister who voluntarily resigned on his own.
Imprisonments and trials
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Lazarenko was elected to the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) in March 1998, where he headed the parliamentary faction of his political party "Hromada". "Hromada" frequently sided with the parliamentary faction of Oleksandr Moroz.
In December 1998, Lazarenko was detained on money-laundering charges as he crossed by car from France into Switzerland. In a few weeks, he was released on bail in the amount of three million dollars.
Meanwhile, details of his arrest in Switzerland led to a political scandal in Ukraine. Apparently, Lazarenko attempted to cross the Swiss border with a valid Panamanian passport.
The public uproar was, in part, instigated by Kuchma's administration who pressed for Lazarenko's arrest. The parliament finally acquiesced to waive Lazarenko's parliamentary immunity on 17 February 1999. However, Lazarenko fled the country on the eve of the parliamentary vote.
He initially stopped in Greece, but was later detained in the New York JFK airport on 20 February 1999 on suspicion of illegally entering the United States. Reportedly, Lazarenko had a stack of documents with him, including a Ukrainian diplomatic passport with an outdated U.S. visa, and requested political asylum.
Subsequently, Lazarenko was transferred to a jail in San Francisco, since his family owned a ranch in California. In 2000, the Ukrainian authorities requested his extradition after charging him over the 1996 killing of Yevhen Shcherban and two attempts on the lives of high-ranking officials. The office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine also claimed that Lazarenko instigated the assassination of Vadym Hetman in late April 1998.
In the United States, Lazarenko was put on trial for money-laundering, corruption, and fraud. Attorney Daniel Horowitz represented Lazarenko on charges arising out of his operation of the Ukrainian gas business, Doron Weinberg represented him regarding charges of extortion of a business partner. The judge dismissed more than half the charges but allowed the remaining charges to be presented to the jury for decision. In late May 2004, a federal jury in San Francisco found him guilty of using his position to get rich through a series of business schemes. In October 2005, Lazarenko stated his intention to return to Ukraine in order to run in the March 2006 parliamentary elections.
From June 2004 until August 2006, Lazarenko remained under house arrest at an undisclosed location on $86 million bail after being convicted by a 12 member jury.
On 25 August 2006, Lazarenko was sentenced to 9 years in federal prison.
On 18 October 2006, an appeal stemming from Lazarenko's conviction (but not the appeal of the conviction) was heard by a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which included former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sandra Day O'Connor sitting by designation.
Lazarenko is incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California. On 19 November 2009 U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer cut Lazarenko's sentence from 108 to 97 months in prison. The court took into account the fact that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had dismissed his conviction on approximately half the counts of conviction leaving convictions only for acts committed 17 years ago. In November 2009 Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko stated that if Lazarenko returns to Ukraine he will be detained as he is on the international wanted list.
In a special investigative report conducted by Kelly Carr and Brian Grow, two Reuter's journalists, it is stated that Lazarenko "was once ranked the eighth-most corrupt official in the world by watchdog group Transparency International" and that "Court records submitted in Lazarenko's criminal case and documents from a separate civil lawsuit, as well as interviews with lawyers familiar with the matter, indicate Lazarenko controls a shelf company incorporated in Cheyenne that owns an estimated $72 million in real estate in Ukraine through other companies". That shelf company, a special type of shell company, is named Capital Investments Group.
The Prosecutor General of Ukraine suspects the involvement of Lazarenko (with Yulia Tymoshenko) in the murder of Donetsk businessman Yevhen Shcherban en Olexandr Momot in 1996 and the assassination of banker Vadym Hetman in 1998; Lazarenko has denied involvement in all these cases.
He was imprisoned at FCI Terminal Island till November 2012. It is not clear if he will be extradited to Ukraine after his release. He owns the luxurious mansion in Marin county. This mansion was bought with the money looted by Lazarenko from the Ukrainian budget.
In the 2004 Global Transparency Report, Lazarenko made it into the list of the World's Most Corrupt Leaders. He was listed eighth and was said to have amassed between $114 million to $200 million.
Pavlo Lazarenko activity was investigated by many Ukrainian journalists. Among them the most notable success was achieved by the following ones:
- Vadym Klymentyev, deputy editor of the Dnipropetrovsk newspaper "Our City" ("Nashe Misto"), editor in chief of Dnipropetrovsk municipal newspaper "Zoria".
- Mykola Kravchuk, editor in chief of Dnipropetrovsk newspaper "Our City" ("Nashe Misto"). In 2000 Nikolay Kravchuk being an editor of edition, opposition to Lazarenko, was splashed in the face with acid by unknown person. Then journalists accused Pavel Lazarenko of the attack.
- Borys Filatov, journalist, lawyer, author and host of the television program "The provincial chronicles", which went on air of Dnipropetrovsk 9-th channel; in 2010 the TV show called "The provincial forecasts" went on the air of Dnipropetrovsk regional state TV and radio company (51 channel).
- Borys Braginsky, a political journalist, first deputy chairman of the Dnipropetrovsk regional organization of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.
- Serhiy Leshchenko, a political journalist, deputy editor of the online publication "Ukrainian Truth" ("Ukrainian Pravda").
- Serhiy Rakhmanin, editor of the Ukrainian policy department of the newspaper "The Mirror of the Week", a member of the All-Ukrainian commission on journalistic ethics, author and host of "No slogans" program (joint project of "Public Radio" and radio "Continent").
In 2008, according to the results of collective investigative journalism, the book "The Phenomenon of Lazarenko. Villain or Genius?" edited by Vadym Klymentyev was published. It was dedicated to the analysis of the politicians’ life course
- Kravets, David. "Former Ukraine leader ordered to prison." Associated Press, 25 August 2006, (Accessed: 25 August 2006)
- Practically, appointed governor. Under the 1996 Constitution the position was renamed the "head of the state administration".
- Hometown might not vote for Tymoshenko, Kyiv Post (11 December 2009)
- Kolomayets, Marta. "Lazarenko escapes assassination attempt." Ukrainian Weekly, 21 July 1996, (Accessed: 25 August 2006)
- Annual Survey of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union 1997: The Challenge of Integration by Peter Rutland, M.E. Sharpe, 1998, ISBN 0765603594/ISBN 978-0765603593 (page 174)
- "Ukraine Tycoon Shot Dead." The New York Times, 5 November 1996 (Accessed:26 August 2006)
- "Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Lazarenko appeared to be a killer". Pravda (in Russian). 2 March 2004. Retrieved 25 April 2007.
- " Former Ukraine PM is jailed in US." BBC News, 25 August 2006 (Accessed: 26 August 2006)
- United States v. Lazarenko, 476 F.3d 644, 644–5 (9th Cir. 2007), appeal dismissed, petitions for rehearing and rehearing en banc denied.
- Former Ukraine prime minister's conviction upheld, by Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times, 11 April 2009. – Retrieved on 18 June 2009.
- Lazarenko to be detained if he returns to Ukraine, says interior minister, Interfax-Ukraine (12 November 2009)
- Special Report – A little house of secrets on the Great Plains
- (Ukrainian) Генпрокуратура перевіряє Тимошенко на причетність до ще одного вбивства, BBC Ukrainian (7 April 2012)
- http://www.marinij.com/novato/ci_20808683/picasso-piece-worth-30-000-missing-from-lazarenko Picasso piece worth $30,000 missing from Lazarenko mansion after Novato teen party.
- "World's Ten Most Corrupt Leaders1". Infoplease.com Source: Transparency International Global Corruption Report 2004. Retrieved 2009-08-06.
- "Global Corruption Report". Transparency International. Retrieved 2009-08-06.
- Personal accounts of Lazarenko. Magazine "Business Capital, (Accessed:13 November 2006)
- phenomenon of Lazarenko: Villain or Genius? Collective investigative journalism, edited by Vadim Klymentyev Do you know what kind of a guy he was?, The newspaper "Faces" ([http://www.litsa.com.ua/ "Litsa"]), (Accessed:08 January 2008)
- Boris Filatov: Even if Lazarenko is released, he will not return in Ukraine, [http://www.unian.net/ UNIAN], (Accessed:16 November 2009)
|Prime Minister of Ukraine