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Two days ago, Vienna Court of Appeal made a final decision not to extradite Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash to Spain. The court rejected the appeal of the prosecutor's office and confirmed the decision of the first instance court to refuse to extradite because of the absence of a crime. The decision cannot be appealed. And even earlier, on December 14th, the Austrian Supreme Court suspended the decision to extradite Firtash to the US and sent a request for the legality of the decision on his extradition to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
Any news related to the court proceedings in Vienna and the name of Firtash are traditionally a subject of special interest in Kyiv. Any judicial verdict in Vienna in relation to Firtash can turn the wheel of Ukrainian political history.Austrian Courts have traditionally been closely monitored in Kyiv. And that is why both of the December judgments in Firtash's case are really significant, as they will have possible consequences for Ukrainian politics, gradually shifting to the 2019 election regime.
To begin with, Firtash was detained in March 2014 by the Austrian police at the request of the United States. T Charges against Firtash were first put forward in the summer of 2013, but only in March 2014, a case was officially opened. It happened just before the arrest of the businessman. Such an impressive time gap between the summer of 2013 and the spring of 2014 allowed the defense to talk about the political motivation of the case. By the way, there is no a clear answer to the question, why the investigators conducting the Firtash case have been waiting for a long time to disclose the charge.
In the spring of 2014, it became known that the Ukrainian oligarch, along with a group of others, was suspected of Indian officials of Andhra Pradesh conspiracy bribe for developing a titanium deposit. According to the US Justice Department, the accused tried to give the bribe in the amount of$ 18.5 million, hoping to get 500 million profit from the sale of the extracted titanium. The case involved an American company, which was supposed to buy titanium for its purposes. Observers quickly identified that it was a Boeing corporation with a number of headquarters in the United States, one of which is based in Illinois. That is why the roots of Firtash's business are growing from Chicago. By the way, this is one of the base states of the US Democratic Party, the native state of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and many representatives of the current Democrats.
There are five persons involved in the case: Hungarian businessman Andras Knopp, Ukrainian citizen Suren Gevorgyan, Indian politician Ramachandra Rao, Indian businessman Gajendra Lal, and businessman from Sri Lanka. The degree of guilt of each participant in the conglomerate, according to the prosecution, is approximately the same. But Americans took a particularly zealous turn for Firtash. Most likely, this is not just a formal accusation. Firtash's lawyers believed that the request for detention and extradition to the US coincided with Washington's attempts to remove the main influence groups that traditionally played an important role in the adoption of key political decisions from the formation of the new post-Maidan Ukrainian government. Firtash was least predicted, in contrast to Kolomoisky, Akhmetov, Pinchuk, and a number of smaller players.
It is no secret that Firtash, despite his rather pro-Russian image, has always played a more difficult role on the political field of Ukraine. The oligarch supported not only Levochkin-Boyko's group in the Party of Regions or Opposition Bloc, but also the UDAR party (of Vitali Klitschko). Firtash has also contributed into other political projects. Before Firtash started to support Yanukovych in 2009, he was one of the few players who took Yushchenko’s side during the Orange Revolution. In 2014, for a number of external players, and primarily the United States, who were especially unwilling to join the game around Ukraine, Firtash's physical presence in Kyiv was not part of the tactical and strategic layouts. And given that Firtash continued to influence the situation while being in Vienna and contributed to the victory of Poroshenko in the presidential election, these players clearly understood something.
These and other arguments of Firtash's lawyers were disclosed in the Vienna courts. The prosecution party was not in a hurry with counterarguments and disavowing the defense's arguments. Firtash argued that all this case was directly "ordered" by the American Democrats.
At the same time, there was again an important subtext for the whole Firtash case: the court not only refused to extradite him, it also questioned the legitimacy of such a request. Thus, by its decision, the court did not simply point out the inconsistency of the provided evidence, but also indirectly enabled the defense to argue more reasonably about the political order in the case of their client in the future.
As for the American warrant, now the issue of extradition to the United States will be considered by the Court of European Communities in Luxembourg, which interprets the EU right at the request of national courts (under a pre-judicial procedure). The Supreme Court of Austria suspended the decision on Firtash's extradition to the United States on December 14th and sent a request for the legality of the decision on his extradition to the Court in Luxembourg. The case will be examined according to the formal features of the extradition procedure by the third country. The very facts of a possible offense, which the US officials are incriminating to Firtash, will not be checked. Thus, Firtash has a very real chance of winning the case in the Luxembourg EU Court.