Former U.S. Ambassador John Herbst: Extradition of Firtash would be good for Ukraine

The extradition of billionaire Dmytro Firtash to the United States of America, if it really happens, would be a good sign for Ukraine, as stated by the former United States Ambassador to Ukraine, John Herbst, in his interview with the Voice of America. He recalled the negative role played by Dmytro Firtash in Ukrainian-Russian relations.

"Firtash was a businessman and was associated with the corrupt deals between the Kremlin and the leaders in Ukraine – the corrupt gas deals,” John Herbst reminded. “Those corrupt gas deals kept Ukraine dependent on Russia, which was very bad for Ukraine’s economy, and for Ukraine’s sovereignty… If the charges against him are strong, though I don’t believe they relate to the Ukrainian gas deal, but rather money laundering, then it probably makes sense for him to be extradited." John Herbst stated, adding that such a development would be good for Ukraine.

"This event would have political weight, as Firtash still has influence in Ukraine, even though he has not been there for some time. Clearly, if he is extradited to the United States and jailed, he becomes a much weaker figure, and that means his influence in Ukraine will drop. I do not wish evil to anyone, but if that would happen – I am not sure that would be a bad thing, it may even be a good thing for Ukraine if his influence in Ukraine is reduced," the former ambassador said.

Ukrainian gas tycoon, Dmytro Firtash, was arrested on Tuesday in Austria after a Vienna court approved his extradition to the U.S.A., where the tycoon is accused of paying an 18.5 million dollar bribe for a license to develop titanium deposits in India.

Technically, the arrest of Dmytro Firtash in Vienna is not associated with the decision of the Austrian court on extradition, and was made based on an order issued by Spain, where he is accused of laundering 10 million euros and being connected to organized crime.

Firtash was arrested for the first time in Austria in March of 2014 based on an order issued by a U.S. court at the request of the FBI. He was later released on a 125 million euro bail.

  Ukraine, Firtash, extradition, John Herbst, Russia