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Ukraine: President Fires Deputy Prime Minister

Kyiv, 19 January 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma today fired Deputy Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko due to criminal charges brought against her by prosecutors. The head of Kuchma's press service, Ihor Storozhuk, confirmed that Tymoshenko had been dismissed.

Tymoshenko was indicted this week on charges of forgery and smuggling gas while head of a private gas trading firm. She denies the charges. If convicted, she could face three to 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors have said Tymoshenko committed the crimes while head of Unified Energy Systems of Ukraine from 1995 to 1997. Her husband, Oleksandr, has been in custody since last August on charges of smuggling and theft as a board member of the company.