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Detained Former Ukraine Minister 'Mulls' Czech Asylum Bid

Former Ukrainian Economy Minister Bohdan Danylyshyn (file photo)

Former Ukrainian Economy Minister Bohdan Danylyshyn (file photo)

PRAGUE -- Former Ukrainian Economy Minister Bohdan Danylyshyn says he might be forced to seek political asylum in the Czech Republic, where he was detained on October 18 after being accused of abuse of office, his lawyer has told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service.

Stepan Ukrainets, who accompanied Danylyshyn during his arrest, said the former minister had not decided whether to seek political asylum, adding he was profoundly unhappy about being placed in such a position.

Danylyshyn, a minister in the previous government led by Yulia Tymoshenko, was detained on the basis of an international warrant.

He is charged with abusing his office and favoring one company during a sale of assets of the country's main international airport, Boryspil, which allegedly resulted in a loss of more than 1 million euros ($1.38 million).

Ukrainets told RFE/RL that Danylyshyn willingly agreed to meet with representatives of Ukraine's Prosecutor-General's Office at the Ukrainian Embassy in Prague in order to discuss the charges against him.

Upon arrival, he said Danylyshyn was given notice of criminal proceedings opened against him. According to Ukrainets, after that Danylyshyn was forcefully escorted out of the embassy and turned over to Czech police.

"He was not presented with any proof that there actually are these financial losses, with which he is being charged. He was not presented with any documentation that would substantiate opening a criminal case against him. Such steps violate Ukrainian criminal law," Ukrainets said.

Ukrainets said he and another lawyer drove Danylyshyn to Prague from Germany, where he was receiving medical care. He said the former minister suffers from liver and back ailments.

The Ukrainian Embassy, meanwhile, has denied that it participated in Danylyshyn's detention.

An embassy spokesman told RFE/RL that he had no information about Danylyshyn actually being in the embassy, and said he knew nothing about Danylyshyn being handed over to the Czech police outside the embassy grounds.

"His name does not appear on the agenda of persons who visited the embassy on that day," he said.