Arsen Avakov, former Kharkiv regional governor and the head of the Kharkiv regional branch of the Batkivschyna Party, has said he plans soon to return to Ukraine to work in parliament.
“I hope that the formalities will be completed in the next few days, and I will try soon to return to Ukraine,” he said in an exclusive interview with Interfax-Ukraine on Monday.
He said that according to the provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine, an elected MP is exempted from any criminal prosecution, including for political reasons.
Avakov recalled that he was currently a newly elected MP who was registered by the Central Election Commission on November 23.
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.
Information on Avakov’s detention in Frosinone, Italy, was 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.