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Monday, November 06, 2006

Shcherban Comes Home to Party, Not to Roost

A few hours after landing in Boryspil Airport, Volodymyr Shcherban found himself not as uncomfortable as many had predicted.

In fact, royal treatment has followed him wherever he went. Arrested in Florida last year on charges of extortion and abuse of authority, he soon had managed to walk out on a $2 m bail.

Interestingly enough, in 2002, Shcherban had run for the Rada on the NSNU ticket, which he swiftly deserted once elected an MP. That same year Kuchma appointed him as Governor of the Oblast of Sumy. It was there that he is suspected of having suppressed the summer 2004 student sit-ins and the local opposition’s march on Kyiv.

By now it’s crystal clear that Lutsenko’s much-ballyhooed “cold reception” turned out to be a warm welcome, as far as the prowess of the PRU’s event planning department is concerned.

Being convoyed to the Office of Prosecutor General for a cup of coffee must have been the only uneasy part. Thereafter, friends of Mr. Shcherban took command. Representatives of the people of Ukraine on the side of the PRU vouched for their protégé and let the entire nation know that Mr. Shcherban is not alone in his struggle.

Bingo! Now that Mr. Shcherban drew a lungful of fresh air on a Saturday night, we could say “The people of Ukraine v Volodymyr Shcherban” is off to a good start — the "good ole" start, to be precise.

To some observers, this scenario may remind of “Die Hard 2.” Remember General Esperanza, the bad guy who had things fixed up, thanks to his robust ground support team? Unfortunately, Ukraine has no McClane to rely on.

In a post-arrival interview, Mr. Shcherban pleaded not guilty to the long list of charges levied against him, which he termed as fabricated and reprisal-driven. Poor boy, he fled his beloved country fearing for his life. Specifically, he mentioned the prospect of being hanged on Maidan. (May he pray for Saddam, whose chances of martyrdom via hanging are far greater than his own.)

And as for Mr. Shcherban, his end-of-life ideation can only be categorized as misplaced, given the fact that nobody met death on Maidan, except for a man from western Ukraine whose heart stopped beating on the eve of the Dec. 26 High Court-mandated runoff.

If President Yushchenko still has an itch for his 2004 sales pitch “Бандити сидітимуть в тюрмах,” he should try Shcherban. Well, whether he does or not, few believe that justice will be served. It’s safe to assume that Shcherban’s chances of getting locked up are close to nil.

Now listen to this: Speaking on Channel 5, Shcherban said he remains hopeful that his PRU white knights will put him back on the political track.

High-profile criminals are so hard to find these days. Whenever the cops claim they found one, next thing we know there’s not a shred of evidence to support a case. It's happened before. It may happen again. God bless Ukraine, my home, sweet, home.

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