Volodymyr Shcherban, 55, a former governor of Sumy Oblast, was deported from the United States to Ukraine on 4th November. Ukrainian prosecutors had issued an international arrest warrant for Shcherban in 2005, charging him with vote fraud during the 2004 Presidential election, extortion, and abuse of office. Scherban was detained in Florida in October 2005 on charges of being in the United States illegally. He was not taken into custody after returning to Kyiv, but released because several influential deputies from the ruling coalition signed a pledge that he would voluntarily appear for interrogation whenever prosecutors summon him.
In 2004 Shcherban gave Sumy students a particularly hard time . Their desperate but dignified appeals, some in rudimentary English, posted on the internet were really quite moving.
More on Shcherban's background here.
I've translated portions of an hubristic interview [one of several] he gave in today's 'Obozrevatel', entitled: 'Akhmetov put up bail for me.' He makes a few 'Freudian slips'.
In the interview he says that in order to leave the US, a bail of $2M had to paid, and admits Akhetov's System Capital Management [SCM] put up the cash. [Even though they had previously denied this.]
When asked if he requested Akhmetov to help him out, he replies, "You have to ask him," and claims that had SCM not put up the money, then Industrial Union of Donbas [IUD], owned by Serhiy Taruta, and Vitaly Hayduk who is now secretary of Yushchenko's National Security and Defense Council, would have put up the bail.
"I have known what persecution is since 1996 when Kuchma sacked me as the head of Donetsk OblAdministratsiya... one of the reasons for this was the fact that I was supposed to have organized an attempt on the life of premier Lazarenko to take place here, in Kyiv, on the Rybalskyi bridge. The same now. I know I have not broke either Ukrainian or American laws... well, perhaps just immigration [laws]...
Wasn't it foolish, to burn your fingers over an overdue visa?
"This was usual tourist visa."
Shcherban explains that in the USA he was represented by one of the largest companies of attorneys in that country.
In 2004, Presidential election falsifications in the Sumy oblast, where Shcherban was governor, were maybe even greater that in Donetsk, but Shcherban denies any falsifications took place and suggests that local commissions favourable to Yushchenko, who comes from that part of Ukraine, exaggerated the extent of election fraud.
"And your son [Artem - presently a PoR VR deputy] withdrew [from bank accounts] $50 million in just a few days, then transferred them through mediators so that you had something to eat in the USA?"
"Yes, last year, in April he did make withdrawals - from the "Rodovіd bank", as I recall. But this was before any criminal case was opened, and not in such quantities, certainly. Lutsenko exaggerates! Although I'm not poor person, I came into politics from business...
What are your relations with Timoshenko like?
"Normal. I have never quarrelled with her. Generally I am a man who dislikes conflicts, but I advise you - don't touch me - I'll eat you, together with your boots."
When asked about his businesses, he replies: "I participated also, in the creation IUD. We created employment, together with Taruta and Hayduk. The economy of region was put onto fresh tracks. They wanted finished products, and not raw material to be exported from the Donetsk region. Remember, I was governor - Hayduk and I examined huge three metre long diagrams in my office. They were spread on the floor and we crawled around on our knees, deciding where the coal has to go, and where coke and metal also, so that the region would develop...Vitaly Anatolevych [Hayduk] worked with me in my provincial administration. I invited him to be my deputy... Andrey Klyuev was also my former deputy - I took him on as a 30- year old...