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Jailed Former Ukrainian PM's Lawyer Faces Criminal Charges

Serhiy Vlasenko, a lawyer for Yulia Tymoshenko, displays a letter she wrote to the President Viktor Yanukovych during a press conference in Kyiv in October.
The main defense lawyer for jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko says he will continue to defend her in court despite facing a criminal investigation himself.

Serhiy Vlasenko told reporters on January 21 that a criminal case had been opened against him and he expected to be arrested.

Vlasenko said he was accused of car theft, robbery, and failing to obey a court ruling stemming from his divorce several years ago.

He dismissed the charges as an attempt by Tymoshenko's political rival, President Viktor Yanukovych, to undermine Tymoshenko's legal defense.

Last week, the Ukrainian authorities said Tymoshenko might be charged with organizing the murder of a businessman in 1996.

She is serving a seven-year prison term for abuse of office.

Western governments and human rights groups have criticized her imprisonment, calling it politically motivated.

Based on reporting by AP and Interfax