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Pavel Lazarenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister who has spent the past three years in a local cell awaiting trial on money laundering charges, was let out of prison Friday by U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins. Jenkins granted Lazarenko, 50, bail so that the ex-politician, who fled Europe for a lavish Marin County estate before his arrest, could better participate in depositions now under way in his native country. Lazarenko participates in the depositions by phone, which, because of the time difference between the Ukraine and California, often occur in the middle of the night. He was complaining that he was unable to sleep during the day at the Dublin Federal Correctional Institution. Whether he remains free throughout his trial — now scheduled to begin Aug. 18 — depends on whether the government asks that he be placed back in jail. “It’s an open question. It’s very possible the government is going to request that,” said Dennis Riordan of Riordan & Horgan, one of Lazarenko’s defense attorneys. Prosecutors opposed the release. The depositions have been going on for several weeks, with another round scheduled for later this summer. By the time they are done, defense attorney Harold Rosenthal and Assistant U.S. Attorney Martha Boersch will have interviewed witnesses in Ukraine, Cyprus, Israel, Antigua, Switzerland, the Netherlands and England. Even the president of Ukraine is on their list of depositions. As bond, Lazarenko posted $86 million. The money, however, is tied up in litigation in Antigua, where that government has also accused Lazarenko of money laundering. In a novel prosecution, Lazarenko is accused of corruption in his native Ukraine, but is being tried here since he allegedly moved his ill-gotten profits through American banks. After a falling-out with his former political mentor in Ukraine, Lazarenko sought asylum here and settled into a $6.75 million Marin County estate once owned by actor Eddie Murphy. Though much of his once-impressive fortune has been frozen , prosecutors say they don’t know what resources might still be available to Lazarenko. “I wouldn’t say that the government has indicated in any of its pleadings that it is aware of all the money that Mr. Lazarenko has control of and where it might be,” said Charles “Ben” Burch, criminal chief of the U.S. attorney’s office. With more discovery fights upcoming — and possible further litigation over whether Lazarenko should be returned to prison — defense attorney Riordan said lawyers in the case are starting to wonder whether it is still possible to stick with the Aug. 18 trial date. “I think it’s becoming increasingly likely that it isn’t,” Riordan said. Hundreds of hours of depositions will have to be analyzed and organized. Lazarenko’s release doesn’t mean he’s returning to his posh digs. He is staying in an undisclosed rented apartment under home confinement. He has been fitted with a 24-hour electronic monitoring bracelet, and what Riordan described as a “security service” is looking after him. The government has considered Lazarenko a flight risk. According to the U.S. Marshals Service, Lazarenko is paying for his own private security service. Burch said precautions have been taken to make sure Lazarenko does not flee. “Not just the ankle bracelet, but as you might imagine, other means as well,” Burch said. Acting U.S. Marshal Thomas Klenieski said that prior to his release, Lazarenko had been coming to the federal building in the dead of night to make his overseas phone calls. He was monitored by federal agents.

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