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Former Ukraine Interior Minister Rejects Charges Against Him

Former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko talks with his wife, Irina, before the start of a court session in Kyiv on December 27.
Former Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko has dismissed new charges of criminal wrongdoing that have resulted in his arrest.

Lutsenko was arrested on December 26 by security forces. His party says he has been detained apparently in connection with the investigation into the poisoning of former President Viktor Yushchenko during Yushchenko's presidential campaign in 2004.

Prosecutors, who have previously charged Lutsenko with abuse of office and embezzling state funds, have confirmed only that a new criminal case has been started.

In a court hearing on December 27, Lutsenko said the charges were politically motivated and that he didn't understand them.

"I don't understand what's going on here. Is the court hearing the case which was a premise to arrest me yesterday, or is it a discussion of the case which I was accused of a month ago?" he asked. "I received some documents [from prosecutors] a month ago. Now I cannot understand the logic of the process at all."

Lutsenko was, along with former Prime Minister and presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko, one of the leaders of the Orange Revolution in 2004.

Those protests led to the stripping of then-prime minister and now-President Viktor Yanukovych of victory in a disputed presidential election, and led to Yushchenko taking office.

compiled from agency reports