Thursday, February 06, 2014

Azarov's Austrian visa mystery

Two days ago German Green MEP Rebecca Harms  supposedly alleged acting PM Serhiy Arbuzov, Head of Yanukovych's presidential administration Klyuyev, and recently-sacked PM Azarov, all possess Austrian passports. The Austrians quickly discounted these claims, and Harms later admitted her declaration was mistranslated and that she had been misunderstood.

Oleh Voloshyn, a former highly placed ministry of foreign affair official explained on tonight that Azarov left for Austria immediately after losing his job. As PM he would have had the benefit of a diplomatic passport so no visa would have been required in order for him to travel abroad in Europe - but this diplomatic passport would have had to be surrendered together with the keys to the PM's office and desk.

However, Azarov presumably would also have been in possession of a normal Ukrainian passport too. In order to use it to enter Austria a visa would have had to have stamped in it ...unlikely in the very brief timespan between his unexpected sacking and his entry into Austria just a few hours later.

The true situation is rather more murky. Austria's track record, and that of other smaller EU countries on issuing passports to very wealthy, highly dubious foreign politicians is not that good.

"Although selling passports is frowned on within the EU, it is not technically illegal and Malta was recently in the spotlight for selling passports for 539,000 GBP (600,000 EUR).

In Austria people who invest in property or business are also eligible to receive passports. The investments are typically made at the regional level and then the local government fast tracks the application.

There is also the chance for anyone who comes into Austria with a significant amount of money of getting a residence permit, which can then later be changed to citizenship under the 'Privatierslösung'.

The applicants do not need to have any skills, but they need to have a provable income of more than €3,500 a month. That means that this money needs to be paid into a local bank or through the purchase of property.

And with Austria refusing to extradite its citizens to Russia and it's satellite states like the Ukraine and Kazakhstan, it explains why there has been a flood of applications from the region to gain Austrian citizenship."[Source]

It could be that the three 'heroes' mentioned by Harms possess Austrian residence permits....If these permits are available they most certainly would have been applied for. But  as their businesses in that country come under close scrutiny the threesome may decide to give Austria a miss for a while...

1 comment:

elmer said...

Russian media outlets have become increasingly strident in their demands that the Maidan Square protests be brought to an end. Alexander Prokhanov, a Russian author loyal to the state, recently traveled around Ukraine only to say on talk shows after his return that Yanukovych is a "traitor" because he has done nothing to beat down the protests. He is afraid of spilling blood, Prokhanov scoffed, even as "the wave of the revolution" destroys Russian civilization.

Until Thursday of last week, one could ignore such sentiments as the rambling of an ultra-nationalist Russian. But on that day, the Kiev newspaper Kommersant printed an interview with Sergey Glazyev, Putin's official advisor on Ukrainian issues, in which he made the same claim.

Instead of defending the state, Kiev is negotiating with revolutionaries as though they were law-abiding citizens, Glazyev raged. He accused the protesters of being controlled from abroad and said they received $20 million each week from the United States. He added that the Americans were training rebels on the grounds of their embassy in Kiev and were promoting a violent overthrow of the Ukrainian leadership. "In a situation where a power is confronted with a coup attempt, it has no other option" than to use force," Glazyev said.

One can imagine what Putin might have told Yanukovych in Sochi if a man like Glazyev is calling for blood.

In Russia, it is simply the case that few can imagine that tens of thousands of people would stay on the streets and endure bitterly cold temperatures just to demand fundamental democratic rights and a fair distribution of power. Furthermore, the Kremlin is concerned that what is happening in Ukraine could spread to Russia and reanimate the country's opposition. That too explains why Putin sees the Ukrainian president as a failure.