11:39 01.02.2013

Ex-premier Lazarenko loses case on entitlement to apartment in Ukraine at ECHR, says judge

3 min read

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko has lost a lawsuit against Ukraine on his rights of ownership at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Ukrainian judge of the ECHR, Hanna Yudkivska, has said.

In an interview with the Kommersant Ukraine newspaper, the judge noted that the ECHR issued a relevant ruling in December 2012.

"He filed the appeal in 2002 and the case was considered for ten years," she said.

Yudkivska explained that the Lazarenko case at the ECHR referred to the ownership rights category, which is considered by the court last thing.

"Lazarenko and his family members complained about the fact that when they left Ukraine in 1999 they were deprived of an apartment they had received from the government as a prime minister's family. They claimed that the apartment was taken from them illegally, as they had reasons for not living in it for more than six months and, at the same time, preserving the right to use it, while the national courts ruled the opposite. In addition, the plaintiffs claimed that they lost access to the property in the apartment," Yudkivska said.

"As a result, in 2012 the ECHR came to a conclusion that the plaintiffs have not used all opportunities to protect their rights at the national level with regard to access to the property. Speaking about their right to live in the state-owned apartment, Ukrainian courts reasonably ruled to move them from the apartment. Thus, the plaintiff's claims were overruled," the judge said.

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.

Lazarenko, who spent more than ten years in prison, was released from U.S. Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Terminal Island in California on November 1, 2012.

On November 8, 2012, Lazarenko's defense lawyer said that the ex-premier applied to the Immigration Court in San Francisco, California, for a U.S. residency permit. According to her, Lazarenko is currently staying in a public institution that is used by the U.S. immigration service for people whose applications for a residency permit are being considered. The lawyer also said that the case would be considered by court in May.

The PGO said that should Lazarenko return to Ukraine he would be arrested. The ex-premier's lawyers say that Lazarenko has been accused of being involved in around 50 criminal cases, including bribe giving, the appropriation of funds, and the abuse of power.

Ukraine's Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka said at a briefing on January 18, 2013 that the Prosecutor General's Office had finished its investigation into the criminal case on the murder of MP Yevhen Scherban, who was shot dead in 1996, and that former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko had been notified of being suspected of having organized the crime, along with Lazarenko.