Fugitive lawmaker Oleksandr Onyshchenko, wanted for embezzling 1.6 billion hryvnia ($59 million) from a Ukrainian state-owned energy company, has been detained in Germany, according to a statement from the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. German authorities are currently debating on when to set a court hearing for Onyshchenko’s extradition, a measure Ukraine has been pursuing since Onyshchenko fled Ukraine to avoid arrest in 2016.
According to previous information, Onyshchenko had been living primarily in Spain, though sightings have been reported in other EU countries. His arrest in Germany comes at the request of Ukrainian authorities, including the National Anti-Corruption Bureau. It is unknown how the current extradition request will impact Onyshchenko’s status in Spain, where he alleges to have applied for asylum status.
Onyshchenko claims that the charges against him are politically motivated. However, despite fleeing to Europe, there continues to be evidence of his involvement in Ukrainian politics – including donations made by Onyshchenko’s close allies to former prime minister Yuliya Tymoshenko’s opposition party Batkivshchyna.
The fugitive lawmaker also released audio recording of what he claims to be are conversations between himself and former president Petro Poroshenko, as they discuss a request by ex-ecology minister Mykola Zlochevsky – whose gas company, Burisma, is at the center of the U.S. impeachment scandal – to close criminal cases against himself and his company. At the time of those releases, a spokesperson for Poroshenko’s administration claimed that the recordings are fakes.
Thanks to the support from our readers, Hromadske International has been existing for five years. We cover hot-button political topics, high-profile corruption, and human rights issues. We report from the Donbas and annexed Crimea. If you would like to support Hromadske International, you can donate on this page.
Unlike many other media in Ukraine, we are not owned by oligarchs or politicians. Please help support independent journalism in Ukraine.