Pavel Lazarenko

Pavel Lazarenko

Former Prime Minister of Ukraine.
Date of Birth: 23.01.1953
Country: Ukraine

  1. Biography of Pavel Lazarenko
  2. Political Achievements
  3. Opposition and Controversies
  4. Legal Troubles and Exile

Biography of Pavel Lazarenko

Pavel Ivanovich Lazarenko, the former Prime Minister of Ukraine, was born on January 23, 1953, in the village of Karpovka, Dnipropetrovsk region, into a family of gardeners. He graduated from Dnipropetrovsk Agricultural Institute in 1978. Lazarenko earned a Doctorate in Economics in 1996. From March 1992, he served as the representative of the President of Ukraine in the Dnipropetrovsk region. In June 1994, he was elected Chairman of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Council and simultaneously became a member of the Ukrainian Parliament.

Pavel Lazarenko

Political Achievements

According to his official biography, Lazarenko was credited with the revival of the most neglected areas in the Dnipropetrovsk region, including the Sinyelnykivskyi and Yurievskyi districts. He led the construction and launch of the metro in Dnipropetrovsk and completed over 50 long-delayed social and industrial projects, including the construction of a powerful oxygen-converter complex at the Dzerzhynsk Metallurgical Plant and a vacuum steel workshop at the Nizhnedneprovsk Pipe Rolling Plant.

Pavel Lazarenko

In September 1995, Lazarenko became the First Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, and from May 1996 to July 1997, he served as the Prime Minister. During his time as Prime Minister, Lazarenko introduced a state monopoly on excisable goods, implemented monetary reforms, and introduced the national currency - the hryvnia. He was frequently referred to as one of the wealthiest and most influential politicians in Ukraine.

Pavel Lazarenko

Opposition and Controversies

After resigning as Prime Minister, Lazarenko became a vocal opponent of President Leonid Kuchma. In August 1997, he became the Chairman of the "Unity" (Yednist) faction in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. In September 1997, he was elected head of the All-Ukrainian Association "Hromada," an opposition party. In the 1998 parliamentary elections, "Hromada" surpassed the 4% threshold, and Lazarenko became the leader of the "Hromada" faction in the Verkhovna Rada.

Pavel Lazarenko

However, Lazarenko's political career took a downturn when he was arrested in Switzerland in 1998 on charges of financial misconduct. After being released on bail, he returned to Kyiv. On February 9, 1999, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine demanded that the Verkhovna Rada strip Lazarenko of his parliamentary immunity. On February 15, he left the country, allegedly for medical treatment in Greece. On February 17, the Verkhovna Rada voted to lift Lazarenko's immunity and authorize his arrest. Only "Hromada" and the Socialists led by A. Moroz voted against it.

Legal Troubles and Exile

According to the Prosecutor General's report, Lazarenko had illegally opened foreign accounts in several European countries with a total of 4.5 million Swiss francs and 2 million dollars. It was alleged that he caused over 2 million dollars in damage to the state between 1993 and 1997. On February 20, 1999, Lazarenko arrived at a New York airport with a tourist visa in his Ukrainian diplomatic passport and requested political asylum. However, instead of granting political asylum, he was arrested and faced new charges.

Lazarenko was accused of money laundering, corruption, and fraud amounting to a total of 300 million dollars, including allegations of illegally transferring around 100 million dollars to American bank accounts, which were allegedly stolen from the Ukrainian state budget. He faced 53 charges under US law, which could result in a 20-year prison sentence. If convicted, he would likely lose his assets, including a luxurious house near San Francisco. The trial against Lazarenko began in the summer of 2001.

In September 2001, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office filed new charges against Lazarenko, accusing him of organizing contract killings, particularly the murders of Scherban and Hetman. In 1995, Lazarenko was awarded the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, 5th class. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church honored him with two Orders of St. Vladimir for his contribution to the revival of religious life in the Dnipropetrovsk region. Lazarenko is married to Tamara Ivanovna, an economist, and they have a son and two daughters.