Sunday, 09. March 2014
04. 02. 14. - 18:00
Ukraine's last Prime Minister, the current intermediary Prime Minister and the man likely to be the next Prime Minister have all allegedly been secretly given Austrian passports.
The naming of Serhiy Arbuzov, Ukraine's interim Prime Minister following the resignation of Mykola Azarov, as well as Azarov himself and Andriy Klyuyev, expected to be named as the next Prime Minister, are the latest names to be revealed in a long list of wealthy foreigners looking to find a refuge where they will not face extradition back home.
Although selling passports is frowned on within the EU, it is not technically illegal and Malta was recently in the spotlight for selling passports for 539,000 GBP (600,000 EUR).
In Austria people who invest in property or business are also eligible to receive passports. The investments are typically made at the regional level and then the local government fast tracks the application.
There is also the chance for anyone who comes into Austria with a significant amount of money of getting a residence permit, which can then later be changed to citizenship under the 'Privatierslösung'.
The applicants do not need to have any skills, but they need to have a provable income of more than €3,500 a month. That means that this money needs to be paid into a local bank or through the purchase of property.
And with Austria refusing to extradite its citizens to Russia and it's satellite states like the Ukraine and Kazakhstan, it explains why there has been a flood of applications from the region to gain Austrian citizenship.
Arbuzov, 37, Klyuyev, 49, and Azarov, 66, were named as allegedly having Austrian passports by German Green MEP Rebecca Harms at their weekly European Parliament press briefing.
Azarov is a close ally of President Viktor Yanukovych, whose decision to scrap a key pact with the European Union under Russian pressure caused the latest violence. Azarov resigned as Ukrainian prime minister in a failed bid to defuse the violent crisis the scrapping of the EU pact caused, and apparently fled to Austria right after stepping down.
He reportedly flew to Vienna to join family members by private jet hours after quitting, and planned to stay for a while.
Another example of a wealthy passport holder came when a residency permit was granted to Kazakhstan’s multi-millionaire ambassador to Austria and OSCE representative Rakhat Aliyev, despite the fact that the government quota for applicants had already been reached for the year.
It was rushed through when it was revealed his diplomatic immunity had been lifted, and that he was under an active criminal investigation in his homeland. The request for the passport had been handed out by the council leader in the Austrian district of Horn, who later said he had only done it because the Interior Ministry had ordered him to do so.
At the time Aliyev reportedly had over 100 million euros stashed in Austrian banks.
Speaking at the press conference in German MEP Harms said: "Over the winter I was in Kiev four times. I'm pleased that after the violence Azarov and his people have stepped down. But there is still a real risk that it could collapse into civil war.
"Azarov seems to have gone back to his family estate in Vienna like so many other Ukrainian oligarchs. Like him they have vast business empire's and property portfolios and many of these politicians also have Austrian passports where they live with their families. That is hard for many people in the Ukraine to understand. Those that were responsible for the violence and the plundering of the land. Those that have put the country under the economic umbrella of Russia feel they can then flee to enjoy the economy of Austria.
"Normal people in the Ukraine have all sorts of restrictions on their opportunities to travel. It's incredible that the people who are fighting on the streets for European rights can't travel. Yet those that are beating them and are responsible for the plundering of the country are able not only to leave the country but can get Schengen visas. According to Austrian media, these people have allegedly already for a long time had Austrian passports. That they are Austrian citizens and have been for a long time has shocked me. I therefore don't understand the restrictions for ordinary Ukrainians. It is essential to find out as soon as possible what money from privatisation and what money from tax loopholes has ended up here with us in the EU. Who is responsible and if Yanukovich does introduce martial law, how can these amounts be frozen?"
Of the Ukrainians alleged to have Austrian passports, Azarov's son has property in Austria, and his daughter-in-law has a stable of magazines that write about jet-setters, aimed at upmarket readers in the region.
Kluyev is the owner of the company Slav AG and has a 17 hectare mansion in Tulbingerkogel, a village in Lower Austria.
Azurov meanwhile has taken to Facebook to deny the MEP's claims, saying it was not true that he had ever applied for a non Ukrainian passport. And Arbuzov has also denied the claims through his spokesperson, saying that he only has a Ukrainian passport.
Another F1 Driver Hospitalised by Ski Accident
Austrian Formula 1 driver Gerhard Berger, 54, suffered a broken hip and has been hospitalised after suffering an accident very similar to that of fellow ex-driver Michael Schumacher.
Austrian Relieved To Only be Dead On Paper
Austrian man Christian Kozel, 29, discovered he was dead when uniformed police officers turned up at his home in Salzburg at the weekend.
What is on at Burg Kino this week (7 March - 13 March)
See what films are on this week at the Burg Kino on the Opernring.
Police catch graffiti-villain of Vienna
A graffiti sprayer, named "Puber" has been one of the main "villains" of Vienna for almost a year. He has filled almost the half of the city with his drawings. Now, a suspect, alleged to be the notorious sprayer himself is in the police custody of Vienna and may face up to five years in prison.
Apartment sales drop in Austria
According to the brokerage firm Re/Max, the number of the real estate sales in Austria has declined around 8.3% in the last year. The exact number of properties which were sold and bought accounts to over 80,000 units, which translates into 16 billion euros. Apartments were the most popular type of property sold last year, accounting for 28,000 of the units sold, but there has still been a 9.3% decrease from the last year.
McDonalds boom in Austria
McDonald's in Austria generated 560 million Euros in sales in 2013 after introducing more branches and expanding it's product range.
Exhibition takes you on a journey with Sigmund Freud
To mark the 75th anniversary of Sigmund Freud's death, the museum dedicated to him in Vienna is holding an exhibition looking at Freud's journeys around the world, including his final one that saw him flee National Socialism in 1938.
Plastic replacing fish in the Danube
The Danube is so polluted that there are now more plastic particles than fish larvae in the water according to new research.
Ladies skiing offer at Stuhleck this weekend
In celebration of International Women's Day on Saturday 8 March, the Stuhleck ski resort in eastern Austrian is giving female skiers discount prices on ski passes.
Rediscovered 'degenerate' painting on show at Belvedere
A painting that was rediscovered in 2012, decades after it was seized by the Nazi's for being 'degenerate', is on display at the Belvedere Palace in Vienna.
The most popular stories –
last 7 days
|Veggies suffer more health problems say Graz researchers|
|Austria releases list of Ukrainians to have assets frozen|
|Terrifying high speed dash for British school ski group|
|Vienna first city to be granted personal domain name|
|Animal rights group protest against Burberry fur in Vienna|
Why suffer in silence. Let off steam by letting our readers share your troubles. File your complaints about anything and everything here.
Our ombudsman David Rogers will try and help solve some of the problems from lazy civil servants through to incompetent companies – and at the very least the worst transgressors will end up in our weekly special report.