Lazarenko intends to return to Ukraine, says defense lawyer
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, who was released from U.S. prison on Thursday, has said he wants to return to Ukraine, according to Lazarenko's defense lawyers Maryna Dolhopola.
"Yes, he expressed a desire to return to Ukraine," she told journalists on Thursday quoting a telephone conversation with her client.
Dolhopola hasn't said when Lazarenko was going to return to Ukraine.
As reported, Lazarenko, who spent more than ten years in prison for financial fraud, was released from U.S. Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Terminal Island in California on November 1.
Earlier reports said Lazarenko planned to go to his U.S. estate from prison, where he is to meet with his wife and children.
Meanwhile, the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine (PGO) stated that as soon as Lazarenko returns to Ukraine he would be arrested. The ex-premier's lawyer said that Ukrainian investigators allege his involvement in around 50 cases, particularly bribery, appropriation of funds, and abuse of power.
Lazarenko was convicted in the United States of embezzling illegally obtained funds and transferring them to foreign accounts in 1994-1999. A Californian court sentenced Lazarenko to nine years in prison in August 2006. He remained in his apartment in San Francisco under house arrest pending the consideration of the appeal against his conviction. In June 2011, Lazarenko's custody was shortened by seven months, to January 11, 2012.
It was reported in August 2011, citing Chris Burke, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, that Lazarenko is to be released from prison in the United States on November 1, 2012, rather than on January 11, 2012, as was planned earlier. On August 4, 2011, Lazarenko was transferred from the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Dublin (California) to FCI Terminal Island, a low-security prison for men (also in California).
The Ukrainska Pravda news Web site has reported, citing a Terminal Island employee that Lazarenko lived in an ordinary barracks, which houses up to 150 prisoners, and was not engaged in any labor activities.
According to Ukrainska Pravda, apart from serving his prison term, Lazarenko was held under house arrest for more than five years.