18:03 Jul. 30, 2016
Oleksandr Yefremov was arrested on Saturday, July 30 while he was trying to leave for Austria
Oleksandr Yefremov, former Governor of Luhansk region and ex-leader of ousted President Yanukovych's Party of Region, is accused of creating the so called Luhansk People's Republic. This is reported by Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko.
"A week ago we received information that Yefremov was involved in creating the so-called LPR. We have a witness who testified", Lutsenko said, according to Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform.
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The Prosecutor General added, Yefremov was under criminal investigation over several charges. In addition, he was suspected of not only creating, but also supporting the organization, considered terrorist in Ukraine.
The fact this information had emerged made Yefremov attempt to flee Ukraine, Lutsenko said. Yanukovych's ally was arrested on early Saturday, July 30 at the airport in Kyiv, when he was trying to leave for Austria.
Former Party of Regions member Volodymyr Landik earlier admitted to testifying against Yefremov.
"Of course I testified. And I will do it again, in court. Because we have almost two million people Yefremov forced to leave their homes by bringing the Russians to Luhansk. He has deprived us of everything. We have nothing now", Landik said in an interview with Ukrainian media outlet Espreso.TV.
Landik also said, Yefremov's house in Luhansk was untouched and protected by the separatist forces, and his wife continued to live in the city.
Yuriy Lutseno, in turn, said, the prosecution was looking to offer Yefremov to cooperate with the investigation.
"Yefremov is a very valuable witness, who can tell a lot about how the events unfolded during the first stages of the Russian undeclared war in Donbas", he said.
This is not the first time Yefremov was detained in Ukraine. In February 2016 he was arrested over several charges, namely, abuse of power under aggravating circumstances and funding the separatists, but the criminal investigation against him was closed in March.
Zorian Shiriak, an advisor to Ukraine's Interior Minister, claimed on July 30 that Yefremov had managed to avoid trial and prison because he had been "cynically shielded" by former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.
Photo of Yefremov's arrest (source: facebook.com/LlutsenkoYuri)