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Ukraine Prosecutors Reopen Tymoshenko Criminal Probe

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko says the renewed investigation reflects new "political repression."
Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko says the renewed investigation reflects new "political repression."
By RFE/RL
Prosecutors in Ukraine have announced they have reopened a 6-year-old corruption investigation into former prime minister and current opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

According to a statement released by the prosecutor's office, Tymoshenko was summoned today and formally told that a May 2004 case, in which she was accused of bribing Supreme Court justices, had been reopened.

The move, which is likely to inflame political passions in Ukraine, comes just months after the pro-Western Tymoshenko lost a bitter election fight to President Viktor Yanukovych, who was favored by the Kremlin.

Tymoshenko charged that politics was behind the case, which alleged that she attempted to pay judges $125,000 to free her assistants who were being tried for corruption. Tymoshenko has long insisted that the case was fabricated by former President Leonid Kuchma, a Yanukovych ally, as part of a political vendetta.

She said today that the case, which was dropped in June 2005, has been discredited.

"As you may remember, this case was based on falsified claims, cooked up by the Security Service of Ukraine," she said. "It concerned alleged video recordings that reportedly confirmed giving bribes. I can say that this is a 'dead cat.' "

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych
Tymoshenko also accused Yanukovych today of ordering prosecutors to reopen the case, saying, "I am surprised that Yanukovych pulls out old hopeless cases and creates open repressions. I want to stress that this is a direct order from Yanukovych. All employees in the Prosecutor-General's Office say this. The specialists in the Prosecutor-General's Office say that the case is absurd and has no chance of reaching court."

Tymoshenko told journalists she has been summoned to speak with investigators on May 17. She linked the criminal probe to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's upcoming visit to Ukraine on May 17-18. Medvedev is due in Kyiv to sign a series of economic agreements with Yanukovych, which the opposition claims will give Moscow undue control over Ukraine's economy.

"I think that this is not a coincidence," Tymoshenko says. "You know that on May 17, [Yanukovych and Medvedev] plan to sign an agreement that I consider absolutely unacceptable for Ukraine, because [the agreement] means Ukraine will give up to Russia all the main state monopolies. The fact that Yanukovych wants to show on May 17 how he deals with the opposition underlines again that he is not a Ukrainian patriot and not the president of Ukraine."

Spokesmen for Yanukovych and the prosecutor's office have denied that the case is politically motivated.

Tymoshenko was in the opposition to Kuchma when the alleged offenses took place.

Former President Leonid Kuchma
Sentenced To Prison


In late 2004, Tymoshenko led the Orange Revolution together with Viktor Yushchenko, who was elected president in December of that year following massive street protests. The corruption probe against Tymoshenko was closed in June 2005, which prosecutors now say was premature.

In 2001, Tymoshenko spent weeks in a Kyiv prison on charges of alleged financial violations relating to her activities in trading in gas imports in the 1990s. She was released and accused Kuchma of initiating the case for political reasons.

Yanukovych's prime minister, Mykola Azarov, charged last month that Tymoshenko's government misappropriated approximately $378 million, which was received from selling Ukrainian carbon quotas to Japan.

The Ukrainian government has hired the Washington-based firm Trout Cacheris PLLC to investigate deals made by Tymoshenko's cabinet.

Tymoshenko stepped down as prime minister after losing presidential elections in February. She has since emerged as a fierce critic of Yanukovych, particularly his moves to bring Ukraine closer to Russia.

written by Brian Whitmore, with contributions from RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Johann from: USA
May 12, 2010 12:52
So, they are going to send the Blondie to jail !!!
In Response

by: Oksana from: Kiev
May 12, 2010 18:07
Oh, please, get real!
Kuchma + Yanukovych + Party of Regions + Putin with KGB spent years and years trying to hang something on her! Kuchma had her in jail 2 months with no evidence! Do you really think that if they had anything, anything at all, with all resources they devoted to incriminate her, they would not destroy her and move on? She was always in their way, not letting them to steal Ukrainian property, lands, factories, transit sistem, if it wasn't for her they would have dissimulated Ukraine long time ago.
Old 2004 case reopened? Why doesn't Yanukovych open his case, starting with stealing Estate worth millions of dollars, belonging to Ukraine?!

Yanukovych should have assigned a permanent room for Yulia in Prosecutor's Headquarters, ruther than serve her with "sabpoena" each week for years, especially lately.
The russian bandit, who "miraculously" became "The Guarantor of Constitution" of Ukraine, "The Head of Unti-corruption Comittee" and all that, could save some money for his collection of alligator-skin boots, maybe even buy a descent bamboo cane, even have some left for couple of more ostriches for his very own "Disney Land" exotic Zoo in the Estate he stole from Ukraine.



In Response

by: Taras from: Australia
May 13, 2010 23:35
I thought that the political system in Ukraina (and Rossia) was that "lawmakers" were immune from prosecution, that is why they go into politics after all, if so I can't understand how actions can be brought against Yulia.
Yes, Banditkovych could be better known as Kleptokovych, not only for resuming public property for is own, but also for stealing national assets to give to the Moskali.

by: Ethan S. Burger from: Washington, D.C.
May 12, 2010 16:27

Greetings:

Apparently, the new Ukrainian political leadership is experimenting with the use of the "law" as an instrument to deal with its political rivals. In so doing, it will not be alone as such tactics are common in Africa, Asia and elsewhere.

Granted, all countries engage in selective prosecution since governmental reasons are limited. What is important to appreciate is the motivation for bringing charges against one individual as opposed to another. Needless to say, politically-motivated prosecutions can have major consequences (including unanticipated ones).

Query whether the Ukrainian jails are large enough to hold all those present and former government officials who abused their offices.

There are few instruments of power more effective to silence political opposition than the threat of imprisonment and asset forfeiture -- irrespective of the merits of a particular case.

One wonders what proportion of Ukraine's population supports such an action, and the characteristics of this group?

Cheers.

by: ben from: location
May 12, 2010 20:55
If Yulia is innocent of the charges, she will be cleared.She hasn't being found gulity yet until proven.So why is Yulia so worried about this charge?I get the feeling that Yulia has some skeletons in her wardrobes that is why she is so worried!!!Nobody is above the law and Yulia is not an exception.Already Mr Azerov has also asked the Prosecutor General to investigate $398 million worth of hydrocarbon sale during her tenure.Yulia claims she is fighter, but guess what she in for a long battle.This is the begining of her political fall with a possible jail term.Goodluck to her anyway.Yulia is not fit to be in politics.
In Response

by: George29 from: The Black Sea
May 14, 2010 17:48
Contrary to what Ben said about Julia being not fit to be in politics, Julia is a born politician and a political orator. She was less successful in running the cabinet but then it was a miracle she did not get a heart attack given a constant barrage of attacks against her by Yushchenko and his party who were supposed to be Julia's allies. Compared to that political climate Yanukovych is very, very lucky. His interest in reopening court proceedings against Tymoshenko is a clear evidence that he wants her political influence diminished before next year's parliamentary elections.

by: Brazilian Man from: São Paulo - Brazil
May 13, 2010 02:36
Yanukovych wants to turn Ukraine into “Little Russia” (Malorossiya) , again.

by: m rubchak from: USA
May 13, 2010 14:50
The old "boys" will stop at nothing to discredit a powerful, ambitious woman. What I fail to understand is how those Ukrainians who believe such nonsense, yet ignore the real crimes committed by so many "boys" occupying parliamentary seats, What is reallly astonishing is the advice given by so-called "patriots" who urged voters to vote against all. This was an unbelievably stupid piece of advice. Han'ba!

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