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Ukraine MPs not to soften Criminal Code article for Timoshenko

October 05, 2011, 19:07 UTC+3
Timoshenko has been under arrest since August 5
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KIEV, October 5 (Itar-Tass) — The Ukrainian parliament on Wednesday refused to put on the agenda the bill on decriminalizing actions by certain officials, proposed by lawmaker Vyacheslav Kirilenko. Just 154 lawmakers voted for reviewing the issue. To have a motion approved, the parliament needs 226 votes.

The rejected bill called for amending Criminal Code Articles 364 and 365 with the phrase "the persons who were [are] members of the Cabinet of Ministers in accordance with the Constitution, are not officials."

Criminal proceedings were opened against former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko under Article 365 (exceeding of authority with grave consequences).

Charges were also brought against former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko, under Article 365 and Article 364 (abuse of power and office by law-enforcement officer, which caused significant harm to the legally protected rights of citizens).

The lawmakers put on the agenda the presidential bill easing the responsibility for economic crimes, which, however, does not envision the decriminalizing the articles under which Timoshenko and Lutsenko are being tried.

Earlier, parliament speaker Vladimir Litvin stated that despite the fact that the presidential bill does not contain provisions on decriminalizing the above Criminal Code articles, the lawmakers may supplement it by adding new items.

Timoshenko is accused of exceeding her authority when signing gas supply contracts with Russia in January 2009. The prosecutor asked the court to sentence her to seven years in prison.

"Taking into account the gravity of the crime, its public danger, and the non-payment of damages, the prosecutors for the state requested the court to sentenced Timoshenko to seven years in jail and ban her from taking government jobs related to organization/management and administrative/economic duties for three years," the prosecutor said.

The Ukrainian president submitted a bill to Verkhovna Rada (parliament) which softens the penalty for economic crimes. Political analysts say it is meant to mitigate the punishment for Timoshenko under the pressure of western politicians.

Timoshenko has been under arrest since August 5. The trial began on June 24.

Earlier, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko accused her of wrecking gas contracts with Russia in 2009.

But Timoshenko’s defence insisted the contracts concluded between Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz Ukrainy were standard.

The verdict for Timoshenko is expected on October 11.

Former minister Lutsenko has been in a remand prison since December 26, 2010. He is accused of abuse of office powers, and faces up to 10 years in prison with confiscation of property.

Lutsenko was charged with illegally giving a job, an apartment, and larger pension to his driver, and lavish spending to celebrate Day of Police.

The investigators said the damage he had caused to the state at the post of interior minister reached one million hrivni (125,000 dollars). The review of his case was postponed to October 8.

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