Pavlo Lazarenko

Pavlo Lazarenko

Infobox Prime Minister
name = Pavlo Lazarenko
Павло Лазарéнко
pre-name =
post-name =

order = 7th Prime Minister of Ukraine
term_start = May 28, 1996
term_end = July 2, 1997
predecessor = Yevhen Marchuk
successor = Vasyl Durdynets
birth_date = birth date and age|1953|1|23
birth_place = Hnidyn, Kiev Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
party = Hromada ("formerly")
spouse =
religion =

Pavlo Ivanovych Lazarenko ( _uk. Павло Івáнович Лазарéнко, born on January 23, 1953) was a Ukrainian politician and former Prime Minister who, in August 2006, was convicted and sentenced to prison in the United States for money laundering, wire fraud and extortion. According to the official count by United Nations, approximately $200,000,000 has been looted by Lazarenko during 1996-1997 from the government of Ukraine. [Kravets, David. "Former Ukraine leader ordered to prison." "Associated Press", 25 August 2006, [ (Accessed: 08/25/2006)] ]

Early career

Under President Leonid Kravchuk, Lazarenko served as the presidential representative in Dnipropetrovsk region. Although Lazarenko sided with incumbent Kravchuk in the 1994 elections, he managed to establish close ties with the election winner, Leonid Kuchma. President Kuchma initially reappointed Lazarenko as the head of the state administration of Dnipropetrovsk region and, later, promoted him to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.

Prime Minister

Lazarenko was appointed Prime Minister of Ukraine by President Kuchma on May 28, 1996. The appointment was never considered by the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) because at that time the right to unilaterally appoint the Prime Minister was vested with the President under a provisional constitutional agreement.

Early in his career as PM, Lazarenko survived an attempt on his life when a bomb exploded near his blocked car en route from Kyiv to Boryspil airport. [Kolomayets, Marta. "Lazarenko escapes assassination attempt." "Ukrainian Weekly", 21 July 1996, [ (Accessed: 08/25/2006)] ]

While in charge of the Cabinet, Lazarenko reportedly exercised control over many lucrative business projects and charged 50 percent of profits for his patronage. At that time, he maintained a close business relationship with Yulia Tymoshenko, then the CEO of "Yedyni Energosystemy Ukrayiny" (United Energy Systems of Ukraine), a monopoly that imported Russian natural gas.Fact|date=February 2007

Lazarenko was involved in a prolonged and bitter struggle for economic domination with the emerging "Donetsk clan" (an industrial group based in Donetsk). At the time, some Ukrainian media indirectly accused Shcherban, the leader of the Liberal Party of Ukraine, of the 1996 assassination attempt on Lazarenko. ["Ukraine Tycoon Shot Dead." "The New York Times", 5 November 1996 [ (Accessed:08/26/2006)] ] Conversely, others speculated that Shcherban's murder was a tit-for-tat order by the Prime Minister.Fact|date=February 2007

He may have also plotted against Oleksandr Volkov, a close associate of President Kuchma. Reportedly, Volkov became aware of the planned assassination and made a phone call to Lazarenko threatening adequate revenge.cite web |url= |title=Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Lazarenko appeared to be a killer |accessdate=2007-04-25 |date= |year=2004 |month=March 2 |work=Pravda |language=Russian ]

By mid-1997, Lazarenko had fallen out of favor with Kuchma, who suspected him of making plans to run for presidency in 1999. Kuchma later regretted Lazarenko's appointment as "my gravest mistake".

Lazarenko, who had no previous record of serious illness, was unexpectedly hospitalized in late June 1997. He most likely spent the two weeks of the leave for his supposed sickness in vain attempts to mend fences with Kuchma. Technically, under the Ukrainian labor code law, a hospitalized individual may not be fired. However, when his dismissal became imminent, Lazarenko resigned on July 2, 1997, on his own initiative. Thus far, he remains the only Ukrainian Prime Minister who formally resigned at his will.Fact|date=February 2007

Imprisonments and trials

Lazarenko was elected to the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) in March 1998, where he headed the parliamentary faction of his political party "Hromada". "Hromada" frequently sided with the parliamentary faction of Oleksandr Moroz.

In December, 1998, Lazarenko was detained on money-laundering charges as he crossed by car from France into Switzerland. In a few weeks, he was released on bail in the amount of three million dollars.

Meanwhile, details of his arrest in Switzerland led to a political scandal in Ukraine. Apparently, Lazarenko attempted to cross the Swiss border with a valid Panama passport even though the Ukrainian law prohibits double citizenship.

The public uproar was, in part, instigated by Kuchma's administration who pressed for Lazarenko's arrest. The parliament finally acquiesced to waive Lazarenko's parliamentary immunity on February 17, 1999. However, Lazarenko fled the country on the eve of the parliamentary vote.

He initially stopped in Greece, but was later detained in the New York JFK airport on February 20 1999 on suspicion of illegally entering the United States. Reportedly, Lazarenko had a stack of documents with him, including a Ukrainian diplomatic passport with an outdated U.S. visa, and requested political asylum.

Subsequently, Lazarenko was transferred to a jail in San Francisco, since his family owned a ranch in California. In 2000, the Ukrainian authorities requested his extradition after charging him over the 1996 killing of Yevhen Shcherban and two attempts on the lives of high-ranking officials. The office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine also claimed that Lazarenko instigated the assassination of Vadym Hetman in late April 1998.Fact|date=February 2007

In the United States, Lazarenko was put on trial for money-laundering, corruption, and fraud. The judge dismissed more than half the charges but allowed the remaining charges to be presented to the jury for decision. In late May, 2004, a federal jury in San Francisco found him guilty of using his position to get rich through a series of business schemes. In October 2005, Lazarenko stated his intention to return to Ukraine in order to run in the March 2006 parliamentary elections. He was elected to a parliamentary office in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine.

From June 2004 until August, 2006, Lazarenko remained under house arrest at an undisclosed location on $86 million bail after being convicted by a 12 member jury.

In 2004 Transparency International named Lazarenko the eighth most corrupt political leader in recent history. []

On August 25, 2006, Lazarenko was sentenced to 9 years in federal prison. [" Former Ukraine PM is jailed in US." "BBC News", 25 August 2006 [ (Accessed: 08/26/2006)] ]

On October 18, 2006, an appeal on stemming from Lazarenko's conviction (but not the appeal of the conviction) was heard by a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which included former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sandra Day O'Connor sitting by designation [" [ United States v. Lazarenko] ", 476 F.3d 644, 644-5 (9th Cir. 2007), appeal dismissed, petitions for rehearing and rehearing en banc denied.] .

The Ninth Circuit presently has taken the appeal of the criminal conviction under submission. An opinion as to whether the conviction was valid or invalid is expected within the next four months.

Lazarenko is currently living in the Richmond District in San Francisco.


NAME= Lazarenko, Pavlo Ivanovych
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Ukrainian politician, former Prime Minister of Ukraine, criminal
DATE OF BIRTH= January 23, 1953
PLACE OF BIRTH= Hnidyn, Kiev Oblast

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