Kiev uses Interpol to go after dissident politician behind Ukraine Salvation Committee in Italy
In Ukraine, the former MP is accused of disorderly conduct and bodily harm during events that took place in Odessa in 2007.
Official record states that Markov is suspected of orchestrating an assault on a protest in Odessa against the installation of a monument to Catherine the Great, Russian Empress and founder of the city. Some reports claim that he struck one of the protesters cutting his lip open. The opening of the monument was initiated by Igor Markov and the protesters were ultra-nationalists from the west of Ukraine, as told to RT by Sergey Zavorotny, Markov’s colleague in Ukraine Salvation Committee, headed by Ukrainian ex-premier Nikolay Azarov.
“The leaders of neo-Nazi Svoboda party decided to impede on the ceremony with provocations. There was a battle between them and Markov’s party members from Rodina. He broke the lip of a Svoboda MP Kirilenko,” said Zavorotny.
The 8 year old criminal case has since been opened and closed twice by the Ukrainian court in 2010 and 2014 without any convictions. The date of the launch of the latest inquiry is uncertain but what’s clear is that it took Interpol almost no time to detain Markov in Italy using all of its surveillance and apprehension resources. The former MP was unaware he was under an international arrest warrant, as he’s been freely travelling abroad all this time, according to Sergey Zavorotny.
“He travelled to Turkey during the May holidays in Russia and had no problem, there was no evidence that he was on the wanted list, if there was, I’m sure the Turkish authorities would arrest him immediately,” Zavorotny added.
So, what were the circumstances of the newest pursuit that resulted in a swift arrest?
Igor Markov has been a controversial figure in Ukraine’s recent political history, that for simplicity’s sake can be divided into two periods – pre- and post-Maidan uprising, or as some might say, before and after the coup d’état in Kiev. He’s managed to get in and out of favor with both governments, that of ousted president Viktor Yanukovich and current of Petro Poroshenko.
The former member of the Ukrainian parliament has always been clear on his stance for Ukraine’s future that he’s always seen in strong economic partnership with Russia and other countries of the Customs Union. During the time of his arrest in October of 2013, Markov was appalled by President Yanukovich’s toying with the idea of signing a questionable association agreement with the European Union, which he saw as opposed to his vision of where Ukraine’s geopolitical interests should lie. The government, in turn, slapped him with a prospect of spending the next 7 years in prison for a crime that involved a cut lip.
Markov remained in custody until February of 2014, a 4 month period that saw major changes in Ukraine. Kiev’s Independence Square, or Maidan Nezalezhnosti, was swarming with people demanding change for the country and the general sense of euphoria made such change seem possible. At that moment, hardly anyone could picture scores of burned corpses in the Trade Unions building in Odessa or the start of the civil war in the east.
Igor Markov was released from jail around the same time as Yulia Timoshenko, former prime minister, who was convicted on corruption charges during Victor Yanukovich presidency. Both were deemed political prisoners of the former regime. Timoshenko even telephoned Markov to congratulate him on the release from prison, Sergey Zavorotniy told RT.
“She personally greeted his liberation and later sent a message saying that he’s one of the first victims of Yanukovich’s regime,” he said.
Their paths, however, haven’t crossed after that.
Ukraine’s new government returned the MP status to Igor Markov that same month but he turned out to be a thorn in their eyes. Despite the fact that he was against the policy of uncertainty of the ousted president, Markov remained true to his belief in Ukraine’s common economic future with the countries of the Customs Union headed by Russia.
It didn’t take long for the new rulers in Kiev to figure out that Markov was a threat that should be dealt with. The former parliamentarian became a frequent guest in Russia’s political talk shows and joined the ex-premier of Ukraine Nikolay Azarov as a member of the so called Ukraine Salvation Committee, based in Russia.
“Joining the Ukraine Salvation Committee is the reason behind his arrest. He became a threat to the so called government in Kiev. It’s unbelievable that a street fight that took place in 2007 has now mobilized a crime fighting machine like Interpol and Italian law authorities in particular,” Azarov told Rossiya 1 TV channel.
Igor Markov is now on Ukraine Interior Ministry’s wanted list for that very same crime that was allegedly committed in 2007. Official charge falls under Part 4, of Article 296 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (disorderly conduct and bodily injury) that carriers a 3 to 7 year prison sentence.
The Italian appeals court in Genoa will now be looking at the extradition documents provided by Ukrainian interior ministry and will later decide whether to hand over Igor Markov to the Ukrainian authorities according to Italian media in San Remo and Genoa.
“Extradition to Ukraine could mean death for Igor Markov and we are trying to get the public attention in Italy right now. It’s unfortunate that the Italian authorities and Interpol went ahead with this arrest and took part in a provocation without looking into the case,” concluded Nikolay Azarov.