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Ukrainian foreign minister denies politics behind Timoshenko case

October 03, 2011, 19:33 UTC+3
He assured the PACE that Kiev is more interested in an independent investigation of the Timoshenko case
1 pages in this article

STRASBOURG, October 3 (Itar-Tass) —— Ukrainian Foreign Minister Konstantin Grishchenko denied politics behind the criminal case of former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko.

“It’s very bad when opposition leaders are prosecuted, but this is different – this is a matter of government responsibility,” Grishchenko said at the PACE replying to questions from parliamentarians on Monday, October 3.

“The only instance that can solve all questions is the court,” the minister said.

He assured the PACE that Kiev is more interested in an independent investigation of the Timoshenko case.

“I would not like to make any statements that could be taken as pressure on the court,” he said.

Nevertheless, he admitted, when speaking of the Timoshenko case, that Ukraine needs to carry out a judicial and legal reform, and expressed readiness to cooperate on this issue with the Council of Europe.

Hearings on the case of Timoshenko case resumed at Kiev’s Pechersky District Court on September 30.

During the exchange of replies State Prosecutor Alexander Mikitentko asked the court not to take into consideration technical misprints in the materials of the criminal case during the passing of judgement. In his opinion, the documents on the case “are genuine, and are made properly,” while the misprints in the documents, dated April 31, “do not change in any way the position of the defendant.”

Timoshenko’s lawyers believe the materials have been forged, and demand that the case should be dropped. “No judgement can be passed in this situation,” said Yuri Sukhov, a lawyer.

In her speech on September 29, which lasted four hours, Timoshenko said she was sure a verdict of guilty would be passed. “The verdict has been written already, and it will be a guilty verdict. This is typical lynching,” she said.

Timoshenko said that while signing the gas contracts with Russia she had “not ceded an inch of the Ukrainian land, not a single hryvnia from the budget.” In her words, in case of another gas war with Russia she would have signed the same contracts. “It was a crisis. If today, Heaven forbid, the situation were like that, I would have acted in the same way using my constitutional competences to steadily get the country out of crisis,” she stressed. She said she did not hope for a fair sentence. “The sentence is ready and it will be a guilty sentence,” she said. “It is a classical example of the Lynch law – there is a group of men who have one illegal mission to make short work of a person,” she maintained.

Timoshenko also made it clear that she would not ask Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich for pardon.

Prosecutor Lilia Frolova demanded seven years in prison for Timoshenko. She said Timoshenko’s culpability in the gas case had been proven fully.

“On results of the court deliberations, we ask the court to find Timoshenko guilty and, bearing in mind the severity of her crime, to sentence her to seven years in prison on the basis of paragraph 3, article 365 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, and deny her the right to take certain positions for three years,” Frolova said.

In her words, no circumstances alleviating or exacerbating the culpability of Timoshenko were exposed in the course of the trial.

However Timoshenko said that her criminal case must be closed for lack of corpus delicti. “It doesn’t hold water. This is why I think that you [Presiding Judge Rodion Kireyev] must cancel the arrest warrant. But as far as I know, [Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovich has not yet given an order to release me. So I do not really hope that being a full puppet of the presidential administration will change the measure of restraint,” Timoshenko said.

Timoshenko also stressed earlier that the prosecutors “are depriving the court of objectivity, trying to keep erroneous forensic medicine conclusions”.

“The Prosecutor’s Office is systemically against the documents that clearly indicate the incompetence, partiality and absurdity of the examinations to which they refer,” she said.

Timoshenko said her trial has gone beyond her personality. “What is happening in court today no longer concerns me personally, you or Yanukovich. It concerns the future of our state, Ukraine’s European strategy and European prospects,” she said.

She reminded Kireyev of Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski’s statement that this trial might upset the signing of an association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union.

“It will be a Pyrrhic victory for the country. So I urge you to cancel the unlawful arrest warrant that you issued without grounds,” Timoshenko said, addressing Kireyev.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said upon the end of the Eastern Partnership summit in Warsaw last week that the European Union would not sign the association agreement with Ukraine until the end of the ex-Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko case.

He said the summit set the timeframe for signing the association agreement and the free trade document. The EU has made progress in the relations with Ukraine but it is concerned about the Timoshenko trial and will wait until the trial ends, he said.

Timoshenko is facing charges of abuse of office while making gas agreements with Russia in 2009.

The prosecution has accused Timoshenko of acting in excess of his powers and giving directives for signing a gas contract with Russia in 2009 without the government's consent. As a result, gas prices in Ukraine increased, but the tariff for transit, pegged to the price of gas, did not change, which caused damage to the budget in the amount of about 200 million U.S. dollars.

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