Fugitive ex-lawmaker Onyshchenko refused political asylum in Germany
By Toma Istomina.
The German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has refused to grant political asylum to Oleksandr Onyshchenko, a former Ukrainian lawmaker who escaped prosecution at home for alleged fraud and money laundering.
According to German broadcaster DW, the institution declined Onyshchenko’s request in early May.
The news came a day after the German Higher Regional Court of Oldenburg declined the Ukrainian prosecution’s appeal to extradite Onyshchenko on May 27. The court set him free after he spent nearly six months in a detention center.
According to Onyshchenko’s lawyer, the former official is now staying at his German ranch while challenging the migration office’s decision in court.
If the court rejects his appeal, Onyshchenko is likely to head to Russia, since he has Russian citizenship, or to seek refuge in other European countries, his lawyer said.
Onyshchenko is suspected of organizing a $125-million fraud scheme in Ukraine’s natural gas sector. He fled the country in 2016 to avoid possible criminal charges.
Before being arrested in Germany, the fugitive lawmaker had been living in Spain. There, a Spanish court ordered Onyshchenko to return home and voluntarily surrender himself to the Ukrainian authorities, according to the court ruling that Onyshchenko shared with the Kyiv Post.
However, instead, Onyshchenko went to Germany, where he was arrested in November.
Ukrainian law enforcement suspects that, when he was a lawmaker, Onyshchenko and his allies coordinated on a scheme that stole state funds during the extraction and sale of natural gas.
The former official denies the allegations and says that his prosecution is politically-motivated.
According to his lawyer, Onyshchenko has appealed the denial of political asylum in a court in Osnabrück. He also applied for permission to stay in the country until the court makes a decision.
The fugitive lawmaker wants to remain in Germany, his lawyer said.
According to DW, Onyshchenko applied for a German National Visa, which gives the holder an opportunity to request a residency permit, two years ago while staying in Spain. However, the German embassy in Madrid rejected it.
The Ukrainian High Anti-Corruption Court started hearing Onyshchenko’s case in absentia on May 13.