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Ukrainian Oligarch Arrested in Vienna
Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash was arrested in Vienna on the evening of March 12, Deutsche Welle reported, citing sources in the Austrian federal criminal police.
Police said they would have to decide shortly whether to extradite Firtash to the United States. There are no criminal cases pending against him in Austria.
The arrest was carried out at the FBI’s request based on a warrant issued by a US court. Firtash is suspected of crimes including bribery and creating a criminal organisation.
"At about 20:00 on the evening of March 12, the organised crime department arrested Ukrainian national Dmitry F., aged 48, in Vienna," a statement from the Austrian police said.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry confirmed that Firtash had been arrested in Vienna, in a statement which ministry spokesman Evgen Perebiynis gave to the Ukrainska Pravda newspaper.
"Based in information from our embassy in Vienna, we can confirm that he was arrested at the request of the FBI. Firtash is currently being held in a Vienna prison,” the spokesman said. “The embassy is now clarifying the details and it will seek a meeting with him."
Asked whether such a meeting would be possible, he said it would depend on permission from the Austrians.
Firtash was among the oligarchs closest to the regime of [Viktor] Yanukovich. He was involved in gas deals between Putin and Yanukovich, which won him a discount price. As joint owner of the intermediary firm RosUkrEnergo, he was also involved in gas supplies under President Viktor Yuschenko and Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko. Like the Klyuyev brothers [Andriy and Serhiy], he runs his business in Austria, where they all have headquarters.
Firtash is currently owner of the Inter TV channel, among other interests. Korrespondent has ranked him in eighth place on its list of the richest Ukrainians.
He set up the DF Foundation, subsequently renamed the Firtash Foundation, in Britain. The foundation is registered in Leeds and is officially run by his wife Lada Firtash, who is Russian.
Firtash is not on a recently-issued list of oligarchs whose accounts are to be frozen in European Union states.
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