Article by: Anna Mostovych
Prosecutor General of Ukraine Vitaliy Yarema is mystified by the refusal of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) to place the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, and several other former officials on the international wanted list.
Yarema reports that during negotiations at the organization’s headquarters in Lyon, France, in which two of his deputies participated, the Interpol representatives expressed the view that political motives are driving the search for the deposed president.
“Seven people, starting with Viktor Yanukovych, have not been placed on the Interpol wanted list. They are not telling us anything,” Yarema told journalists, as quoted by Interfax, December 8.
“We gave them (Interpol representatives) examples and materials proving economic crimes. Even if they eliminate Yanukovych, then why not at least retain Zakharchenko, Pshonka ? What kind of political persecutions could there be against these people?” he added.
Yarema said that Yanukovych, as well as the former Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka and former Minister of the Interior Vitaliy Zakharchenko, are suspected of embezzling the funds they allegedly have taken out of Ukraine.
Earlier, the Chief Investigator of the Security Service of Ukraine, Vasyl Vovk, stated that he hoped that Interpol would soon issue a “red notice” (equivalent to an international arrest warrant — Ed.) for the former officials.
The Prosecutor General’s office placed Yanukovych on the international wanted list in February 2014, after he had fled to Russia as a result of the Euromaidan protests. Since that time he has been seen at several press conferences in Rostov-on-Don, where he insisted that he remained the “legitimate president of Ukraine.” In addition to embezzlement, Viktor Yanykovych is accused especially of the abuse of power and commitment of mass murder.
In March, Interpol said it had received a formal request from Kyiv for the so-called red notice to arrest Yanukovych and was studying it. Since that time the organization has not provided any additional information on the issue.
Ukrainian officials are baffled by Interpol’s decision, especially since the agency had promptly placed the Ukrainian nationalist leader Dmytro Yarosh, head of the Right Sector organization, on Interpol’s international wanted list in July, fulfilling the April request of Russian authorities. So far, Yarosh is the only person placed on the Interpol wanted list since the beginning of the Maidan revolution and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ironically, the Right Sector gained prominence during the Maidan protests for its role in providing security for the protestors.
As reported by Kyiv Post, the Interpol notice on Yarosh states that he faces two charges “by the judicial authorities of Russia” for “public incitement to terrorist activities involving the use of mass media” and “public incitement to extremist activities involving the use of mass media
According to Anton Herashchenko, advisor at Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, the ministry intends to investigate possible political motivations for Interpol’s refusal to pursue Yanukovych.
“Yanukovych is accused of responsibility for specific loss of life in the center of Kyiv. The former Minister of Internal Affairs Zakharchenko is accused (of ordering) police and security employees ( to shoot) people with service weapons. These crimes were seen around the world. I absolutely cannot see anything but a political motivation for Interpol’s decision,” Herashchenko said on the Shuster Live TV program on November 17, as reported by Ukrinform.