North Macedonian authorities announced Tuesday that they have scrapped the citizenship granted to fugitive Ukrainian Oleksandr Onyshchenko, who is wanted for arrest in Ukraine and on a US sanctions list.
Authorities made the decision after purportedly consulting legal options. The fugitive Ukrainian was awarded his citizenship in May this year.
In a press release put out on Tuesday, the government said it had ordered the Interior Ministry to “act upon this decision immediately,” and revoke Onyshchenko’s citizenship. Authorities also said Onyshchenko’s citizenship revocation was in accordance with North Macedonia’s national Law on Citizenships.
Journalist investigators published an article in November in which they revealed that Onyshchenko, who currently holds both Ukrainian and Russian passports, managed to acquire North Macedonian citizenship without any issues on May 31, 2022.
The decision was made after three sporting associations said he would be a great addition to North Macedonia’s national equestrian team. The National Security Agency also approved the plan, after purportedly checking his background and finding zero red flags.
Onyshchenko was put on the US sanctions list in January 2021 for being a “member of the Russian network meddling in the US presidential election.”
Soon after obtaining his North Macedonian citizenship, Onyshchenko was allowed to compete under the country’s flag. He traveled the world, participating in equestrian events and appearing to socialize with celebrities.
In one photo posted to his Instagram account, Onyshchenko poses with Rafael Nadal and congratulates him on his victory at Roland Garros. In another photo, Onyshchenko stands with the Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria and her ex-husband, NBA basketball player Tony Parker. The photo is captioned “times to remember.”
Onyshchenko fled Ukraine in 2016, after the Ukrainian anti-corruption commission opened a case against him. He is suspected of costing the national budget more than 100 million euros while he was the deputy chairman of the energy committee of Ukraine’s parliament. His business career has earned him a place on the US sanctions list.
It has not yet been revealed why the National Security Agency failed to flag Onyshchenko’s legal issues. According to a government session in May, Onyshchenko had a “clean file” after being investigated by the National Security Agency.
The whereabouts of Onyshchenko are currently unknown. He was quoted by North Macedonian media as saying he was innocent, and that his citizenship had been acquired through legal means.
Image via Wikimedia