20 March 2014

Dieter Böhmdorfer, Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash's right-wing lawyer

As the readers who are interested in contemporary Ukrainian politics perfectly know, the Austrian police arrested a Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash who was and possibly still is a backer of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. At the moment, Firtash, who was arrested on 12 March on the basis of a US arrest warrant, remains in custody. Austrian authorities set bail for Firtash, at 125 million euros. The payment was transferred on 18 March, but the bank handling the account reported the funds to federal money-laundering investigators, who would check where the money came from. For this reason, Firtash has not been released from custody. The US government is asking Austria to extradite Firtash to the US.

Since the organised economic crime is not the focus of this blog, my interest in the Firtash case is his lawyer, rather than the oligarch himself.* His lawyer's name is Dieter Böhmdorfer (1943) and he is former Minister of Justice of Austria (29.02.2000 - 25.06.2004).

Dieter Böhmdorfer
Yet Firtash is hardly Böhmdorfer's most (in)famous client. Rather, it is Jörg Haider (1950-2008), late former leader of the radical right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) and later the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) guided by a similar ideology. While not a member of the FPÖ, Böhmdorfer advocated Haider in numerous lawsuits against the latter.

After Böhmdorfer left his post as Minister of Justice, he returned to his legal practice and started working for the law firm Böhmdorfer-Schender Rechtsanwalt GmbH which he co-founded with FPÖ's member Rüdiger Schender (1974). To remind the readers, at least two members of the FPÖ (namely Johannes Hübner and Johann Gudenus) were "observers" at the illegitimate Crimean "referendum". Up until recently, FPÖ cooperated with the Ukrainian radical right-wing Svoboda party.

Dieter Böhmdorfer and FPÖ's Uwe Scheuch

* This said, there are reports of the links between Firtash and pro-Russian ultranationalists in the Crimea. This obviously merits further research and investigation.

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