WASHINGTON, November 2 (RIA Novosti) - Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, whose prison term in the US expired yesterday, will remain behind bars until such time as his immigration status is settled, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.
Lazarenko is being held at ICE's detention facility in Adelanto, California, where he will remain until an immigration court decides on his status, an ICE spokesman told RIA Novosti.
Lazarenko’s nine-year sentence for extortion and money laundering expired on Thursday. But at the moment of his release from FCI Terminal Island in California, he was taken into custody by ICE, the spokesman said.
Such a transfer is standard procedure upon the release of a prison inmate who is a foreign citizen.
There are no new charges against Lazarenko, he said, adding that the ICE does not comment on extradition cases.
The US has rejected repeated extradition requests from Ukraine, citing the lack of an extradition treaty between the two countries.
In a recent interview with RIA Novosti, Lazarenko said his potential return to Ukraine would depend on the country’s leadership.
Lazarenko, who was prime minister of Ukraine from May 1996 to July 1997, faces a number of charges in Ukraine, including ordering contract killings against government officials.
The US government is involved in a long-running dispute over the ownership of some $260 million in assets originating from extortion and money laundering by Lazarenko, who was sentenced in August 2006 by a San Francisco federal district court to nine years in prison.
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News that Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin would resign in order to run for the mayoral election in September came as quite a shock. Sobyanin’s political potential is fairly dubious, not to mention his approval ratings. He has not finished many of the projects he initiated and the electoral effect from these projects is expected to come a bit later than September 2013. Sobyanin’s opponents were not entirely unprepared for this blitzkrieg.