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KIEV, September 27 (Itar-Tass) —— The culpability of ex-Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko in the gas case is proven fully, the prosecution’s Lilia Frolova said at the Kiev Pechersky District Court on Tuesday.
The court declined the appeal of the Timoshenko defense for resuming the juridical investigation. Presiding Judge Rodion Kireyev said that the parties to the trial had considered every piece of evidence and documents to which the Timoshenko side had referred.
Timoshenko was accused of the illegal signing of gas contracts with Russia in 2009. The Prosecutor General’s Office said that she abused of office and caused more than 1.5 billion hryvni (about $200 million) damage to Ukraine.
Ukraine cannot secede from gas agreements with Russia signed by Yulia Timoshenko, Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov told the court, as he was giving testimony in the Timoshenko case.
“When I read that agreement I could not believe it had been approved by the government. The terms of that document make unilateral secession practically impossible,” he said.
The penalty for taking less gas than contracted “is harmful for the national economy,” and the pricing formula set for the period of ten years is unprofitable, Azarov said.
“The agreement betrayed the country and caused an increase of public utility charges,” he concluded.
The Russia-Ukraine gas deal 2009 strictly complies with national laws, the Russian Foreign Ministry said immediately after the arrest of Timoshenko.
“Bearing in mind the decision of the Kiev Pechersky District Court to arrest Yulia Timoshenko who is accused by the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office of exceeding her authority in the signing of contracts on Russian gas supply in 2009, the Russian Foreign Ministry states the following: all the gas agreements of 2009 were signed in strict compliance with the national laws of both states and international laws and their signing was preceded by instructions from the presidents of Russia and Ukraine,” the ministry said.
The trial of Timoshenko “must be fair and unbiased, meet every provision of Ukrainian laws and provide appropriate defense and compliance with elementary humanitarian norms and rules,” the ministry said.
Detectives have proven the culpability of Timoshenko in the gas case, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka told a press briefing in Donetsk earlier.
“I have no right to comment on new facts in the Yulia Timoshenko case, because the court is still considering them. Yet I can state that detectives have proven the culpability of Yulia Vladimirovna,” he said.
“The court found confirmation to the evidence collected by detectives. The detectives supplied a sufficient amount of materials for the court to decide whether Timoshenko is guilty or not,” Pshonka said.
Anyway, the court will bring this case to the end, he noted.
The Kiev Pechersky District Court repeatedly rejected the appeals for releasing Timoshenko from custody.
The case triggered a broad reaction in Europe. The European Union does not think that Timoshenko, ex-Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko and other ex-officials who are now in custody are political prisoners, Stefan Fule, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy said an interview with the Kommersant Ukraine newspaper on September 20.
He said though that they should have a chance to take part in the elections, because the Criminal Code must not be an instrument of political rivalry. He also said that the EU had been assured that the Ukrainian authorities realized the complexity of the Timoshenko case and were sincerely wishing to resolve.
Ukraine will experience difficulties if the ex-premier and her colleagues are put to prison on the basis of laws rooted in the Soviet judiciary system, and one may hardly find EU laws to define the accusations brought against Timoshenko, he said.
Prime Minister Azarov said it was amoral to link the Ukraine-UE agreements to the criminal case of Timoshenko.
“Such serious and global affairs as the European integration of Ukraine and the free trade zone agreement are vital for the national development, and it would not only wrong but also amoral to link them to the particular trial,” he said at the Yalta Forum.
Ukraine should comply with international legal norms in the trial of ex-Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel told Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich by phone earlier.
A representative of the German government said that Merkel expressed concern about the Ukrainian authorities’ actions as regards the opposition. “The political rivalry must take place within free elections, while criminal laws should not be an instrument of the policy as regards political opponents,” she said.
In the opinion of Merkel, the EU support is based “on the common belief in the importance of the law-governed state, democracy and protection of human rights” and closer relations with the EU imply “the enhanced significance of these values.”
Ukraine is holding negotiations on the association agreement with the EU and hopes to complete them in October.
“Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich will visit Brussels in October. Hopefully, the sides will reach a compromise on the hitherto uncoordinated issues and announce the end of the negotiations then,” Director of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s Political Affairs and Security Department Vasily Filipchuk said on September 13.
Kiev expects the free trade zone negotiations to end at their next round of September 19-23. “The last round of the negotiations will be held soon, and the negotiations will be over,” Filipchuk said.
It will take several months to translate the text of the association agreement, and the document will be signed and ratified after that. “The entire process will take one or two years,” the diplomat observed.
Merkel was not the one to criticize Ukraine in the Timoshenko trial.
Fule said that the guilty verdict would worsen EU-Ukraine relations.
If Timoshenko is convicted, Europe will be unable to guarantee the ratification of the association agreement with Ukraine, he said. The commissioner hinted that Yanukovich understood that.
Fule said that Europe did not set any conditions but reminded that the Eastern Partnership summit was planned for late September, while the Ukraine-EU summit would take place in December.
The commissioner and the Ukrainian president said in Yalta last Friday that the sides had made substantial progress and reached the final stage in the progress towards the association agreement. However, the quality of Ukraine-EU relations does not depend fully on the negotiations, he remarked.
Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland also raised the Timoshenko question at the Kiev negotiations. He expressed the hope for a fair, open and transparent trial and stressed that the supremacy of law must be the fundamental guideline for the Ukrainian authorities.
The gas contracts signed by Ukraine and Russia in 2009 had a positive effect on gas deliveries to Europe, European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger told the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN in Brussels earlier this month.