Tefft: US cannot compel Lazarenko to testify

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May 12, 2012, 11:30 p.m. | Ukraine | Politics — by Interfax-Ukraine

US Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft


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The United States cannot oblige former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, who was convicted and is serving a sentence in the United States, to provide testimony to representatives of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft has said. "With regard to Mr. Lazarenko, we have no means to make him agree to give testimony to a representative of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office. As far as I know, he [Lazarenko] refused such a meeting. According to our law, we have no tools to change his position," Tefft said in an interview with the Ukrainska Pravda online newspaper, which was published on Friday, when asked why the U.S. side has not allowed Ukrainian First Deputy Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin to question Lazarenko in the United States.

As reported, Kuzmin said in an interview with the EurActive Internet-based media outlet during his visit to Brussels that the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office could charge Tymoshenko with complicity in the murder of Scherban in two weeks.

There is "sufficient evidence" proving the involvement of Tymoshenko and former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko in organizing and financing the murder of Yevhen Shcherban, a Verkhovna Rada deputy and businessman, Kuzmin said.

"We have testimony from several people, which points to Tymoshenko and Lazarenko as those who ordered and paid for the murder," he said.

Shcherban, a Verkhovna Rada deputy and a member of Liberal Party Executive Committee, was shot dead at the airport of Donetsk upon his arrival from Moscow on November 3, 1996. The assailants fled the scene in a car. Shcherban, his wife and a mechanic died from gunshot wounds on the spot, and a flight engineer was wounded in the neck and died in hospital. Police ruled out political motives behind the murder.

In April 2003, the Appeals Court of the Luhansk region sentenced Shcherban's murderer Vadym Bolotskykh to life in prison.

The slain businessman's son, Ruslan Shcherban, told reporters on April 4, 2012, that he had handed over evidence of ex-premiers Lazarenko and Tymoshenko's involvement in his father's murder to the Prosecutor General's Office.

Tymoshenko and Lazarenko deny involvement.
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