Interpol notice for Ukraine's Yanukovich

Police agency says deposed president now living in Russia wanted for funds misappropriation and embezzlement.

    Yanukovich's family has been accused of accumulating vast fortunes during his time in office  [AFP]
    Yanukovich's family has been accused of accumulating vast fortunes during his time in office [AFP]

    The international police cooperation agency Interpol has issued a global wanted "red notice" for deposed Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovich.

    The red notice for Yanukovich, 64, was issued on Monday, with Interpol saying he is wanted for misappropriation of funds and embezzlement in Ukraine, which he fled in February after a pro-Western revolution toppled his regime.

    Yanukovich has has been living in Russia since his overthrow. He and members of his family are accused of accumulating vast fortunes during his time in office.

    One of Yanukovich's sons, Oleksandr, managed to build a fortune from coal estimated at $500m despite being a dentist by profession.

    There was no immediate reaction from Yanukovich or his family about these charges.

    Ukraine is ranked 144th out of 177 countries on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index.

    Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan, reporting from Ukraine's capital Kiev, said up until December Interpol had refused to put Yanukovich on a red notice.

    "So to have it [red notice] granted just a month later would seem to suggest that the Ukrainian prosecutors have ... persuaded Interpol that this is not a politically motivated case, something Interpol would not touch as a result of its constitution," he said.

    He said there were slim chances Russia would extradite Yanukovich given Ukraine's refusal to extradite Dmitry Yarosha, the leader of the protest movement that toppled Yanukovich.

    Yarosha, who is Ukrainian, is wanted by Russia for "organising an armed gang" that allegedly fought against Russian 76th Guards Air Assault Division in the Chechen war.

    Dipping forex reserves

    The news of the red notice came amid reports that Ukraine's foreign-currency reserves were down to just over $7.5bn last year, the lowest level for 10 years and barely enough to cover five weeks of imports, pressured by external debt repayments including to the IMF and to Russia for gas. 

    The figures from the central bank starkly illustrated the ex-Soviet country's parlous financial state after a difficult year in which street protests led to Yanukovich's downfall.

    The central bank said reserves were at $7.533bn as of January 1 showing a fall of 63 percent over last year, the steepest yearly fall in Ukraine's post-Soviet history. 

    In December alone, reserves fell 24 percent from $9.966bn, already a 10-year low, the bank said. 

    The figures emerged as a team from the International Monetary Fund, which has thrown Ukraine a $17bn financial lifeline, continued its work in Ukraine to assess long-term prospects for the economy and review the planned reforms by the pro-Western leadership.

    The government of Arseny Yatseniuk expects the visit to facilitate three tranches of new and overdue credit, possibly totalling more than $4bn, with the bailout programme possibly being expanded beyond $17bn.


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