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Yulia Timoshenko may avoid deprivation of freedom

October 03, 2011, 20:50 UTC+3

The opposition had earlier submitted to parliament a number of bills to rid former high officials of criminal responsibility for political decisions

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KIEV, October 3 (Itar-Tass) —— Ukraine’s parliament will discuss on October 5 a number of bills which, if approved, may enable ex-premier Yulia Timoshenko to avoid jail, Vladimir Litvin, the speaker of the Supreme Rada (parliament), told the conciliatory council of leaders of factions and heads of committees on Monday.

The opposition had earlier submitted to parliament a number of bills to rid former high officials of criminal responsibility for political decisions. The opposition also proposes decriminalization of Article 365 of the Criminal Code (acting in excess of power and position) under which Timoshenko is charged.

Andrei Kozhemyakin, one of the leaders of the Bloc of Yulia Timoshenko (BYT), stated on Monday that the faction insists on amendments to the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure “to remedy the horrible situation when morally obsolete articles are used to prosecute political opponents.” Litvin replied he suggested to put on the Wednesday agenda not only two bills from the opposition calling to decriminalize some articles of the Criminal Code but also a presidential bill so that at least one of these bills should be considered.

Kozhemyakin, on behalf of the faction, also asked Litvin to prevent the standoff in the Pechersky district court when the sentence on Timoshenko is passed. “We do ask you, Vladimir Mikhailovich, to prevent a bitter standoff in the Pechersky court when the sentence is announced,” said the MP.

Litvin asked Kozhemyakin to set out in a letter the suggestions of the ways in which the speaker can avert a standoff, and then he would “react to it”.

The leaders of the ruling Party of Regions must decide on Monday if decriminalization of Article 365 of the Criminal Code on “acting in excess of power or position” should be put to vote. “We will not issue the bill absolving Timoshenko of criminal responsibility,” said Mikhail Chesnokov, the first deputy head of the faction of the Party of Regions. Chesnokov is against such a bill. “If legislation is adjusted to individuals we will have neither laws nor the country,” the MP holds.

According to Dmitry Shentsev, deputy from the Party of Regions, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich announced in Warsaw last week the compromise decision to decriminalize the article if Timoshenko pleads guilty and pays 1.5 billion hryvnas (about 200 million dollars) in compensation to Naftogas Ukrainy, but it is believed in the party Batkyvshina which Timoshenko heads that this is “the dead end road”. “Timoshenko cannot plead guilty, as she is not guilty, and she cannot repay the losses, as no losses were inflicted,” said Andrei Shkil, deputy from the BYT.

Rodion Kireyev, presiding over the Pechersky District Court on Timoshenko’s “gas case”, stated on September 30 that the sentence on the ex-premier’s case would be announced on October 11. He adjourned the court until October 11, saying earlier that only the actual participants in the trial and reporters would be present in the courtroom when the sentence is announced.

The Prosecutor-General’s office asked seven years in jail for ex-premier Yulia Timoshenko. “On the basis of the investigation we ask the court to find Timoshenko guilty of committing the crimes covered by Article 365, part 3, of the Criminal Code (acting in excess of power or position),” prosecutor Lydia Frolova said during the debates.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General’s Office found Timoshenko guilty of acting in excess of position in concluding “gas contracts” with the Russian Federation in 2009, by which losses to a sum of over 1.5 billion hryvnas were inflicted on the state. The criminal proceedings were instituted under Article 365, part 3, of Ukraine’s Criminal Code. The article envisages the punishment by the deprivation of freedom of from seven to ten years accompanied with barring a person from holding certain posts or engaging in certain kinds of activities for up to three years.

The court began the hearing of the “gas case” on June 24. Timoshenko was taken into custody at the court meeting on August 5. According to public prosecutors, the reason for this was obstructing “the establishment of truth”.


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