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Avakov doubts Rada will strip him of MP's immunity from prosecution

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Dec. 17, 2012, 1:17 p.m. | Politics — by Interfax-Ukraine

Arsen Avakov (center) with other opposition politicians in the Boryspil International Airport upon arrival from Italy on Dec. 11. He was elected to parliament on Batkivshchyna's party list in an Oct. 28 election.
© Sergiy Leshchenko

KHARKIV – MP Arsen Avakov of the Batkivschyna Party has said he doubts that the Verkhovna Rada will vote to strip him of his immunity from prosecution, if requested by the General Prosecutor's Office.

"At present, I believe it is very unlikely that the General Prosecutor's Office will bring such a legal argument to the Verkhovna Rada. I think it is even less likely that the parliament will vote to strip me of immunity," Avakov said at a press conference in Kharkiv on Saturday.

At the same time, he said the Prosecutor General's Office had the right to make a relevant request.

"The prosecutor's office has the right to try [to strip me of my immunity], and I have the right to offer my arguments," Avakov said.

He also expressed confidence that his lawyers would be able to close the criminal cases against him due to the lack of evidence.

It was reported earlier that Avakov had been charged on January 31, 2012 with "abuse of office leading to serious consequences" through unlawfully expropriating 55 hectares of land near the village of Pisochyn in Kharkiv region and changing its status. He was also declared internationally wanted, and the Chervonozavodsky District Court in Kharkiv granted an investigator's request on sanctioning his arrest.

Reports of Avakov's detention in Frosinone, Italy, were confirmed on March 27. After that, the leadership of Batkivschyna sent letters to the Interpol secretary-general and the Italian government, asking them to take into consideration "the obvious political motives" behind Avakov's criminal prosecution, and to release him. A Rome court ruled to release Avakov from custody on April 12.

Avakov led Kharkiv Regional State Administration from February 2005 until February 2010.

He ran for mayor of Kharkiv in the autumn of 2010. He took second place, losing to the winner of the mayoral election, Hennadiy Kernes, by a margin of 0.63%.

In Ukraine's parliamentary elections on October 28, Avakov was elected an MP on the list of the Batkivschyna Party (No. 24 on the list). He said that he would return to Ukraine immediately after the decision on his election as an MP by the CEC is published. On November 23, the CEC registered Avakov as an MP.

On December 10, a ruling of Chervonozavodsky Court of Kharkiv on the cancellation of the restriction measure in the form of detention and a warranty for Avakov'a arrest took legal effect, as Avakov was elected as a people's deputy.

Avakov returned to Ukraine on December 11.

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