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Ukraine Ex-Governor, Tymoshenko Ally Faces Charges

Arsen Avakov is a former regional head of Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna political party and a former Kharkiv governor.
Another onetime political ally of Ukraine's jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko faces charges in a case that is likely to feed international outcry over what critics say is a political witch-hunt under President Viktor Yanukovych.

Prosecutors say Arsen Avakov, the former regional head of Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna political party, has been charged with abuse of power.

The added that they had issued an international wanted notice for Avakov, a former governor of the Kharkiv region in eastern Ukraine.

Avakov is accused of alleged involvement in the illegal privatization of land.

Local media say he fled Ukraine late last year and may be in Italy.

Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year prison sentence after a court convicted her of abuse of power in a trial she claims was political prosecution by Yanukovych, the former Orange Revolution villain who defeated Tymoshenko in a 2010 runoff vote. Authorities have since announced additional charges against her.

Western governments and rights groups have condemned Tymoshenko's treatment.

Her party has denounced the criminal proceedings against Avakov as Yanukovych's "vengeance."

Based on local and international agency reports