Israeli Arrested in Germany for Alleged Ukranian Mob Hits

An Israeli citizen was arrested in Germany for allegedly carrying out a series of mob hits in Ukraine in the 1990s, a Ukrainian news agency reported on Monday.

Viktor Pashchenko, 34, is now awaiting extradition, the report said.

He was arrested thanks to cooperation between the Israeli, Ukrainian and German police.

Pashchenko moved to Israel in 2001 in an effort to evade prosecution. He subsequently changed his name several times, inter alia to Daniel Meir and Daniel Bardesky.

Isrus, a Russian-language Israeli Web site, reported that Pashchenko, nicknamed "Baldy," tried for two years to connect with Israeli politicians, mainly from Yisrael Beiteinu and Kadima: He contacted several of them before the 2006 election to offer his services as a consultant on "the Russian street," and later tried unsuccessfully to get a job as a parliamentary aide.

According to David Eidelman, a former Kadima political consultant and spokesman who met Pashchenko, "he seemed a bit strange to me - evasive, like a typical Russian criminal. It came out in his body language, in his way of speaking. But we certainly never imagined that he was a murderer."

Something else that made Eidelman suspicious, he said, is that Pashchenko always avoided being photographed at events, on various pretexts.

In 2006, Pashchenko tried to work his way into Kadima by bringing a group of students to its Russian-language campaign headquarters. He also periodically invited activists and Knesset members to political and cultural events, and offered to arrange business deals for them in Russia and Ukraine.

One activist recalled he was "at home in the [Ukrainian] embassy and helped to issue visas." And when President Shimon Peres held a reception for visiting Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Pashchenko was even spotted with the Ukrainian ambassador.

In his final effort to penetrate Israel's political system, he offered money to Kadima and Yisrael Beiteinu activists if they would get him a job as a parliamentary aide. He made it clear that he had no need of money; what he wanted was status.