Monday, August 21, 2006

Interwoven crime and politics in Ukraine

The handcuffed body of a senior officer from the main directorate of the Adminstration for fighting organized crime [UBOZ] Roman Yerokhin, was found buried today near Kyiv. He had been shot 7 times in what cleary was a 'contract hit'. He had disappeared on 27th July.

Previously, on 11th August Minister of the Interior Yuriy Lutsenko announced in a press conference that Yerokhin had been kidnapped. He had been investigating a large conversion and money laundering operation linked to a 'Donetsk financial establishment'.

Yerokhin had been a former deputy head of the Donetsk UBOZ, but was transferred to the main directorate in Kyiv in February 2006, after he had received threats connected with his investigative work in the Donbas region. Yuriy Lutsenko astonishingly claimed that parliamentary deputies 'from both sides' may be involved in the crime.

During the Orange Revolution, Yekokhin frequently visited Kyiv together with many of his men, to execute special operations for the 'blue team'. Yerokhin was responsible for paying out cash to the blue 'revolutionaries' eg miners, who were being transported to Kyiv.

Lutsenko added that they suspect who the 'zakazchyk' that may have ordered the 'hit' is. He is a representative of the Donetsk financial establishment, who could well have relationships with the Ukrainian parliament. "If we can determine who ordered the 'hit' then this may have seismic consequences, and may be a very serious blow to the methods of forming party lists, to which politicians, both opposition and in power, stoop."

Three suspects were arrested on August 8 and are in custody.

Adding to the mystery is a statement made today by Progressive Socialist Nataliya Vitrenko, leader of the extremist People's Opposition Bloc. Yerokhin [oddly?] had been a Makiyivka [Donbas] city council deputy from her party. She accuses Lutsenko of being responsible for Yekokhin's death, because he publicly revealed that Yerokhin had dissappeared, forcing his kidnappers to murder him.

The track record of solution of previous similar cases indicates that the chances of this crime being solved are almost nil.

The Prosecutor-General Oleksandr Medved'ko is making his own investigations into the matter, but his track record over many years in the Donbas region's prosecutor's offices may be described as being distinctly 'patchy'.

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